Taking a “Life Approach” to Retail Marketing

Patti Renner Many marketing prognosticators and analysts have shared the view that interactive marketing will intensify the focus on the wants, needs, demands of each consumer as an individual – not as groups. Instead of lists, retail marketers must look at lives – meaning that list building as a numbers game becomes antiquated, replaced by more relevant messaging that targets real people. This “life approach” to marketing breaks down into a couple of important interpretations.

Life-cycle – Where an individual is in the customer lifecycle remains vital to effective messaging, but there’s more to it than that. This shift to individualized “life” messaging means you need to know, not only where they are, but where they’ve been. Recent life history matters. Speak to them in a manner that doesn’t reflect a person’s interests/visits/purchases/searches and you risk blowing them right out of the funnel all together.

Life-style – Today’s hyper-connected individuals want to hear from brands in ways that synch with a person’s lifestyle and channel use preferences. That means if someone consistently opens your traditional (non-optimized) campaign emails on a mobile device, you need to be able to know who they are and what device they prefer so you can send the version that best suits their use habits. Focus on the customer. Test and see what types of campaigns and combination of channels work best. Let your prospect’s preferences drive your approach to campaigns. To do this, you must have a way to automate your awareness to their personal digital lifestyle.

Life-changes – Campaigns can be far more effective when marketers can respond in real time to changes within an individual’s world. For instance, if your business specializes in wedding-day essentials, you can do some serious damage to your brand if you promote bridal gear to your prospects weeks after the wedding date. In fact, all retail marketers can make use of purchase history data to provide more relevant messaging. Let’s face it… few people appreciate an email offering 20% off a product they just bought at full price last week. But many would appreciate a promotion for companion products to make the use of last week’s product even more enjoyable.

This shift from “lists” to “lives” requires marketers to make an internal shift in data management. How you store your data can significantly impact the success of future campaigns. Having cross-channel consumer activity, behaviors, searches and preferences consolidated in a single data repository, stored in individual profiles, becomes the new essential for interactive marketers moving forward. Only by having data attributable to each individual can you properly target and message with a level of relevance to meet expectations. Without a profile-based approach, you risk potential ROI. Worse yet, you lose the opportunity to engage beautifully with your consumer as a valuable part of their lives.

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