If you’re a successful retailer, it’s because you are selling a product that you know customers want. Over the course of your business, you have no doubt altered the merchandise you sell, the way you display it and the services you offer to keep up with shifts in demand. It’s a dynamic environment and keeping your finger on the pulse of customers is mandatory. Marketing follows the same model, but it’s challenging to focus on messaging that you know works because you rarely know exactly what customers are responding to when they buy. Until now.
Marketing automation tools give you the insight to understand exactly what messages are resonating with customers because you can tie their behaviors directly to the engagement that drove them. Better still, you can test changes to your campaigns and see quickly whether those changes are creating better results and hone in on the most effective messaging. It’s sophisticated market research without relying on expensive consultants and time-consuming focus groups.
If you’ve been following our marketing automation series here on Pointofsale.com, then you already know how to build a targeted email list, segment your customers and create effective messaging. The final step of marketing automation is measurement, and it’s the primary tool in your arsenal necessary to optimize your digital communication to deliver the most meaningful bumps in revenue.
Integrate measurement into the entire shopping journey. Marketing automation platforms give you instant insight into email open rates and how long recipients spent reading messages. That’s 101 textbook functionality, but it doesn’t necessarily tie campaigns to conversion. For that, you have to dig deeper and tie measurement into more behaviors. What did customers do after reading emails? How many of them clicked through to your website from the email and how long did they spend there? Did they buy anything?
These are the metrics that will really shed light on how well your program is working. You can create compelling content that shoppers spend five minutes reading, but if it didn’t drive purchase behavior, it’s time to tweak the message. This is why it is imperative to integrate your marketing automation software into your retail management platform. Visibility into the entire shopping journey from the first click to conversion uncovers the messages that are ultimately driving the behaviors you want and uncovers gaps where you could be losing sales.
Activate triggers for two-way conversational engagement. When most people think of marketing automation, the first thing that comes to mind is sending out some sort of coupon or promotion and then measuring how many customers used it to make a purchase. That’s a great application, but it’s really just the tip of the iceberg. Where the technology really shines is in its ability to automate communication that delivers service and mimics what might be experienced if a shopper is in your store and engaging with your most talented team member.
Think of every shopping behavior as a trigger that tells your marketing automation software what message should come next. If a customer puts an item in a shopping cart but logs off before converting, that should trigger an automatic message alerting the shopper that the product is still available or on sale. You may want to sweeten the deal by offering a coupon code or free shipping. When a customer converts, send a message that confirms the sale and thanks the customer. Alert her when the product has shipped and after it has been delivered, ask how she likes it. A few days later, send an invitation to submit a review and you may choose to include return instructions of the product is not satisfactory. This gives you the ability to measure customer sentiment in real-time and cultivate loyalty by solving issues before a customer is lost forever.
Don’t forget the artistry of marketing. Robots are still pretty bad at understanding human emotion -- that’s up to you. Measuring results will definitely stratify messages based on how well they achieved their goal, but computer software can’t tell you why one message worked better than another. Study which campaigns were the most successful and compare them to others that you wish performed better, asking yourself why one message resonated better than another. Over time, this methodology will uncover subtle preferences in how your customers like to engage and give you a detailed understanding of optimal ways to reach them.
If you engage in this analysis religiously, you will quickly build a snowball effect. Every new campaign can be developed with better insight into your customers’ psyches and it won’t be long before you understand them as well as they understand themselves -- maybe even better. It only takes a couple iterations to build a rock solid foundation and from there your knowledge will continue to strengthen.
Integrated marketing automation gives you the power to craft your messaging based on measured customer responses and use behaviors to trigger conversations that drive engagement. It’s a powerful research and communication tool that gives you the power to better understand shoppers and drive both conversion and loyalty.
About the Author:
Ian Goldman, President and CEO of Celerant Technology, is an expert software engineer with 25 years of experience developing advanced management solutions that offer integrated omnichannel capabilities for progressive retailers.
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