Learn how to keep up with customer demands to future proof your business

By Marta Sloma, Senior Planner at Zeta Global,

April 26, 2017

Retailers are facing evolving demands from their customers.

As digital interactions increase, the world of online shopping must keep up while meeting the needs and expectations of the Connected Customer. We look at the reasons why customers require a more personalised service and the problems that businesses face in implementing it.

It’s becoming increasingly important for retail brands to build stronger, faster relationships with customers in order to make the most of a personalised shopping experience. Learn how to keep up with customer demands to future proof your business by downloading Zeta Global’s complimentary whitepaper for the full industry report.

Download for free: Content, context and trust: Identifying the golden customer opportunities for retail marketing

Personalisation is no longer the exception – it’s an expectation

In this age of digital experience, the rise of the Connected Customer is forcing brands to keep up with evolving consumer needs. Connected Customers are constantly switched on. They’re mobile centric, engaging with information wherever and whenever they want. These hyper-aware consumers have kickstarted a battle between brands, to see who can deliver the most relevant experience that reflects the customer’s needs – while keeping the experience personalised across a range of channels and devices.

Zeta Global’s VP, Strategy and Analytics, Jill Brittlebank, explains: “The consumers’ perspective of ecommerce is a non-exclusive shop window on a virtual high street that is open to all, rather than bespoke to the individual”. Online retail is a world away from the in-store experience of going into a shop and interacting with a salesperson to meet your product requirements. There’s a need for brands to replicate this experience in a digital way, treat their online consumers as individuals, whilst exploiting the speed and convenience that online buying can bring.

Providing a personalised service can be problematic for brands of all sizes. Large enterprises struggle with implementing a unified system and often, customer touchpoints feel disjointed and send differing messages. Smaller organisations may not have the resources to deliver personalisation, lacking funding or the know-how. So why is personalisation so important? What does it look like? How can brands overcome the problems they face in executing it?

The importance of personalisation

The growing online presence of the Connected Customer has brands battling for visibility each step of the way, from social network accounts, to pay per click advertising and email communications. Ultimately, the number of digital touchpoints potential customers are coming into contact with is dramatically increasing. In turn, the customer experience is also becoming increasingly more complex as they transition from brand awareness, to purchase, and finally reach the end goal: loyalty.

And, with every marketer keen to make the most of each channel opportunity, the consumer is experiencing an overwhelming volume of messages, whilst brands become lost in the noise.

Zeta Global’s whitepaper, Content, context and trust: Identifying the golden opportunities for retail marketing, surveyed over 3,000 shoppers to see how their expectations are changing. Thirty-eight percent of respondents said that if a brand recognised them as a previous customer, offering discounts on products they are interested in, they would be less likely to shop elsewhere.

This statistic represents a clear lesson for retailers to action and graduate customers towards loyalty. To get there, the customer expects to receive a personalised service that recognises them as an individual with unique shopping habits. However, there are a range of ways that personalisation can be put into action, and choosing an effective method that is grounded in testing hypotheses should form the basis of this action. Brands might recognise a customer’s spending habits, but how can they communicate this in a way that the customer wants to see?

Forms of personalisation

To prevent consumers becoming overwhelmed with irrelevant communications, brands need a clear strategy for personalisation. Basing communication on two types of customer data: actionable insights and contextual, will help brands to provide a more personalised experience.

  1. Contextual insights

Geolocation technology is one great example of how context can be used to drive personalisation. If customers download a brand’s app, this can track their location and send promotional offers when they are near a store. This form of ‘moment marketing’ taps into the localisation of retail and takes advantage of circumstantial opportunity. Customers are made to feel as though their needs are being anticipated by the store and as a result, the shopping experience is improved.

  1. Actionable insights

Alternatively, a personalisation strategy that is based on actionable customer insights may make use of email communications. These can be targeted based on a consumer’s expressed interests and previous shopping habits. Offering promotions for products that a customer has shown intent to purchase is one way to anticipate their needs. These recommendations can be embedded, at scale, through the use of modular templates and messages that talk directly to the customer, on a one-to-one basis, rather than to the masses.

Segmenting your customer base

Segmentation of your customer base can also help to tailor a message across larger groups with similar qualities. Creating customer profiles or personae, can be a helpful way for brands to distinguish key groups and identify the most effective touchpoints to reach them on. For example, Zeta’s whitepaper found that only 35% of 55-64 year olds engaged with retail brands on Facebook. Conversely, 60% of 25-34 year olds engaged with brands through the same channel, suggesting it is a more effective touchpoint for younger audiences. In each example, data is the driving force that allows brands to personalise their communication and works to make the customer feel recognised and valued.

Delivering a personalised service

To keep up with the Connected Customer, the complete customer experience must be tailored for the customer through systems that enable marketers to shed their archaic mass marketing strategies. To reach the lucrative end goal of the customer experience: loyalty, consumers expect to be recognised as an individual from the start of the relationship. Although doing this is a challenge – brands need to collect data, manage it effectively and action insights to produce relevant communications – investing in a personalised service will pay dividends for the future.

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