More and more retailers are embracing digital marketing as it directs shoppers straight to their eCommerce website. In today’s cross-channel world, providing personalized customer experiences and services through the marketing channels that customers prefer has never been more crucial in your marketing strategies. When it comes to the retail sector, retailers need to deliver a consistent online and offline experience across every channel in their marketing mix – at the right time and with the appropriate message. This helps to drive customer engagement, improves the shopping experience, and ultimately improve your retail sales.
Before diving in, you may want to check out the latest 2022 eCommerce and retail “post-pandemic” trends from our VP of Global Strategy, Ricardas Montvila.
As omnichannel customers grow more accustomed to using different devices and channels to access information and communicate in their everyday lives, they expect retailers to act similarly in their marketing and to intelligently respond to their needs in real-time. For retail marketers, this requires a deeper understanding of their customers and the ability to deliver the most relevant, timely, and optimized marketing messages based on all that they know (using data and analytics in a GDPR-compliant way, of course) about each shopper.
But customer behavior is constantly changing in retail due to trends, external events, or simple curiosity. By evoking data-driven marketing strategies that leverage a mix of eCommerce channels with your retail store, brands are able to make more informed decisions in their digital marketing and develop ways to connect and engage with the consumer in-store and online – while inspiring them to become loyal brand advocates. Thus, many retailers must embrace what state-of-the-art technology has to offer to reach more consumers on digital channels and encourage brick-and-mortar footfall to generate sales, boost conversion and encourage recurring purchases.
From a cross-channel perspective, email marketing is still the most popular way out of several marketing methods to communicate with consumers. 83.7% of retailers surveyed in April 2019 by Internet Retailer use email for their digital marketing. Social media is the runner-up with 65.8%. Paid search advertising (desktop) such as Google Shopping Ads came third at 63.4%.
Meanwhile, omnichannel retailers need to stay atop of the ever-changing digital marketing landscape, as consumers continuously switch between digital channels, devices, and going in-store in their customer journey. Ensuring you appear on the right channels in your marketing helps you to meet your retail customers across their multiple digital touchpoints. Technology continues to evolve post-COVID-19, more channels are emerging, and consumers are more demanding than ever in the convenience and value they get from your brand. To help you adapt your marketing and continue growing sales in the ever-evolving market, here are our takes on the top retail trends every marketer should know to drive their digital strategy in their retail marketing mix:
Retail is a highly competitive market, and every marketer struggles to cut through the noise as it becomes even more crowded. Customers expect to receive targeted, relevant, and personalized messages from retailers along their customer journey to capture their attention. This helps to enhance the customer experience, and customer service as every consumer interacts with your retail brand. Zero-party data and first-party data are becoming more central in digital marketing as data privacy becomes a priority. So, it’s important to have a Customer Data Platform (CDP) in place to help you unify your data points and analyze your customer data effectively.
The real-time data collected from cross-channel customer touchpoints is the base for your digital marketing strategy. This customer data, consolidated from multiple channels, is the base that enables retailers to deliver personalized digital customer experiences via email and marketing automation. Personalization should also be able to deliver customized on-site messages and highly relevant content through pop-ups, overlays, and product recommendations in your online shop. Ensuring that each interaction in your marketing is highly relevant and hyper-personalized can drive sales through your retail marketing.
True customer engagement is based on data and analytics to enable customer-centric marketing. Smart retailers pool customer data centrally using a CDP, analyze customer behavior with machine learning, and engage customers with the right content across all digital channels. By appearing with the most relevant content, you can drive your online sales from new customers & existing customers, encourage repeat purchases, and grow customer loyalty.
Demographic, transactional, and behavioral data needs to be combined with customer intelligence from a multitude of data sources. Online behavioral data can be merged with CRM data to create a personalized experience. Retailers should also activate and enrich website data with information from other relevant marketing channels. Combining your online and offline data can help you get a 360-degree customer view to create unified customers profiles (UCPs) to help you better understand their changing behavior.
Customer insight isn’t just about knowing who your retail customers are, it is about being customer-oriented through knowing how they behave. This helps you turn your potential customers into returning customers in your digital marketing strategy.
TIP: Using a CDP you can unify this data to form unified customer profiles and analyze each stage of your customer journey – from awareness to post-purchase. Set the target KPIs at each stage and identify what is and isn’t working in your retail marketing. Our free digital Customer Journey Map template can be found here.
Retailers should look for ways to enable the optimal experience for mobile customers in their marketing. According to an internet retailer, 41% shoppers make more than half of their online purchases on a mobile device and 57% made at least 25% of their purchases on mobile devices in the last 12 months.
Mobile marketing has become a go-to source of shopping in eCommerce and retail, as customers browse on social media (TikTok), browse in-app, and switch to other channels to research more into products. Ensure that your retail marketing combines all relevant touchpoints that your consumers interact with. Solely relying on pay-per-click ads (PPC) in your digital marketing can be costly as every click may not convert into sales, limited your overall ROAS.
Use your customer data to conduct multi-channel marketing campaigns in a personalized way, with the right channel, at the right time. By using push notifications, in-app notifications, email marketing, SMS, and more, you can seamlessly orchestrate this using automation to help you do this at scale in your online marketing strategy to increase your online retail sales.
As part of a re-engagement digital marketing strategy you can use these channels and tie in offsite advertising, such as re-targeting via social media, to help re-engage users who did not complete a purchase. Cart abandonment campaigns can be highly effective in retail with automation across different touchpoints, helping you to draw shoppers back into converting into sales.
Your target audience has a high level expectations from your retail business, which is why the user experience is essential in your marketing. Flexibility is crucial for your consumers as they explore your digital and store-based touchpoints. Many retail brands have invested their marketing efforts in creating a seamless omni-channel experience by trying to mirror that attentive 1:1 in-store experience through their digital channels. By combining customer data and automation, it helps create a consistent experience in your omnichannel marketing.
But it’s important to be creative in your online marketing to help you cut through the noise and drive sales. Retail brands have invested in creating a seamless virtual eCommerce world that bridges that online-to-offline gap. To help drive conversions online, brands like Charlotte Tilbury built a virtual online store to enable every online shopper to explore products as they would in-store. Its “virtual try-on” ability enables customers to see what products would look like via camera, helping to drive consumer confidence at the Point-of-Purchase and drive conversions.
Implementing flexibility in delivery and collection by offering curbside pickup, Buy Online Pickup In-Store (BOPIS), and collection at your physical stores gives convenience to customers and enhances your customer service. This helps unify your online-and-offline touchpoints in your retail marketing.
We’ve collaborated with our partners Alpenite, Space48, and T-Systems in our latest eGuide: Retail of the Future. With insights from key industry experts about digital marketing and the evolution of the retail store, we’ve nailed down the biggest changes and trends in the market and how to adapt your retail marketing strategy to improve customer acquisition, grow customer loyalty, and improve your overall sales.
Updated in August 2022