Streamlining Marketing Strategies Can Heavily Impact Customer Engagement

Engendering customer loyalty through personalized advertising is one of Rakuten Marketing’s specialties, along with conducting keen research about consumer behavior that can influence the customer journey and provide marketers with data that can be leveraged to instill brand advocacy.

Loyalty360 caught up with Bridget Fletcher, who is a strategic marketing leader specializing in B2C and B2B at Rakuten Marketing, to find out more about these compelling topics.

What are brands doing well when it comes to leveraging changes in consumer behavior and where do the challenges remain?

Fletcher: As technology evolves, brands are leveraging data to reach and connect with their target consumers at various touch points along the consumer journey. For example, our data revealed that shoppers are starting to make holiday purchases earlier each year during Cyber Week. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving grew in revenue by 37 percent over 2015, showing shoppers are making purchases as they find deals. Brands who utilize this type of consumer insight to better understand their customers will be equipped to create tailored strategies that benefit both the brand and the shopper.

Challenges continue to exist in streamlining consumer experiences across channels. Technology has gotten a lot better at identifying consumers across devices, but most marketing organizations are still executing marketing strategies in silos, which makes it difficult to ensure the consumer is getting a consistent experience from the brand. There is a lot of opportunity for marketers to more effectively influence consumers as they get better at streamlining marketing strategies.

We hear so much about personalization and relevancy these days. What is the challenge surrounding personalization and delivering personalized messaging in a very relevant fashion?

Fletcher: Personalization and relevancy are major drivers of marketing performance, and marketers are doing some amazing things within marketing channels. For example, through dynamic product ads on Facebook, we’ve seen our clients link their product feeds with target audiences and serve product ads that are not only relevant but tailored to the consumer based on the affinities listed on their profile. The existing challenge is the need to take that level of personalization out of a single environment and apply it to the full consumer experience. The trend of walled gardens significantly limits marketers’ ability to do that.  

What are some of the keys for a brand to create a strategic campaign that will impact consumers in the areas of exploration, discovery, action, and loyalty?

Fletcher: Utilizing attribution technology to understand the number of touch points a consumer has passed through prior to purchasing, what those touch points are and when they are happening, will help marketers determine which types of campaigns will meet each objective. A consumer in the exploration phase is much more likely to be exposed to a brand through an influencer, whereas someone with a strong brand affinity may be most responsive to a retargeted ad promoting free shipping. It is essential to know which strategies are working with which audiences in order to execute against objectives at every stage of the funnel.

How can brands instill trust in their customers?

Fletcher: It’s important to remember that consumers are people – the way they engage with brands is consistent with how they are motivated to behave as humans. Achieving brand loyalty requires a continual focus on fostering and developing relationships that elevate and inspire consumers. The No. 1 reason consumers say they are committed to a brand is that “the brand is closely tied to my identity” and “the brand’s core values are aligned with mine.”

Product selection and quality are also critical to maintaining consumer trust. When we asked what makes them trust a brand enough to be a repeat buyer, more than half of consumers, 57 percent, say that quality was extremely important. Even among customers loyal to a brand, 65 percent say they would shift loyalty to a competing brand if the product selection or quality changed.

How challenging is it for loyalty marketers to positively impact brand affinity?

Fletcher: Only 32 percent of consumers are 100 percent committed to a brand, but the more consumers purchase from a brand, they more likely they are to purchase again, even as few as five purchases increases purchase likelihood by 66 percent. The biggest increase in propensity to purchase again is between the first and second purchases that align with the awareness stage of the funnel. Knowing this, it’s important that marketers are strategic about the ways in which they’re re-engaging site abandoners and recent purchasers. 

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