Brands: Get in the Game or Get Played

Marketers, I’ve got news for you: Consumers are on to us. If it wasn’t bad enough that they’re constantly pulled in opposing directions – moving from device to device and channel to channel with essentially unlimited buying options – they’re now learning to beat us at our own games.

A recent independent Kitewheel study, “The State of the Customer Journey 2014,” reveals that one in three consumers have intentionally abandoned items in an online cart to see if a company would send them a better offer. In today’s world where savvy shoppers know all of the tricks – from extreme couponing to abandoning carts and deleting cookies to score better deals – brands need to get in the game or risk getting played. Here are five tips on getting started:

Bench the Gamers: Is a consumer just browsing and casually adding things to the cart, only to abandon it in hopes of gaming the system and scoring a discounted offer? Or, is he/she really on the fence about making a purchase, but genuinely in need of a discount or further incentive in order to close the deal? With analytic modeling capabilities that span the entire organization and delve into rich, historic and real-time customer-level data, you can move beyond generic segmentation, bench the “gamers” and focus your efforts on serious potential buyers.

Get In the Game: It’s important to remember that individuals are not loyal to companies; they’re loyal to great experiences. So jump in and get creative about how you play the game! For example, a family-style restaurant could employ location-based tools, such as iBeacons, so that when a family walks in its doors, the restaurant’s mobile app fires up a game for the kids to play while they wait for their meals. Beyond rewarding regular customers, it’s also important to reward people who promote your brand to their own networks (think positive social media mentions, for example). This can be done through surprise-and-delight tactics. That same restaurant could present the family with free dessert at the end of a meal. Games AND free dessert? You can bet they’ll be coming back for more!

Get to Know the Players: In order to deliver great customer experiences, you need to understand the “who” behind every interaction with your brand. For example, if a soon-to-be mother registers on a site specializing in baby products right before giving birth, there’s a good chance she’ll be extremely busy for a while and may not return for a few months. But when she does, it’s essential that you recognize her immediately as a returning, registered customer and tailor her experience around past behaviors and preferences. Additionally, content should be relevant to the baby’s current age – for example, food suggestions for six-month-olds, tips on getting baby to sleep through the night, etc. Furthermore, by offering a fun, “gamified” system of education, encouragement, and rewards, the new mom becomes involved in the dynamic customer journey.

Focus on Fans: On social media, data analytics can help you move beyond simple listening techniques to cut through the noise and zero in on “fans,” or loyal consumer advocates who proactively promote your brand across their social networks. For example, when Coca-Cola re-introduced Vanilla Coke to the market, it identified and offered its “superfans” the ultimate reward of receiving the drink before it hit the shelves. These superfans, in turn, shouted about the beverage’s triumphant return from their (social) rooftops.

Move in the Moment: According to the study, 91%  of consumers believe an “in-the-moment” offer from a brand could influence their purchase. So it’s not surprising that consumers are nine times more likely to name Amazon when asked which companies provide ideal online interactions. With one of the world’s best real-time recommendation engines, Amazon presents shoppers with new information, offers and suggestions that are not only hyper-relevant, but of immediate use in the moment. The trick is learning to use the data you have to better anticipate what an individual customer’s next need might be.

Don’t roll the dice and risk getting beat by the gamers. Follow these steps to identify your true prospects and loyal customers, then focus on delivering great, personalized experiences that offer real value, in real-time. Let the games begin!

Mark Smith is the President of Kitewheel