Every retail marketer knows they should be focusing on customer relationships and lifecycle, and they spend a lot of time attempting to personalize offers and communications to hit customers at the times when they are most likely to purchase. However, the reality is that marketers also have marketing events on the calendar that must be supported and comped. Successfully balancing those two goals can be a struggle that can seem impossible to overcome.
The Challenges Of Balancing Marketing Events And Customer Events
There are numerous factors that can work against marketers when they try to reconcile customer lifecycle against their pre-planned marketing events. It is an unfortunate fact that long-running triggered campaigns can often contradict mass-channel marketing, confusing and confounding customers. If a customer has to spend a lot of time evaluating offers against promotions, they can become frustrated and lose their motivation to take advantage of an offer.
Lifecycle events can also be incompatible with the pricing structure of storewide marketing events, negatively impacting margins. This can tie marketers’ hands when lifecycle events are triggered, forcing them to pause strong offers because they won’t be profitable.
The Folly Of Alienating Existing Customers To Chase New Customers
One of the biggest clashes occurs with new customers. Retailers want to create a great experience for their new shoppers, but it unfortunately often comes at the expense of existing customers when promotional events and lifecycle events are timed together.
Consider mobile phone providers as an example. They often run aggressive new customer campaigns that might alienate existing customers. Say you’ve been with your provider for 15 years and you’re paying $100 a month for service. You were recently contacted about an offer to reduce your bill to $80 if you visit their store to upgrade your phone. You happily pack your coupon and head to their location, only to arrive and find posters offering $50 a month for new customers. How would you feel about your provider then? That relationship will likely never be the same. This same type of fracturing could be happening in your stores if you are too focused on timing calendar and promotional events and you’re not focused enough on timing offers at a customer level through your CRM.
Creating The Right Experience To Build And Strengthen Relationships
Overcoming these roadblocks isn’t always easy, but it can be done. It all starts with a shift in thinking. Instead of seeing customer events and marketing events as an either/or prospect, they should be viewed as supportive of one another.
The only way to make that happen is to segment down to the customer level, personalizing messages that make sense for customers based on not just their lifecycle stage, but also their communications preferences, shopping habits, and their likelihood to respond to seasonal marketing events.
Take new customers, for example. It is easy to incorporate offers to new customers into storewide events, as long as their offers are simple, straightforward and reduce exclusions. This may mean waiting for the right promotional event to hit them with an offer for a second purchase. It simply makes sense to focus on driving the customer to the site or the store and providing them with an amazing experience for their second purchase rather than simply hitting your lifecycle timing target.
The same is true of existing customers who have been trained to understand your brand and promotions. Lifecycle timing targets are important for maintaining those relationships, but timing a deal at just the right time for an individual can tap into the “thrill of the deal” that everyone understands. Why wait until a lifecycle event is triggered if you can drive a great customer to the site now with a deal that speaks specifically to them?
Shifting focus beyond rigid scheduling and focusing on the preferences and needs of customers helps marketers to see how promotions can complement lifecycle events, and vice versa. When you view both events together, rather than through separate lenses, every communication and every offer can have greater impact and ultimately, strengthen relationships and lift sales.