Savvy consumers are bombarded with marketing messages via online mediums along with those from more traditional advertising channels. And that means that advertisers need ever evolving retail marketing strategies to acquire and keep these valuable customers.
A mix of push and pull retail marketing methods means that buyers at every level of Internet sophistication can be identified and targeted. Here are four marketing trends yielding results for both online and brick-and-mortar retailers in today's crowded marketplace.
Growing availability of digital coupons.
Where many consumers once were led toward a purchase because of the existence of a paper coupon, today's savvy shoppers know not to complete an online deal without searching for a digital coupon code. And that consumer behavior is driving more retailers toward online coupons.
Paced by the growth of online coupon websites like Coupon Cabin, RetailMeNot, and Coupon.com, more and more sellers are adding this retail marketing strategy to their online marketing campaigns, ensuring that when a web surfer gets ready to buy, a variety of digital coupon codes for their brand appear near the top of the search engine results.
"One of the first things we'll do when we work with a retail client is talk to them about what they want to do in terms of discounts, coupons, and then work with them to get those coupons distributed to (online couponing) websites," said Josh Boaz, Managing Director of Direct Agents, a full-service marketing agency.
While many retailers know consumers are looking for their brand in the digital coupon space, they may be afraid this strategy will push them toward less profitability on each sale or more customers willing to spend less and less. But as long as digital coupon codes are part of a well-reasoned retail marketing campaign, there's generally more profit to be found.
Boaz recommends retailers put on their thinking caps and look for ways to incentivize consumers to increase their average order size. Coupons can add urgency to the online shopping process, giving customers a purchase deadline or convincing them to try a new product at a higher price point.
"I think a lot of (retailers), they try discount coupons, and they end up (losing) money or their average order sizes go down, driving less revenue with more customers," said Boaz. "So the concept we promote is to get those people who are buying anyway to add one more product on, or maybe (take advantage of a) discount on a higher margin product only."
Tie social media to online coupons.
Another way to push potential customers toward online coupon usage is via social media platforms. Like the pre-Internet world, happy consumers love to promote favored retailers to their family and friends. These recommendations can help improve individual online social status while increasing the viral nature of different retail marketing campaigns.
A retailer might offer discounts and offers that can only be unlocked by liking a page on Facebook. And the more friends referred, the better the deal for the original customer.
Social media sites can also offer an alternative to working with online couponing sites. When a customer approaches the checkout, incentivize them by providing additional deals in exchange for social media approval.
Implement search re-targeting to influence buying behavior.
If you've ever conducted a Google search, then noticed an ad for the same or similar product in future browsing sessions, then you've been the focus of search re-targeting. By placing display ads on websites your target customer visits, you can use the data to offer up truly hyper-targeted opportunities.
This retail marketing strategy has also been shown to be effective following online shopping cart abandonment. With judicious design of check-out pages, you can gather enough consumer information to re-target consumers who made it part of the way through the process before closing their browser. And since the customer already had a specific product or products in their cart, you know quite a bit about their final intent.
Find new customers via e-mail lead generation.
Traditionally, businesses have added names to their e-mail list only after a customer has made their first purchase. But what if you could find consumers similar to those already on your list, drawing them in with an invitation to join a special insiders club? Many businesses are finding success with this retail marketing strategy, seeing click-throughs and sales beginning with the introductory message.
You can identify and connect with potential customers by finding true permission-based email lists and targeting those with favorable demographics for inclusion in a special group of your own. By branding your promotions with the right sense of elitism and exclusivity, you'll have consumers primed to jump on the bandwagon, creating an entirely new customer segment.
As the Internet marketplace continues to evolve, so will retail strategies, targeting customers with years of online shopping experience along with those new to the party. And that's a good thing - for both consumers and businesses alike.