This feature originally appeared on salestechstar.com.
The new world was always going to be customer-centric.
In 2020, customer experience was expected to overtake price and product as a key differentiator. The global pandemic has only accelerated the need for seamless experiences. Customers expect brands to eliminate breaks in conversation during their buying journey – even when they switch between screens, channels, and technologies. Retail businesses are also expected to deliver a smooth transition between their digital and physical experiences. The Forrester Research report, Envisioning The Future Of Omnichannel Commerce, states that in the US alone, 69% of adults say it’s vital for a retailer to offer visibility into items that are available in the store; 31% are less likely to visit a store if its in-store inventory isn’t available online.
Demand is high, and competition gets more fierce every day. Retail brands worldwide must improve customer acquisition and loyalty to increase lifetime value. However, Forrester’s The State Of Retail Loyalty In 2020 report showed that out of all the loyalty programs evaluated, only a few successfully shared information about membership, purchases, or other shopper actions. Most could also do with being more engaging in their customer outreach.
In light of the current events and unpredictability of the future, reassessing repurchase and loyalty programs is the need of the hour. Here’s an overview of the three steps to creating more meaningful and personalized engagements.
Step 1: Remove guesswork and gut instinct
The future belongs to predictive analytics.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, nothing about your customers’ behavior and preferences is the same as they were. While past behavior is a strong indicator of response and acceptance, relying on it to deliver new experiences defies logic. Only your customers can answer the question of what is valuable to them. Listen, and you won’t need to rely on instinct anymore.
Step 2: Automate strategically
Supercharge your team's efficiency.
The success of your personalization and engagement efforts relies on your team's ability to deliver the right content at the right time. Plainly put, it isn’t about you – it’s about them. If you aren’t strategic in your approach, you’ll find yourself meeting the glass ceiling. Consider six key areas while outlining your strategy:
- Business goals and outcomes automation will empower
- Approach to scaling technology effectively
- Data strategy that lays the foundation for data-driven automation and personalization
- Ability to integrate with your tech stack
- Role of content and how it drives the personalized omni-channel experience
- Internal processes that support collaboration and agility – which are critical to delivering omni-channel experiences
Identifying the right automation platform to enable personalized engagement is the first step in the right direction. If you’re assessing your options right now, here’s a list of blogs that will help you analyze Salesforce Marketing Cloud against your business needs and other marketing automation platforms.
Step 3: Feed your loyalty programs and repurchase campaigns with predictive insights
Seamless integration is the name of the game.
At the very beginning, I mentioned that customers find very few loyalty programs and repurchase campaigns engaging in terms of frequency and value. Now, it’s time for honest and brutal self-assessment. How would your customers rate you? Do you belong in the category of the few that include Nordstrom and Starbucks? If the answer is no, go back to the drawing board. By now, you’ve identified a data strategy and an automation platform that’s right for your unique business needs. Bring these two together.
Do I simply send out repurchase reminders?
If you answered yes, forgive my bluntness, I must ask you to stop. Most retail businesses do this today. This email campaign will probably sit in your customers’ inboxes unopened. Consider this, do you buy a product only because you’re running out? Your customers are people like you. They’re likely to research replacement options, recommendations, and ideas that will make life easier, just like you would. Revamp your campaigns to deliver product recommendations, tips and tricks, consumer stories, and more. If your customers can rely on you for trusted information consistently, their loyalty will translate to dollars.
Do my loyalty programs offer more than savings?
While savings and special offers are still the most critical expectations customers have from loyalty programs, Forrester Research also found that 43% of customers say these programs influence what they buy. If you’re simply sending out sale alerts and price drops, you’re missing out on a multitude of opportunities. Deliver the right messages and surveys to identify satisfied customers who are most likely to sign up and dissatisfied customers whose experience you can improve to retain them. Grow your loyalty program beyond a points card and email campaign. Your data strategy provides you with predictive insights on the touchpoints your customers rely on. Why not personalize every single one of them? The Einstein Builder in Salesforce Marketing Cloud leverages data models to allow you to personalize every campaign and touchpoint.
There isn’t much room for error in today’s world. Data and technological preparedness will dictate your ability to survive and thrive.