By Sara Richter, CMO, Emarsys

The entire retail industry has been unstable these past few months. The world has officially changed and marketers are not immune.

We’ve all seen the mass store closings, major footfall decreases, and cash flow deficits. In fact, according to Emarsys data, online retail in the U.K. surpassed 150% year-on-year revenue growth during the height of the lockdown, settling above 100% in August.

Clearly opportunity abounds even in economic destruction, and some marketers are finding a way, adjusting to the shift and revamping old, outdated models by using time-tested strategies to connect with consumers. 

5 ways marketers are pivoting in the post-COVID-19 world

1. Zoom in on retention and loyalty

In the next era of retail, every customer journey will be unique, and engagement will occur wherever, whenever, and however the customer chooses. 

Delivering seamless, customer-centric experiences across each channel will be necessary. Creating emotional connections for lifelong loyalty and true brand advocates will be vital. In other words, be willing to put in the work.

Loyalty will not be won simply on low prices or discounts. Consumers are too savvy and have too many options to find “the best deal.” Instead, true brand loyalty will be earned by creating emotional connections with customers through every step of their journey. Results will be lasting, long-term customer relationships that lead to high AOVs and increased purchase frequency.  

2. Not connecting cross-channel data is not an option

The average household owns 10+ connected devices. The challenge is to understand when and how to connect with customers, and balance the various marketing channels including traditional (TV, radio, out-of-home, etc.), digital (email, mobile, social, etc.), and new in-app platforms.

How can marketers create customer-centric personalization across any channel and device? How can brands connect with customers at the right moment on a customer’s preferred channel (SMS, mobile app push, direct mail, or all of them) and deliver an omnichannel experience?

The power to make this happen lies in a connected engagement platform that connects all customer data and offers a complete view of each individual.

Family on Multiple Devices

3. Drive revenue with your data

First-party customer data, is the lifeblood of any retail organization. It’s the truest form of information about your customers because they gave it to you in confidence and in exchange for a promise of value, in anticipation of information about discounts or deals, or during a transaction.

Your first-party data is owned by you, and is one of your greatest assets and competitive advantages. Though it may seem obvious, customer data is literally the fuel for your communications.

But just know that customers are people, and people aren’t stagnant. They move, they change, and they never cease to be in motion. Thus, the data they produce never stops either… it’s fluid. Data is not set in stone and neither should your strategy be either.

A prerequisite for success in today’s busy retail landscape is effective use of first-party data to create real personalized marketing. Companies that are going above and beyond for their customers aren’t simply relying on third parties (to borrow data, do advertising, etc.), but they’re taking matters into their own hands.

4. Be laser-focused on the three A’s – Agility, Automation, and Alignment

Retail will be reformed as marketers leave complicated tech stacks behind. Not only are tech and tools costly, but they require navigating multiple tools, each with its own interface and data. It becomes difficult to maintain a consistent customer journey across all channels, which leads to more customer and business challenges in silos. 

Retail brands who embraced a digital-led strategy before the pandemic were best prepared for the change in online demand. For these companies, an e-commerce-first mindset, along with the right marketing technology, made them more agile and responsive to the influx of commerce to the digital sphere.

Agility starts with finding opportunities in data. Data tells you where opportunities lie. To take advantage of those opportunities, the tech you do use must allow you to rapidly align customer engagement and marketing strategies to the business outcomes you desire. Then, having found those opportunities in your data sets, it will become easier to execute in an agile way.

5. Implement at least one form of personalization per channel – and build from there

Don’t try to knock out omnichannel personalization in one fell swoop. Top brands began their journeys by leveraging data from one channel (customers, products, and sales) to provide customer-centric experiences before jumping to more.

Start small – on one core channel. Whether that’s email or your website, build 1:1 relationships with customers there and then look to grow. We recommend beginning with your website since it’s the hub. Your website is often the first impression of your brand and continues to be a driving factor for purchases and capturing attention. Using historical data to personalize experiences creates a way to nurture and engage customers from your website.

81% of consumers want brands to know them better (and know when and when not to approach them), so personalization is key. Once you’ve successfully built personalization into one channel it will become easier to expand on. When brands turn to personalized marketing, they’re not only making moves to give consumers what they want, but they’re also setting their business up for success.


The next era of marketing

We are witnessing a growing renaissance in retail. This rebirth of creativity is happening beneath the guise of unease many business owners are experiencing.

Marketers around the globe are pushing to get up to speed ASAP.

As quarantine and lockdown protocols are slowly lifted, shifts in consumer behavior will continue to occur. We’ve already seen the obvious change in consumer behavior caused by COVID-19, which is an increase in online shopping and the widespread embrace of e-commerce. What else will the future hold? Are you adapting to the new retail landscape and rolling with the punches? Are you set to thrive?

By Sara Richter, CMO, Emarsys

Published 17/09/2020

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