Facing the Omnichannel Marketing Beast

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JakeWeatherly, CEO, SheerID
JakeWeatherly, CEO, SheerID

Identifying core customers, targeting new customers, and recognizing consumers' shopping behaviors are all challenges that retailers grapple with in today's omnichannel marketplace. Pipelines and funnels become distorted as shoppers wind their way through a decision-making process that might involve research across multiple mobile devices, computers, and store locations as they read online reviews, check prices, try on different sizes, and search for discounts before making a buying decision.

Research from Google last May showed that 84% of shoppers are using a smartphone to assist with a purchasing decision while they're in-store. Forward-thinking companies are rising to the challenge by developing campaigns that use mobile and Web applications to encourage shoppers to raise their hands, identify themselves, and opt-in. Taking a trust-appropriate, permission-based approach to marketing, these retailers can leverage strategies that use emerging technologies like proximity-based marketing and eligibility verification to deliver personalized messages to targeted audiences.

When consumers opt-in they can enjoy the benefits of a seamless shopping experience no matter when or where they shop and receive offers and messaging that are tailored to their interests. Authentic interactions with consumers benefit retailers by providing insights into customer behavior that lead to competitive advantages, increased market share, and more revenue. A study by Deloitte found that omnichannel customers spend 93% more than those who shop online only and 208% more than those who shop in-store only. An opt-in can take the form of registering for a loyalty program, signing up for an account or an e-newsletter, verifying credentials, or downloading an app.

Using a customer-managed relationship model, consumers decide how much or how little information they're willing to share in exchange for customized promotional offers, special perks, reward points, or added functionality. Shoppers today are becoming more enthusiastic about sharing their information with retailers because companies are starting to better understand how to develop a real relationship that delivers measurable value to customers. IBM Institute's Business Value Global Consumer Study reveals that almost twice as many customers now are willing to share current GPS location compared to those surveyed the previous year. According to the same study, 38% of those surveyed were willing to give their mobile number to receive text messages, and 32% would provide their social media handles.

American Eagle Outfitters recently increased mobile opt-ins by launching an app-based promotion that offered customers discounts if they purchased in the app or showed the app in-store at check out. The apparel giant experienced a tenfold increase in app downloads during the promotion, and they doubled sales for the weekend. American Eagle's AEO app is optimized for mobile transactions, and it's integrated with its loyalty program and social media networks. American Eagle has also implemented Shopkick's shopBeacon technology, which pushes personalized notifications to their customers with the AEO app when they enter an American Eagle store, even if they don't have the app open on their phone. With technology like shopBeacon or iBeacon, other major brands like Macy's, MLB, and Safeway have used geolocation to notify users about their acquired loyalty points, nearby food offerings, discounts on merchandise, and current weekly sales as they pass through their doors or gates.

Many companies—like The Buckle—get even more specific when selecting their target audiences by using eligibility verification technology. The Buckle recently launched a military campaign by announcing a 10% military discount at Buckle.com. News of the promotion has spread virally through military communities and apps like Military.com, Military Discounts Central, and Discount Soldier. Service members, their family members, and veterans who respond to the offer are asked to set up a Buckle account and instantly verify their military status to redeem the exclusive discount. The apparel retailer can then send special messaging about military appreciation days and holidays like Memorial Day and Veterans Day to registered Buckle account users with verified military status. With the ability to offer a truly exclusive discount that could only be redeemed by qualified military personnel, The Buckle grew a new segment of loyal customers while also recognizing the service of men and women in the U.S. Armed Forces. Eligibility verification technology can be used to verify virtually any customer credentials like military service, teacher credentials, college student enrollment, small business ownership, employment with a corporate partner, new customer status, or membership affiliations.

Consumers appreciate brands that go out of their way to offer an exemplary customer experience across channels, and they are willing to share their personal information to be part of an authentic conversation that delivers relevant, customized offers and notifications. As omnichannel retail becomes the new standard and customers' expectations rise, the best and brightest retailers are embracing mobile and Web applications, as well as emerging technologies like beacons and eligibility verification. With the help of these new technological developments, the fastest-growing brands use targeted promotional offers to create sophisticated, permission-based marketing to identify and engage with their customers, yielding higher returns.

Jake Weatherly is CEO of SheerID

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