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Why brick-and-mortar retailers must get going with marketing automation

Do you run any brick-and-mortar stores? With actual shopping windows and shelves with tangible products? No better way to lure customers to your high street shop than to engage them in online dialogue. What will keep them from browsing at your place and buying online somewhere else? We would like to bust a few myths.

Joz Van Acker -

Comparison image between brick and mortar stores and webshops

No-one walking a high street can have failed to notice. Nor could anyone with a computer or a smartphone have. Marketing automation has turned the retail industry upside down in recent years, and this shake-up is far from over. Online shopping boomed while one after another high street retailer went bust. But is it really that black-and-white?

The ‘fun day out shopping’ is far from dead. In fact, the new kings of online shopping are opening brick-and-mortar stores left, right and centre. Does that spell the end for the traditional brick-and-mortar retailer? Or will they be able to strike back? The answer is a resounding yes – and this paying back the online giants at their own game. A brick-and-mortar retailer commiting to marketing automation will be able to get a step ahead of their online competition.

Let’s first put an end to a myth or two.

‘There are online and offline customers.’

Nothing could be further from the truth. Customers have become multichannel in their buying behaviour as well as in communication and interaction. They will buy in a store today, and online tomorrow, whatever suits them best at the time. Customers will choose online and then maybe go shopping – or have missing sizes delivered at home. They will read email and engage in social medial, their smartphone always at the ready. Consumers are online anytime, any place, anywhere.

Am I not communicating with my customers by having a website and sending out newsletters!’

Online communication is more than just having a website and a newsletter. The internet allows consumers to be proactive instead of passive, they are no longer waiting for brands and stores to share their information with the world. Consumers require omni-channel communication – which means reaching out to each customer at the right time, via the channel they happen to be using with information that is relevant to them only.

‘My company has a message to sell so I will shout it from the rooftop.’

Today’s consumer is deaf to communications by megaphone. So we need to stop one-way traffic to the customer and engage in dialogue. A true, hyper-personalized dialogue, offering a tailored message to every individual. That way we will stop irritating people by sending them emails trying to sell products they just bought.

‘Our marketing department has its hands full preparing emails, commercials and social ads!’

A waste of time – marketers should devote as little time as possible to actually executing a campaign. Instead, they should be creating a better customer experience stimulating them into buying more, and more often. In order to free your marketers from the tedious work of execution you should automate the bulk of your communications.

What is the solution to all this?

The average retailer will have nice shops with fun products, with a smart-looking webshop. But every vehicle needs an engine – marketing automation is that engine. What will marketing automation allow you to do?

Swift targeted communications through a multitude of channels

Sending an email newsletter to a selected group of customers? That will take just a few clicks to compose, based on buying behaviour (RFM) and engagement (such as websurfing behaviour and email clicks). A template will allow you to create amazing newsletters in no time at – newsletters that will look great on all devices. They are sent out in a matter of seconds, and their contents are automatically tailored to the customers’ preferences and the moment they will read them.

Automated processes

The amount of processes suitable for fully automated handling is mind-boggling – emails with birthday congratulations, churn management, retargeting messages, a welcoming programme, a loyalty programme, you name it.

Campaign and customer insights

marketing automation will serve you with the real numbers regarding the effectivity of your campaigns – how did customers react to your communications (clicks) and what were the results (sales)? Armed with these insights you can then influence your customers’ behaviour, for instance as soon as they start changing their buying pattern.

A true measure of your campaigns and customer journeys

No company is the same, but it’s a rule of thumb that most companies are able to get a full return on investment with just a few automated campaigns. Depending on industry and brand awareness marketing automation will increase sales by 5% to 20%. But more importantly, what share of the market will you lose to online and other offline competitors when you don’t adapt?

And finally – a more creative marketing department

Why would you still rate a marketer’s quality on targets such as ‘sending out two emails today’? The real marketer’s job is coming up with meaningful marketing strategies and thinking of creative ways to seduce your customers and prospects. It will make their work more fun and will offer your company the future it deserves.


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Joz Van Acker
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DMI Belgium