As we settle down into the start of 2018, our thoughts turn to how, as marketers, we can improve our strategy, and make it even more successful than the year before.
There were some tremendous technological advances made in 2017, especially with regards to the supernatural world of artificial intelligence and machine learning. AI was definitely one of the key buzzwords of last year and something any smart marketer should be trying to incorporate into their strategy. However, while some good progress was made, we have still only just scratched the surface with regards to the true potential of this technology and what it can do to raise the bar of marketing campaigns and enhance consumer relationships.
The marketer’s role, especially in retail, has changed drastically, and businesses had to come to terms with a new playing field that required them to disrupt their own strategy at every turn. This included understanding the needs of next-generation consumers, evaluating the role of AI in maximising sales, preparing for GDPR (in Europe), building personalisation into the core consumer experience and experimenting with new technologies and tactics to see what works.
To survive in today’s competitive market, global brands are expected to launch impressive initiatives around four key components of commerce tech: personalisation, omnichannel, analytics, and digital store capabilities.
The problems still facing consumer brands in 2018:
Lack of loyalty
‘80% of your business’ total revenue is driven by your loyal, returning consumers.’ (Deloitte) Brands are still struggling to truly understand their consumers and put them front and centre. A study by Baymard finds that as many as 60% of shoppers are becoming less brand loyal because they are ‘emotionally ambivalent’ about what they are seeing and doing and feel no connection with the brand.
There is a need to shift from being consumer-centric to truly relationship-centric; this is the dawn of personalised, adaptive shopping experiences. The relationship building process means the ‘one size’ no longer fits all.
How a brand is perceived by consumers and the experience that consumers have in stores and online, is critical to success, and retailers should look at emotion to correctly measure the overall consumer experience. If a retailer is not organised in the right way to be relationship-centric, they need to take action to restructure accordingly. In addition to the people-work required, they must ensure they can capture and centralise first-party consumer data and use it to generate useful insight for their business. For some organisations, this will require a complete transformation of their data storage processes and architecture. Once brands have the consumer-centric data, they must know what to do with it. We must leverage tools that deliver actionable insights and enable us/organisations to correctly respond to changing conditions. This move towards emotion is in many ways the next step in personalisation and taps into one of the main trends I see for 2018:’ relationship-service’. By this, I mean shoppers are already spoiled for choice regarding price. They are increasingly also spoilt for choice with delivery speed, personalised experience and more. What’s left to differentiate on? How the consumer feels that they are being looked after – in short, the emotion of their interaction with brands.
With the rapid increase in free guest Wi-Fi across most bricks-and-mortar locations, this channel is perfectly positioned to help brands better understand and communicate with consumers. AI integrations can further provide more targeted and customised rewards for the individual.
Wi-5 has enabled brands to increase personalised content by an average of 43%, demonstrating that Wi-Fi is an incredibly valuable marketing tool.
Inconvenient and slow
Convenience continues to be a primary driver for purchasing products online. Access to information, product range and price comparison also plays a key role for consumers and their continued adoption of e-commerce. As the online purchase experience continues to improve, bricks-and-mortar retailers must learn from the digital world and aim to replicate much of the convenience and content led capabilities of online retail. Consumer experience should be paramount, and this now far surpasses long queues, generic marketing and unavailable stock.
This is more than just a passing trend; it instead marks a shift in spending habits that all brands must acknowledge and quickly adapt to or face tough times. The retailer, Next, is a prime example that has done just that. Strategic investment in its online operations allowed them to reap the rewards of an unexpected sales surge over Christmas, with a 13.6% rise in online sales proving critical to their overall growth.
Increased mobile engagement is an obvious solution to the issue, but as we are all aware, getting branded content and services into the palm of a consumer has many barriers. App fatigue is greater than ever with branded apps, and social media is even starting to take a back seat to messaging services.
How this is solved is by looking at the future trends of mobile usage – approximately 70% of the mobile traffic will be over Wi-Fi by 2020 and Wi-Fi is still an untapped channel which most brands have already invested in but not yet monetised. We now have the ability to stream branded apps to any Wi-Fi enabled the device for the time a consumer wants it is an example of how demands are being heard and met.
Increased app fatigue
There are some shocking facts regarding branded app success. Yes, app downloads in general, are still growing by 7% YoY (App Annie) but this is almost entirely made up by the gaming sector.
A recent study (Accenture) found that 44% of retail brands have removed their apps from the app store since 2015. Meanwhile, 56% of companies with an app currently in the app stores have not updated it in the past year, and 80% of branded apps struggle to achieve 1,000 downloads.(Deloitte)
The reason, there are simply too many barriers for the consumer when it comes to downloading. Poor app ROI is not going to change, despite the investment; however, consumers are still heavily mobile-focused. With this in mind, marketers need to look for more affordable, efficient and familiar channels to interact with their audiences, such as Wi-Fi.
Brands must be able to assist consumers before, during and after they enter the store. Before consumers visit a brick-and-mortar location, many check online first to ensure what they want is there. If they are not able to provide this information, the consumer may look to a competitor instead. Once the consumer is in the store, the experience must be as positive and seamless as possible, and the journey does not stop after the purchase. Post sale follow-up in the form of consumer experience surveys, review requests, etc. and other tactics are commonplace. Moreover, promotions designed to encourage repeat sales, discounts, personalised recommendations, etc., are essential.
With the barriers that exist with traditional apps, are you confident that your business is equipped to meet all the mobile demands of today’s consumer?
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