For many retailers, one social media channel is no better or worse than another for augmenting customer engagement. What it comes down to is the customer’s preference. Customers communicate on an individual basis. The key to improving engagement lies in the data. And, a data platform that supports dynamic customer profiles can help marketers determine the best messages or offers to deliver on a one-to-one basis across different channels. It will enable a marketer who has identified a ‘fan’ who has “liked” a product video on YouTube to interact differently with that person than with someone who calls into the help line with trouble installing the product.
Different channels have different capabilities and audiences from which marketers can take advantage. For example, while Pinterest has reported strong growth across the board, it also has reported advancements in some ‘non-core’ categories. For example, car & motorcycle pins grew +118% year over year and men’s fashion grew +96%. That might seem odd for Pinterest, but knowing the demographics of key audiences served by different channels can provide a strategic advantage. At the same time, it’s critical to deliver consistent and appropriate messaging no matter what the channel. Marketing platforms that can integrate different types of customer data can act as a central orchestration layer to enable consistent omnichannel communications.
To the customer, all channels map back to you, the brand. As far as customers are concerned, they are interacting with a single entity. Many retailers still treat each channel as a point solution, so email may be one interaction point with its own processes and workflows, while Pinterest and YouTube operate through another. But customers use multiple channels, often simultaneously. So, the only way to truly “know” the customer is to bring all the customer data together into a unified customer profile. And the best way to operationalize the process of communicating across channels is to have what we call “connected execution.” That is: a unified ‘master control’ interface that operates across all channels and that allows marketers to share assets, plans, data, and insights about the customer.
Every good marketing strategy starts with data. The more retail marketers know about their customers, the better. One way to enhance first party customer data – the most reliable data – is to enhance it with third-party data. This is data from social media posts, chat rooms, websites, browser caches, and other sources. Many marketers are starting to invest in Big Data just for the purpose of using this data to create dynamic customer profiles for engagement in real-time. But having quality data is essential. Traditional databases can’t easily – or cost-effectively – support managing data quality across both structured and unstructured data stores. Companies like Redpoint offer these types of solutions and more and more customers are starting to realize the value that quality data offers.
As we move to a digital and largely mobile economy, marketers need to think about how they’re going to interact effectively with real-time audiences at scale and across a growing number and variety of channels. That means taking advantage of an omnichannel marketing platform that can operationalize customer data and insights from that data to drive instantaneous messages and offers. Technology will obviously play a larger role. The more it can be integrated to eliminate siloes, the more flexible it is (enabling newer social or other channels to be swapped in and out), and the more customer data it can access, the more successful the marketing effort will be.