How to engage customers at every stage of their journey – tips for retailers
22 April 2022 - 4 min read
What does a typical customer journey look like? Many marketers will be familiar with the AIDA or RACE model of the marketing funnel – your customer’s journey with you from the initial stages when someone learns about your business, to the purchasing stage.
But for the purpose of this blog, and to make it more relevant to retailers; we’re going to tweak things slightly and look at the well-recognised marketing funnel as a loop:
Each stage of the customer journey will be different depending on your business and target audience. And with so many marketing channels out there, it can be tricky to decide what to use and when. So, starting at the top of the funnel (beginning of the loop), I’m going to discuss the marketing channels and tactics retailers could be using at each stage of the customer journey. Starting with…
…Get their attention
Attract refers to your very first touch point with potential customers, the part where you get them to notice you. This can be anything from the signage on your shop front, to a digital advertising campaign. Of course the channels you use will depend on your budget, strategy and audience, but here are a few options to consider:
Branding – Your brand is everywhere and will play a big part in a customer’s first impression of you; so it’s important to get it right. Everything from your company name and colours, to your packaging and tone of voice, it’s worth perfecting every detail. Consistency is key here.
Paid search – One of the more pricey options, but one that will get noticed by potential customers who may not come across you organically. Look into investing in some paid advertising to help you get in front of those who might be searching for a certain product, but don’t know of your brand.
Social media – Most retail businesses have organic social media accounts, but there’s only so much you can do with them when it comes to reaching new clients. Consider paying for social media advertising or working with influencers to reach new customers. Or encourage your existing followers to share your posts and photos of their purchases. Your existing customers can be your biggest advocates, so let them do the talking for you. Not only will this help you extend your reach, it’s highly trusted by potential customers. And user-generated content is free.
PR – Consider trying to get some PR coverage. Reach out to relevant publications with new product releases, to see if they’ll review them and/or mention the new item in a relevant article. Like with user-generated social media content, organic content from a third party will be a lot more trusted by an audience than paid for advertising. And it’s a great way of getting in front of audiences that aren’t already aware of your brand or products.
…get them to your shop/website
Once you have a potential customer’s attention you’re going to want to keep it. So how can you do this?
Email marketing – If you’re fortunate to have the contact details of a potential customer at this stage… make the most of it. Email marketing is said to be one of the most profitable marketing channels for retailers, with 81% of small businesses relying on email as their primary customer acquisition channel.
Social media – At this stage you could utilise your social media channels to engage potential customers with competitions and further promote your products. Like with the ‘attract’ stage, encourage people to interact with and share your posts; perhaps by offering a discount or free product to those who do so. This will both help you engage with existing customers as well as reach new customers.
Customer reviews – 91% of surveyed consumers report checking online reviews and 84% report trusting online reviews as much as a friend’s. So sharing customer reviews at this stage could be a good way to drive potential customers one step further to conversion.
…the final hurdle
With the finish line in sight, here are a couple of final things you can do to cement that sale…
Paid advertising – In an ideal world you want paid advertising to feature at every stage of the marketing loop. At the beginning to spark initial interest, in the middle as a reminder, and at the end to help that purchase over the line. If you start advertising at the ‘attract’ stage then you can invest a little more at the ‘convert’ stage. Focusing on retargeting those who may have visited your website earlier in the customer journey, but not completed the purchase for one reason or another. Carefully targeting those who have already shown an interest in your products will give you a much higher chance of conversion.
Promotions – More of a tactic than a marketing channel; but you may want to consider running some sort of promotion at this stage in order to cement a purchase. Perhaps it’s a free gift when you buy a certain item, or 10% off a first purchase when someone signs up to your mailing list. How you get these promotions in front of your audience doesn’t really matter; so long as it gets their attention. Depending on your audience and products, this could be done via email, social media or paid advertising… the list goes on.
…encourage customers back
The AIDA model of the marketing funnel ends once a customer converts. Yet customer retention rate sits at an average of 63% in the retail industry. So we need to pay more attention to those existing customers and encourage loyalty. The channels you use to encourage customers back will incorporate many of those already mentioned, but with slightly different approaches…
Social media – Promote offers and updates that will appeal to your existing customers on social media and encourage them to make another purchase. With 63% of consumers having made a purchase on social media, you may even want to consider selling via social media itself.
Loyalty schemes – There’s a lot to be said for a loyalty scheme. Not only does a good loyalty scheme help encourage customers back, it allows you to keep track of individual purchases and deliver personalised offers as a result.
Email marketing – Which leads on nicely to email marketing… delivering personalised emails to individuals after they have made a purchase can play a big part in encouraging them back. Be it notifying them about an offer on a product you know they’re interested in, or wishing them a happy birthday; a little bit of personalisation can go a long way.
These are just a few ideas – what you decide to do at each stage of the customer journey really comes down to what you think is best for your business. Generally marketing channels are very flexible and can be used at multiple stages of the marketing funnel; just in different ways. But a key thing to remember is not to forget about existing customers; keeping your existing customers engaged can really add to the success of your retail business.
If you have any questions about any of the above, feel free to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
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