Customers think locally. And although it’s the marketer’s task to keep the bigger picture in mind and think globally, our campaigns have to appeal at a local level. As always, the customer should be at the centre of your marketing team’s playbook. Think about the interactions your customer has with your brand and how each touchpoint is an opportunity to make them fall in love with your product, your creative and your story.
We’ve pulled together five tips to keep in mind as you navigate the new era of retail and direct to consumer trading where data and storytelling have to work hand in hand to deliver growth. It’s easy to get bogged down in metrics, creative, and the ins-and-outs of daily trading but if you keep these points front of mind, you’ll stay focussed on what really matters.
1. Your identity is your story
Customers want more than just a brand name and good creative, they want a story they can connect with and feel part of. In a busy market where smaller brands are competing with big retailers, the brand who tells their story is the one who succeeds.
Do you sell food boxes? Tell your customers about where the ingredients come from. Is beautiful British design your thing? Tell us about your designers and where they get their inspiration. Good marketing is good storytelling so give your customers something to connect with and make them feel part of your journey.
2. Use your in-store data to power your online campaigns
Your story is your starting point, data helps you tell it. Now more than ever, it’s important that you’re targeting the right customer cohorts with relevant messaging. Although footfall is lower than before, customers have adapted to face masks and hand sanitiser and, with the possibility of increased restrictions never far away, your stalwart in-store customers are likely to do their Christmas shopping earlier than usual this year, wherever possible.
Feed your in-store audience data into Facebook and Google Shopping so you can target those in-store customers with localised, relevant ads to entire them in-store: new stock arrivals, in-store discounts or local events are good starting points. Equally important, link your product catalogue to your campaigns so you’re only promoting stock you actually have in-store – you don’t want to tell customers about all your wonderful products only for them to arrive and find you’ve sold out.
3. Update your messaging to stay relevant
Although some customers will keep shopping in store, this year has accelerated the shift to online channels, probably forever. The Royal Mail is hiring an additional 33,000 seasonal staff to keep up with the expected demand in the lead up to Christmas, an extra 13,000 on last year – evidence, as if anyone needed it, that online shopping has exploded in popularity.
What does that tell us? Put simply, customers who were previously exclusively (or almost exclusively) in-store shoppers are now buying online – and they need some special attention. For one thing, they’ve displayed great loyalty to your brand by sticking with you and not going to your competitors who are guaranteed to be bidding on them!
To say thank you, match your instore data with your online transactions to see who’s made the leap and who is likely to. Target those groups with special messaging across all your channels and show them how easy it is to buy online with you. Free delivery, next day delivery and free returns are the key messages to communicate, particularly with those who may be unfamiliar with online shopping. Make sure they know that you’re easy to contact too – have your chat or phone service visible on every page of your website so your customer feels looked after.
And think about adding a small gift or a thank you note from your founder in their parcel – a little goes a long way.
4. Live and let learn
Once your campaign is live, leave it well alone. You’ve done the work; your audiences are set up, you’re confident in your messaging and you know the creative’s brilliant. The next step is the hardest: leave it alone. Stop tinkering with it. Marketers are inquisitive and we want to keep fine-tuning our campaigns to make them as good as they can possibly be. Unfortunately, computers don’t like change. If you keep changing the audiences, swapping the creatives, or changing your offers too frequently, the AI won’t be able to learn and your performance will suffer, undoing all the work you’ve just done. It’s best to make sure your technical set-up is as good as possible and then just leave Facebook and Google to it. They’ll quickly learn how to optimise your campaigns for the best results and will target the best audiences within your campaign parameters. Let the AI learn – and listen to what it tells you.
5. Keep your promises
Your brand is founded on a promise to your customers. Whether that be to deliver the finest quality cashmere in your inimitable, quirky style or to create bespoke cheese and chutney boxes for cosy evenings in front of the fire, your primary goal should be to deliver on that promise for your customers and be the best in the market.
Close the gap between your team and your customers; everyone in the business should feel personally invested in the people who buy and use your products. From the designers to the warehouse managers to the customer service team, make sure everyone is aligned on your core promise and striving to deliver it. You’ll see a transformation in how you think about your business and your customers will see it too; take every opportunity you have to surprise and delight them (think about that thank you note) and they’ll reward you with their loyalty. And don’t forget, every happy customer will give you a new customer for free.
After all, word–of–mouth marketing is the best in the business.
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