Bite-Sized Tactics to Tackle Digital Innovation
For businesses or products to stand the test of time, they must be willing to change with the times. In the marketing realm, this means one of two things:
1. Create new demand for something
2. Capitalize on a need not currently met
The immortal offer
Think about the coupon. In 1887, businessman Asa Candler created the first-known variety designed to market (and create new demand for) his little-known product … Coca-Cola!
By the 1960s, coupons were being “clipped” by half of all households. Whoever was in charge of feeding the family scoured the pages of dense daily papers, painstakingly identifying the offer that matched the item needed (taking into account its validity date), cutting and clipping them, and carrying them to the store for the final, manual exercise of, again, matching product to coupon.
Fast-forward 100+ years since Asa’s invention, coupons have been reformatted to meet the needs of digital consumers. Today’s coupon can be downloaded and stored on a mobile app, printed from a website, and scanned in store (or directly from a mobile-phone screen), linked to a customer’s loyalty profile, and more. Coupons can feature unique barcodes that tie purchase behavior, store location, and redemption details to an individual, so the next coupon can be more personalized to meet their needs.
Fueled by new technology and always-on access, customers’ tastes, shopping preferences, and buying behaviors are in constant flux, putting pressure on marketers to do something to remain competitive. So what should they do? Without question, the most important and immediate need right now is consumer demand for personalized content on all channels. The good news is there are a few manageable, important initiatives that can start them down this path today.
Among others, Accenture reported in 2012 that 75% of customers want relevant, customized offers. Retailers who can deliver are handsomely rewarded: MyBuys reported in 2012 that 40% of customers will buy more from retailers who deliver personalized offers. However, only 11% of marketers are moving beyond single-channel marketing to execute this strategy across channels. The effort to move in this direction impacts multiple digital channels used by consumers and managed by marketers and their vendor partners. Marketers must leverage disparate and massive amounts of data they have collected on their customers, a feat that does not require 120 years or $120 billion.
Start linking customer identifiers
The foundation of a multi-channel personalization strategy is a unified customer profile, with all IDs linked to the same consumer. Ideally, retailers will have various data points—email addresses, phone numbers, computer cookies, mobile ID device numbers—to create a full view of each customer. From that profile, retailers can send a text with a link to an app download (phone # + Device ID). They can send an email with a call-to-action to the website (email + cookie), or deploy dynamic coupons to link store location to customer data. These linkages will start retailers on the path to creating a unified customer profile from which to follow customers as they navigate multiple channels at once, instead of each in isolation.
Focus on interoperability
Cross-channel personalization terrifies most retailers because it implies the need to rip and replace one’s entire technology stack in favor of a single system that can manage all data and interactions across channels. This is not necessary. A partner that works with a marketer’s existing vendor partners and data sources can achieve the same effect of a single customer view while avoiding any disruption to a marketer’s current technology. By ingesting data from these sources and triggering deployments via existing channel partners, a seamless personalization strategy is possible without wreaking havoc on the entire organization.
Take ownership of your customer data
The less reliant digital retailers can be on third-party data, the better. Campaigns that succeed in collecting first-party data will pay off because they allow retailers to build an owned data asset on their customers. While everyone seems to be leveraging Facebook’s endless supply of customer data (which might seem like the most accurate way to target specific consumers), what do retailers get in return? They have no new data and have to pay increasingly more to do it all over again. Using owned data such as an email or phone number to reach a customer should be the first attempt. This one-to-one style of interaction also enables retailers to ingest new (owned) behavioral data with each engagement.
Combined with the speed at which the world is changing, retailers have to weigh an ever-increasing list of priorities to stay afloat. Perhaps the new evolutionary model isn’t so much about getting ahead of these changes, but finding ways to always be in motion, always moving ahead at a pace that is feasible for that organization. Implementing small changes like those described above are manageable, cost-effective ways to prepare for the digital (i.e., personal) age of marketing.
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