Early-stage businesses often mistakenly believe that data-driven insights are for bigger, more well-established players. Technology and data are changing the world and have changed marketing as we know it. The new age of marketing is all about providing a humanized experience. Retailers that can create an immersive retail experience by offering an interactive and personalized experience at every customer touch point are winning the game.
But to make this type of real-time personalization possible, retailers need to invest in a comprehensive marketing solution that will gather precious customer data and analyze it to make it actionable.
True personalization is not enabled by simply knowing what choices customers make. It is important to understand why they make them. The artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms that power recommendations and predictive models are trained on huge data sets that enable them to deduce which products your shoppers are most likely to be interested in.
Early-stage businesses have limited resources and big wish lists, so automation and personalization may seem like a luxury. But here's all the convincing you might need to take the leap and start with marketing automation early.
1. Start small, start early
It takes a while to collect enough data to enable you to act on it. Like brand reputation, the value of data builds up over time. Initially, you won't have sufficient data to perform even basic segmentation to personalize your campaigns, but you can focus on list building in the meantime.
Engaging your audience early can prove to be a huge advantage, and then it will be just a matter of time before you can start personalizing and automating your campaigns.
2. Own your data
One of the biggest problems marketers face is data that's segregated into silos. Instead of integrating disjointed marketing tools that each serve a separate purpose, marketers should adopt a centralized marketing platform to serve all their marketing needs.
Today, marketers own the end-to-end customer experience and are in charge of the entire decision-making journey and all the individual touch points; it's time they own their customer data, too. Investing in collecting all customer data should be at the core of all your marketing efforts.
3. Deep insight into customer behavior
Customer-centricity makes the marketer's world go round. But without a centralized customer profile, it's impossible to deliver a personalized customer experience across the customer journey.
A single customer view should be the foundation of all customer engagements, and, without one in place, marketers will always be missing a piece of the puzzle that's needed to provide a 1:1 experience in this multichannel world.
Remember, these are your customers. By implementing multiple separate tools that utilize their own data sets, you will be at the mercy of multiple vendors, and you won't have a holistic view of your customer. To win, you must understand that customer data should be yours and yours alone.
4. Data paves the path to customer satisfaction
Data is the key to gaining more insight into customer preferences. Every bit of customer data can be used to create a more personalized customer experience and offers opportunities for building loyalty and advocacy.
Consumers don't mind sharing data when it's used to personalize marketing communication. According to a 2016 report from Accenture, 75 percent of consumers surveyed in the US and the UK said they are more likely to buy from a retailer that recognizes them by name, sends relevant recommendations or remembers their purchase history.
5. Use data to navigate the customer's path to purchase
In addition to understanding the customer's preferences generally, marketers are using customer data to map the prospect's current purchase journey - which is typically non-linear and spans multiple touch points.
The main purpose of mapping the customer journey is to gain a deeper understanding of a buyer's stage in the process, so that you may deliver whatever is needed to overcome objections and move along the purchase path.
Every touch point is an opportunity to engage with the customer and move them along the path to conversion. Marketers who have access to their customer data can make full use of the behavioral insights to send the right message to the right person at the right time.
6. AI & predictive analytics help you move faster
Personalized marketing isn't the domain of big players alone. While they can afford to invest millions in building customized solutions in-house, small businesses won't get off the ground without a competitive automation solution that will allow them to gather customer data, analyze customer behavior and make accurate predictions to drive future marketing campaigns.
The benefits of using a marketing automation platform are not just limited to automating repetitive tasks and targeting marketing outreach. Retailers can also use big data with artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve the efficiency of their business in every sphere, from new product development to logistics to customer service.
Marketing automation is not a fancy technology anymore. It is a must for retailers to survive, whether they are using chatbots to enable customer happiness or using AI for in-the-moment personalization. The sooner you start, the faster your business will evolve.