App…email…in-store…wait, where is my customer going now?
Tracking down where your customer is and working out how to keep them engaged with your brand is a challenge faced by all multi-channel retailers, but it is precisely this challenge that also presents a huge opportunity.
Let’s look firstly at our online channels- these include website, apps, emails, social channels. With the real-time flexibility that digital channels allow, you can provide a wealth of information, give clear product and service visibility and allow customers to purchase wherever they may be.
Then we have our primary offline channel, our bricks and mortar stores - these allow customers direct interaction with products, staff and enable a physical immersion of the brand.
Customers may already successfully engage with your brand through one or many of these touch points but the journey customers take across both online and offline channels will be their overarching - and total - experience of that brand. It is at this level where they will accumulate the memories, perceptions and ultimately their loyalty.
I believe the key to success is to ensure that customers who start out online, browsing your website or checking out your app are reinforced with a memorable experience when entering your store. This also works in reverse, your online channels should make your customer feel as valued as they would in your store.
Here are my four key steps in which you can ensure you are guiding your customer through an engaging omni-channel customer journey:
1) DO YOUR RESEARCH
The first and most important step is to commit to truly understanding your customers’ journey and end-to-end experience with tailored user research, both online and in-store. Direct user experience research will help to unlock the precise insights which tell you exactly when and where you should – or should not – be engaging with your customer and delivering content. Examples of research methods include:
- In-store observation to identify points of opportunity
- Survey and interview feedback to gather insights
- Web and store analysis
2) A GENUINE SINGLE CUSTOMER VIEW
So now you have done your research it’s time to evaluate if you have a Single Customer View. The Single Customer View is what enables the delivery of a genuinely memorable and joined up journey for anyone who engages with a brand across online and offline platforms. It has been found that high performing marketers are 10x more likely to be actively mapping their customer journeys and 14x more likely to have integrated systems for a Single Customer View, compared to under-performers. These high performers were also found to be 34x more likely to be excellent at creating personalised omni-channel customer experiences. [2016 State of Marketing Report, Salesforce]
Consider just some of the possible data that you could be collecting online that could influence your offline strategy:
- Categories browsed
- Products viewed
- Saved preferences and personal information
- Spending level
- Frequency and recency of visits and purchases
3) MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR DATA
Now that you have done your research, you will have gathered key insights and started to enrich your database with relevant information. You are now in the position utilise this data to make your customer’s journey more personalised, innovative and most importantly ‘in the moment’. With the use of micro-location technology via apps, SMS or digital displays you can ‘follow’ your customer in store which can allow you to:
- welcome customers personally into store
- promote certain items and provide directions to where they are
- suggest alternatives to out of stock items browsed online
- provide deeper product details/reviews whilst browsing in-store
- generate relevant offers
According to Salesforce’s 2016 State of Marketing report, the percentage of marketers seeing ROI on their mobile marketing – including push notifications, apps and location-based notifications - jumped 147% from 2015 to 2016.
4) UTILISE INSIGHTS IN BOTH DIRECTIONS – ONLINE TO OFFLINE AND BACK AGAIN
In addition to online data insights that can enhance the in-store experience, data captured when a customer visits your store can be put to great use when they later return via a digital channel. This data could cover a variety of insights with micro-location tracked, like where they went in the store, what products they browsed, dwell time at any point, if they went to customer services and if they made a purchase.
If you follow all these four steps then you will be well on your way to achieving an empowering tied together online and offline marketing strategy that will add value throughout your customer’s end-to-end experience.
This guest blog post was written by Antony Cousin, Senior UX Consultant at RedEye.
Antony is a lead user experience consultant on a variety of client accounts at RedEye since 2013. He has planned, conducted, reported and presented on a variety of UX/user research & A/B test findings for websites across e-commerce retail, travel, leisure and gaming industries.