2018 is going to be a transformative and disruptive year. It’s clear that tectonic plates are moving in interesting ways, and these shifts favor digitally-savvy consumers and brands. Furthermore, unprecedented levels of new retail and technology startup activity flooding the market underscores the reality of today’s disruption economy. Industries that have operated in predictable fashion year in and year out for decades now face revolutionary print and digital transformation and disruption that was incomprehensible even a few years ago.
So… what should I be focused on in 2018?
People-based marketing is an industry shift from targeting devices to connecting with people at the right time, with the right message. It links online shopping data to people rather than browsers and devices. Sometimes called cross device marketing, it enables consistent communication with consumers across multiple devices. At its heart is technology that identifies shoppers when they come to your website, regardless of device, and links them to a persistent identifier where website and email activity is tracked. People-based marketing links also support multiple channels including email, social media, and print with real-time communication and some of the strongest ROI numbers we’ve seen yet. Retailers are experiencing exceptional and dramatic marketing shifts are occurring. Our next blog will cover strategies and results in greater detail.
Test for Success and Focus on Incrementality
Before you can optimize customer contact strategies, you first need to determine the incrementality and appropriate attribution of your current marketing efforts. CohereOne believes in intelligent and meaningful testing to determine the incremental gains associated with various marketing programs. In other words, we determine how much each channel is contributing to conversion and how marketers might creatively redistribute the wealth of their marketing efforts to maximize effectiveness. For retailers with catalogs, yes, that includes seeking to determine the ever-changing role and impact of the catalog in the modern media mix. The stakes are too high to assume!
Companies need to make concerted efforts on first-party cookie data to shift focus to more granular segmentation and triggered communications. However, you must also ensure these efforts are cohesively tied to an over-arching contact strategy. One of our key client initiatives is to help build a testing framework to assist in constructing appropriate contact and cadence strategies to determine the roles of catalog, direct mail, and various digital marketing programs in the customer journey. At the same time, we look for opportunities to incorporate new behavioral and transactional email and postal triggers, seizing on a heightened purchase intent to unlock higher conversion numbers.
Mobile First; Mobile-Best Strategies
For starters, there will be even more emphasis on mobile and tablet ecommerce strategies. Holiday 2017 estimates predict mobile and tablet visits to surpass desktop for the first time, according to Adobe. Put simply, even if a user elects to ultimately make a purchase via their desktop, it’s increasingly likely that user’s brand experience began on a mobile or tablet device. The stakes couldn’t be higher for companies lacking top-shelf mobile and tablet experiences.
Rapid expansion in the use of voice-activated search will continue into 2018. Implications of voice search include focusing content towards conversational in nature as opposed to text strings often associated with desktop search. On page content should also reflect a more concise and relevant form to quickly capture the reader’s attention. Mobile and tablet users are even more sensitive to abandonment when the experience fails to meet their expectations. Without a doubt, as voice-activated search continues to become even more universal, adopting mobile-first; mobile-best strategies will be the critical foundation for ecommerce viability and success.
Put a testing plan in place to optimize mobile, tablet, and desktop ecommerce experiences, including focusing on catalog and email creative that appropriately renders on a mobile device, to ensure continuity of the shopping experience. Companies invest far too much money driving demand to allow subpar mobile experiences to sabotage conversion opportunities. Make every customer interaction a satisfying experience. Investments in on-page content and technical SEO coupled with improved ecommerce experiences will help solidify positioning heading into Holiday 2018 and beyond. Be watching for a future blog post on how to tackle mobile and tablet strategies!
Emerging Threats to the Future of Third-Party Cookies
This year could potentially be one of the most critical years facing marketers as a chorus of online privacy concerns threaten the digital advertising industry. Apple’s new OS feature, Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP), is designed to better ensure that a user’s private browsing activity remains private, greatly restricting the efficacy of third-party cookies used to track users across the internet for digital retargeting purposes.
The digital ad industry relies heavily on third-party cookies, the code that gets placed in your browser as you wander the internet. They allow advertisers to collect data about you and your interests. Apple is taking third-party cookie blocking seriously. ITP will take place not only on desktops, but on mobile as well. When this happens, ad companies will no longer be able to effectively track your interests as you browse the web. The digital ad world has much to lose considering 2017 digital ad spending in the US is expected to exceed $80 billion. Nonetheless, Apple wants to help consumers keep their browsing data private.
These threats could impact and increase digital budgets and reduce ROIs. It could also make print and catalog programs more effective.
Don’t delay planning your 2018 Holiday strategy. Consider how it relates to Amazon and the other marketplaces. While opportunities may be rich, understand the implications of potential pitfalls and challenges that come with missteps in this fast-paced environment. One area where companies consistently underestimate the level of effort required, especially for Amazon, is in preparing their supply chain for inventory replenishment. In addition, producing appropriate levels of Enhanced Brand Content, including video, takes time and effort but helps make your products stand out from the crowd with increased traffic and conversions. Despite what some may believe, success in online marketplaces, such as Amazon, requires significant time, effort, and planning to set the table for success. Begin the planning efforts sooner rather than later!
Knowing where you are is critical to getting where you want to go. In this fast-paced and ever-changing economy, consider working with CohereOne to conduct a cost-effective strategic marketing review to know where you stand in terms of the efficacy of your strategies. After all, Black Friday is only 311 days away.