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Going beyond the sponsored post: The future of online customer engagement

Choice amongst hyper connected consumers breeds curiosity and the need for authentic advice goes hand in hand with the endless choices on offer. Marie Sagarzazu, Head of UK for iAdvize talks about how retailers can stand out from the crowd by providing an authentic customer experience, not focused on the technology but on the respondent.

What’s next on the agenda?

Social media apps are now so well established with over 39 million users in the UK. Because of this, often brands turn to influencers to promote their products and services through paid sponsorship posts – but the reality is that the engagement is relatively low, with a recent study from Bazaarvoice stating that 47% of consumers are ‘fatigued’ by repetitive influencer posts that lack trust and authenticity. Retailers spend massive marketing budget to acquire traffic as the acquisition is increasing while the average CTR now rarely exceeds 0.05%.

The reality is that “Consumers decide what to pay attention to based on emotions and conversation” (James McQuivey, VP. Principal Analyst) and so what is important to online visitors is how a brand makes them feel – you don’t necessarily remember what the brand said. Retailers need to ensure they are focusing on personalised and authentic online experiences. With consumers often asking their peers for advice we now see that independent experts, passionate about brands are a very valuable way to increase customer lifetime value and assist brands in standing out and becoming the destination of choice.

Growth areas for retailers

Retailers are now branching out into new areas of growth for example Sainsbury’s will ramp up in-store beauty services – introducing more cult and premium brands along with vegan beauty products. Customers are now inspired to browse as opposed to just shopping for essentials.

Paving the way for a more holistic in-store experience brands should now look at ways in which they can replicate this online. Offering visitors the chance to chat with experts in real time (in the same way you would chat with specially trained beauty assistants in store for example) allows retailers to showcase a premium customer experience, directly impacting bottom line but also enabling them to stand out from the competition.

Customer centricity at board level

As we consider the notion of ‘’changing consumer demands’’ and ‘’providing a frictionless customer experience’’ it is important to take a look at businesses as a whole, ensuring the customer is the central pillar of business functions across the board. For example the IT department may not actually talk to the customers, but their whole raison d’être is to ensure that customers get the best experience and the engagement they require across all channels.

Commercial leaders need to drive at board level interoperability between systems across the company and instill an attitude of ‘customer first and last and always’

Of course, we have a long way to go yet but in today’s digital world functions are beginning to work together, with eCommerce teams servicing and influencing policy teams through the integration of social data for example. Once all functions are bought into a customer centric vision it allows for both efficiency internally and also puts the focus on how a brand makes their customers feel. This impacts on one of the most important KPIs – Customer lifetime Value.

About iAdvize

iAdvize is a conversational marketing platform that allows more than 1,500 brands worldwide to make their customer experience authentic – including Vodafone, L’oreal, Tui and Decathlon. iAdvize connects customers or prospects in need of advice with experts who are available 24/7 via real-time messaging.

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