3 Ways Retailers Create Dynamic Digital Omnichannel Customer Experiences
2020 has undoubtedly changed retail forever, with some retailers entering permanent or (hopefully) temporary bankruptcy. And while commerce was already gradually becoming more data-driven over time, this past year has confronted most retailers and brand managers with unexpected disruptions that have spurred many companies to accelerate their digital marketing programs, particularly omnichannel capabilities.
“We’ve seen an acceleration in digital transformation, up to a 25 percent increase in ecommerce,” Stefano Fanfarillo, Partner and Director of Personalization and Digital Marketing at Boston Consulting Group, said recently. Fanfarillo points to a huge surge in interest in digital transformation, in part due to increased “click-and-collect” sales, omnichannel retail capabilities, and Buy-Online-Pick-Up-in-Store (BOPUS).
“We’re seeing major acceleration in digital programs, and in some cases, we’re seeing what would have taken six months before [pre-COVID-19] now being done in six weeks,” says Fanfarillo. “Many organizations are stepping up to the challenge.”
Digital Marketing Tips for Retailers and Brand Managers
And yet, thrown into the mix are unexpected opportunities, as well. During this time, one of the core reasons retailers have had the chance to remain profitable or find new success is that digital connection to consumers. Without it, they would simply not be positioned to capture sales. And there’s evidence that many companies are accelerating their digital transformation.
Keeping this in mind, consider how digital marketing can help your own unique brand or business to boost visibility, enhance store performance and even increase revenue.
Tip #1: Meet Near and Long-term Goals with Omnichannel Marketing
Crystal Vilkaitis, Founder of California based Crystal Media and a sought-after speaker for social media discussions, believes that as you aim to strengthen your digital presence, you must first have specific objectives in mind.
“Step into the shoes of your perfect customers, then create content for them to use via social media and other digital avenues. When you have your ideal customers in mind, they’ll find your posts more valuable, entertaining, inspiring, and/or helpful. Plus, they’ll be more likely to engage and act on these posts. It’s about intercepting the customer’s attention online versus interrupting it,” shares Vilkaitis.
Beyond social media, Vilkaitis encourages retailers to use multiple channels—including email and text marketing into their digital efforts, as well.
“Email is still an effective channel for marketing and I strongly suggest retailers continue to build their list of quality people to connect via email while also consistently sending relevant and engaging emails at least weekly,” Vilkaitis suggests. “
“Plus, don’t dismiss the value of text marketing,” Vilkaitis cautions. It’s a great way to get your content seen, with the majority of texts read within the first few minutes after sending. As always, however, you need to make your customers opt in to receive your texts and have a strategy that supports why you are sending them out. Typically, once or twice a month is a good amount for retailers, but it depends on the content and the list of customers you have to determine the best send frequency.”
With social media, email marketing and text messaging all accessible for retailers to use to support their brand goals, there remains a key aspect, however, that can make or break these efforts—and that’s integration. As retailers aim to strengthen their digital marketing efforts, they must also recognize that gaining clarity among each touchpoint from customer engagement or lack of it is essential in truly understanding their efforts and reaching their goals. Incorporating omni-centric technology that connects customer touchpoints, reveals what has sold and when, where customers are most engaged—and more—is an essential piece to the digital marketing puzzle. It’s this data that when linked between consumer marketing avenues, will ultimately position retailers to become more precise and more proactive in their digital marketing efforts—and all efforts at large.
Tip #2: Create a Digital Marketing Plan with Multiple Channels and Objectives
Customers appreciate consistency from the brands with which they engage. After all, it’s this consistency—whether from product trust, customer service expectations or marketing efforts—that help keep customers loyal. Because of this, it’s important for retailers to factor in how they can incorporate consistency into their digital marketing efforts, as well.
Bob Phibbs, an internationally recognized business strategist, customer service expert, author of three books and motivational business speaker, believes that when planning digital marketing, you should plan for three distinct ways to support your brand. Above all, avoid looking too “transactional,” or your brand could appear insincere—which is a terrible reputation to have to try to live down.
“Break down what you want to share into three buckets, which should consist of evergreen, seasonal and selling [goals]. For every selling post there should be at least two of the other categories. Many retailers are only trying to sell. This is a turn-off for anyone but your loyalist of loyal customers,” Phibbs explains.
Retailers have the opportunity to shape and nurture their reputations online before ever even capturing sales from customers. This can be both a curse and a blessing—so make sure you do the work necessary to make it work for you.
“Using digital marketing, you can reach an enormous audience in a way that is both cost-effective and measurable. You can save money and reach more customers for less money than traditional marketing methods. You can get to know your audience and allow them to know you personally which can help to create brand loyalty,” as explained by the Digital Marketing Institute.
Factor in that customers vary in the path to purchase, and these angles don’t just fall into how to share details about your business but rather where to share details, also. Consider all the digital touchpoints in which exist online that represent your brand—including your branded website, marketplaces, online review sites, Google, social media and more—then consider how you can consistently communicate your brand goals at every touchpoint.
Tip #3: Embrace New, Less Familiar Digital Technologies
Did you know that social media is not just about sharing brand content but you can also capture sales from it, as well? Or that 50 percent of consumers want to see videos from brands more than any other type of content?
Often, stepping outside what you’re familiar with or what your comfort zone is can connect you with customers on a more engaging, more profitable path towards higher customer lifetime value (CLV).
CommentSold, for example, allows retailers to convert social media comments into sales, automatically invoicing shoppers and managing all aspects of necessary steps to help transactions happen. Meanwhile, most mobile devices can help merchants create videos that can easily be uploaded to social media accounts. Collectively, these efforts offer consumers digital connectivity to your brand that also entices them to buy—ultimately helping you to grow your brand.
What Do All of These Retail Digital Marketing Tactics Have in Common?
Each of these tips places a premium on digital marketing automation technology that helps you combine all of your data about each customer and offer personalized interactions and offers that customers perceive as helpful, not annoying one-size-fits-all marketing spam. One tool that many brands and retailers are using is a Customer Data Platform (CDP), which can pull together data from social media feeds, digital advertising, web browsing, in-store visits, mobile apps, and more.
The CDP builds constantly updated unique unified customer profiles on each user, then uses AI and machine learning techniques to market to each individual base on his or her profile. And marketing analytics can help deliver insights that help you fine-tune existing marketing programs or start new ones.
It’s important for retailers to proactively embrace change in order to proactively maintain business. If COVID has taught us anything as consumers and business leaders alike, it’s that uncertainty is certain. Yet how we handle it will make a difference in our future goals and achievements. Retailers must accept the need for digital retail transformation and as part of this process, accept that digital channels undoubtedly influence consumer purchases.