American consumers have a clear message for today’s marketers: 75% of them prefer personalized, well-timed messages from retailers that, ultimately, provide more relevance and greater customer engagement. Only 4% of marketers, however, have the ability to deliver integrated-cross channel marketing, whether it’s online, offline, mobile, or in-store to its customers.
Loyalty360 caught up with Persio CEO Marc Grabowski to discuss this challenge for many of today’s retail marketers.
Why is it so difficult for brands to deliver integrated cross channel marketing online, offline, mobile, or in-store?
The first step in delivering an integrated cross channel marketing experience is to recognize that the customer is a single person. This is called ID Resolution. In other words, understanding that a cookie matches an email address, phone number or mobile device ID and connecting all of this with a record in the retailer’s CRM. Once a retailer can link these IDs, they can utilize the data associated with these IDs to communicate more effectively to customers online, offline, via mobile, or in-store.
Marketers have difficulty with this initial step because these unique identifiers and associated data points are stored in separate databases and are often managed by unique vendor partners. Currently, there are few systems in place or coordinated cross-channel efforts that seek to reconcile customer profiles achieve a single view of the customer. This perpetuates a situation where marketers continue to look at a customer’s interactions with a brand in isolation by channel, rather than as a whole across many channels. Thus, they have a hard time understanding individual preferences of their customers including best times for communication, content they are most likely to engage with, price sensitivity and communication channel preferences. The Persio platform is designed to address this challenge and solve for ID resolution across channels.
What are brands doing well in terms of personalization and more effective customer engagement?
Brands that are taking steps to link identifiers and combine insights from multiple channels are making huge improvements to their personalization strategies, thus vastly improving customer engagement. They are leveraging tactics such as:
Unique Coupon Codes: Single use offers have the most value when linked to pieces of data about the individual shopper. Sending a customer a unique coupon via email, mobile message or for download from a website is a great way to tie the offer and items purchased back to the customer ID, email, phone number, or desktop cookie.
Linked Experiences: Using one channel to drive traffic to another is another way to link identifiers. Using a web opt-in form or email to get customers to sign up for mobile offers is one path to tie web or email data to mobile data. Similarly, including a link to drive a customer to a web or app experience from email or mobile message can achieve the same result.
Offline and Online: Getting a customer in store is not the end of the road, rather it’s an opportunity to continue the conversation online. Store associates and well placed in store signage can help drive opt-ins to loyalty, mobile, or email programs. When combined with an incentive, this effort is especially effective and can tie location, identifiers and purchase behavior.
What are brands doing not so well in the same areas?
Brands are getting better at using digital efforts to drive customers in store, but they are often ending the personalization loop there instead of taking data from the in-store experience and continuing the conversation online. Issues around data synchronization or interoperability among data partners prevent many retailers from take an in store purchase and personalizing digital communication. For example, I recently bought a pair of men’s boots in store, using a unique coupon code presumably tied to my email address, only to receive an email promotion for women’s boots shortly thereafter. This is a major miss and demonstrates how an effort to personalize content can be damaging for the brand, resulting in active disengagement from the customer (i.e. opting out of a program). The Persio platform is designed with these issues in mind and helps marketers take data from online and offline sources to guide future communication.
Are brands finding it difficult to reconcile volumes of customer data and transform it into actionable data?
Absolutely. Most marketing teams don’t have control over or immediate access to their databases. They may have a database or CRM team that controls their customer data, as well as outside vendor partners managing certain components so they may not have direct access to the information they need. This dependency often results in a lag in data requests among marketing and IT or CRM teams, and for data to be actionable it should be close to real time. Further, even if the marketer has their hands on the data, it is likely coming from multiple sources and is often just a set of raw data without actionable insights, rendering it useless as a predictor of future behavior.
What do you see as the future for brands in this regard?
To reconcile customer data across many systems and transform it into actionable data, interoperability among vendors is essential. Today’s retailer is likely partnering with a vendor for email, mobile app, display, POS, the list goes on. They have probably spent years negotiating and fine tuning their software relationships and growing the volume of customer data within each vendor. The future is not in consolidating these vendors or requiring a full overhaul to enable multichannel data integration and processing.
Rather, the future lies in a technology partner who can interoperate with a brand’s existing CRM, marketing tech software and POS without requiring a rip and replace of all working plumbing. This new partner should be able to sit on top of existing platforms and inform content, timing, price and distribution channel of communications based on individual preferences. This will allow brands to maintain existing partner relationships and levels of services, while taking advantage of actionable insights that will drive future purchases.