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Retailers: How to create effective customer engagement

Headshot of Annie Wissner

Annie Wissner

Chief Marketing Officer

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Oct 4, 2018
5 min read
Entrance of a department store

Mobile devices have become an essential tool for retailers looking for more effective ways to increase customer engagement. Whether using a smartphone or tablet, and whether comparing products and prices, reading product reviews, or making purchases, consumers’ always-on mobile devices are now a pivotal feature of the retail customer experience and the logical centerpiece for enhanced engagement.

The figures are compelling – there are more than 7.5 billion devices on the planet, and over 3.65 billion unique global mobile users. Further, customers who use their mobiles to shop are better informed and more engaged, with smartphone shoppers spending up to 50% more in-store, as shown by the results of research by the Google Shopper Market Council which also found:

  • 79% of smartphone owners are ‘smartphone shoppers.’

  • 84% of these shoppers use their phones to help shop while in a store

  • 15 minutes is the average time smartphone shoppers use their phones in-store

White women in blue coat holding phone in shop

Progressive retailers are embracing multi-channel engagement strategies to enhance the customer journey, which extends the physical contact that customers have with the store into all of the possible digital touchpoints, including social media, web, email, phone calls, and SMS.

The great advantage of mobile devices is that they are able to cater to all of these channels through one physical medium. Two of the main ways that retailers are using phones to engage their customers are for promotional offers to drive sales, and for after-sales support and feedback capture. Let’s take a closer look at how these options build customer loyalty and attract potential customers.

Customer Offers

Based on customer preferences and purchase history, retailers may send rich, on-brand offers to customers or those that have shown interest, refined by attributes like market segment, location, or social media interaction. These can include text updates announcing upcoming sales as well as discount codes sent directly to the target audience's phone.

Geolocation allows timely, contextual offers to be sent to customers when they are actually in-store, prompting high, immediate redemption rates. Mobile messaging allows an unprecedented level of real-time contact with customers and it’s vital to maintain trust and add value when communicating this way. Giving customers the ability to opt-in and out of contact, as well as setting their personal preferences ensures that contact is both welcome and relevant. And when customers feel confident and comfortable in their engagement, they're more likely to become loyal customers in the future.

White women in denim shirt smiling and looking at phone

Customer Satisfaction

Given the general preference for rapid, easily accessed communication, SMS is a viable initial channel for customer service, lowering costs, and keeping contact concise and focused. More complex conversations can readily be escalated, allowing customers to engage further via their preferred contact paths when it suits them, such as phone, email, or social. This provides immediate options for customers to channel negative responses before they turn to social media, and impact your brand.

Feedback can be immediately captured by surveys post-contact, with forms that are easy to follow and optimized for mobile, for higher completion rates. Mobile is also effective for sending quick updates and relevant content such as tracking numbers and order status for deliveries.

Best practice mobile engagement insights

Multi-channel communication

Send messages to your customers in the way that suits them, whether that’s voice, SMS, social media, rich messages, or email, to improve the rates of delivery. Knowing that customers will almost always have their mobiles close allows organizations to provide messages on all these channels and increase the chances of beneficial customer interactions.

Geolocation

Quality customer engagement marketing must go beyond the traditional methods used in the past. For instance, GPS-enabled smartphone applications allow users to share real-time location information, with relevant data to match the customer’s location. This becomes particularly useful when messaging is integrated with related value-added platforms that meet customer needs.

Automated and Integrated Messages

Incorporating messaging systems with other customer-facing and internal technologies such as CRM, marketing, and billing systems reduces the need for manual intervention, providing a range of automated, high-value communications options, including:

  • Customer surveys for generating instantaneous feedback

  • Voucher and barcode downloads

  • A loyalty program for increased customer retention

  • Time-based offers for early access, exclusive deals, etc.

  • Multilingual support options for inclusive user experiences

Unified Communications

Combining all of these communication streams into a single platform, with a central reporting dashboard, improves cut-through in the delivery of messages and provides a mechanism for tracking all critical communications, giving recipients a way to respond appropriately. This allows informed, real-time decisions to be made based on the feedback gained from these conversations. Paired with real customer engagement metrics, large and small businesses alike can continue to refine their customer engagement strategy.

Mobile Engagement in Action

Millennial white man and millennial white woman looking at a tablet

A major department store uses the Whispir communications platform to improve its out-of-store marketing with targeted offers & promotions and for enhanced satisfaction and loyalty using surveys and tailored notifications. Some of the benefits of using the Whispir platform include:

  • Time to market

    • Reduced when generating seasonal catalogs while maintaining an App-like experience

  • Video content

    • Can be showcased, providing an all-in-one shopping experience targeted at seasonal events

  • Loyalty offer rewards

    • Creates an emotional connection to the brand that goes beyond the transactional approaches of the past

Integration with CRM and marketing databases allows customers to be automatically and programmatically notified when wish lists or aligned products are on sale – exceeding expectations with personalized and relevant offers.

In the modern digital era, customer expectations for their shopping experience are at an all-time high. Not only do brand interactions need to be consistent across the board, but the customer relationship is more personalized than ever. In order to meet these modern needs, you'll want to leverage all available communication channels and rely on best practices to ensure you're meeting your customer base where they shop and are able to nurture them long-term.

See how Whispir makes this easier than ever with a platform designed for optimal digital engagement between brands and their customers.

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