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What Industry Can Learn From Retailers

Tue, 11/26/2013 - 10:26am
Eric Tobias, Vice President of Web Products, ExactTarget

Retailers have long understood that personalization is a strong business driver that delivers more accurate and relevant experiences to each customer.

Recently, smart marketers from other industries such as restaurants, suppliers and consumer brands have started embracing personalizing interactions for their customers. These marketers are incorporating the fundamentals used in retail today to increase engagement and revenue.

Marketers across all industries, especially food and beverage, need to incorporate these retail strategies to optimize customer interactions to build brand loyalty and drive sales. Here are just a few ways to incorporate retail-proven personalization strategies.

Collect Actionable Data

Retailers have figured out that it’s not about collecting massive amounts of data, it’s about collecting the right data that is actionable and can be leveraged to make key marketing decisions. Retailers try to collect every click, customer interaction and purchase, regardless of channel. Personalization or interaction management is relatively new in the food and beverage industry, so keep it simple.

Start by automatically collecting customer interactions with your brand, their preferences and behavioral insights into a single database. An easy way to do this is utilizing a personalization engine to collect and synthesize these data points and store them inside each individual customer’s profile. Keep in mind that personalization engines collect two different types of data. Implicit data is collected by observing a customer’s behavior, and explicit data is collected by asking the customer questions. By collecting real-time data from every interaction with your company, you can learn more about a customer’s wants, needs and preferences.

Once you have data, leverage it to provide a personalized experience with relevant interactions like targeted email offers, location-based mobile SMS messages and custom content on your website.

Create a Reengagement Strategy

After you have started to build customer profiles with explicit and implicit data, define important touchpoints in the sales cycle where you will encourage customers to take a specific action. Here are some examples in which you can provide a call to actions:

  • Abandoned Cart – Create a remarketing message to encourage a customer to return to your site to purchase the items they left in their cart.
  • Product Recommendations – Before and after a purchase, recommend similar or complimentary products that a customer might be interested in based on their selections while on site.

The food and beverage industry can identify countless opportunities to reach out to customers. This might be done with events like birthdays and anniversaries, or by seasonal products returning.

Once your brand has mapped out the interactions, you can begin to assign reengagement strategies to each, resulting in an increase in ROI, engagement and overall customer satisfaction. Make sure to test each touchpoint with different calls to action, length of time between communications and things like title lines to find the right balance for each individual customer.

Help Customers Find What They Are Looking For

Retailers are providing expert advice and guidance both in store and online with the help of guided selling. By asking a few questions to determine each customer’s needs, guided selling can accurately suggest products that will be the best fit.

Guided selling can be done in-store via salespeople equipped with tablets or mobile devices that search inventory, match a customer with the best product, provide the product’s specific measurements, features, etc. and recommend complimentary items in real-time.

Guided selling provides an unmatched experience for customers that will keep your brand top of mind. Additionally, guided selling provides insights into customer needs, preferences and overall trends. Data collected from guided selling is highly actionable and eases future interactions.

Create 1-to-1 Experiences

Imagine a world where every advertisement displayed, email sent, store entered, mobile offer viewed and website visited was personalized just for you. This might seem like an unreachable goal, but this is the way business is moving.

Within the food and beverage industry, this could be as simple as knowing a customer’s preference for type of food and food allergies. If customers feel like your brand is listening and offering relevant content, experiences and offers based on their preferences, there is a much higher chance for repeat purchases, increased engagement and ROI.

Build a Singular View of the Customer

Retailers are leading the way in collecting and utilizing customer data to provide outstanding customer service, custom experiences and personalized communications. The next step is making this data actionable across the entire business by creating a single view of each customer. Essentially, this is making sure that each department has the correct tools to interact with individual customers across all channels. This will look different for each company, based on identified touchpoints with offers, events and relevant communication.

The food and beverage industry will greatly benefit from these retail tips, as customers have come to expect this type of 1-to-1 engagement with brands. Each of these five plays is a key piece of the puzzle for the future of customer interactions. Ultimately, it is essential that brands begin to build customer profiles that are actionable and relevant to drive future interactions with customers.

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