Without digital data, retailers are missing a huge part of the customer journey. With it, they gain insight into an individual’s online journey, which is key to better personalisation and more accurately understanding which marketing channels contribute to a customer purchase. This enables marketers to focus spend on what they know works. However, CMOs have a lot to contend with.
Already battling with intense competition, increasingly price-conscious consumers, tight budgets and continual pressure on margins, many CMOs are unable to focus on strengthening their customer proposition or pursuing cost efficiencies.
In this blog, we talk through the top five challenges that often prevent brands delivering customers the experience they crave, and offer advice on how to tackle them.
1. Understanding customer behaviour
The key to delivering a better service and increasing revenue is understanding customer behaviour. With customers hopping between multiple channels and devices, the path to purchase has never been more complex and many marketers are struggling to keep up, resulting in just 8% of retailers using full cross-channel personalisation.
Online data is often underused and isolated from in-store purchase history, loyalty cards and offline CRM – which individually only provide a glimpse of the whole story. With the right technology, retailers can now connect the dots between a customer’s online and offline activity via multiple channels and devices, and combine them with offline CRM and purchasing data to create a comprehensive single customer view (SCV).
This enables retailers to serve the hyper-personalised experience that customers have come to expect, while also closing the knowledge gap and answering key questions like:
- How can we attract more high-value customers?
- How can I increase the value and loyalty of a customer?
- How can I increase retention?
- When does the customer journey break down?
2. Knowing what data to capture
An initial reaction could be to collect everything and then just dig through the information to see what it might reveal. But this is a hugely inefficient approach.
Instead, consider your business problem carefully. Which question are you trying to answer? Invest time in clarifying the challenge you are trying to solve and ensure you gain business and stakeholder alignment.
Knowing what problem you are trying to solve or question you are trying to answer will drive the decision regarding what is the ‘right data’? For example, if you want to understand how your marketing channels interact and build on a customer’s path to purchase, it is important that you include data on all interactions, both on and offline, across devices, and capture onsite browsing.
3. Ensuring analysis is impartial
Data can reveal powerful insights if you let it. It can also be impenetrable or misleading. Remember that when interpreting information, everyone can be influenced by cognitive biases – sub-conscious factors that influence the way we think and the decisions we make. With commercial pressures and ‘group think’ added to the mix, you risk subconsciously interpreting data to support your initial hypothesis (or justify sunk marketing costs).
The initial phase of analytics is often revelatory, with answers challenging pre-defined assumptions. This leads to enhanced understanding but further questions. If, like 50% of marketers, you have a skills and capability gap in your organisation, you can look to partner with external specialists who have experience solving these challenges and who can support you.
4. Finding your technology solution
The retail industry is complex, but that doesn’t mean your data capture and storage solution should be an impenetrable black box. Make sure that the data is raw and transparent and that you can access it, so that it can be easily manipulated and insights found.
Integrating the data storage platform with a fulfilment and reporting solution, such as email service providers, display networks and marketing intelligence tools, is critical. Some businesses prefer the convenience of an all-in-one platform, but the ideal is to integrate best-in-class solutions.
And remember, no matter which system or systems you choose, it all comes back to quality of data. One high-quality dataset can generate endless insights when fed into different applications.
5. Building trust between consumers and your brand
Last but by no means least, a key issue for retailers is complying with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Data is core to personalisation, but permission is critical. Retailers must ensure they collect and process customer data transparently and respectfully, in accordance with the GDPR. Long-term customer relationships are built on trust and mutual benefit. When customers share their data, they should be rewarded with an enhanced experience and fair value exchange.
Users should be clearly informed how their data is being used and given the ability to opt in or out and request for their data to be forgotten.
Retailers must also be aware that they shouldn’t retain data for any longer than is necessary, and data shouldn’t be shared without customer permission.
Being armed with the right blend of technologies, the right data, the right people and the right skills, you are better equipped to deliver consumers the individual-level brand experience they crave.
For more information, download our latest guide: ‘The data-driven future of retail marketing’.
Catherine Kelly is a senior consultant at Jaywing.