As consumers continue to adopt new digital devices and emerging social networks, the customer journey simultaneously becomes more complex.

Now more than ever, it's imperative that online retailers maintain a connection to their customers at every touchpoint to drive conversions, boost brand loyalty and increase revenue. Consumers are innately attracted to brands that consistently meet their purchase and customer support needs.

4 Strategies to Consider

It should come as no surprise that first impressions now are often digital. In fact, 52 percent of millennials said their first impression of a brand is digital, and 33 percent of consumers are first introduced to a brand through their smartphone, according to a recent survey.

In response, online retailers need to develop strong digital marketing strategies by determining the right distribution channels to reach target audiences, personalizing customer experiences, maintaining a consistent brand style and voice, and integrating omnichannel support.

Determine the Best Distribution Channels

The first step to authentic brand connections with customers in the digital landscape is determining the right distribution channel to reach your target audience.

User demographics differ across platforms and networks because each channel follows a different content format and approach to messaging. This means internet retailers need to identify where their customers are interacting with brands online and develop strategic messaging in varied content formats to reach the right customers with the most appealing content created specifically for that channel.

As an initial approach to strategic channel distribution, start by monitoring competitor content across online platforms and social media channels to understand how your customers want to interact digitally.

  • Are they interested in hearing about discounts and promotions?
  • Are they shopping for products with the intention to buy online or in-stores?
  • Are they seeking community feedback or other followers’ advice before making a decision?
  • Are they reaching out via social media with customer service issues?

The distribution strategy should align with the channel audience in a way that feels authentic for customers to engage with the brand digitally.

Personalize Customer Experiences

Once the distribution channel is matched with the right audience targets, the next step is creating channel-appropriate content to personalize customer experiences and drive meaningful engagement. Retail brands need to create emotional connections around content-rich experiences across online and offline touchpoints.

Personalized digital content offers a unique, authentic customer experiences that builds trust and strikes the ideal balance between transaction and emotion.

Rather than pushing promotional messaging at your customers, tailor the content based on their wants and needs to help audiences feel more connected to the brand. When customers engage with content created specifically for their own personal likes and interests, they are more likely to trust the brand and become loyal advocates.

It's also important to interact with online audiences after the initial point of digital engagement to continue building the relationship with the brand.

Proactively engaging with online audiences is crucial for establishing trust and meeting customer needs. By sharing special promotions, offering helpful feedback, responding to user comments and asking for product reviews, it makes your customers feel valued and connected to the brand.

After all, relationships are a two-way street and rarely last unless both parties are involved and engaged.

Consistency is Key

Digital is transforming the in-store experience for customers. Maintaining a consistent brand style and voice across channels helps create a more seamless online experience that also translates in stores. Increased levels of connectivity means consumers expect the same brand experience regardless of whether or not the interactions happen online or offline.

In fact, 71 percent of in-store shoppers who use smartphones for product or company research say their device has become more important to their in-store experience.

Brick-and-mortar is the foundation of omnichannel retailing. Extend your brand beyond the storefront by maintaining consistency across channels and keeping content timely and relevant for new and potential customers.

Integrate Omnichannel Support

Increased mobile connectivity and the growth of social media has created a variety of touch points across all phases of the customer lifecycle from product research to customer support. In a constantly changing digital landscape, retail brands need to be accessible to customers 24/7 in order to stay connected and maintain trust.

Some  64 percent of customers expect to receive real-time assistance regardless of the customer service channel they use, which means retailers must integrate omnichannel support strategies throughout the entire customer journey.

Brand awareness, product research, purchase consideration, conversions and post-purchase customer service are all accessible consumer touch points to increase brand visibility and boost sales providing the approach to engagement remains consistent.

Listen Up, Retailers

Retail brands must merge the digital experience with live interactions. Regardless of where you interact with you customers, creating personalized, omnichannel customer experiences is the key to building trust, fostering authentic connections, boosting loyalty and driving business revenue.

Title image by Abigail Keenan