Time kills all deals. Or more correctly, time delays all deals. This is why in retail the impulse buy section is placed less than five feet away from the checkout counter. This is why when there are more than three people in line at a store, clerks are instructed to call for additional help. And this is why ecommerce sites like Amazon have had a laser focus on reducing the number of clicks between arriving at the homepage and completing a purchase.

While retail has made praise-worthy gains in speed-to-checkout both in-store and online, engagements outside of the cart are surprisingly stale, irrelevant, and untimely. Throughout their day consumers receive a steady barrage of confusing, if not cryptic, messages from marketers promoting products they have no interest in. GREAT DEALS are doled out, all equally random and en masse, dismissing the purpose of a consumer’s past purchases and failing to promote value-add consumer behavior.

What’s holding retailers back from reaching their full potential? There are a few challenges, all of which can be solved with an investment in the right technology.

The first challenge is that there is less incentive for customers to create a profile who aren’t purchasing via an e-commerce channel. Many customers browse between websites or bounce quickly without making a purchase. If a customer finally makes a purchase online, the information from prior browsing sessions may not be tied to the current purchase.

The solution: the right technology is able to gather real-time, first-party data through a unique identifier that is assigned to each individual customer, without requiring that customer to create a profile. The data could then be leveraged to incentivize a customer for adding info to their profile (name, addresses, phone numbers, etc.) with a personalized offer through a push notification or in-app message.

The second challenge is that there is often little known about existing customers. For an omni-channel retailer, data can exist in a number of places (stores, online, or by phone), but this data may only be tied to the specific channel in which it was collected. This can create weak or numerous profiles for one individual customer.

The solution: the right technology enables retailers to learn real-time data about their customers across multiple channels.

The third challenge is that often times, the customer experience can be inconsistent across shopping channels. In the age of showroom shopping and intense online price competition, correctly managing the omni-channel customer journey can be challenging but extremely valuable for a retailer.

The solution: The right technology can create personalized customer engagement at moments of impact, creating seamless experiences across multiple channels. For instance, if a customer trips a beacon at a store they could be pushed a specific offer notification for their current shopping trip. Also, having a greater understanding of the customer and their interactions with the retailer across all channels can assist the store with providing the best multi-channel experience.

The fourth challenge: There is commonly no mechanism for retailers to to connect specific offers back to known customers and their respective profiles. As marketers are attempting to measure the effectiveness of their promotions and the impact they have at the point of purchase, this information can be key.

The solution: The right technology offers can be connected to known customers and triggered based on their interactions and purchasing habits as well. Data can also be captured from offer delivery through purchase to better understand marketing effectiveness. Additionally, audiences can be segmented in real time to trigger offers and promotions as customers take pre-defined actions.

See, there is a better way to engage with customers! And data is the first step. Delivering meaningful, personal, and timely engagement requires collecting cross-channel data streams from every possible customer touchpoint and building rich understandings into every customer profile.

An effective marketing platform should be able to monitor the data streams through the lens of each individual customer, looking for opportunities to engage with customers when appropriate, provide an offer when appropriate, and nudge them towards a purchase when appropriate.

The CMO must identify a vendor that integrates with the diverse technology landscape to gather every drop of customer data. Data must be analyzed in real time and considered against the context of all past interactions to make confident decisions about how and when to engage.

Marketers require a platform which provides the controls to build campaigns and engage with customers within the context of a customer’s location, channel, behaviors, and time.

data streams.pngFortunately, technology has caught up to market need. Our cloud-based customer data and marketing platform can be deployed quickly, dramatically improve customer engagement, and reduce the time to build and measure campaigns. For more on this topic, check out our CTO’s write-up of the New Marketing Paradigm.

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