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Industry Voices: eMarketer Explores the Changing Retail Landscape

By Sharon Shapiro

Marketing as we know it is changing. For retailers, in particular, the rise of new channels on which to engage shoppers and advancing opportunities to collect and action on customer data have created incredible potential.

But how exactly are marketers at leading brands approaching this new environment? And what success are they seeing along the way? Bluecore recently partnered with eMarketer to talk to retailers directly and find out. Discussions with brands like Thinx, Article, Natori and Enjoy Life Foods covered everything from how retailers decide on the optimal marketing channel mix and their thoughts on first-party data to how they’re defining digital transformation. Here’s what we learned.

Finding the Right Marketing Channels & Measuring Results is All About the Funnel

Retailers now have more channels on which to reach customers than ever before. This variety allows marketers to cater to different customer preferences and create a more holistic experience. That said, marketers must pick the right channels in which to invest their time and resources. One of the best ways to accomplish this objective is to use different channels at different points in the funnel.

Click here to see the video on selecting the right marketing channel mix

From there, identifying the most effective channels requires establishing clear objectives and monitoring key performance indicators. But doing so is often easier said than done. As Duncan Blair, Director of Marketing at Article, puts it: “Just because a dashboard gives you a number, it doesn’t mean that number actually means anything.”

Ultimately, retailers must be able to measure channel effectiveness based on the goals for each channel. For example, the way marketers measure a channel like TV that’s meant to drive awareness will be very different than the way they measure a channel like email that’s meant to drive conversions.

Click here to see the video on measuring marketing channel effectiveness

Acquiring First-Party Data & Creating a Unified View of Customers Remains Key to Success

Do retailers have enough first-party data to execute intelligent, targeted marketing campaigns? The answer to this question is an interesting one because it’s not just about the amount of data available, it’s also about having a plan to activate that data.

While marketers can never have too much data, it’s important to have a strategy in place for how to use that data — otherwise it provides no value. According to Danielle Brown, CMO at Knix, “It’s really important to build a purpose-driven data story, because the things that you can do with first-party data are things that lead you to be able to scale.”

Click here to see the video on acquiring and activating first-party data

As retailers acquire first-party data, one of the most important pieces of activation is developing a unified view of customers across channels. This unified view will allow marketers to create a seamless experience for shoppers as they move fluidly from one channel to the next. Achieving this unified view requires connecting the dots as data comes in from a variety of different systems, like ESP, CRM and loyalty programs, in real-time. This type of connection has traditionally been difficult for marketers, but new technology has helped to ease this challenge.

Click here to see the video on creating a unified view of customers

Embracing Digital Transformation Throughout the Business is a Must for Continued Innovation

Digital transformation is inevitable. As retailers take a hard look at the technology and processes they have always used, many find that the status quo no longer cuts it in today’s fast paced, digital first world.

For well-established brands, digital transformation has to be weaved into the DNA of the whole business. And these organizations are looking to digitally native brands for inspiration. For example, digitally native brands like Article have put technology at the core of their business and made data literacy a key hiring metric — all in pursuit of delivering a better end-to-end customer experience.

Click here to see the video on how retailers are undergoing digital transformation

Of course it’s not just the brand at large that has to buy in to a digital transformation; employees do too. That’s because as brands transform marketing processes and technology, team structures will also change. In some cases, brands may even end up creating entirely new roles. For these changes to be effective and drive the business forward, front-line marketers must be aligned with the brand mission.

Click here to see the video on aligning employees around digital transformation strategies

Sharon Shapiro

Sharon Shapiro

Sharon leads Bluecore's content marketing program, collaborating with top retailers and strategists to highlight the latest trends in retail marketing, spotlight industry leaders and share advice on how marketers can stay ahead of the curve. She has spent her career building content marketing programs for B2B SaaS companies. Sharon graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in journalism.