Jenna Tiffany, Digital Marketing Strategist at Communicator, explains the value of the single customer view in email marketing
In the UK, only 13 per cent of transactions take place online. That leaves 87 per cent of shoppers making purchases offline and in-store. For marketers, this leaves a hole in the data they have about their customers’ journey. Understanding these offline purchasing behaviours is fundamental to developing a digital strategy, particularly with the rise of ‘webrooming’ – where consumers research online and then complete the purchase in-store.
To overcome this and fill in these data gaps, retailers can develop a single customer view (SCV). But, astonishingly, only six per cent of marketers have a SCV to support their multichannel marketing campaigns and goals.
Marketers can rely on email marketing to drive significant ROI. For every pound invested, email marketing generates £38 in return. Customer-centricity is key to achieving these results with email marketing. It doesn’t just happen by chance – it’s about understanding the customer and optimising the right strategy.
Consumers are channel-agnostic. They will take any advice available to them and use multiple devices before making a purchase. Their expectation is a seamless experience, no matter the device or time of the day. Competition is rife and, for brands to win, their experience has to be the best every time. This is where the importance of a SCV and customer-centric strategy comes into play.
What is a SCV?
A single customer view is the utopia of marketing. It allows you to know what your customer is searching for, the device they’re using and their location. It also gives you the ability to predict future behaviour by utilising all of the data you have about that customer.
It works by collecting and storing all journey and purchase data about your customers in a central system which has the ability to talk with your other systems, such as your content management system (CMS) and email service providers (ESP). Think of it as a central filing system.
Having the ability to tailor the end-to-end experience and provide the most relevant experience from online to offline is where the value lies for marketers, especially those in retail.
Barriers preventing the SCV dream
• It’s too risky
• The quality of the data and integration is poor
• It requires a large amount of marketing budget and resource
• It requires a strategic change of direction
• There’s a lack of organisational structure
Let’s be honest, SCV is an expensive investment and doesn’t always give you the ROI you need as quickly as you’d like. It’s a risk. But the long-term benefits and rewards a brand can recoup are huge. Eighty-eight per cent of marketers use email marketing for personalisation, which is important to your email strategy, and SCV allows you to do just that.
Only 24 per cent of companies state that they currently have a single view of the customer, which provides a huge opportunity for the remaining 76 per cent of companies to up their game, if they’re not already planning to. In the heavily competitive inbox, where two billion emails are sent every day, having that competitive edge is essential. If you’re a brand that continues to send non-personalised email marketing, you’ll lose out as subscribers become unengaged with you and are quickly picked up by competitors.
The powerful consumer
The power is now held by the consumer, who has access to endless amounts of information on the internet 24 hours a day. Their expectation is for a brand to know where they are, what they’ve bought and what they’re looking at buying. Disruptive brands such as Uber are changing not only the market place they operate in but also consumer expectations – we’ve now been conditioned to expect a taxi within no more than three minutes! Amazon will now even deliver alcohol within one hour of ordering in LA. Changes in expectations impact retailers, especially those that fail to keep up, as they may begin to provide a poor experience in the eyes of the customer. These are the game changers for consumers expecting instant service wherever and whenever they demand it.
The savvy customer
We live in the age of the savvy customer. They know they’re being tracked and the trade-off for providing that additional information is to receive a better experience. If information held about a customer isn’t used to tailor their experience, they may begin to question why you’re collecting it and feel they’ve been given a raw deal.
The risk of continually sending non-targeted email communications is now much higher, with internet service providers such as Gmail introducing ‘block’ functionality into the inbox to reduce spam. You can say goodbye to that recipient forever if your email marketing is blocked. Could the risk be any higher to retail email marketers?