A trendy young woman sees an ad for an upscale retail chain while watching an online video. After seeing a second ad from the retailer on Facebook, she visits the retailer's website to browse its shoe selection, and two styles catch her eye. She heads to the retailer's local store to make a final decision—but after choosing the style she wants, she learns that the store doesn't have her size in stock. From her mobile phone right in the store, she visits the retailer's site to make the purchase.
From this customer's perspective, she is dealing with one retail company. But from the retailer's perspective, as with many others, this customer's various touch points on the way to a purchase are not viewed as a single customer journey. Unfortunately, data about the retailer's e-commerce customers are not connected to in-store activity; this information lives in silos across the company. The marketing team has no idea that this customer needed the in-store experience to validate a purchase.
Does this story sound familiar to you? As we move through this critical fourth-quarter selling season, it is crucial to know how a customer's online interactions with your brand impact conversions in your storefronts. And the ability to have a full, 360-degree view of the touch points that lead to sales is the key to success with customers.
The capacity to recognize and respond to customers wherever they interact with a brand has become the holy grail of marketing. This is key to building lifelong customer relationships. But being able to tie together the massive amounts of customer data generated at all touch points, from different media and vendors, is a challenge that gives many marketers sleepless nights.
Only three in 10 companies say they have a thorough and up-to-date view of their customers' journeys, according to a 2016 study by Econsultancy. But those companies enjoy conversion rates double those with less sophisticated analytics.
The relationship between e-commerce, digital media and in-store shopping is particularly complex. Research shows that more than half of consumers around the world are regular online shoppers, buying products online on a weekly or monthly basis. And the online experience is critical even for those who ultimately buy in person; studies show that, increasingly, more customers browse online before making an in-store purchase.
While more than half the U.S. population is shopping online, the U.S. Commerce Department reports that e-commerce continues to account for only about 8% of total sales.
Those numbers mean that for the most successful customer engagement and experiences, you need to leverage data across online and offline channels. Finding a solution to integrate that data can provide a complete picture of your customers' journeys. You can identify common paths to purchase and deploy budgets in the most effective places.
When offline and online data are productively tied together, the opportunities to improve your marketing and customer experience are endless. If a customer buys a big-ticket item in-store, what does the journey look like after that? Are there related products the customer is then likely to explore online? Do you know what an effective post-purchase journey looks like?
Once your analytics have helped you identify those typical customer journeys, you can capitalize on that knowledge. If you notice a customer on a predictable path, perhaps an extra email or text message offer can increase the chance of a conversion based on that person's past preferences and behaviors.
It's your job as a marketer to pull all the data together so you're investing marketing dollars in the right places—and to ensure your customers have a seamless, relevant experience with your brand, regardless of how they interact with you. Consumer expectations have changed. Shoppers expect businesses to treat them individually regardless of touch point. They demand businesses to personalize their communications. No one wants to make a purchase and then be targeted with a barrage of ads for that same product. Mistakes like that send the message that you have no idea who your customers are.
About the Author
Darin Archer is on a mission to help redefine what e-commerce means, challenging the industry to move beyond the thumbnail in category pages to an experience-driven approach where customers can purchase anything, anywhere at the point of inflection. He is responsible for
About the Sponsor
IBM helps you create unbreakable bonds with your customers. Through a powerful set of tools and solutions for marketing, e-commerce and customer analytics, you can understand your customers, identify the moments that matter most and respond immediately with experiences that surprise and delight. Become a customer-oriented business, unleash the power of cognitive commerce and tap into an endless universe of information and possibilities. Learn more at ibm.com/cxanalytics.