The traditional path to purchase has become a labyrinth of twists and turns as consumers take multiple routes to conversion. UK consumers now use an average of three devices when making a purchase. Fortunately, shoppers leave clues along the way and every interaction provides valuable data that can be collected and analysed to better understand their complex journey. 

The volume of consumer data available is vast, and will only continue to grow as the Internet of Things becomes established. Most retail marketers understand the power this data has to improve and personalise the customer experience – allowing them to reach their audience in the right place at the right time – but few are making the most of its far-reaching potential. In fact, UK retailers could be missing out on up to £66 million per year in lost revenue by failing to deliver personalised experiences. 

So how can retail marketers use data to gain a competitive advantage in a crowded marketplace? This is where programmatic technology can help.      

Connect with the target audience 

Reaching the right consumer is a high priority for retail marketers and there is an increasing emphasis on one-to-one marketing rather than trying to be all things to all people. Programmatic technology uses first-party data to analyse multiple data points including visits to the retail site, products viewed, and purchasing patterns to deliver real-time advertising that is highly relevant and personalised – keeping the retailer top of mind when the shopper decides to buy. First-party data can also be layered with high quality third-party data to produce detailed audience profiles that enable accurate segmentation and the delivery of targeted messaging. 

Programmatic technology enables dynamic messaging, where different elements of an ad – each with multiple variants – can be combined in real-time to produce the most relevant creative for the consumer. This allows highly targeted advertising without the costs associated with creating hundreds of different versions of the same advert, and enables on-going testing and refining of creative. Creative elements are selected according to specific audience profile characteristics and position on the conversion path, as well as other data signals such as location and time of day.    

Tailor the message to time and place 

Programmatic allows retail marketers to deliver messaging that is appropriate to the specific context of the consumer, including time of day – or day of the week – and geographic location. Product conversion rates vary throughout the day and programmatic campaigns can be optimised to the times when conversion is most likely. Running time-sensitive campaigns also means ad delivery can coincide with offline events such as a product launch. 

Location-specific programmatic campaigns can respond dynamically to geographic variations, such as weather conditions, to deliver highly relevant creative. They also allow retailers to deliver special offers or discounts to consumers that are within the vicinity of one of their stores, or even visiting their competitors’ stores.  

Engage shoppers across all channels

In the UK, more than 60% of online adults use at least two devices every day and nearly 25% use three devices (econsultancy). When considering a purchase, many shoppers begin their research on a smartphone, even if they then switch to a larger screen such as a tablet or desktop for the final purchase. EE’s latest Mobile Living Index reported 71% of its 4G customers now use their mobile device for shopping – spending an average of £89 per month – indicating that mobile commerce is a significant factor. 

Shoppers also combine online and offline channels, perhaps by researching a product on their smartphone while in-store. Retail marketing campaigns need to run seamlessly across all channels including mobile, desktop, connected TV, and offline. This is made possible by programmatic technology enabling retailers to reach their customers wherever they are, across all addressable media, and with consistency and continuity. 

The path to purchase may be growing increasingly complex but it doesn’t need to remain a mystery. Programmatic provides detailed data into the consumer journey, which can be used to generate valuable insights. Programmatic should be top of the shopping list for retail marketers looking to deliver dynamic, time-sensitive, location-specific messaging to the right audience, on the right device, when they are ready to shop.

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