Customer loyalty programs have drawn buyers to brick-n-mortar stores for several years. Using on-the-spot 15% coupon incentives the customer releases their credit history, is approved and now owns 24.49% annual percentage rate credit. The retailer has new currency: personal data.
Over the following two weeks the customer’s mailbox will bulge with real paper. With credit resolved, marketing will take over. Colorful marketing materials arrive informing the customer how to participate in social media, to join the millions who have also found value just for shopping with their rewards card. Customers now began to process their intentions, security, privacy, thinking about risks when giving feedback. The retailer has opened the door for emotional fulfillment, good or bad. Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest rise to the occasion.
As well, surveys will soon follow if the store notices an abundance of purchasing by a customer. “Jenny, how was your shopping experience?” Marketers love stories. The shift: Should you reply to surveys or in other social media, software algorithms are parsing your comments based on words used. It feels personal but you are now a contextual data source. If you haven’t shopped in the past 60 days you may get a communications: “Jenny, we’ve noticed you haven’t shopped with us lately, hope to see you soon”. Feels very personal, very caring but the underlying software has a time element on your profile.
The messaging is expanded if the customer has provided an email. That little field was presented on the credit application. Combined with the customer’s phone number, Jenny is now driving down the road thinking about her son’s football practice – suddenly, there’s a retailer texting out a sale item. And, it’s something that will coordinate with her last purchase. A really thoughtful person must be watching her to suggest such a nice pair of shoes to match her new dress. Or, it could just be a purpose-built algorithmic function. My employer had millions of emails/phone numbers and over time, increasing numbers of customers visited my store with smartphones and more, showing me their sale items on-screen. Here is one of many fascinating observations of this trend shared in my book: the method for senior females becoming quick-adopters to personalization using their phones. Compared to senior men, senior women often shop with their daughters. The daughters taught their moms the “how-to” when it came to grabbing deals delivered to their cellphone. It began with a rewards program and successfully drove in-store sales. Retailers owe some gratitude to women for leading their mothers into the digital revolution. I cannot exclude the power of women shopping patterns overall; they frequently shop together. For the most part, senior men remained oblivious to digital personalization as fathers and sons typically shop apart. Retailers are aware of this fact. But that begs the question, is there a strategy for marketing 360-degrees to men? Ah, you will have to see for yourself; there are big things taking place in stores for the male shopper. Touch-points, opportunities, special invitation events – before algorithms drill down into our personal lives, we consumers still love personal interactions. We all do.