E-commerce provides retailers with bountiful data, but the underlying question remains – are they making the best use of it?

While it has become increasingly commonplace to segment customers based on data like age, gender and clothing size for marketing purposes, retailers can greatly increase their return on investment by going even deeper into every minute detail of how customers spend their time either in store or online.

Data about the amount of time a customer spends on a retailer’s website, the pages they visit and the items added and removed from their shopping basket can greatly improve the relevance of a company’s marketing communications strategy.

Getting to know your customer

“Value-hunter” customers, for example, who spend most of their time in the “sale” or discount area of a site or sort items by price, can be given advance visibility of online sales or targeted with only paper sale catalogues in order to reduce marketing costs and ensure material is always relevant. Likewise, “in-trend” customers who spend time in the “new” section of the online store can be sent promotional emails with a more aspirational feel detailing the latest seasonal items.

In isolation, these segments may seem obvious, but by applying multiple layers of segmentation data, retailers and marketers can start to make highly accurate predictions of the offers and alerts that will be most effective in capturing their target consumers.

Furthermore, identifying each customer’s preferred communication channel, be it traditional mail, e-mail, SMS and so forth will also help to deliver successful promotional campaigns, allowing each message sent to provide real value. Retailers can also determine which device the customer prefers to use. For instance, a customer may frequently browse the catalogue on their smartphone and yet only make purchases via a PC. This presents a perfect opportunity for the retailer to send the customer a link to its app on the App Store or Play Store.

Personalising promotions

By segmenting customers in this way, retailers can ensure they only send emails to those who are most likely to respond or spend. Not only will this inevitably reduce the number of emails ending up in the customer’s spam folder, it will also improve the return on investment and reduce targeting wastage of promotional campaigns.

Along with continually striving to improve the success rate of their promotional campaigns, retailers also stand to reduce the overall marketing spend by targeting their resources where they will have the greatest impact. The days of “scatter shot” promotions – sending out flurries of impersonal promotional messages and offers in hope that even a small percentage sticks – are certainly numbered. Consumers are now becoming increasingly unresponsive to these sorts of campaigns, relegating them to the junk or spam folder or rapidly scrolling through to find the “unsubscribe” button.

Another very significant development is the use of advanced analytics to reduce the number of customers defecting to competitors. These techniques establish which particular behaviours are indicative of a customer who is about to move on, allowing such defections to be headed off with timely and personalised offers via email, text message or through the web portal.

Major gains in marketing optimisation

If they are to excel in the era of intense competition, retailers need to adopt a solution that provides an integrated approach to planning, developing and managing their customer communications across multiple channels, product lines and business locations. With such a solution in place, they can execute both traditional and non-traditional campaigns, including highly sophisticated multiple-step dialogues and event-based promotions. They will also be able to optimise all of their customer communications to deliver a highly effective blend of messages and promotional offers exclusively for each customer based on priority and the availability of resources within a specified period.

The time has come for retailers to put the terabytes of valuable campaign data and customer purchase history currently sitting at their fingertips to good use, greatly improving the effectiveness of their marketing communications and driving valuable customer interaction.

 

By Ruth Gordon, director of digital marketing at Teradata

 

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