Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

A strategic guide to ecommerce customer engagement 

By Antonella Tamburello, Client Strategy Director at Go Inspire

In the intensely competitive retail sector, success extends beyond product selection, with an enhanced focus on customer empowerment and the digital shift reshaping dynamics. Ecommerce leaders prioritise innovative strategies focused on customer relationship management (CRM), loyalty enhancement, and personalised experiences. 

The post-pandemic landscape underscores the critical need for seamless integration of these strategies, as retailers strive to engage, delight, and retain customers amidst evolving expectations. In this environment, sustained success hinges on building lasting customer connections and meeting the demands of an ever-evolving market shaped by ecommerce, social media, and mobile shopping trends. 

Navigating the new retail landscape

The pandemic accelerated the shift to online shopping, resulting in a surge in digital customers. This has created a cultural shift in consumer habits that requires brands to focus on retaining consumers that have a preference for digital convenience. With m-commerce predicted to constitute 40.4% of ecommerce sales in 2024, a mobile-first website design is essential. In the hyper-competitive landscape, brands must navigate a content-saturated environment by orchestrating a comprehensive marketing strategy across online, offline, and social media channels. Success lies in standing out amidst the noise, capturing attention, and driving conversions in a market shaped by evolving consumer behaviours and the lasting impact of the digital transformation.

The foundation of customer engagement is in CRM

While the fundamentals of CRM remain constant – understanding customer behaviour and communicating at the right time with the right message – the evolution of channels and data analytics has opened new opportunities to understand customer journeys.

Traditional calendar-based marketing has given way to data-driven personalisation, allowing brands to tailor communication based on individual preferences and behaviours. The focus has shifted from one-off transactions to building long-lasting customer loyalty.

Loyalty programs are the cornerstone of customer retention and advocacy. Brands like Boots, with their simple and effective Advantage Card, offer immediate rewards for customer spending, demonstrating the power of data-driven loyalty strategies.

Effective loyalty programs should provide a range of rewards, from discounts and points to exclusive experiences, catering to diverse customer preferences and driving repeat purchases. Simplicity and ease of participation are crucial for maximising engagement.

Personalise to lock in customer satisfaction and retention

Personalisation is an expectation for modern consumers, so brands that fail to deliver it risk losing customers. By implementing robust marketing preference centres, brands empower customers to self-segment based on their communication preferences, preferred channels and product interests.

ASOS’s next best product model exemplifies the power of data-driven personalisation, predicting customer future purchases to deliver highly relevant product recommendations. However, achieving effective personalisation requires a delicate balance with customer privacy.

As privacy concerns grow, brands must strike a balance between personalisation and respecting customer privacy. Obtaining explicit user consent for tracking and being transparent about data usage are essential steps in this process.

As privacy policies continue to tighten, organisations should embrace alternative tracking methods, such as contextual analysis and behavioural signals to provide personalised experiences without compromising customer privacy.

A seamless brand experience brings it all together

In today’s omnichannel environment, customers expect a consistent brand experience across all touchpoints. Aligning messaging and branding, synchronising customer data and optimising websites and apps for various devices are crucial for delivering a seamless experience.

The retail landscape will continue to evolve and successful brands will be those that embrace CRM, prioritise personalisation and navigate the challenges with a customer-centric approach. By leveraging data effectively, maintaining a consistent brand message across all channels and respecting privacy, ecommerce marketers can build lasting relationships with their customers in this dynamic environment and achieve sustainable growth.