The existence of this InternetRetailing Growth 2000 report demonstrates not only the impressive diversity of the industry but also the competitiveness of the landscape. Growth for these retailers is dependent on standing out from the crowd. One of the best ways for retailers to differentiate themselves is to engage an audience outside the norm. It’s no secret that acquiring new valuable customers is essential to success. And in such a competitive environment, moving beyond antiquated profiles, segments, demographics and assumptions is vital.
This could mean looking to other markets across the globe, using performance marketing to test the waters and discover a new target customer profile. Or it could mean changing the way you understand and engage audiences here in the UK. Ultimately, we’re talking about taking customer acquisition and prospecting to the next level, about making the most of technology (such as artificial intelligence and machine learning fuelled by consumer data) to uncover audiences that otherwise wouldn’t be found. It’s about working smarter to find new consumers who not only align with your brand but also demonstrate a propensity to become loyal customers.
Many of the retailers featured in this report consider their ability to give customers knowledgeable service as key to success. Typically, this is associated with the ‘human touch’. Combining this with a data-driven approach to marketing, such as through programmatic advertising, supports growth.
Using technology that becomes smarter over time enables authentic advertising to be delivered at scale. By using data based on audiences’ digital interactions, consumer profiles that are most relevant and likely to convert for a given brand can be uncovered. The right messages are served to the right people – not bots – and so the more personal element of brand interactions isn’t lost. People find new brands they love, and retailers find audiences that are more likely convert and become repeat customers – essential elements of growth.
Utilising the wealth of consumer data that is available today opens huge opportunities for retailers but there is a delicate balance to be struck. The post-GDPR environment cannot be ignored – consumers are more aware than ever of the power their data holds, and also warier than ever. UK attitudes to personalisation illustrate this point perfectly – while 17.2m UK consumers are more likely to engage with adverts tailored to them, 55% of British adults say personalised ads ‘creep them out’. This indicates the importance of getting every step of programmatic advertising right, from gathering raw signals, distilling and running them through data-mining and audience-modelling technology, through to finally activating them in advertising systems.
Many of the areas the InternetRetailing Growth 2000 report focuses on – the importance of an effective mobile experience, of building a brand following through social media, and enabling timely and convenient services – allude to the importance of placing the consumer at the centre of all marketing activity. Consumers don’t take notice of the channel through which they are approached by retailers and brands – they only care that their experience is valuable and not disrupted by poor and irrelevant advertising. Retailers that can provide such valued experience to consumers that are the perfect fit – across channels and the entire journey to purchase – will be those that continue to grow.
Rakuten Marketing uses innovative data-driven technology to help brands reach consumers with timely and authentic digital advertising. Pioneering AI and machine learning, paired with unique data and inventory from the Rakuten ecosystem, enable brands to identify new audiences and re-engage existing ones across integrated marketing solutions: affiliate, display and search. Learn more at rakutenmarketing.com.