Retail evolves at a rapid pace, making it important to communicate with customers at exactly the right time, engage with shoppers at all stages of the buying journey and properly segment to understand them better. Michael Poyser, Chief Analytics Officer at Ecrebo looks at how retail marketers can take seasonality to a new level to boost the bottom line instead of simply relying on blanket discounts and promotions that only succeed in attracting short-term footfall and don’t reward for ongoing buying behaviour.
As a retail chief marketing officer, you have your work cut out when it comes to delivering the best customer experience across channels. To do this effectively you must be creative in finding new ways to deliver personalisation and improve the ROI from marketing campaigns.
You need to ensure you are effective in your lifecycle management; that you communicate with customers at the right time; that you engage with customers at all stages of the buying journey; and that you properly segment your audiences so that they understand them individually.
This is even more important when it comes to seasonal events where there is huge opportunity if marketing programmes are planned and executed effectively – think Christmas, the January sales and Valentine’s Day. For the modern-day retailer, the key to success lies in the use of data, but as a retail CMO where do you start? The following checklist should help.
1. Make more out of seasonal events
Look beyond the obvious seasonal events, promotions and tactics, such as Christmas and the January sales. Instead, focus on wider trends and impacts of these events and use data to understand shoppers and tailor offers to them before, during and after events.
There’s no surprise if a customer starts buying more wine and party food at Christmas. But if the same customer stops buying alcohol completely in January, it could be that they have a new year’s resolution to be healthier. In this case, you could tailor your marketing efforts around this new behaviour, with promotions on health foods and discounts on workout clothing.
2. Stretch out campaigns for added value
When devising campaigns, particularly around seasonal events, changing redemption behaviour can raise uptake. Flexible redemption windows enable you to strike a healthy balance between optimising marketing campaigns and keeping shoppers happy. They allow for a relevant and targeted promotional journey and provide offers that are meaningful – encouraging increased spend per visit and improved retention rates.
Offers can be used to increase longer-term spend and retention. So instead of extending offers to customers that last until the end of the year, why not extend the journey into a series of four or five offers, each one triggering the next?
You can make the most out of seasonal campaigns by guiding customers along a journey. And the campaign needn’t finish after the seasonal event – think about the bigger picture and how buyer behaviour may change afterwards.
3. Get creative with customer insight
By understanding what items are being bought, when and with what, you can improve the effectiveness of seasonal marketing campaigns by using basket data to deliver relevant promotions. For example, thicker socks to go with a pair of boots, or promotions for electric heaters in the winter.
This can be done by building a comprehensive picture of your customers with historical and real-time data generated at the point of sale (POS).
Historical data offers an understanding of longer-term buying behaviour, spending habits and visit frequency. This data, built up over months or even years, across millions of transactions, is especially relevant when it comes to getting the most out of seasonal trends. For example, which promotions proved most successful in getting customers into store during the wettest days over the last five years.
On the other hand, real-time data generated at the POS is vital in improving agility; enabling you to react to events and changes in behaviour; such as a sudden period of hot weather. This data can be used to influence promotions across the full store estate or streamline offers in a store or region.
Make data work for you all year round
As a modern retail CMO, the pressure never drops. Seasonal events will always be vital in driving sales at peak periods, but it can be a challenge, to ensure campaigns are as effective as possible, with so many factors to consider and often little time between each event.
Consider how a given promotion affects consumer behaviour both in the lead-up to, and follow-on, from the event, and use tactics, such as personalised offers, to encourage return visits, repeat sales and drive long-term customer engagement. By combining all of these actions you can make data work for you whatever the season.
By Michael Poyser
Chief Analytics Officer