3 Major Digital Trends Every Retail Marketing Leader Must Account for This Year

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Retail marketing is evolving at a rapid pace, and brick-and-mortar marketers and e-commerce managers alike are struggling to determine the best way to consistently keep customers coming and converting. E-tail and retail competition are at an all-time high, and brands that fail to keep up are at immediate risk of falling far behind.

Many of the trends that affect marketing as a whole will similarly influence retail businesses. But a few in particular should be especially influential on the focus and success or failure of retail marketing leaders this year. As consumer marketing recruiters, we’ve identified three trends marketing executives responsible for the growth of a retail brand in 2016 should keep a particularly close eye on in the coming months:

Streamlining Mobile Data Gathering for Responsive Contextual Marketing

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Mobile can provide unprecedented context that brands can use to dramatically optimize their messaging, from the amount of times a customer visits a store per week to the speed they’re traveling through it. But so far most of these capabilities are only considered in theory, not in practice.

Why? Because even the retailers that have begun acquiring the right technology and the appropriate talent through consumer marketing recruitment haven’t reached a point where they’re able to deliver real-time engagement.

“A major problem that retail marketers face while leveraging context-oriented technologies is the time lag. Retailers lead in customer data collection as well as delivering targeted advertisements,” says Rohit Roy, News Editor of Martech Advisor. “However, everyone is aware of the fact that ads from most retailers are often based on pervious purchases. So, viewers may have become interested in something else while they still keep receiving ads based on their previous purchases.”

“In order to truly adopt contextual marketing, retail marketers need to gradually replace rigid technology components in favor of more integrated and flexible solutions. Marketers need to track customers across channels and environment to get a holistic view of their behavior. Beacon technology is the perfect example of the kind of system retail marketers need to have.”

It’s one thing to theoretically have a structure in place to respond to contextual information about a retail customer. But efficiently gathering that data and spinning all the gears that lead to a timely response is another altogether. Innovative retailers will be working hard in 2016 to trim down response times and engage customers within the most opportune context and with the most compelling message possible.

Make or Break Time for Retail Email

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For many organizations, this may be the last real opportunity to make a difference with email. As consumer communication alternatives like social media become more and more popular and email categorization filters become more sophisticated, the ability for new email marketing campaigns to reach broad retail audiences will shrink. Only firms with strong momentum moving into the coming years will be able to sustain meaningful success.

Unfortunately, retailers as a whole have struggled to produce meaningful results through email. The 2016 Yesmail Marketing Channel Report shows that retailers lag behind in gathering email addresses for their campaigns and using now-fundamental tactics like personalization through consumer data.

“From growing their subscriber base to developing more personalized content, as retailers fine-tune their email programs, integration with other channels will come more naturally,” said Michael Fisher, president of Yes Lifecycle Marketing. “While many brands have adopted a variety of digital channels, a surprising number of them are not implementing basic email marketing best practices.”

As new engagement through email becomes increasingly hard to come by, retailers who hope to get engagement through this traditionally cost-effective channel may be running short on time. If you’re going to make a move in this channel, 2016 might be your last chance. Take this opportunity to double down on email efforts, and consider email marketing consultants as a way to give your efforts a much-needed boost.

Influencing Influential Shoppers

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Popular web influencers are making waves across the web, providing clever marketers new ways to align their brand with personalities that are well-liked and trusted by valuable, highly segmented audiences. Some retail brands have already found ways to leverage those influential bloggers, video makers, podcasters and social media personalities. But retailers as a whole lag behind in developing mutually beneficial relationships with these individuals.

That could start changing in a big way this year. Retailers are in a relatively unique position to use influencer marketing, according to a recent report from eMarketer.

Here’s what an intro to the report says:

“As a result of their focus further down in the funnel, retailers have been relatively slow adopters of influencer marketing. Despite being late to the party, retailers are learning to use influencer marketing to create the type of awareness that drives traffic to stores and sites.

Because much of their attention has been on the bottom of the purchase funnel, retailers have relied on brand partners to create the product-level awareness and positioning that has powered the growth of influencer marketing.”

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