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GUEST OPINION Messages for life

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The continued adoption of smart mobile devices has made it essential that marketers integrate mobile focused messages into the customer lifecycle. But how do you make that happen, especially across multiple devices? Here, Jim Davidson, Manager of Marketing Research at Bronto Software explains what brands and retailers need to consider for successful lifecycle messaging campaigns.

Customer-centric retailing is now the norm as shoppers control how and when they would like to interact with retail brands. This plays into allowing interactions with the brand anytime, anywhere and on any device of their choice. Retailers must figure out ways to get customers engaged and inspired in order to build long-term relationships. This is where the lifecycle campaigns become essential. Retailers must manage all of this data in a way that can easily be used to create a more one-to-one experience for customers.

The most effective lifecycle messages are those that focus on the basics such as a welcome series, lapsed purchaser message and the post-purchase series while opt-in source is likely to become even more important to marketers this year. A custom welcome series based on where someone signed up, whether in store, online or a social media site, will speak directly to the shopper’s experience in a timely fashion. An online purchaser can be different from someone who always buys in-store so by introducing your brand in a welcome series that extends that first interaction with your brand could help get that first purchase.

Lifecycle messaging are adapting all the time so rather than a website or form being the only triggers, walking past a store, being inside a store or a shopper scanning a code could all be triggers that send messages to consumers.

Looking at messages on mobile devices is already common behaviour and it will become more of a norm for shoppers to connect their mobile inboxes to the in-store shopping experience. In addition to linking to a store locator and having the option to print an email, a number of retailers allow subscribers to show the email in-store on their mobile device to receive a discount. Increasingly, shoppers are comparing prices while shopping in store and retailers need to connect to the consumer.

So, it’s imperative that retailers start looking at the devices subscribers use to open emails. Segmentation tools enable retailers to split customers based on browser and device and include functionality to start collecting some data, such as providing the option for subscribers to select a preferred mobile device in your preference centre.

Of course with all this data it’s easy for retailers and brands to feel overwhelmed so it’s important to look at the data points that lead to the most revenue. Just because you have the data doesn’t mean you have to use it. A lot of marketers may have to invest in solutions to aggregate and consolidate data so it’s accessible and easy to use.

Conversely, for those businesses with limited data, it’s possible to build a better data profile that can help their programme evolve and speak to their subscribers regardless of their devices. It’s important to focus on sources such as email service provider, site analytics data or a third party. By collecting engagement data and finding ways to merge that data into a holistic view of the customer across channels and devices will be hugely beneficial. And with any data, it’s knowing how to use it rather than just the possession which is key.

Because most lifecycle messages are automated and based on some kind of data (often a date field), they are extremely timely, targeted and relevant, resulting in better engagement (think 40-80% open rates), more money (often generating new revenue streams) and improved return on investment. Mobile has now opened up an exciting new avenue to explore.

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