How retail marketers can utilise data to drive campaign ROI

By Sam Duggan, Head of Marketing at Marketing Automation platform, Force24

Ecommerce brands are sitting on millions of pieces of data about customers and their behaviours – and yet many sector marketers are still failing to effectively apply it to their digital comms.

As a result, it’s leading to an array of lost opportunities. But why is that the case when retail outlets are exposed to even more ways to analyse their performance, speak to audiences on a deeper level and positively impact business growth – particularly during the current climate?

Perhaps brands aren’t providing marketing teams with the training to fully understand the pivotal role in which insight plays in their campaign content.

Or it could be that busy professionals feel they don’t have the time to plug in savvy tech – such as marketing automation – despite it being capable of pulling together those vital metrics streams, in real-time. Not only can smart tools take away monotonous, labour-intensive tasks but savvier platforms can unlock so many opportunities for digital marketing departments to transform their customer comms.

Ultimately, it may have proved to be challenging time for modern-day marketers operating in the retail industry – or it may continue to be full of opportunities especially if they can utilise data to produce successful, results-driven campaigns based on a consumer’s interests at that particular point in time.

Collecting real-time detail in a matter of seconds

The way in which savvy professionals can now retrieve insight is perhaps the most important evolution that digital marketing has ever witnessed. Collating relevant detail equips brand-side marketers with the information to truly understand what shoppers want – right then and there. Additionally, it can even predict what’s to come as their online behaviours diversify.

There are many marketing departments already tapping into the powers of data analytics to gather the most granular detail about their customers and prospects. But why? It’s because they know that individual preferences change at a rapid rate, and their digital comms must match up when it comes to delivering extremely personalised and of-the-moment ecommerce content.

Compiling this level of detail manually would not only be time-consuming but impossible to sustain, and that’s why many brands are turning to advanced technology such as marketing automation. Pulling together all data sources into a single location – in a matter of seconds – provides a clearer picture to determine what any one shopper is doing in real-time.

However, to truly get the most out of automation, it’s important to firstly understand what kind of data it should triangulate, to help retail marketers create hyper-relevant comms that transform campaign activity and drive positive ROI.

The insight ecommerce brands MUST know

Firstly, attitudinal data plays a major role in the overall analysis gathering. This positions a spotlight on the recipients who are engaging with an outlet’s products online and, more specifically, dissects what can be learnt from their browsing behaviour.

For example, individuals could be downloading a brand’s ebook via a gated landing page or spending a particular amount of time on a certain section of the website. All this insight can then be used to segment customers and inform strategic decisions around the relevant messaging they’re responding to – whether that’s tailored email journeys, PPC, social media or additional engaging touchpoints.

There’s also conversion funnel data which describes the journey a consumer takes through an advertising or search system – and if, or when, they convert to a sale. Depending on the complexity of a campaign, analysing each nurture point can help retail marketer to understand where there might be different behaviours among varying segments – and why certain comms or channels might not be leading to that all-important transaction.

Locating the biggest drop-off in web traffic, for example, or the email that wasn’t compelling enough to encourage a purchase, can help brands to react fast, before reworking and improving touchpoints so that a fresh version better responds to an individual’s shopping preferences.

Next is customer data – and this should ultimately come before a marketing email is even sent! Here, industry professionals can glean the insight to personalise comms and meet the evolving needs of customers. Delivering tailored, relevant information over ‘batch and blast’ style messages should go a long way towards developing brand loyalty because shoppers are receiving content that they’re happy to interact with.

Savvy ecommerce marketers should also be clued up on real-time data because relevance is paramount when compiling of-the-moment comms that drive really smart, results-focused campaigns.

Being bold enough to know when something isn’t working

Equipping marketing teams with vastly intricate analysis can really set campaigns apart and encourage a deeper level of customer loyalty – before the competition does. However, marketers must be prepared to act swiftly on the detail they’ve harnessed so they can continue being efficient with budgets and build on their brand credibility – especially during such an unforgiving climate.

If certain channels aren’t providing the expected ROI expected, the simple response is to turn them off. And when considering vanity metrics – such as email opens, click throughs and unsubscribe rates – it’s important to know that whilst they do paint some of the picture, retail marketers shouldn’t get too hung up on them in their entirety.

What really matters are the bottom line conversion stats. For example, how many leads are being generated or sales initiated as a direct result of the most recent campaigns? Understanding these factors – alongside defining a key set of KPIs and producing reports that effectively measure critical activity – can help marketing departments focus on their deliverables and ultimately drive forward stronger ROI opportunities.

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