It was something I never thought I’d see… an entire mall of retail stores closed because of the pandemic. Due to these closings last year (and still ongoing in many parts of the world), e-commerce skyrocketed, and nearly 56% of new customers to brands made their initial transaction through a digital method.
But with the digital rise of retail, the lines among online, in-store, and mobile have blurred. It’s vital that brands are able to create the right customer experiences to drive repeat purchases, encourage customer loyalty, and increase the growth of their brand’s bottom line.
As Director Customer Engagement Solutions GTM, I had the pleasure of speaking with several leading technology partners, including SAP Service Cloud, Movable Ink, Mention Me, and many others, to bring you a masterclass on increasing customer lifetime value by using your data to create 1:1 customer journeys and experiences.
Your Customers’ Experiences
Visiting a store typically allows one to interact with associates and obtain some sort of individualized service. Whether it’s simply getting a question answered, or something as hands-on as a beauty consultation, the interaction exists to help you receive what you want, and is geared to guide you to become a more loyal customer.
But, more than 70% of customers consult multiple channels before purchasing. What’s interesting though is that customers expect retailers to deliver real-time personalized content, anywhere, at any time, and on any device they use to interact with said retailer.
“And what that means is that retailers are no longer just competing against other retailers that are selling a similar product. You’re now competing against the last best experience that your customer had. Shoppers simply aren’t going to tolerate frictional or counterintuitive experiences when they’re so used to, and conditioned by, great experiences. And this rings especially true in a consumer’s e-mail inbox or mobile notification screen, which is typically jam-packed full of messages, marketers are competing against every new message and every notification that the customer has.”
Becki went on to explain that customers have three main expectations when interacting with brands:
- Customers want more than just to be sold to, they want a real relationship with your brand. You have to be able to prove value over the long term because online shoppers want to be treated the same way they would be in-store.
- Customers desire convenience. They want a simpler shopping experience. Whatever you can do to make their shopping experience as frictionless as possible, that’s what they want. For example, curbside service became part of many retailers offerings during the pandemic.
- Customers want consistency. For example, they should be able to find in-store products online, so they can buy your products when and where when they need them.
“I think this is only going to be paramount about how we provide experience to our customers. We’ve seen consumers return to the high street. We’ve seen how they miss it. They’ve been craving that kind of experience and stimuli that we mentioned before.”
Real-Time Insights from Your First-Party Data
Your customers want to hear from you and they desire a personalized experience across each channel they use to interact. For this to happen you need a complete 360-degree view of your buyers so you can understand how best to connect with them.
To get this complete customer view, it’s best to use the first-party data you’ve already collected. This data will provide you with insights such as channel affinity, product affinity, shopping behavior, predicted lifetime value, and loyalty status — all of which will help you create the omnichannel customer experiences that are essential to lasting customer relationships.
According to a survey of consumers, 87% say they would, in some cases, pay more for a better experience. The problem though is that many brands are unable to see the complete view of each of their customers, as the various technology pieces they use only gives them about half of the information they need.
“One of the greatest assets a brand has that enables them to create personalized experiences and drive customers to buy is their data. So, we also know that with the iOS 14 security update being released this month by Apple, it’s going to be increasingly hard for brands to collect that first-party data. And brands will really need to ensure that they’re using new channels, and the ones that they already have, to obtain that first-party data, and make the best use of that, and use it effectively across their marketing tools.”
Your Data in One Place to Unlock Customer Insights
In order to build a robust first-party data strategy, customer data must be collected, organized, and unified. A Customer Engagement Platform (CEP) can provide a single platform through which in-depth customer profiles can be created from various data sources and systems, enabling marketers to understand the types of interactions customers prefer.
“How do I then know how to take this customer to the next step? I need to engage with them on their terms. This is really important. You cannot tell the customer I don’t support you in this method of communication. If you don’t, somebody else will. So you have to deal and engage with them in the way they wish to engage with you. And this is really about understanding who your customers are, to understand how they wish to engage with you.”
CEPs enable you to pull important customer data from multiple sources so you can gather more precise data about customer preferences, more effectively target different segments, and achieve scalable 1:1 personalization.
“We are capturing customers’ data in-store, their names, their emails, and we’re growing the CRM databases for these retailers. Now, of course, the more e-mail addresses, the more marketing opt-ins you can capture, the better insight you can provide, and a true omnichannel, single customer view can be built. And, there’s sort of a really interesting point in time, when you have a customer in a store, because it is the only time that a retailer has a customer standing in front of a trained colleague, having just bought something, and to be able to have a face-to-face, 1:1 conversation where the colleague can try and encourage that customer to sign up to marketing… that is unique in the retail journey. So we can capitalize on that, build up this database, grow the single customer view insight, then that obviously allows us to pass the data we capture through to Emarsys, which allows them to have more targeted, more personalized marketing messages.”
Connecting with customers via any channel they desire, and building relationships with them, much like you would in-store, is what consumers desire.
With the current data you already own, you can leverage the Emarsys Customer Engagement Platform to create 1:1 personalized experiences for each and every customer, and use the included tactics to roll-out these experiences. All of this is done in real-time, without relying on your internal IT team or other agency resources, and provides you deep insights to achieve the business outcomes your brand wants.
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