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Raviteja Dodda is the co-founder and CEO of MoEngage.
Here is an app, there is an app, everywhere is an app, app! Mobile apps have become a ubiquitous phenomenon, with most brands urging consumers to shop through this platform. While consumers do download these apps, how many of them are actually using them to shop? That’s the big question!
A leading Indian retail fashion brand found that, although more than a million customers downloaded its newly-launched mobile app, less than 1.5 percent of them actively used the app for shopping. Many consumers tend to abandon their carts halfway through a session or leave the session inactive. Why does this happen? Why are customers frustrated that they exit or abandon the session without making a purchase? What are the barriers that prevent customers from going the whole hog? These are some of the questions that the brand had to address as it embarked upon a task to make its app-shopping experience wholesome and productive. These questions led the brand to the realization that having a ‘cool’ app alone is not enough and it must be backed by customer-centric insights and initiatives. This ultimately led the brand to adopt an insights-led customer engagement program, which understands what the customers want and provides a meaningful, connected shopping experience.
This is certainly not an isolated case of a brand that faced frustrated consumers. It is a problem that several brands seem to be grappling with. In the digital world, it is a no-brainer that every brand needs an individualized marketing campaign and has to hit the sweet spot that strengthens its customer centricity.
Customer centricity is all about putting the customer first and creating value for the customer. It is more than offering a good product or a service at the point of purchase. And it certainly goes beyond offering an accessory free with the purchase of a cell phone or giving away discount coupons on the purchase of a certain value of products.
As brand owners want customers to buy from them again and again and again, they have to focus on customer-centricity that looks at the total customer lifetime value. The focus should be on making the product or service appealing to the customer across the entire value chain as long as the product or service is in use. It may sound simple but there is a whole lot of behavioral science behind it.
A brand that is high on the customer centricity scale understands its customer, anticipates their wants, needs, and communication preferences, creates meaningful experiences, and builds lasting relationships with them. A brand that does all this retains customers.
A Bain & Company research found that increasing customer retention rates by 5% can lead to a 25% to 95% increase in an organization’s profits. If this is considered along with the fact that acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing one, it’s clear why businesses must bet big on building customer engagement and loyalty. This is possible through a data-driven and insights-led customer engagement culture in the organization.
It’s about time brands stopped making marketing decisions based on instinct and gut feeling. and look at big data and analytics with greater seriousness. Brands have, for some time now, looked at data analytics in fits and starts, but the approach has to be holistic and a lot more conscientious, for data, collated in the right manner, directs the marketer towards the right medium, geography, and communication mode in order to attract and retain a particular set of customers. Studying and understanding the nuances of the customer’s purchase behavior gives a head-start to brands on their journey towards being customer centric. And when they use that knowledge and insight to enhance their engagement with customers, brands reach their goal of being customer centric. This process involves creating an omnichannel marketing campaign that is personalized in every sense of the term.
Start with the right tools and you’ve got it right!
There are several platforms that help companies understand their customers and deploy campaigns by splitting the process into four components-analyze, personalize, engage, and retain. Consumer brands can leverage real-time data to comprehend consumer paths and decision-making. This requires a novel level of targeting in marketing, which is enabled by analytics.
1. Analyze customer behavior across channels
Brands can identify and analyze customers’ micro moments across channels (mobile app, website, store and social channels), which can throw light on their intentions. These moments could be a customer downloading the app, watching product videos online, adding items to their wishlist or cart. Creating custom segments based on these patterns are more accurate and far more effective. Customers are always telling brands what they need; with the right tools, brands will be able to understand their language.
Superior customer behavior analytics use more data, get into minute details, study customers’ lifecycle and create a lifetime value for the customer, and thus help brands predict what’s next.
2. Harness the power of personalization
Technology has evolved to such an extent that it is possible to personalize to a larger buying community with diverse cultures and needs. Data is the new diviner that helps brands see-through customers’ minds and deliver content and promotional material suitable to them. Personalization has transformed the expectations of the user, who are now used to receiving custom-made follow-up emails, targeted ads, and recommendations based on their needs and interests. This can be implemented with the right customer engagement platform.
So, what sets successful brands apart from the ordinary ones are the actions they take in the process of becoming customer centric. They collect relevant customer data and create customized content and invest in a CRM system that can process the data and reap profits from it.
3. Engage customers with an omnichannel approach
After the user segmentation is done, brands must create suitable content across channels such as push notifications, personalized emails and social media campaigns.
Although users move from one channel to another at the speed of light, they expect brands to be omnipresent. That is why retailers have no choice but to adopt the omnichannel approach of marketing. They cannot afford to be lax about this, as this is one of the best ways to provide a consistent and personalized experience to customers. The biggest draw is it will help brands woo customers with a single stroke.
4. Retain customers using omnichannel loyalty campaigns
It is indeed true that customer behavior is constantly changing, but they are not really mercurial. A finding points out that only 32% of first-time customers are likely to make a second purchase, but 53% of customers who make a second purchase will make a third-and the loyalty multiplies further with each successive purchase.
Loyalty programs should be omnichannel, channel-agnostic and single-minded about providing the best shopping experience across all channels. Apart from building customer engagement programs, which touch every channel, brands also have to ensure that the experience is seamless.
According to a consumer survey in 2018 by IRi, 74% of customers chose a brand based on its strong loyalty or discount program. What is more relevant is that about 71% of brands that use omnichannel loyalty programs found that the transaction volume driven by these programs increased by more than 50% over the previous years. Loyalty reward programs can be for customers who promote the product on social media, write product or service reviews, take a product-related quiz, or refer a friend. Apparel brands now engage customers by encouraging them to wear their products and post pictures on social media. This is a fun way to drum up support and loyalty for the brand.
If brands want a running start in the emulous world of retail business, to give buyers a customer-centric experience, an insights-led engagement with customers is the way to go – no matter what the mode of retail is – through the website, the store or the mobile app. And there’s no better way to achieve this than with data and more data.
The next time a customer shops on a mobile app, brands better be ready with the knowledge of what to offer customers and how to effectively engage with them – so that discarded carts and inactive sessions are a thing of the past!
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Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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