Cutting Through the Noise

Our very own Greg Endean, Commercial Director, explains how retailers can cut through the noise and be heard on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

This article first appeared in Retail Technology.

Last year, the famed online shopping weekend, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, had UK shoppers spending £3.3bn ($4.1bn). This summer, Amazon Prime Day surpassed last year’s customer orders by more than 60%. Then, even more recently in China, Alibaba’s Singles Day racked up a whopping £14bn ($18bn) in online sales in only 24 hours.

Given these numbers, retailers will find it hard to ignore the growing prominence of ‘online shopping days.’

As Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend approaches, what can retailers do to entice the clicks and conversions? And looking beyond that, what can be done to cut through the noise, as the online shopping day phenomenon becomes an increasingly crowded space?

To be fully prepared to engage with your customers — this shopping season and the next — you need a user-centric approach to programmatic advertising, one that spans across devices and is strengthened by a holistic attribution strategy.

 1) Grow your mobile footprint.

Note that 82% of purchases on the record-breaking Singles Day were made on mobile phones. That’s a massive slice of the £14bn pie.

Not every retailer will have the same reach or resources afforded to Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba. Nevertheless, a focus on programmatic technologies for mobile web and app marketing will prove beneficial as your customers gravitate towards their mobile devices more and more. Naturally, this isn’t a trend specific to China. In the UK, smartphone penetration climbs to 77% and Brits spend up to two hours and 24 minutes on their mobiles per day.

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And consumers are not only spending time with their mobile devices, they’re spending quite a bit of money, too. Last year, 28% of total ecommerce was transacted via mobile device, while Black Friday saw both mobile traffic and sales share jump by 10% and 15% respectively, thus reflecting the general rise of mcommerce in the UK. Meanwhile, total sales generated by retail mcommerce amounts to an estimated £25bn—up 25% from 2015’s figure. The numbers keep climbing, whichever way you look at it.

Now, if we dig deeper, of those two hours and 24 minutes of mobile usage per day, an average of nearly two hours is spent in-app. For today’s mobile shopper, a mobile-optimized website is not always enough, and in fact a well-functioning app offers some serious advantages for advertisers: users tend to prefer apps over mobile sites if information is needed ASAP, a transaction needs be completed instantly, or because poor Wi-Fi or 3G connection makes mobile sites pain-achingly slow.

There’s no questioning that mobile web and app strategies can make all the difference when it comes to audience engagement on-the-go, especially as they’re ready to spend—if Singles Day or last year’s Black Friday are any indication, they will be. Have a look at our full infographic to see just how powerful mobile is in the UK.

2) Use your CRM data for a personalized approach.

Consumers today expect to be treated as individuals—regardless of the holiday, the season or time of day. They expect brands to reach out to them when they feel it’s most appropriate and with the right message.

As a retailer, you already collect valuable CRM data from your customers, but are you really using it to your full advantage? A study by Econsultancy, “The Role of CRM in Data-driven Marketing,” found that a meagre 30% of marketers surveyed felt their first-party data assets empowers them to deliver personalized advertising. CRM data is key to recognizing your customers across devices, learning more about their purchase behaviors, in order to reach them and entice them back to your site to make that purchase.

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CRM data can help retailers to understand which types of individuals are more inclined to buy the latest arrivals, or who’s more likely to participate in sales and promotions. By using these insights, you can target these specific customers with personalized ads related to their previous purchase histories. Furthermore, a look at customer basket sizes and purchase frequency can help predict the value of shoppers over time (don’t forget to take product returns into consideration!), in order to identify your high-value customers, and invest more in nurturing those relationships. Not only does this enable personalization, which helps cut through the noise, but it’s also a cost-efficient approach to marketing.

Ultimately, this data-driven advertising — on-site, in-app and in online ads — will be key to winning customer conversions when a competitor is never more than a few clicks or swipes away. Advertising technologies like programmatic make it possible for retailers to leverage CRM and other first-party data to create ads personalized in real time for both likely-to-buy prospects and customers — regardless of the shopping season or event.

3) Measure more touchpoints with smarter attribution.

While Cyber Monday is indicative of online shopping, Black Friday discounts are found online and offline. It’s indeed an omnichannel world we live in. Consumers will be checking for competitor’s pricing on their mobiles while waiting for the salesclerk to bring the right-sized pair of shoes, or they’ll be researching Christmas gifts in-store before buying the present online when they’re back at home. Because of this, it’s vital that advertisers adopt attribution strategies that stretch across all channels and devices.

The most accurate attribution models are those that give credit to not only the final media touchpoint preceding an action (for online, that’s the famed ‘last click’), but also to assisting touchpoints that might sway a person to act —whether that means walking into a store, searching for a brand name online, or engaging with a mobile banner.

Attributing credit to only one touchpoint completely disregards a retailer’s investment in other areas of marketing — be it display, search, social, email, television. All these areas influence your customer’s path to purchase, particularly in this high shopping season, and therefore all deserve attribution measurement. Thankfully, there are sophisticated attribution models that enable this.

Ultimately, bolstering programmatic technologies with smarter attribution ensures a sustainable marketing investment. And by applying a user-centric approach, powered by CRM data, programmatic technologies deliver just the right message at the right time to entice a conversion from your customer. It’s personalization that cuts through the noise with unprecedented precision — whether people are shopping on their mobiles in transit, settled in front of their TV holding their tablets, or cruising the web on their PC — long after Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the rest of this busy shopping season.