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.
Spanx taps new CEO
Spanx has named Jan Singer as CEO, reporting to founder and owner of the company, Sara Blakely.
Interim CEO Gregg Ribatt will assist Singer through a transition period, and then continue to serve on the company’s board of advisers. Singer is expected to join the company officially in early July.
Singer joins Spanx from Nike, where she held various senior leadership roles, including corporate VP of global apparel and corporate VP of global footwear. Prior to that, Singer served as the VP and GM of Reebok’s women’s business and played key marketing and global communications roles for Chanel, Calvin Klein and Prada. Singer also previously served as the beauty and fitness editor for YM Magazine.
“Spanx is first and foremost an innovator and leader,” said Blakely. “Jan’s role in helping to lead and innovate at premium, global brands across the apparel, footwear and beauty industries, combined with her deep understanding of the consumer, make her the perfect fit for Spanx. I’m confident that she will transition from the locker room to the fitting room seamlessly. I am grateful to Gregg Ribatt for his role in leading the company through this transition and setting us up for the next phase of growth.”
“Spanx is an incredible brand with unique and powerful consumer connections, and I’m excited to join such a dynamic company,” said Singer. “My background and experience position me to build on the great foundation created by Sara and her team, and I look forward to leading the organization on its continued path of success.”
Retailers AWOL on vet list
No company hired more veterans last year than Walmart, but that distinction was only enough to earn the company the 23rd spot on Military Times annual ranking of the best companies for veterans.
To compile the rankings, Military Times said it asked companies to complete a 90 question survey that addressed topics such as recruitment of people connected to the military, policies related to veterans, reservists and their families and the organization’s culture. As of Memorial Day, Walmart had hired 40,000 veterans since making a commitment in early 2013 that it would hire more than 100,000 veterans by 2018.
At total of 59 companies were included in the ranking, but only three other retailers made the cut. Safeway came in at number 20 while the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) was ranked 31 and The Home Depot was ranked 45.
Click here to see what other companies made the list.