Sara Richter is the CMO at omnichannel customer engagement leader Emarsys — an SAP company.
Last month, I spoke at the Power to The Marketer Festival, hosted by our company and Vogue Business. I was joined on stage by some of the largest and fastest-growing retailers in the world. Listening to industry giants, it became clear to me that the retail landscape has never been more complicated.
Long gone are the days of rigid shopping hours, limited products and broad-brush marketing. Today, 24/7 shopping and unlimited choice are expected staples rather than rare luxuries. At the same time, these changes are being amplified by consumers who expect nothing less than a perfect shopping experience.
Listening to so many brands at the festival, clear patterns began to emerge around how today’s retailers cope with this new world order and how they approach customers in their marketing. Here are five lessons that I learned, which every retail marketer can take note of:
Successful Marketers Are Ready To Engage Anywhere
The average U.S. consumer has four “shoppable” devices, allowing them to buy everywhere from bed, to work, to a physical store, according to a 2022 survey of 2,000 consumers, by our company. This list is expanding to social media, with social shopping proving a key source of retail in 2022.
At the festival, almost every brand on stage talked about the power of omnichannel marketing and the impact it has had on their businesses. For marketers, omnichannel is a strategy for success.
But omnichannel doesn’t just mean producing content for every channel; it means being ready to engage with customers on whichever channel they choose. This is crucial as cross-channel customers have a much higher lifetime value than single-channel shoppers.
Successful Marketers Personalize Everywhere
While omnichannel is the way to go, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach. It’s not enough to just meet customers where they want to meet; you must also give them what they want. That takes data and personalization.
At its heart, personalization is about people. It’s about building a trusting relationship, listening to customers and using your knowledge to deliver the best experience for them.
The power of personalization can’t be overstated. Eighty percent of consumers are more likely to buy if a retailer provides a tailored experience, according to a 2021 survey by Redpoint Global and Dynata. But personalization isn’t just good for retailers’ bottom lines; it’s also good for customers.
Today’s consumers are suffering from “choice paralysis,” being bombarded across every channel and at every hour. Our research has found that consumers want brands to help them navigate the noise.
That requires a bespoke approach to marketing for each customer as an individual: sharing recommendations and communications that directly reflect that customer’s preferences and vision for the perfect shopping experience.
But marketers can’t just personalize one interaction. They must personalize everywhere—linking their understanding of a customer across every channel. This is where technology can help. Manually dealing with different channels just won’t cut it.
Successful Marketers Use First-Party Data
Personalization, of course, requires customer data—and when it comes to knowing your customers, the ultimate insights come straight from the horse’s mouth.
2022 has seen the biggest brands shift to a strategy based around first-party data: data shared directly by customers. You know where it came from, how it was gathered and whether they consented to use it.
Compared with other data types, privacy concerns around first-party data are minimal, meaning a first-party data approach can help marketers future-proof their insights. In a privacy-conscious world, consumers are rightfully taking back control of their data—and marketing tech is rapidly accommodating this shift. In short, first-party data is the future.
Successful Marketers Learn From The Past
At this year’s festival, there was a lot of talk of the future, but also acknowledgment of the past. Nostalgia is a powerful emotion, especially in retail. According to our company’s recent study, 22% of surveyed Americans want to revisit the stores and malls of the 1990s.
People are craving the personal, face-to-face service from previous generations. So, by taking the convenience of online shopping and combining it with the sensory engagement of the in-store experience, brands can develop “phygital” marketing that combines the best of both.
Successful Markers Know Sustainability Is More Than A Trend
Today’s consumers are becoming increasingly ethically minded, with people across all ages vowing to shop more sustainably. With demand for sustainable shopping at an all-time high, retailers and marketers can’t afford to turn a blind eye to environmental issues. No matter how good the product marketing, shoppers want to know the sustainable steps that a retailer is taking.
That said, consumers won’t stand for greenwashing. Today’s shoppers take the time to research a brand’s background to make an informed purchase—refusing to buy if they don’t feel the brand matches their ethical values.
The most successful retail marketers are those that meet their customers where they want to be met, at the most opportune time, with truly personalized communications.
That’s easier said than done, which is why technology has become so essential to retail brands. Advancements in tech are making marketing easier and more effective, driving better engagements with customers and boosting the bottom line.
If marketers can combine this with activities that tap into emotions, like nostalgia, and genuine care for issues that matter to consumers, brands can secure trust and nurture a loyal customer relationship that goes way beyond a single purchase.