2011 looks set to be a tough year for marketers as the austerity measures set out in October’s spending review start to bite at the pockets of consumers. VAT increases, increased travel costs and job uncertainties can only mean one thing: marketers are going to need to work even harder at attracting, retaining and increasing customer spend come the turn of the year. Paul Kennedy, Head of Consulting, Callcredit Marketing Solutions offers a guide on getting the most out of online marketing this year.
Economic and social changes over the past two years have resulted in considerable adjustments in consumer behaviour with the evolution of the internet and the continued growth of broadband transforming consumers’ experience interacting with brands. The growth of smartphone adoption has fuelled access to the internet on the go – with a constant flow of new smartphone applications offering a new opportunity for brands to engage with consumers.
This is good news for marketers, as not only are there more channels to reach consumers, but according to McKinsey, consumers who use stores, catalogues and the web spend four times more than those who use just one . Digital now plays a fundamental role in day-to-day life, and needs to be fully integrated into the marketing mix – no longer treated in silo to other more traditional channels.
So as the boundaries between digital and traditional channels continue to grow, what are the key factors marketers must consider for success in 2011?
Know your customer
Before getting creative, brands need to get into their consumer’s mindset and understand what they are doing and why. It’s about being clever, having a single, multi-channel customer view and getting the most value possible from it. Establishing a single customer view has always been at the heart of the best marketing programmes, and the more sales data that can be matched to individual customers and duplicate records removed, the better the potential customer experience. As digital grows, this can also include relevant information from social applications such as Facebook, Twitter and any relevant forums to gain additional insight into customer behaviours and preferences and create a fuller picture.
In a nutshell: Analyse what customers are seeing, explain what they are doing, interpret what they are saying in real time and use it to create personalisation to help customers feel personal affinity with the brand.
Don’t rely on outdated models – adapt to changes
Once you have the data in place, continue to invest in it, working intelligently to most effectively engage with customers. Over the past year, customer behaviour has changed, resulting in more fragmented audiences. Don’t use old and outdated models and segmentations – whilst they may have worked prior to the recession, the industry has moved on. Marketers need to be agile and adapt these models to include new factors such as credit/risk indicators, transactional and digital data such as click-through and web browsing data. By knowing the customer inside out, marketers can then use this insight, signals and triggers – from birthdays to dropped shopping baskets – and integrate them with all interactions and service data to create truly engaging campaigns.
Stay on the ball online, but integrate with offline
Google has changed the online search landscape and digital marketers that fail to use the power of search and digital media to capture internet traffic will get left behind. Small changes to campaigns – such as recognising local points of interest in email messages – can have a big impact on engagement levels. This is particularly important as new factors such as Gmail’s Priority Inbox come into play. And as new platforms like Facebook, Spotify and Foursquare continue to grow, digital has never been more important – and marketers should use this opportunity and not be afraid to investigate these new digital channels and new targeting possibilities.
So how can brands use this insight to benefit from the digital explosion? Digital marketing is not just about online, but also creating links to the real world and updating the offline experience. By integrating online data with offline insights, brands can harness that intelligence to better engage with customers – identifying new ways to drive engagement. This is why a sophisticated contact strategy is crucial – at Abercrombie & Fitch for example, staff have been trained to tell customers about their Facebook page whilst they are shopping in store. And it’s a two way process, as brands should also use these digital channels to understand what is being said about them and engage with customers sensitively, integrating social media channels into CRM programmes.
The money’s on mobile
The digital world is now multi-browser, multi-platform and multi-device. According to our latest research , one in eight British people shopped from their mobile this Christmas to avoid the rush in stores. Forrester predicts that mobile marketing spend will grow 37% annually until 2011 and research from the US shows that a growing band of consumers now expect retailers to have mobile sites that can be navigated from their smartphones. Mobile applications offer new opportunities for marketers to engage with customers through platforms like Foursquare where brands can post promotions accessible to those who ‘check in.’
But as with social applications, it’s crucial that marketers understand how customers use mobile and whether it is the right channel to reach them by. Give customers the option to ‘opt in’ to receive communications, including how they wish to receive information and how often they want to get it. After all, the most successful campaigns are often those which customers opt-in to receive communications and freely provide their data.
It sounds simple, but heeding all of these pointers and implementing them successfully is by no means an easy task. But marketers who invest time, are agile and adapt to changing consumer habits will be in a good place to better engage with customers and grab that pot of gold as they cross the finish line.
By Paul Kennedy
Head of Consulting
Callcredit Marketing Solutions