By Ellie-Rose Davies, Content Executive at IMRG
Too often are retailers looking to improve their online performance and meet the struggle of optimising their data. This blog uncovers how historic and real-time data can be used to understand customer behaviour, grow customer trust, and personalise experiences at every customer touchpoint, including the post-purchase experience.
Identify KPIs to measure historic and real-time success
To achieve ecommerce growth, it is not advisable to depend on social media trends or assumptions alone. It is better to use KPIs to compare previous campaigns with real-time data to gain a better understanding of your performance and drive success for future campaigns. This will aid conversion rates and help to build a strong brand image.
Chris Gorman, Head of Professional Services at Esendex, reflects on the difficulty of sifting through endless amounts of data and understanding which data counts. He starts by expressing that ‘Once you have your data analytics questions, you also need to agree KPIs that you can use to measure them against.’
After collating the data, ‘you can dig deeper and uncover intelligence to establish additional sales opportunities and identify underperforming areas in the customer journey that can deliver an uptick in your product sales.’
It is important to question the data that you obtain to create ‘valuable and actionable’ results, says Chris, who recommends that ‘instead of asking how can we raise revenue?, you could ask what are the communication channels we should focus on to increase revenue while not impacting costs? or, better still, which marketing campaign from the last quarter gave us the best ROI, and how can we replicate its success?’
Historic and existing campaign data can also be used beyond studying financial gains. Nicole Kivel, Managing Director, Northern Europe, at Criteo draws to light the implications of limiting campaign measurement and analysis in this way, specifically relating to retail media.
Nicole shares that, ‘While it’s positive to see retail media budgets are increasing, a continued over-emphasis on ROAS results in the wrong assessments being made on campaign results. The most important KPI to determine success may sit outside ROAS and be focused on consideration, new-to-brand, and market share shifts.’
She recommends that ‘retailers should be informed on how best to report on these metrics to access broader funnel budgets and tap into non-ROAS campaigns.’
Provide accurate information and grow customer trust
Alongside studying campaign effectiveness and prioritising KPIs, your product and website content should be accurate, especially when customers might be alert to slight inaccuracies in attempts to protect their pockets in a cost-of-living crisis.
Charley Hackerson, Chief Revenue Officer at Botify reveals that 45% of consumers place greater trust in a brand that organically appears in top search engine results rather than one that is showcased as a sponsored or paid advertisement.’
‘Furthermore, 59% of consumers agree that their experience on a brand’s website significantly contributes to their trust in that brand. Retailers must heed these data-driven insights to solidify their brand authority and create long lasting relationships with customers.’
In following this advice, and ‘avoiding common pitfalls such as inaccurate content on webpages, long page load times and hard to navigate sites, retailers can effectively harness the power of data to drive online sales and foster unwavering customer trust’, says Charley.
Inaccurate content on areas such as product pages can be detrimental to online sales. Carla El Gawly, Retail Strategy & Partnerships Director EMEA at Salsify reinforces this; ‘Salsify’s Consumer Research 2023 revealed that 55% of global consumers wouldn’t purchase a product online due to bad, incomplete or inconsistent product information.’
Carla says, ‘Brands and retailers need to optimise product content, and collect, store, and analyse data in one central place so they can identify errors in milliseconds.’
Together with website content optimisation, trust can be kept through being transparent with customers, and adhering to strict GDPR laws. Borja Santaolalla, Co-founder, and Chief Experience Officer at Empathy.co argues for retailers to ‘think about the data you really need.’
Borja continues, ‘The more personal information you gather, the more resources will be needed to keep it safe. If you do collect data, clearly communicate to your customers how and why, avoiding complex consent banners. Be mindful of how that data is processed, where it’s stored and for how long.’
Ultimately, as nicely put by Borja, ‘Shoppers deserve relationships anchored in trust.’
Harness customer data and personalise messaging
If you have accurate website content but wish to grow trust beyond the baseline, you can use customer data to create personalised messaging at every stage of the sales funnel.
However, despite many retailers’ best efforts to offer more personalised experiences, Ben Foulkes, Commercial Director, Digital Media Solutions at Epsilon EMEA, describes how it has become ‘increasingly difficult for brands to differentiate online.
While a data-led approach to targeting and engaging customers appears obvious, Forrester’s research shows that only 46% of retailers are gearing up to deliver this.’
Ben voices that the brands who ‘successfully combine their 0 and 1st party data with 2nd and 3rd party data can personalise with a better understanding of the other macroeconomic factors or the day-to-day activities of their customers. It’s a change of mindset from personalising touchpoints to making them relevant.’
Also, retailers tend to focus on static imagery and direct written word, but many are noticing the value video plays in attracting customers’ attention and providing better product insights, which can subsequently reduce returns.
Teresa Tang, Senior VP, Head of Analytics, Data Science and Data Engineering at Brightcove says that their research ‘found that 85% of consumers worldwide find video essential as they shop online. Data can help you understand the entire customer journey: who’s viewing your content, what they’re watching, and how long they’re watching it for.’
‘These insights can be used to refine your content and to drive better lead scoring, personal identification, nurturing, and personalised follow up. Video data also supports sales teams with insights on what’s important to the buyer — and what isn’t.’
Personalised experiences, whilst appeasing customers, therefore, can have many benefits to the retailer. Another example of utilising data to enhance the customer experience is offered by Dan Bond, VP of Marketing at RevLifter.
He provides an example of site abandonment; ‘There are some incredibly simple tools that track when a customer is opening new tabs, copying product names, and generally showing signs of comparing prices elsewhere. From here, you can either serve something like a discount to convert the sale or add an extra layer of data by reserving that offer for customers that have a high cart value.”
‘It’s all about using data in a practical and targeted way’, says Dan, ‘by tying everything back to your business challenges.’
Think beyond the sale with post-purchase data
As well as using data to inspire customers to convert, retailers can use post-purchase data, particularly around delivery and returns, to ensure effective communication at every stage of the customer journey. Customers will feel that you care about them, and they may come back to shop with you again and again.
Tobias Buxhoidt, Co-Founder and CEO of parcelLab, explores how ‘retailers should firstly ensure comprehensive data collection from various sources like order tracking systems, customer surveys, and customer support platforms. They can then integrate this data to gain a holistic view of the customer journey.’
With loyalty being an end goal, Tobias says ‘customer feedback and sentiment analysis is important. Retailers should use this insight to identify pain points and areas for improvement, translating it into actionable insights.’
Focussing on returns, Laura Garrett, Retail Returns Expert at ReBound says that ‘Making returns smart is all about data accessibility and ensuring that you have insight throughout your return process. Being able to access data at every touchpoint makes it easy to quickly identify bottlenecks in operations and find quick solutions.’
For example, ‘By collecting data throughout the end-to-end returns journey, this allows you to have an overview of where each and every returned parcel is at any given moment, enabling you to see bottlenecks in the network and find solutions quickly.’
Laura continues, ‘You can also feed this tracking information back to your consumers so that they are informed of when they will receive refunds, which significantly reduces the pressure on your customer service teams.’ Read more about navigating returns here.
The value of utilising data is plentiful and can be used to complement the customer experience from the moment they enter your site.
Want to read more? Here are some other IMRG blogs which cover a range of ecommerce topics: