The promise of customer centricity is better, more personal relationships with your customers — the ability to answer (and take action) on questions like:
Who are my most valuable customers, and what do they have in common?
When are individual customers beginning to “fade away”?
What category or product is an individual customer most likely to respond to?
The foundation of a customer-centric marketing strategy is knowing your customers. Not in some general “average-y” way, like the average age or income or order value of your customer base. It means, literally, being able to observe and follow individual customers over time.
E-commerce provides the perfect platform for a customer-centric marketing approach. By nature of the online checkout process, e-retailers collect all of the information on their customers that they need to track that shopper over time. Retailers can piece together how individual customers are evolving, what types of items they’re buying together, and what messages and offers are likely to resonate most with them.
This is great for e-commerce retailers. But what about companies that operate in the traditional brick-and-mortar channel as well as online? How can they link the online behavior of their shoppers to their in-store purchases to create a richer picture of individual customers?
The possibilities of this cross-channel “single view” of the customer are tantalizing. Imagine a customer goes into a store and buys a particular pair of heels. The next time she logs into Facebook, she sees a display ad from the same retailer highlighting jewelry that would go well with those shoes. A few months later she receives an email showing her winter boots from the same shoe brand, and when she logs in to her account on the company’s site she sees other items that are recommended just for her based on her initial purchase.
This is exactly the kind of cross-channel marketing strategy that would facilitate a rich, fulfilling brand relationship. But it turns out that tracking individual customers has long posed a challenge to traditional brick-and-mortar retailers. It’s more difficult to identify individual customers — in part because shoppers may pay in cash or use a variety of credit, debit, and gift cards. The most effective way that stores have developed to track customers is through proprietary loyalty programs that reward customers with discounts or perks. Celebrated success stories include the casino Harrah’s Total Rewards loyalty program and Tesco’s Clubcard.
In short, the challenges are real. But why is it so important to develop a single cross-channel view of the customer?
Get a clearer picture of your customers. You might know a customer well based on his online behavior. But wouldn’t you have a richer profile if you could also bring in what he was doing offline? For example, a customer who bought only a wallet from your website might look like a budget-conscious accessories shopper. But if you knew he had also purchased a suit and shoes from your brick-and-mortar location, you would talk to him in a very different way. Leveraging all the data you have on your customers enables you to form a more accurate picture of each and every shopper.
Engage your customers across all touchpoints. Brick-and-mortar retailers invest heavily in training their sales staff to engage with prospective customers, educate shoppers about products of interest, and provide tailored recommendations. But all too often these same companies then talk to all their customers the same way through “batch-and-blast” emails. Imagine you could bring the same level of in-store personalization to your online communications — reaching your customers at the right time, with the right message to reinforce the brand relationship and maximize the likelihood of a purchase. Tools like email and Facebook custom audiences enable you to target individual customers, while e-commerce sites that have an account login can personalize the onsite experience for users. Leading home decor site One Kings Lane, for example, uses predictive data on individual customers to customize the merchandise that these shoppers see when they log in to the site.
Deepen brand relationships. Creating a single cross-channel view of the customer enables retailers to delight customers and reward loyalty, regardless of where the interaction takes place. Imagine going to check out at your favorite store, and being rewarded with a discount or an invitation to an exclusive in-store event based on your online shopping behavior. Or being on the phone with a customer service representative, and having the service rep thank you for your recent Facebook “like” with a free shipping upgrade. Retailers like apparel company Bonobos are already putting metrics like customer lifetime value (CLV) at the center of their customer service and in-store efforts.
Ultimately, a truly unified “single view” of the customer across channels is still in its early days. But savvy marketers are already looking at ways to move past channel silos and put the individual customer at the center of all of their marketing communications. If early indicators tell us anything, it’s that these efforts will pay rich dividends.
About Custora and How We Can Help
Custora is a customer-centric marketing platform that helps e-commerce retail marketing teams acquire, retain, and segment their customers. Retailers are using Custora this holiday season to improve their customer acquisition and retention efforts by finding out which marketing channels bring in valuable customers, making changes to acquisition budget and programs, optimizing promotion performance and segmenting their customer base to provide a personalized holiday shopping experience across all channels.
Custora works with leading e-commerce innovators and established retailers such as LivingSocial, Etsy, Fab, and Bonobos. If you’re interested in learning more about Custora, you can request a demo here.