Yuval Ben-Itzhak, CEO, Socialbakers, explains why retailers need to bring the marketing persona to the forefront.
The following guest article has been written for InternetRetailing by Yuval Ben-Itzhak, CEO of social media marketing company Socialbakers. The company is a trusted social media marketing partner to thousands of enterprise brands and SMBs, including over 100 companies on the Fortune Global 500. Leveraging the largest social media data-set in the industry and machine learning, Socialbakers’ marketing suite of solutions helps brands ensure their investment in social media is delivering measurable business outcomes.
Retail brands are the acknowledged kings of driving sales through social media. They’ve polished campaign optimisation, built foolproof strategies to close sales, resolved abandoned carts, and become masters at running thousands of ad campaigns – that have generated positive ROI… But unfortunately, that’s no longer enough.
In the modern-day landscape of digital marketing, retailers are facing a multitude of new challenges. While they have become pros at driving conversions, they are finding themselves overwhelmed with the amount of omnichannel data that is flowing in. Yet, while they have access to game-changing data and insights only 8% of retailers are using this intel to personalise their content marketing strategies, according to Jawing.
By taking a closer look at consumer behaviour, retailers can give their customers experiences, rather than bombarding them with a slew of unrelated ads for the sake of a short-term sale. Luckily, retailers don’t need to look far to find that sweet spot.
Retail brands have demonstrated skill and confidence when it comes to driving sales at the bottom of the marketing funnel, but they’re missing out on major growth because they’re failing to attract the right audiences from the start. Instead, like in many other industries, retail brands go for low hanging fruit – but that strategy is neither sustainable nor will it help them to grow their revenue.
When it comes to top of the funnel marketing strategies, retail brands often fail to leverage their online data effectively. While they might be happy with their current conversion rates at the bottom of the funnel, the only way to improve results is by stepping back and focusing on the awareness side, rather than the usual endless optimisation and iteration.
But, what does looking at the top of the funnel actually mean? It means approaching marketing with an audience-first mindset. This helps you attract and retain audiences that were previously invisible to you. Ask yourself if you’re honestly bringing in the right audiences. If you are not, your competition will.
As you move into 2019, spend more time refining your tactics in the awareness stage – and by building the right community, you’ll vastly increase your chances of converting further down the line.
To really make an impact with your audiences you need to embrace the future of personalised marketing. According to research conducted by PWC, 94% of business executives believe that creating personalised content is critical. To top it off, research conducted by eMarketer found that 84% of marketing professionals believe the potential of personalised technology hasn’t been actualised yet – but with the tech industry booming, that’s now changing. When it comes to creating content for particular audience segments, there’s lots of room for improvement.
Creating tailored content for each of your segments is no longer just a “nice-to-have” – it’s a necessity. Just imagine how a shopper stumbling upon an ad that speaks to them can generate not only more sales – but more loyalty. In fact, Deloitte found that 42% of consumers who are interested in customised products or services would prefer to be “led by brands” choosing from a selection of options. This is great news for retailers as no one knows their products better than they do. The only problem? Selecting the right products for the right audience.
The answer to your personalised marketing troubles can be answered in two words: “Marketing personas”. Developing marketing personas was something you were likely doing a decade ago. Yet somehow, in the digital age, we’ve forgotten this fundamental step, and it’s easy to see why. With the number of channels and tools available to marketers, the goal has been to increase conversions by pumping out as many ads as possible. The result? We left the audience persona behind – not because we didn’t think it was important, there just wasn’t time for it.
Marketers used to rely on traditional audience research methods – intense brainstorming sessions and longitudinal studies. In the digital world, this system isn’t scalable – and audiences can change at lightspeed.
As in other industries, retail brands face a challenge - an overwhelming number of customers that fit into endless segmentations. Developing personas for each of those segments is near impossible using traditional methods, but today it’s actually easier than you may think - and it’s a game-changer too. The evolution of AI and digital marketing technologies means this process can be automated so a project that required months of research can now be done in seconds.
Once you shift your marketing to an audience-first mindset, results can be amazing and retailers that already leverage customer profiles are seeing huge success. Women’s retail brand Chico’s has developed two customer personas which have helped unite their communication strategy across platforms. These customer personas are now an integral part of the company’s overall marketing strategy across teams.
What the marketing team at Chico’s did was bring their customers to life simply by creating buyer personas.
At the Email Insider Summit, Chico’s SVP of Marketing, Shelagh Stoneham, explained: “Not only can I picture these two women and what their lives are like, but so can everyone in our marketing department.” Stoneham continued: “We know these women well enough that we can tell stories about them and share them with everyone in the company. We know them as well as we know some of our friends.”
It’s clear that by putting a face to their customer base, Chico’s was able to create content that’s not only enjoyable but relevant to the right audiences.
French retailer La Redoute has also built an audience-first strategy and seen amazing results. Utilising audience data and content intelligence it was able to create compelling content that rocketed its average engagement rate on social media by 74% and decreased cost-per-click by a massive 23%.
Cases like this show how access to instant marketing personas help unlock a whole new world of content marketing opportunities. Imagine having access to detailed audience insights across all of your websites or pages – and for any market segment, you want. Knowing your audiences’ interests, their affinities, which influencers they follow can help create a tailored strategy that generates great results – as Chico’s and La Redoute have shown.
To do this successfully, all data sources must be considered – from audience behaviour across the web to social media channels. The time to get serious about your marketing is now – break your digital silos and analyse your data holistically to get a full and balanced picture of who your customers really are.
Put marketing personas back into the heart of your digital strategy. An audience-first approach enables you to pull in the right audiences and create personalised content at every touchpoint of the customer journey.
Stop focusing only on bottom-of-funnel tactics – customer experience needs to be put front and centre from the start. You’ll maximise conversions tenfold once you lay the groundwork and understand who you’re targeting. After that? Well, the rest is easy.