Core strategies retailers can use to help convert browsers into customers

(Source: Bigstock.)

The path to purchase is complex. It is getting harder to turn visitors into buyers and consumers are overwhelmed with choices. However, by embracing personalisation and optimising the timing and content of communications, retailers can have a better chance than their rivals of converting visitors across any channel into repeat customers. 

Braze is a cloud-based customer engagement platform designed to help businesses of all sizes manage customer interactions to improve product experience, retention rate, lifetime value, and return on investment. The platform enables organisations to create, launch, and manage personalised marketing campaigns to engage with the target audiences across different platforms, devices, and online channels.

Braze’s research has identified three key engagement principles that turned users into buyers:

  • Personalised and proactive communication.
  • Proving value with the right messaging at the right time.
  • Simplify journeys by reducing friction.

For the modern retailer, the key to implementing these strategies is knowing your customers and understanding their needs. 

“You might already have a great brand name with millions of people hitting your website and downloading your apps,” explains Christopher Fennell, area VP at Braze. “But the big challenge for retailers is they often do not know how to collect data and understand who those anonymous users are. Yet there is a lot that can be done even with anonymous visitors: for example, we know where they have come from, what ads they’ve responded to and what they’ve searched for on your site.”

Fennell says even if a visitor has not registered with a brand or signed up for its newsletters, it is still possible to understand enough about who they are that when they return the retailer can personalise their entire experience. 

“For example, if you know they’ve clicked on activewear, when they return, rather than show the standard homepage display with an array of different items, you can highlight activewear to that user.” 

Personalised and proactive communication

Personalisation is now achievable at levels not previously considered possible. For example, instead of sending a standardised email to someone who abandons a cart and offering a 10 per cent discount if they complete the purchase, retailers can bring the item into the email or message, and upsell that person, or recommend similar products, on a personalised level. 

“We know that retail spending is significantly down in Australia, creating a big challenge for retailers to drive sales, and the acquisition cost is high. But Braze is showing how we can use the understanding we have of customers to create a memorable, meaningful experience for them, so they feel like they are known by the brands that we work with.”

The best way to do that, he counsels, is by having a deep understanding of those customers – how they’ve interacted, what they’ve purchased and what their loyalty status is. Then take all of these individual points to create a personalised, individual experience, rather than adopt a one-to-many approach. 

Proving value with the right messaging at the right time

Braze has incorporated web personalisation – via email, WhatsApp, SMS, Line, or any other outbound channel – and incorporated AI into the mix so it can determine which channel a customer is most likely to respond to a message on and at what time of the day. 

Then its technology develops product recommendations based on the data that’s been collected. “We are a customer data platform where the orchestration, personalisation and AI layers – with the recommendation engine as part of that – all work together to manage all the parts of your customer engagement ecosystem.”

Getting the messaging – and the delivery timing – right is critical, he says. 

“If you get that experience wrong, the customer will go and shop somewhere else and probably won’t return, so it is a mistake that retailers just cannot afford to make.”

Simplify journeys by reducing friction

Streamlining data collection, storage, and analysis is a vital part of the mix in simplifying customer journeys and reducing friction, explains Fennell. 

A retailer might have a mobile application, a website, and a physical store. Without the history of a customer’s behaviour on each channel integrated into one historical data resource, it can be almost impossible for a retailer to understand their behaviour in real time. Braze’s point of difference is that by combining all the customer data in a single integrated profile, retailers can create real-time customer engagement. 

“If we know that person has walked into a store, how do we leverage the app to drive the specific purchase that we want, or how do we drive them to make an additional purchase in the store? All of this is done by understanding how they’re interacting at that time,” says Fennell. 

Today’s consumers are looking for seamless, value-driven experiences. With the demise of third-party cookies, brands now need to strive to build stronger first-party relationships with their customers across all channels.

Integrating in-store experiences with digital

Smart brands are looking to integrate digital and in-store experiences into a seamless customer interaction.  

For example, Ticketek, a Braze client, wanted to be able to amplify the entire customer experience through its mobile application. By geofencing a stadium, it can welcome customers who have bought tickets to an event on its platform, provide them with gate information and advise the best route to their seat based on their location. Furthermore, the company can then reward loyal customers with, for example, a voucher for the concession stand. 

“That’s a great example of brands taking that one extra step to understand their customers and tailor their experiences,” says Fennell.

Invest in the right technology

Fennell says retailers need to ensure they are investing in the right type of technology to implement the solutions discussed above. 

“Don’t end up buying a whole lot of stuff that sits on the shelf and does not get used,” he warns.

“We’ve focused on building a comprehensive all-in-one customer engagement platform which is collecting and organising the data. Choosing a platform that supports real-time, cross-channel customer engagement isn’t just a nice-to-have for a retailer anymore: it’s a necessity.”