When Google unveiled changes to Gmail in July – which relegated emails from retailers into a separate Promotions tab, rather than within the primary inbox – there was great worry from retailers, who feared that their emails would go unread. I said at the time that while there will be hiccups along the way, retailers that follow email best practices and give customers what they want (personalization) will continue to experience email marketing success. And while email remains a critical tool for retailers to communicate highly relevant and tailored messages to individual consumers, it is crucial for them to personalize marketing beyond this channel.
Consumers are multi-faceted, and, as such, a retailer’s approach to consumer marketing should be too. It’s not enough to send personalized emails when customers are interacting with your brand across a growing number of channels. Consider, for example, that consumers today shop in-store twice as often as they do online each month (according to the Cotton Incorporated Lifestyle Monitor™ Survey). Smart retailers will provide the same personalization they deliver via email across multiple touchpoints including in-store. This could include providing a specific offer printed on the receipt when a consumer checks out, putting tablets in changing rooms designed to provide real-time personalized product recommendations or offering a discount via a mobile app when a consumer checks into a particular store.
Ultimately, consistency of the consumer experience is what matters. Consumers don’t care if, for example, a retailer has separate divisions for online marketing and in store promotions. What they want is to feel valued and appreciated by the retailer with whom they spend their hard-earned dollars. Those retailers who can deliver that through highly relevant, individualized communications across all retail channels will cultivate the most loyal customers, increase conversions and drive substantial incremental revenue.
And retailers have started down this path. Giants like Wal-Mart, Target, Macy’s, Gap and others are all waking up to this reality. Even digital start-ups like Warby Parker are moving in this direction. As Jeff Bezos likes to say, it is still “Day One” in etailing but it sure looks like the game is going to played on an omni-channel field! To win, your personalized marketing has to be omni-channel too!