By Ben Walton, Head of Commerce
Today, it’s expected that marketers know their consumers better than they know themselves. Previously, the norm was getting the product to the consumer, but this has reversed: now, with the amount of choice available, it is more about guiding the consumer to the product.
Discovery Commerce is making this increasingly possible. As a movement, it recognises that the opportunity to connect with customers starts well before purchase intent. Rather than addressing pre-existing demand, brands are now able to create it.
This has consumer as well as business benefits. Consumers feel connected and understood when they discover a product that uniquely matches their needs. The process also ensures a seamless customer journey from discovery to purchase. Savvy marketers are viewing this as a tool not just to discover products but also as a means to drive brand loyalty and lifetime value.
However, access to relevant data becomes more critical with additional touchpoints (according to Google, a complex journey can have up to 500touchpoints). This fragmentation of the landscape – and the growing considerations around customer privacy – makes it challenging to deliver these ‘serendipitous’ experiences.
Brands will require new capabilities to drive shopping experiences and visibility across the web. In addition, they will need improved measurement tools to join the dots. This must be linked to backend systems to deliver a seamless customer experience.
With the impending death of the cookie, data protection and privacy changes are impacting performance marketing in many ways, such as tracking technologies and measurement methods. To optimise media allocation based on consumer insights and purchase behaviour, brands must establish an effective measurement environment and data/technology stack.
This involves effectively utilising tools such as data clean rooms, API connections for offline CV data, and marketing mix modelling. Thus, brands can measure the full-funnel impact of their marketing efforts, from brand awareness to revenue generation, and make more informed decisions about their media strategy. This will lead to more addressable and personalised content.
One of the most significant issues of expanding into online channels is that companies don’t tailor the experience enough. Social platforms need a different strategy – they must be much more community-based and driven by entertainment and strong visuals.
Nuances exist even within different social platforms. Snapchat, for example, is a hotbed for AR and virtual shopping experiences, Pinterest evolves around beautiful product imagery, and TikTok is much more about live, community-led experiences shaped by its creators.
Brands must think about the channel and what shopping experiences customers want within that channel to succeed in this environment. This seems obvious. However, we often see the same creative being run across all platforms because teams don’t have the knowledge, budget or resource to adapt and tailor to each. Addressability across the funnel can help brands meet rising consumer expectations by delivering personalised ad experiences at scale.
One of the major factors in driving commerce maturity is increasing your sales and distribution channels. According to research by BCG, omnichannel customers spend two-to-three times more than single-channel customers. It’s a huge opportunity to reach new customers and is less risky as you are not reliant on one channel.
Naturally, the end goal is to sell your product everywhere, but the most significant challenge at the beginning of the discovery commerce journey is where to start. Channels like TikTok are making headlines, but is that where the big opportunity lies? Is it better to focus your efforts on eBay or explore a niche vertical marketplace? And you can’t forget about offline either – 84% of consumers say physical stores are still a critical touchpoint.
This makes it essential that you understand your audience and their journey. Detailed Purchase Journey analysis will help you understand your customers’ shopping behaviours. It will also help you prioritise the sales channels your customers are in, which to expand into and at what speed to make the most of spend.
As commerce continues to evolve and be disrupted by changing routes to market, more innovative ways to shop and new brands, there is a fight on our hands for consumer attention and, ultimately, market share.
Brands must experiment, but they must also know if their efforts are working. With marketers being increasingly under pressure (63% of CMOs say they are under pressure to demonstrate marketing value), measurement must be at the heart of everything.
It’s essential to look at what’s happening in channels to refine what works and what doesn’t; it needs to be incorporated into the brand’s integrated measurement framework, where all channels are looked at holistically and where the overall contribution is measured. At this point, you can use these continuous experiments to improve your strategy over time and evolve.
More than ever, businesses need efficient strategies to meet people where they are and closed-loop measurements to know that their strategies are working. The companies that perform most effectively are the ones that can accelerate or adapt the quickest.
Yet, according to our own Commerce Maturity Framework (which establishes current maturity and the roadmap to reach the next level), most brands are in the early stages of maturity. This is because the areas required to become digitally mature sit outside of a traditional eCommerce agency, including data, tech, measurement, and analytics.
Working with an integrated agency with access to measurement capabilities and the expertise to wield them helps maintain a holistic view of progress, regardless of unique and fluctuating market dynamics. The result is extraordinary customer experiences that help capture market opportunities, generate additional revenue and build a disruptive competitive advantage.
Article originally published in Performance Marketing World.