As the retail industry is seeing a shift with digital in how brands are approaching marketing and establishing a store presence, retailers are looking for ways to provide timely relevant content that consumers demand to master the omnichannel approach, fully connecting the online, mobile and in-person experience.
A study by RetailMeNot revealed several key trends that are impacting the retail industry and change the types of marketing decisions being made in the future.
A Shift to Social Media Spend
Seventy-eight percent of retailers surveyed will spend more in 2018 on social media marketing. And although 67% said they will use email marketing and driving mobile conversion as a way to get more customers, some (10%) of the largest retailers reported they will keep their budgets exactly the same as 2017.
“Brands are looking at social media not just for brand building but for acquisition and performance media,” said Marissa Tarleton, CMO at RetailMeNot Inc. “In the past, marketers were putting aside a social budget for brand building, but brands are now putting more investment on social media because they can see a return on investment.”
When evaluating social media, Tarleton said the most important factors to consider are targetability and measurement.
Consumers Want Deals and Promotions
Promotions and deals will be critical when it comes to increasing revenue and loyalty among customers. Seventy-six percent of the retailers surveyed plan to increase the promotions they offer in 2018, becoming more strategic in how they play in the promotions space and working with partners to better measure the success of their promotions across channels.
Increasing sales revenue is a top indicator for success. It is ranked most often as a determining factor of the promotions that retailers and brands offer to consumer (56%), followed by new customer growth (55%) and brand awareness (50%).
Retailers that believe that engaging lapsed customers is a low priority are missing the opportunity. Deals can be a valuable marketing tool for re-engaging a customer with a particular brand and often will redirect the consumer’s shopping journey back to the retailer – resulting in a sale.
Tarleton said that consumers want savings that are easy to obtain [regardless of platform or location.. Online or in-store only deals tend to take away from the easy use of promotions and deals across channels.
Multi-touch attribution will be a focus this year for 50% of the retailers surveyed to better monitor the quality of traffic from advertising investments.
Creating a Brand Awareness
Another trend is growing brand awareness in 2018. Although sales revenue and new customer growth remain important, there is a growing trend among retailers [that say brand awareness is their focus to evaluate success of marketing centered around deals and offers. One in five retailer marketers reported this would be the most critical measure of success in 2018.
Tarleton said retailers are investing in loyalty, personalization and technology to differentiate themselves from the competition because they are aware of the importance of brand reputation when a consumer is choosing the brand next door.
Website and App Partnerships Are Critical
Website and app partnerships are crucial in digital marketing. Nearly 9 in 10 marketers said their brand will partner in some capacity with websites or apps focused on promotions, deals and loyalty.
Most of the marketers surveyed (62%) prefer to work with comprehensive deal and website apps, followed by cash-back only platforms (53%) and loyalty specific apps (50%).
Retailers are seeing the most return from general deal websites and apps, which provide a comprehensive digital marketing solution that will drive brand awareness and revenue through a variety of channels.
A Shift to a Younger Demographic
Most retailers are shifting the focus away from Baby Boomers for the younger demographic. As shopping behaviors between generations continue to shift so do retailers’ focus and targeting.
Marketers who want to capitalize on the spending habits of younger generations are shifting marketing dollars toward them and away from older generations. Retailers in 2018 are paying closer attention to the way shoppers approach the buying journey and what they are demanding from shopping experience.
Tarleton said she wasn’t surprised that marketers are increasing spend on millennials, with many retailers specifically spending more on social media.
Today, marketers are investing in content utilizing brand influencers, including blog-related content to reach this group of shoppers.
Taking a Stand on Ad Fraud
This year, 6 in 10 marketers will increase their direct media buying to better monitor the quality of the traffic from advertising investments. In fact, nearly half (48%) of retailers plan to reduce the amount of fraudulent advertising traffic by reducing programmatic spend.
One area under scrutiny in the purchase process is the growth of multi-touch attribution and how it works alongside last-click measurement.
Making Mobile Checkout Simpler
Top of mind for retailers today is tackling the challenges with mobile web checkout and making sure brands can improve the experience for their customers.
The survey revealed that mobile will be a key area for retailers looking to positively affect sales growth and offer consumers the smartphone shopping experience they are looking for.
Those retailers with an in-store presence, in-store cash back offers and card-linked offers rank high, with more than half (54%) planning to test these tactics in 2018.
Mobile Marketing to Drive In-Store Sales
Marketers are investing more in mobile marketing to help drive in-store sales. Marketers are shifting their mobile [efforts?] away from ecommerce to digital marketing. This is a result of the increased opportunities of having mobile marketing impact all digital and in-store channels.
Seventy-two percent of the retailers surveyed use mobile marketing to drive in-store sales, followed by 82% using it for mobile app sales and 93% using mobile marketing for online sales growth. An additional 50% of retail marketers say their mobile marketing team falls under digital marketing within their organization – up from 41% in 2016.
Tarleton said mobile is influencing all channels because today’s consumers are making their buying decisions on mobile devices.
“It’s about being in front of the customer where they are, that speaks to social media as well, because so much time is spent on social media on their phone,” said Tarleton.