Introduced by the rise of the internet, and propelled forward by a recent explosion of data-based insights, more retail brands than ever are implementing methods for continuous connection with their customers. Continuous connection is when brands are able to frequently engage with customers in a personalized way via mediums like apps, social media, or web pages. While this demands a quality marketing department with access to powerful technology, it can result in strengthened customer relationships by improving sales.
This stands in opposition to more basic types of marketing promotion where companies simply respond to customer needs as they arise. Traditionally, brands identified groups of consumers who were likely to have a certain need, and then showed them an offering that could provide the right quality at the right price. These advertisements were based on fleeting engagements, where brands hoped that positioning their offering correctly would create a sale. Then, maybe if the customer liked the offering enough, the brands hoped that the customer would purchase again.
A reactive type of marketing such as this was fine in the early days of digital and traditional marketing – but with new data capabilities, this type of marketing may become obsolete. Today, companies need to focus on learning more about customers to build a relationship, and then find precisely which interactions drove their ultimate purchasing decision. Then, brands should implement new ways to fulfill those needs before the customer realizes the need exists.
By uncovering these motivations, brands can begin to open the door to a two-way messaging strategy, where they deliver messages and customers deliver feedback. This enables customers to have seamless interactions with brands, building a firm relationship. The continuous connection that results can produce significant benefits.
Deliver a Better Customer Experience
By creating a strong customer relationship via continuous connection, retail brands will be able to fully resolve customer needs in novel ways. The most basic way to do this is by listening to what customers want. For example, Instacart, a grocery delivery service, knows that a significant portion of people do not enjoy grocery shopping. So, they offer an intelligent solution to grocery shopping – allowing customers to order items through a simple directory, and saving customer preferences for next time. By doing this, Instacart satisfies a need for a simpler grocery experience, while encouraging customers to create accounts and record their preferences.
However, some organizations have taken satisfying needs a step further. By recording and analyzing consumer data, some companies have been able to fulfill needs before customers are even aware of them. This not only removes guesswork from determining what customers desire – it gives companies a first mover’s advantage. By being ahead of the curve, organizations will capture more customers, and become more internally efficient by predicting what services will need to be developed.
For instance, consider a meal kit like Hello Fresh versus Instacart. Hello Fresh also recognizes that people need to purchase food, and don’t want to visit the grocery store. However, this brand takes it a step further by creating personalized, tailored recipes based on a customer’s indicated tastes and previous purchases – and then delivers the ingredients to prepare a home cooked meal right to their door. With Hello Fresh’s model, they collect customer data constantly, and seek feedback to recommend new meals to their customer base. By knowing what meals customers will want before the customer knows, Hello Fresh provides a streamlined experience that results in satisfaction.
Solidify Customer Loyalty
Marketers are familiar with the customer journey being comprised of stages. The first stage is recognizing a need, which then leads into messaging that requests a certain action from a customer. Then, companies respond to the customer’s request, delivering the right product or service. For some companies, this is the end of the customer’s journey.
For brands that engage in continuous connection, this is only the beginning. Once a customer purchases your product, don’t assume that they’ll just return when they need your product again. Instead, repeat the cycle of the customer journey back to the customer, continuously selling. This creates an environment conducive to customer loyalty – and customer loyalty allows brands to collect relevant first-party data that can inform future campaigns for both individuals and wider customer segments.
As an example, consider Nike’s Training Club. This app helps to connect customers to a variety of workouts, and encourages them to visit the gym regularly. Not only does this app subtly promote Nike, it also allows Nike to know what their customers want. If a customer is engaging in intense strength training, Nike will know that they’re interested in bodybuilding – and target them with advertisements for relevant apparel, encouraging repeat purchases and strengthened loyalty.
By engaging in continuous connections with their customers, brands can look forward to better marketing ROI. This is partially due to streamlined processes that enable organizations to save on operational expenses. They can use marketing analytics platforms to determine the propensity for a customer to order a certain product, enabling right-sized ordering and proper stocking.
Not only that, but maintaining a continuous connection with customers will increase the volume of products ordered. As word-of-mouth marketing is important among younger demographics, creating an authentic connection with customers has become necessary. With a better customer experience, customers will be more likely to refer their friends, resulting in new entrants into your sales funnel. Then, by using an attribution methodology like unified marketing measurement to track which messaging performed best on specific channels, brands can get the right message to the right people at the right time – increasing conversion rates.
Continuous Connection Requires Advanced Analytics
While continuous connection can provide a boon for retailers, it’s best accomplished by utilizing an advanced marketing analytics platform. With marketing analytics, your organization can predict when a customer may need to purchase a product again, and even determine their attitude towards processes such as automatic order fulfillment. This platform should be capable of harnessing insights from every channel that the customer engages with by using both multi-touch attribution and unified marketing measurement. Not only that, but it should be able to parse massive amounts of information in a timely manner in order to course-correct campaigns as needed.
By establishing a continuous connection with customers that’s backed by industry-leading analytics, marketers will be able to add value to their business in the short-term while informing the success of future campaigns.