Marketers must go well beyond the traditional data collection points of mail, phone, e-mail and the cash register to get a clear view of how customers interact with their brands. To target and communicate messages more effectively, retail marketers must engage customers through new channels, integrating e-commerce, websites, mobile and social platforms. No longer can marketers simply get by on marketing what “they” want; now retail marketers must listen to the voice of the customer in the store and resonating digitally.
- Website data – There is no shortage of data that can be collected online with regard to consumer activity. The challenge with web data is that the sheer volume can be daunting to even the most experienced marketers, and in many cases it cannot be directly tied to a consumer at the name/address level. The key to this data is to identify only those components that are valuable to the marketing process. This will ensure that you don’t turn your marketing database into a massive storage system for online data, but a tool to organize and access the most relevant information for your customers.
- Mobile – Many organizations are expanding their sites to support mobile shopping or have created skinny apps for portable devices, such as the iPad. Mobile phones in particular are becoming the primary method for engaging consumers at different touchpoints given that the device is usually with the person at all times, and people tend to hold on to their phone numbers, even if they switch carriers. Mobile marketing also allows for geo-based targeting, as well as a two-way communication medium. However as mobile privacy is still paramount, getting consumers to opt-in is critical.
- Ecommerce – Collecting data from ecommerce transactions can be some of the most valuable data you can collect. This data can inform purchase behaviors, profile, and channel preferences, as well as allow for the opportunity to collect data elements that may drive better customer engagement such as income, gender, presence of children, etc.
- Social – Social media is by far the fastest growing area for data collection. Through social media, existing brands are broadening their customer reach, while new brands are exploding with ways to capture data on consumers. Social marketing isn’t simply about getting people to friend you on Facebook, follow you on Twitter or always about monetizing your efforts. It’s also about listening to what consumers are saying about your brand, products, or services in the marketplace and adjusting your marketing accordingly.
- Follow the data – Use all collected data across multiple channels to inform the messaging and the offer.
- Target consumers – Engage your customers on their channel of preference, not yours. A targeted campaign via email may be more effective than a television spot, if people keep skipping commercials on their DVRs.
- Don’t be afraid to test the waters – One of the best aspects of these new marketing channels is their low barriers to entry. And since these new channels are here to stay, testing will ensure that when you are ready, you can jump in full force.
David Geisinger is CTO of Merkle, Inc. Retail Vertical.