By Cian Agnew, Executive Director, Client Partnerships, UK & Europe at Wunderkind
The online retail market is crowded. With a plethora of choices and paths to purchase, brands have to fight to get noticed, and to secure customer loyalty in the long term.
Brands have to be both different and better when compared to their competition; they need to stand out for all the right reasons, and when it comes to building loyalty and, in turn, increasing customer lifetime value, it all starts with data.
How data can drive marketing strategy
Savvy brands at the cutting edge of eCommerce can drive long-term growth and build customer loyalty by personalising the shopping experience for individual customers. The best way to do this is to gather and harness first-party data. And, with the death of third-party cookies on the horizon, the value of owned data is not only becoming clearer, but more imperative (and more urgent!).
Collecting first-party data and understanding it can make a huge difference overall in learning who your customer is, the sorts of products they’re interested in, and even at what times they’re most happy to receive (and likely to act on) promotional messaging. Crucially, it’s also a means of knowing how often a customer wants to be communicated with, whether by email or text. The cost of getting this wrong can be significant – poor sentiment and unsubscribes, for example – but getting it right can drive upticks in conversion and repeat engagement.
Let’s put this into a ‘real-world’ analogy: you’d walk into a shop, immediately be presented with items you either already like or have a strong likelihood of being interested in, you’ll perhaps be given a unique discount code, and, as a result, you can hand your basket to the cashier seconds after entering. First-party data can give consumers this experience in a digital setting.
First-party data ensures messaging can be personalised to each and every consumer, giving them a focused and bespoke line of communication with your brand, enabling them to save time and have more efficient, seamless encounters every time they interact with you.
It’s all well and good waxing lyrical about the benefits of data, but it’s only useful if you’re actually able to get your hands on it. The best way to ensure that customers want to hand over their data— whether that’s an email address or mobile number—is to present them with a value exchange they’ll consider a good deal. This could be a monthly newsletter, a one-off discount code, an eBook or a free shipping offer, for example; it’ll differ from retailer to retailer and from audience to audience.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, and there’s no one solution that is guaranteed to work time and again over an extended period of time. The value associated with first-party data can’t be overstated, so brands need to prioritise its collection, and continue to tinker to ensure the offering is as alluring as possible.
Once you’ve got the right technology in place to gather first-party data effectively, the next step is to put that data into action, ensuring that any marketing that reaches a consumer is always personalised and relevant.
Personalisation is the cornerstone of any digital marketing strategy, and this means more than just including “Hi [FirstName]” in the body of an email. It’s about presenting customers with specific, relevant content they’ll want to engage with. This might include cart abandonment notifications, stock updates (for example, price reductions or new colourways/specs on items they’ve previously looked at), happy birthday messages, or bespoke rewards based on customer loyalty. Such messaging can create a sense of trust and respect between brand and customer.
The next step is customisation. This gives customers power over how they are communicated with, and builds on a pillar of trust. This customisation can be as simple as making it easy for people to opt in or out of specific newsletters or alerts to certain product discounts, as well as the frequency with which they’ll be received.
Essentially, the sooner a brand or retailer begins gathering first-party data, the sooner it’ll be able to effectively target its audience with content that will not only land, but will make an impact. In doing this, brands can demonstrate to their customers that they’re acknowledged, understood and valued, and that any data provided will be used to ultimately improve their shopping experience.
To foster long-term loyalty and boost customer lifetime value, it’s vital that all brands use their first-party data wisely. Deploying it to gain a deeper and more meaningful understanding of the customer isn’t only the way forward, but the approach retailers need to take now.