It's no secret that the introduction of digital changed the way marketers reach, engage and convert consumers. In the years since digital became the norm, the world of marketing has continued to evolve dramatically. This new era, characterized by concepts such as omnichannel, multi-device marketing, the "Internet of Things" and advanced marketing attribution, is reshaping the way brands and consumers interact, and how marketers measure and optimize the impact of their efforts.
In retail, this evolution has been particularly striking. Shoppers no longer simply head to the mall or their local brick-and-mortar store to make a purchase. In today’s world, each person’s path to purchase is unique and complex, crossing multiple channels, platforms and devices as consumers browse, research and buy.
Go mobile: Consumers want to do their shopping (as well as research products, read reviews, etc.) at any time, from anywhere, on their tablets, smartphones or smart watches. With mobile devices dominating time spent with online retail, mobile advertising has become a critical element in the acquisition and retention strategy of the modern retailer. Yet measuring mobile marketing campaigns can be more challenging than other digital channels, as marketers struggle to track and target the same consumer as he or she moves across devices. Fortunately, there are multiple cross-device mapping techniques available today, including first-party deterministic, third-party deterministic and third-party probabilistic approaches, that enable marketers to track consumers across devices in a privacy safe way. Having a unified view of the customer journey across devices not only provides insight into how content and/or ads seen on one screen impacts action taken on another, but also enables marketers to make informed media investment decisions based on those insights.
Harness location-based advertising: Retailers already investing in mobile can take their mobile marketing strategies to the next level with location-based advertising. Location-based ads are the ultimate tool for reaching consumers in the right place and at the right time. New geo-fencing techniques go beyond geographic targeting, enabling retailers to serve specific ads to individuals when they enter a specific, pre-defined area. A department store, for example, could leverage geo-fencing to serve department-specific promotions to a consumer once they’ve entered the store. By providing contextually relevant offers, retailers can increase engagement and conversions. However, it is important that retailers follow privacy rules, especially when location-based tracking is employed and if the audience includes children.
Deploy social media advertising: Research shows that as many as 74% of consumers rely on social media to make buying decisions. In addition to increasing brand awareness and influencing buying decisions, social media platforms enable retailers to connect with a wider audience. For example, a retail brand might use social media to encourage existing customers to share a positive review, or to solicit advice from prospective customers on new products to offer. Given the influence social media can have on a consumer’s purchase decision, it's critical that retail marketers have their content on those platforms.
Invest in online video advertising: While traditional TV advertising still remains a priority for many retailers, online video advertising is growing, with total ad spend for digital video jumping from 2.4% to 2013 to 4.4% in 2015, according to research from eMarketer. Not only are more consumers turning to digital channels for their video content, but online video advertising is also more cost-effective, particularly for smaller retailers, and offers greater audience targeting capabilities than TV.
Connect SKUs with marketing touchpoints: Since retailers often sell a number of brands and products in different categories, it's important to understand which marketing channels and tactics contribute to the products that are being sold. To do so, marketers must assign fractional credit to all of the touch points that contributed to a conversion, and then analyze that data alongside SKUs and other customer order information. By analyzing this data side-by-side, retailers can receive a granular view of which marketing tactics contributed to which products sold. For example, a retailer who wants to sell notebooks and other items during the back-to-school season can use this information to decide which promotional tactics (creative, call to action, offer, etc.) his or her organization should leverage to drive the most sales.
Optimize promotions and offers: Promotions are a big part of retailers' strategies, but retail marketers don't always know which promotions drive the highest number of conversions (and revenue). To understand the true impact of offers and promotions, marketers can deploy advanced measurement techniques that include predictive analytics. These capabilities enable marketers to look at different combinations of offers based on budget, duration and location to identify the offer (or offers) that will generate the greatest response. For example, the retailer looking to sell sneakers could use predictive analytics to uncover which offers, such as bundling sneakers with socks, would produce themost conversions.
There has never been a more exciting time for retailers, even if the myriad new tactics available to marketers might seem overwhelming. While not every tactic will be effective for every brand, by continuously testing, measuring and optimizing their marketing strategies, retail marketers can maximize their performance and make choices that will help them ultimately drive more conversions.
Anto Chittilappilly is the co-founder, president and chief technology officer of Visual IQ. He is responsible for the company’s overall engineering and technology innovation strategy and is the primary visionary and architect behind the company's IQ Intelligence Suite. Chittilappilly is a recognized expert in the fields of marketing mix modeling, marketing attribution management and cross channel marketing analytics. Prior to co-founding Visual IQ, he served in various technical and business roles at Sun Microsystems.