How looking at your Customer Success team as a strategic partner can make all the difference
What do you need to do your job effectively?
There are endless ways that you can answer this question, but I’m certain that various technology systems make up the majority of answers you might list.
Like the rest of the world, retail has very quickly become a technology-driven industry, and retail marketing in particular requires the right mix of technology to be successful. But when it comes to achieving success, having the right technology in place is only half the battle. You also have to use that technology in the right way.
Technology is Only Human
Okay, so maybe technology isn’t actually human, but it is fair to say that technology is only as good as the human(s) behind it.
I don’t care if you just found the silver bullet of technology that will help you one-up Amazon (which, as a side note, is never going to happen, so maybe try working with Amazon instead), it’s not going to deliver on its own.
No matter how automated a technology, it still requires human intervention at some point. It requires a human to set up and it requires a human to manage. Most importantly, it requires a human working day in and day out to develop a strategy, outline goals and KPIs and work on the inputs and outputs for the system since only humans truly understand the unique differences between one brand’s business dynamic versus another’s.
Managing the Human Aspect of Technology
If technology is only as good as the humans behind it, how can you (as a human, obviously) better manage your retail marketing systems to maximize the value they provide?
Arguably the most important step you can take is to change how you think about your technology providers. Instead of thinking of them as simply “providers,” you need to start thinking of them as “partners.” With that mindset, you can begin to think of your technology partners as strategic resources that can truly support what you do and help you achieve goals like improving loyalty and maximizing margins.
In my experience, there are three steps you can take to get the most out of these partnerships:
1) Be Transparent and Open to Collaboration
The best relationships (and ultimately results) occur when everyone works together. This means that your team needs to be transparent and ready to work with your technology partners’ customer support teams and vice versa.
This transparency and collaboration is critical in helping your partners understand your goals and how you plan to achieve those goals. In turn, this understanding can help your partners introduce specific best practices based on what it is you want to do and help you make modifications as necessary instead of following a standard path.
For example, it can be extremely helpful to share your marketing calendar with your partners so that they can make recommendations on how to use different features of their technology in ways that support specific campaigns you have planned. I recently saw this happen firsthand when working with a retailer that planned to send an email featuring Valentine’s Day-themed products and a special holiday discount code to all of its customers with a predicted affinity toward the category.
Because of the open line of communication between the retailer’s team and the Bluecore team, we were able to help them improve ROI on the campaign by suggesting that they segment their audience based on discount preference and only send the coupon code to buyers who actually needed the discount to purchase. The retailer’s team followed through on this recommendation, sending two versions of the same email (one with a discount, one without a discount), and saw a 14% higher revenue per email from the version without a discount.
2) Experiment Often
When you first introduce a new technology, it makes sense to cover the basics. But after that initial introduction, sticking to the basics will only get you so far. To truly push the envelope on the value that the technology can provide, you need to experiment and try different things.
In order to uncover opportunities to experiment, you need to have that transparent and collaborative relationship with your partner’s team. When you do, you can put your heads together to brainstorm and execute new and innovative ways to use the system that can help you achieve your outcomes and increase your ROI from the system. I’ve even seen some teams that set up one day a month dedicating to testing out new ideas for different campaigns using their solutions.
For the marketing team at one apparel retailer, this type of experimentation paid off big time. The team had previously used Bluecore only for email, but decided to experiment with cross-channel capabilities by targeting customers who were unlikely to open or click emails on Facebook instead. This approach ended up leading to a 182% increase in ROI.
Meanwhile, Steve Madden saw equally as impressive results when experimenting with predictive technology. The team decided to send the same new product email to two different audiences: One audience of customers who had previously purchased from the same category and one audience of customers with a predicted affinity toward the category. The predictive audience not only reached 60x more customers, but it also brought in 100% of revenue from the entire campaign, making the experiment a big win for the Steve Madden team.
3) Embrace a Willingness to Learn
Retail marketing technology changes all the time, with new features getting added to systems to provide even more value. Getting the most out of your existing technology requires you to have a willingness to learn about these new features to understand how you can use them to your advantage.
This willingness to learn is two-fold, as it should have both a proactive aspect to it, with you taking the time to stay up to date on feature changes, best practices and overarching trends, as well as a collaborative component, in which you work through those learnings and how to best apply them with your technology partners.
Through training videos and workshops, roadmap events and even blog posts like this one, I’ve seen a lot of positive ideas, questions and collaborations come from having a willingness to learn. For instance, we recently met with one retailer who wanted to learn more about the data that goes into our predictive models to better understand how that capability works. This hands-on learning session helped the retailer trust the platform and identify new ways to put it to work.
Develop a Partnership
To get the most value out of your retail marketing technology, you need to push the envelope on what’s possible by experimenting often and embracing a willingness to learn. And throughout it all, you need to be transparent and collaborative with your technology partners by leaning on them as strategic resources. On the flip side of that, you need a technology partner whose Customer Success team puts just as much effort into the relationship by suggesting new ideas, driving experiments and sharing resources regularly.
When all of those pieces fall into place, you’ll find yourself in a strong position to increase the ROI of your retail marketing technology and improve the results of your campaigns.