It’s Valentine’s Day: Getting Your Customers to Fall – and Stay – in Love

“Why isn’t he more thoughtful?” “Why doesn’t she listen to me more?”

By Lisa Kinney, US GM of Sagarmatha

We’ve all had those same laments – but what they require is introspection. What can I do to manage both of our needs as individuals and understand each other’s expectations to make this relationship better and stronger?
Retailers – we know you want more loyal customers. We know that you want them to think of you first when it’s time to shop. We know that you want to increase shoppers’ spending and frequency of visits over time. We know you want them to have zero temptation to go elsewhere.

Therefore, it’s time ask – “What have I done for them lately?”
Personalization is the art of using the science, math, and data – leveraging the information appropriately to truly get to know the person, understand him, and learn what motivates and promotes loyalty.

In an ideal world, every customer subscribes to the latest and greatest shopping app offered, opens every single email, and shops at least three-five times per week fulfilling every need for the household you can offer. It’s the digital era so why not push content, wanted or not, needed or not, simply because you can? If that’s the case, your customers will opt out of any communication faster than you can say “Sales.”
Today, ad blocker application adoption is growing in momentum, giving you the forewarning more than ever that you have to be especially sensitive about communicating directly with your customers in the way you want – it’s time to learn how they want to be communicated with. Do they want text messages? Emails? Beacon sensory messaging? If you don’t know, use your data to analyze open rates, or, for the more direct approach, it’s okay to ask them, unless you don’t want to be accountable for listening. You may discover that there’s still a few customers who only want to get those old fashioned targeted coupons in their mailbox or at a kiosk in the front of the store.

When you are communicating, think about how you can be helpful. You know their shopping patterns. Send messages to remind them that they will soon be out of toilet paper or coffee or their fuel points are about to expire.
Let’s ask ourselves what are you choosing or seeking to communicate? Is it dependent on the number of CPGs willing to invest in your strategy? Are the top suppliers sufficient? Think about the typical higher-end consumer, the one you so want to target. Maybe there’s a specific brand of coffee, chocolate, or specialty cereal that many of them are loyal to but as a percentage of category sales not on your radar and not part of the collaborative effort to secure offers.
Analyze what your most profitable customers are buying to determine which other CPGs with whom it may be worthwhile to build relationships with. It may cost you a bit more in the short term, but in the long run, it may be a great investment in increasing those customers’ share of wallet.

Look at your highest-end shoppers in depth; you may discover that many of their purchases are for organic products – maybe it is time to start an elite organic shoppers’ club above and beyond your traditional loyalty group? Don’t forget to look at the content you’ll be offering – if all you have is convenience food recipes, you may want to generate recipes that feature those high-end organic fruits and vegetables that bring the most profit while reinforcing the customers’ concepts of benefit. Clearly, this is one example of many individually unique shopping needs that can be catered to in your content and offer pool.
You also need to look beyond the data – admittedly you cannot customize each store to meet the needs of every shopper walking in through the door. However, you can do it digitally with technology. When was the last time you looked at your website? Before you invest in driving traffic to it, make sure it is user friendly and enhances rather than discourages the shopper experience.
We understand that you cannot listen to the 30 million customers who shop at your store over a calendar year. But you are sitting on almost a billion data points from them. If you can ask the right questions, by slicing and dicing that information, you’ll find out the best way to work with them.

Be both intuitive and pragmatic about how you engage with your customers. In a relationship, sometimes it takes the person breaking up with you to make you finally understand how important she was to you. If everything in the relationship depends on how the customer is reacting to what you offer, the relationship is doomed to fail. Don’t lose the customer because you weren’t being attentive enough or seeking to understand and change. Figure out what you need to do to show your customers you love them. Then do it.

Lisa Kinney is U.S. General Manager of Sagarmatha, the technology that allows you to optimize your shoppers’ personal experiences using research science and data-driven machine learning applied with a human focus on the front and back end.

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