Shifting Your Retail Marketing Approach for Enhanced One-to-One Personalization

By Julio Lopez, Director of Strategy, Retail at Movable Ink

There has been a massive shift in the marketing world as of late – all surrounding what data is available for retailers and marketers to leverage in their programs. Data privacy is becoming increasingly important, marked by Apple’s iOS15 update and Google’s plan to remove third-party cookies from Chrome by 2022. While third-party data is reaching an end-of-life stage, retailers have a wealth of zero- and first-party data to leverage to create sophisticated email marketing campaigns.

What does that mean for brands as they look to re-evaluate their marketing strategies to reach consumers in a meaningful way? The answer hinges on personalization – meaning retailers should deliver curated, relevant content for their existing and prospective customers by leveraging data, technology, and savvy thinking.

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Personalized marketing strategies for the holiday season

The holiday shopping season is quickly approaching, and we expect to see an extended, eCommerce-driven one, accelerated by increased digital usage from consumers. According to eMarketer, U.S. holiday retail sales are predicted to increase 2.7% to $1.093 trillion in 2021, with eCommerce accounting for a record 18.9% of all sales. To keep up with demand, brands should not only start linking both loyal and new customers through all their digital and mobile channels now, but also how to increase their data-driven personalization tactics across channels.

For example, on high volume days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, many (if not all) brand’s categories may be on sale, but not all are relevant to every individual. By personalizing category targeting to reflect recent browsing behavior on site, or by making recommendations based on recent purchases to drive upsell and cross-sell, marketers can elevate what is traditional “spray and pray” messaging. You can take your generic 25% sitewide hero creative and update it to reflect the most appropriate category at the 1:1 level. The generic copy becomes ‘Take 25% Off Our Newest {dynamic} Styles’ and the dynamic elements update based on web behavior or mobile app behavior. You can even go as far as changing the hero imagery to reflect those categories that are relevant to the individual. While the task of having thousands if not millions of creative variations may seem daunting, it can be easily accomplished through the right activation of your martech stack.

Use technology to capture data and find your niche

Marketing teams don’t have the time to sort through millions of data points to find what’s relevant and make actionable recommendations for every customer visiting their site or engaging with their mobile app. This is where automation technology comes in – with it, marketers can sort through the data and personalize digital content for each customer, eliminating the tedious work of handling multiple audiences throughout different platforms and updating custom segments as customers move between different groups.

They can then begin optimizing the content each customer receives – when they receive it, how personalized the content is, and even where it’s placed in the email – all with the goal of driving more conversions, but also focusing on improving the end-to-end customer experience. These capabilities allow marketers to move away from ineffective batch-and-blast email sends that lead to email fatigue. By taking a modular approach to email builds and powering each section of an email via an API or other relevant data source, marketers can automate content areas such as product recommendations, brick-and-mortar store location data, loyalty program engagement data, and more. Gone are the days of coding emails top-to-bottom as single newsletters. The savviest marketers leverage a modular approach that connects to sources of data to generate content as close to deployment time as possible.

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Create omni-channel experiences

Last year, 39% of retail eCommerce occurred in a mobile app or browser and 71% of consumers used multiple devices to research products before making a transaction. If retailers have not expanded their personalization efforts into mobile messages, the time to do so is now, as consumers have rethought their brick-and-mortar shopping habits since 2020.

A preference for flexibility was something consumers developed during the pandemic and marketers had to adapt to. Customers are more adept at eCommerce and making purchases at the drop of a hat, on whatever device is most accessible at the time. In Movable Ink’s Audience of One report, 47% of U.S. consumer respondents said it was either very or extremely important that a brand delivers the same experience across all of its channels.

The omnichannel experience is a helpful tool for retailers guiding potential or existing customers back to the buying journey. Marketing personalization is required to sway the 95% of consumers that abandon their carts into getting back on the checkout page or app to finish their purchase. For the 34% of people that abandoned their cart because they needed more time to decide and the 31% that changed their mind before completing a purchase, unique experiences are a necessity. And marketing personalization works – more than 70% of respondents agreed that they enjoyed receiving a follow-up discount or coupon code to complete a purchase through an email or mobile notification.

The importance of creating strong omnichannel strategies increases every year, with newer, more tech-savvy generations that are more likely to increase online and mobile shopping even after the world returns to normal.

Take for example, the consumer who is on the brand site and abandons an item. Traditional email marketing strategy dictates that we send a “Cart Abandon” drip journey. But why stop there? If we know the consumer has the mobile app installed, why not send them a rich-push notification with the item they abandoned and include other relevant information such as a local store that has it in stock, the number of units remaining, or even the number of consumers who have viewed the item in the last 24 hours as a form of social proof.

A look ahead

Customer expectations, especially within the retail industry, continually evolve. The past two years forced marketers to rethink every strategy they previously relied on to build their customer relationships, and drive product or brand value to increase revenue. Those that don’t prioritize expanding and customizing their marketing campaigns across all platforms face falling behind.

Success is based on the simple fact that marketers need to create a space where consumers can express their voices and feel answered. Using zero- and first-party data to personalize data can do that – based on real online interactions between customers and their favorite retailers. Creating 1:1 messages across each channel can help retail brands increase awareness to their customers and strengthen the relationship, and the only way to achieve that at scale is through an integrated techstack purpose built to be agile and data driven.

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