Retailers for the past several years have seen consumer spending stagnate and while the NRF estimates that retail sales in 2016 will grow 3.1 percent – an improvement over the 10-year average of 2.7 percent– it’s still not predicted to be the blockbuster year that brands have been hoping for. Slow growth coupled with new technologies, changing consumer behavior and what’s important to consumers all means that retail marketing strategies for attracting and retaining customers must continually evolve to address a changing reality.
While customer attraction and retention has always been important, doing more of the same simply doesn’t work anymore, as evidenced by retailers who failed to adapt and have fallen by the wayside. It’s a natural reflection of the changing needs and demands of consumers that Victoria’s Secret, for example, has ceased publication of its mail order catalog.
So, what is it that today’s consumers desire and demand that retailers can attract and retain customers with a new, fresh approach that will resonate – and most importantly succeed. Let’s walk through three key elements of customer expectations and how retail marketers can proactively address them:
Today’s consumers have a remote control in their pocket that allows them to interact with brands how, when and where they like. Brands that are able to infuse the customer experience with the utility consumers demand will be able to maintain value in the customer relationship, not just retaining that customer but expanding their lifetime value. Utility is more than convenience; it’s the customer’s view of omni-channel and how easy it is engage with the brand in a personalized, 1:1 manner. This means creating a holistic connection of the mobile interface with meaningful experiences, back end business processes, and consumer programs that already exist within the organization.
Which brings us to personalization. Peppers & Rogers coined the 1:1 relationship over a decade ago; yet, the tools and technology marketers have now to enable a personalized cross-channel experience is groundbreaking. While shopping suggestions based on past purchases, remarketing efforts and happy birthday emails are great, personalization can be taken to another level entirely when coupled with the ability to authenticate, or recognize an individual customer. The Chirpify platform, for example, allows brands to expand on personalization in this way, engaging and interacting intelligently with consumers via a rules-based system that can link to deep CRM data for a true realization of the 1:1 conversation.
Taking this evolution to the next natural step then is to offer programs that already exist within the organization, such as loyalty, to consumers over their social-mobile remote control. By linking offline loyalty program members with online social IDs, retailers can gather important data about who is engaging with them online and which channels they prefer to use when shopping (e.g. do they order online and pick up in the store). With this data in hand, marketers can further personalize their 1:1 efforts and create campaigns that maximize customer value.
For example, a sporting goods retailer who is trying to expand in-store sales might try to encourage sales with in-store marketing that prompts engagement with a social trigger. When a known customer, “Jack” engages with that trigger, Chirpify allows the retailer to listen for that store-based social action and piece it together with his consumer data that has been stored. Chirpify recognizes that it was Jack who used the social trigger and automatically sends him a personalized mobile email, thanking him for visiting the store and rewarding him with 10% off his in-store purchase. Forbes recently reported that 84% of consumers say they would spend more with retailers who offer programs that reward them for social and other non-purchase actions. It is not just discounts that delight customers, but the opportunity to be rewarded for social participation.
Chirpify enables this social participation on behalf of retailers such as Columbia Sportswear and listens in the background for consumers that activate social triggers – both net new customers and existing loyalty program members. Chirpify applies rules from its rules engine and automatically responds to the consumer accordingly, effectively engaging and converting consumers online. Chirpify enables a currency exchange between retailers’ existing loyalty programs and social media and activates retailers’ campaigns enabling consumers to use social to convert on marketing and advertising instantly. All of which serves to increase organic engagement, grow customer acquisition, further loyalty efforts and increase customer lifetime value.
It is the convergence of personalization, utility and loyalty that will enable retailers to meet the evolving challenge of customer acquisition and retention head on, effectively competing more successfully for a larger piece of the consumer spending pie. Retail CIOs and COOs may be marching to the beat of an omni-channel drum, but retail marketers need to be thinking about how they can drive cross-channel utility to get consumers to purchase in any channel at all. If your brand is struggling with customer acquisition and retention in a landscape of changing consumer expectations, reach out to us today to learn more about how Chirpify can align loyalty, utility and personalization for you.