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DIGITALX Full-funnel future

Image © Apple

The buzz created by Apple’s Battersea store proves the enduring power of instore experience

Planning the inaugural DigitalX event, one of the key ideas underpinning it was the question of how to use digital technologies to drive memorable customer experiences. It’s a question that’s increasingly occupied the industry over recent years. Where once, in the simplest terms, it was relatively easy to eavesdrop on consumers as they surfed the web and best practice reflected this, it’s currently much more difficult to get a clear picture of their behaviour.

That’s not just because of GDPR considerations but also because digital technologies are now so ubiquitous that talking about consumers ‘surfing the web’ seems like a throwback to a past era. Almost without us realising it, we are entering a Web 3.0 world.

In less grand terms, as shoppers, we browse across different channels without giving it a second thought, as ConsumerX research into how we discover products reveals. Among other factors, influencers, coupons, social media posts, advertising, newsletters and mobile app notifications all play into purchase decisions.

Worldwide, for example, 38.4% of respondents tell ConsumerX that general coupons and discounts are a factor in choosing new products. Email newsletters influence 17.3% of shoppers, while 23.3% respond to mobile app notifications.

The multiple variables here are so complex as to resist human analysis, hence the emerging emphasis on data and machine learning. But even these are not enough in themselves.

To return to where we began for a moment, memorable customer experiences – including the instore experience – play a key role in securing sales. Apple customers may value stores in which they are encouraged to play, while John Lewis shoppers might value its reassuring shopfloor partners on hand
to share their expertise, yet both create customer loyalty and ensure returning custom in their own ways.

Crucially, returning customers not only tend to spend more, they also typically share more data with retailers and brands.
For such reasons, while there will always be a place for performance marketing where the relationship between outcome and cost is transparent, retailers and brands have now routinely begun to look at the entire customer journey. A new consensus around best practice within digital marketing is emerging.

The term that’s been coined here is ‘full-funnel marketing’ and the underlying philosophy is about speaking to consumers in ways that chime with what they’re doing and where they are in the decision- making process of awareness/consideration/ conversion.
As to how to build a strategy around this idea, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. However, any strategy will likely take in:

  • Clear objectives and KPIs
  • A clear understanding of different kinds
    of customer
  • Content that goes beyond sales material
  • Testing user experiences
  • Automation, testing and iteration

Currently, different retailers and brands display different levels of sophistication here. As we see with the case studies in this report, larger businesses have richer data sets to draw on, which is certainly an advantage. On the other hand, smaller companies are often closer to their consumers, which makes them better at building one-to-one relationships.
Whatever the approach, the idea of using digital technologies to drive memorable customer experiences isn’t going to go away. Rather, it will become central to 21st-century retail.

This is just one feature from the recently published DigitalX 2024 report. Inside the report we discuss how marketers need to deal with the challenges here at the same time as grappling with advances in fields such as deep tech, AI, data science, social trends, platforms and behavioural analysis.

Case Studies: – Shein, Ugg, Deckers Brands, John Lewis, Sweatty Betty, Nike, HP, Sainsburys, L’Oreal, Pepsico and Kingfisher.

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