Over the last decade, it’s become apparent that the path from market to purchase is no longer linear. Yet, there are far too many marketers who still rely on legacy engagement strategies to drive sales, even when the data shows that consumers are going wherever the customer experience is most convenient to find the products they want.
According to a recent Salesforce Survey, 67% of consumers say they are using multiple channels to complete a single transaction, and 74% are open to making purchases on alternative media channels, including social platforms and online marketplace environments. That being said, marketers who are tied to yesterday’s obsolete tactics are at a serious disadvantage when it comes to activations, attracting new customers, or even retaining their existing customers.
As consumers shop on multiple channels, they actively seek and consistently respond to personalized engagement. In another report done by Boston Consulting Group, customers admit that when the shopping experience was highly personalized, they were 110% more likely to add additional items to their baskets and 40% more likely to spend more than they had originally planned.
If this is the case, why aren’t more marketers better at connecting with their customers and personalizing their experiences? Well, it’s not an easy task considering the everchanging preferences of today’s consumers. This endeavor is not impossible, however. By integrating data into the customer journey, using the correct cadence, and creating a seamless experience, brands can evolve their strategies and significantly increase customer engagement.
Data should guide every decision when it comes to maximizing the efficiency of marketing spend and creating a friendly, more personalized shopping experience – that’s what it’s there for. Today, 50% of marketers say they do not have sufficient data intake programs or enough customer insights to drive effective campaigns. Incorporating data into your customer journey from conception to purchase is one of the most crucial yet complicated parts of creating a connected shopping experience. Marketers must work to establish an adequate data intake system, determine how to read and understand it, and finally can make decisions about how to use it.
Implementations such as these put you on the path to improving ROI. Maybe you only have enough data to provide directional insights on your shoppers’ preferences or buying behaviors. Maybe your customers fit a certain, very specific demographic criterion. As you begin analyzing your data, you may start to see trends that suggest which offers, product categories, and messaging resonate most with your consumers. You can use this data to select or create customer profiles to align with your target audience, feature popular category items on in-store signage, or leverage paid media to promote specific offerings to strengthen and personalize the customer journey.
Accurate data in any capacity enables you to create more responsive media and commerce incentives, eliminate wasted placements and investments, and reach the right audience during the busiest times of the year. The key is understanding how to interpret and utilize that data to craft the best possible experience.
Finding the right messaging cadence will allow you to activate customers across multiple touchpoints to influence purchase decisions both online and in-store. The first step? Identifying the needs and wants of your target audience through the behavioral and transactional data you may have. This data can help determine which products appeal to your audience, what they typically look for, how to reach them, and what kind of marketing messages work at crucial touchpoints.
From a certain ad placement to a quick SMS, different touchpoints in the customer journey influence purchases in different ways. Using channels such as in-store signage and onsite media can drive awareness and consideration while customers are in an active purchase mode, and other channels like influencer marketing and off-site media capture attention in the purchase planning stage. A comprehensive marketing strategy combines the best of both worlds with just a splash of newer mediums, such as targeted media, to ensure you are reaching consumers across all buying modes.
It’s no secret that some shoppers are likely to abandon a fragmented customer experience. Slow load times, long checkout processes, or glitchy landing pages can be the kiss of death for a consumer looking to complete a transaction. When this happens, retailers can not only miss out on a sale, but also forego the opportunity to capture valuable data and insights into the customer’s shopping behavior.
The connection between the customer and the retailer is especially critical in today’s market. The COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the largest share increase of online sales in a single year. This was due in part to stay-at-home and quarantine orders from state and local governments, as most people were forced to shop online for items that they would typically buy in-store. After this shift in purchase preference, 85% of retailers reported that they believe their companies missed valuable opportunities and needed to improve their online presence and personalization efforts.
But, driving sales by making products available online is not the only factor that retailers should focus on. The biggest goal should be creating a positive experience for customers to quickly and easily shop with their brand. Establishing a positive shopping experience online does not have to be complicated. Customers want simplicity; 56% said they expect to find what they want in three clicks or less. However, implementing a cohesive online shopping experience across multiple channels is where some brands struggle.
Customers today expect a lot from the brands they shop with. They’re constantly on the lookout for good quality products, great prices, and businesses who value them. Through a connected retail experience, customers should be able to view influencer content on Instagram, claim an offer online, clip a print offer, or simply add a particular item to their shopping cart with ease, while you capture preference data with complete tracking and visibility to improve and build customer profiles for future campaigns.
An intuitive shopper experience saves both time and the effort it takes between browsing and buying, which ultimately drives an efficient and impactful ROI.
There are a thousand different ways to test and improve customer shopping experiences. By using the right data and focusing on creating a more personalized, connected journey for customers, you’ll undoubtedly start to see more success in capturing consumer attention and influence purchase decisions every step of the way.
Start small, learn about your customers, leverage data and insights, study what works and what doesn’t, and evolve your customer journey into on that works every time.