3 Strategies That Will Help Retailers Achieve Great Things With Digital Media

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Let’s start with a simple fact: According to Forrester research, by 2017, 60% of all retail sales will involve the Internet. That’s 8x greater than the 7% of sales currently done on the Internet today.

This trend will transform the retail experience as we know it. Retailers must now find a multichannel approach to sales that provides a seamless shopping experiences across all channels – whether shopping online, desktop, mobile, telephone, or brick and mortar.

So how then can you ensure that your customer’s path to purchase is connected across every device and traffic channel?

Here are some of our top insights derived from helping several successful retail brands expand their digital market share:

Stay driven by customer centricity

As retail brands start to grow their digital strategies, leveraging technology to create new interactive experiences like never before, it’s still important that we think big but act small. So before you start your next campaign, make sure you find a way for it to generate customer insights that will eventually lead to hyperlocal and personalized marketing in many forms.

A great example of this is illustrated by Nordstrom’s Pinterest success. On their Pinterest account, they curate popular products from Nordstrom.com, inspirational images from blogs that customer’s love, trending fashion and helpful tutorials. This is a data gold mind for the company. Each week, the Nordstrom team uses Pinterest analytics to see which items are getting the most engagement. Not only can they use these top pins to target email promotions, but they also use the information to guide in-store display and inventory.

People first, campaign second

The era of mass marketing – where marketers could simply advertise, reap the rewards and repeat – is over. You’re no longer going to make it by interrupting as many prospects as possible – you’re going to make it by becoming part of these unique communities, delivering relevant messages to people who want to get them, and by connecting with people in ways that leave them better than you found them.

This migration of advertising from the bottom of the purchase funnel to the top demands greater storytelling and is giving rise to a rethinking of success metrics. Senior management must allow the marketing team to operate in an environment of action and trust so that they are free to invest in tactics that are long-term investments and move brand sentiment in the direction of purchase.

Luckily, we’re starting to see validation here, with research showing that campaigns that tell a brand story before asking people to buy something are significantly more effective than ones that focus immediately on encouraging people to take an action. Last year, in partnership with Facebook ®, we compared the rate of subscriptions to Refinery29, an independent fashion and lifestyle website, generated by two campaigns on Facebook that ran in the US in May 2014.

One “sustained call-to-action” campaign over 12 days featured ads that employed creative and images focused strictly on generating subscriptions. The other campaign over the same period featured different “sequenced” ads that first told the brand story, next provided product information before inviting people to sign up. Ads for both campaigns were served in News Feed to lookalike audiences (users similar to existing, engaged customers), increasing the chances that people would become high-value customers.

 

There was a 56% increase in subscription rates among people who were exposed to the sequenced ads compared with those who were exposed to the non-sequenced ads. The results prove how vital storytelling can be when developing a customer-base with real lifetime value.

Connect the dots at every stage – especially mobile

As more touch points are created in the digital world, it places an even greater urgency on brands to refine their omnichannel strategy. Now that the average person spends 162 minutes on their phone, with 71% of users accessing social media from a mobile device, you can no longer afford to not make this channel a focal point in your retail strategy.

For instance, we’ve worked with several CPG and fashion brands that have created mobile specific experiences, and as a result, we’ve been able to run cross channel campaigns. We drive users to mobile apps to help drive and increase engagement as far down the funnel as purchases, allow brands to deliver positive brand experiences across both mobile and desktop.

In addition to increasing engagement and sales, the mobile experiences offer new and insightful data for you to leverage. Brands can capitalize on this new stream of data collected via mobile apps and use it to drive the direction of production (such as color, styles, tastes, etc), as well as overall production volume. It’s a win-win situation for both the brand and the consumer.

So, while 2017 may seem like it is right around the corner, the reality is that the consumer is already there. Brands should be investing today in the eminent future where Pinterest is the new showroom, Instagram is the new catalog, and Facebook is the new broadcast medium.

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