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Back to Basics: Three Ways for Retailers to Create a Compelling Customer Experience

By Eric Larson, Chief Revenue Officer, HelloWorld

The retail industry has experienced a massive shift in recent years, with mobile and social technology bringing both change and opportunity in how consumers research, browse and buy. With today’s new level of price transparency, and the competition always just a tap away, retailers are feeling the pressure.

As new channels emerge, many retailers have been playing catch-up to rapidly evolving consumer behaviors. Thus the question, “How do I best engage my customer?” can yield responses ranging from established channels like email and Facebook to hot social platforms like Pinterest, Vine, Instagram and Snapchat. Because today’s customers can use smartphones and tablets to shop wherever and whenever they want, they expect retailers to offer information on the appropriate channel at the appropriate time.

It’s tempting for marketers to jump right in and starting determining mobile and social strategies, but successful retailers start with the basics. This requires laser focus on creating a customer experience that properly reflects your brand, and then identifying the appropriate channels and tools needed to engage.

Here are three ways that retailers can create compelling customer experiences by going back to the basics.

1. Focus on your audience

The core of the age-old mantra “put the customer first” remains relevant: keep your audience top-of-mind when executing your marketing strategy. While it may be tempting to spread your marketing and advertising as widely as possible, knowing and prioritizing your intended audience is essential to a successful retail program. If ads and campaigns are pointed directly at your target audience, they’re much more likely to resonate and lead consumers down the path to purchase.

A great example can be found by looking at partnership between Covergirl and Walgreens around the “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” movie release. At the heart of Covergirl’s target audience is a large number of younger females, so the makeup giant took advantage of the Hunger Games series to appeal directly to its biggest audience demographic.

Covergirl, in partnership with Walgreens, hit the branded entertainment jackpot, creating a Hunger Games quiz for fans around their style and favorite features to reveal their Hunger Games district look. Throughout the experience, consumers watched video tutorials on how to create their look, viewed relevant products, and obtained a shopping list. Consumers who submitted a Covergirl receipt from Walgreens received a ticket to the film, and participants on mobile devices received a Covergirl coupon offer.

In the Hunger Games campaign, Covergirl’s tight focus on its intended audience helped the company appeal directly to relevant fans and helped the company entice consumers with desirable rewards. Covergirl created a multi-platform, interactive buying experience for its customers, which helped spur purchases further down the line.

2. Define how you measure success

For retailers, determining how to measure success, both quantitatively and qualitatively, is essential to fine-tune strategy and build impactful relationships with consumers. While every business has unique ways of determining success, deciding exactly what goals and figures to measure against is tricky.

For example, research shows that consumers convert more often on desktop and tablets than they do smartphones. However, as mobile is gaining buzz in the retail industry, retailers have been fixated on mobile conversion rates. Why are they so concerned with this particular metric?

Yes, conversion is the ultimate goal, but it actually doesn’t reflect the way consumers engage with the brand. Retailers should instead look for ways to measure whether they’re providing relevant information to mobile users that will help guide them down the path to purchase. Set goals around metrics like mobile opt-ins to email and SMS lists, the number of items saved to Passbook, app usage and ratings, and time spent on mobile web pages to get a better understanding of consumer engagement. Even consumer control features, like content shares or product reviews, hold exceptional weight in keeping consumers engaged and satisfied.

3. Stay on track

The retail world is in constant flux, and it’s easy for marketers to get distracted by the shiny new toy, or marketing channel, in the box. However, between constantly trying to readjust strategy for the “next best thing,” this lack of focus on the consumer experience can lead to a muddled user journey that leaves the customer frustrated.

Instead of paying attention to the trendiest movement in marketing strategy, marketers need to rally around creating the most relevant solution possible for their customers. Look for ways to solve consumer challenges, educate with content or provide an entertaining experience that keeps your brand top-of-mind.

With so many pathways and technologies to help enhance your digital marketing program, it can be tempting to dive in and explore all options before determining the most appropriate strategy. However, to ensure a successful customer experience, starting with the basics is key. Determining your audience, measurement goals and execution strategy and sticking to them is the best way to create the consumer experience that reflects your brand and forge quality relationships that will last.


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