Online and offline marketing techniques will be working hand-in-hand to help retailers through 2010, according to Kevin Rice, UK managing director for online lead generation agency Clash-Media, who explains how economic challenges have shaped consumer spending and changed retailers' marketing strategies during the recession.
The internet has for several years been the average shopper's first place to try to 'bag a bargain'. Today - and perhaps more so now than ever - consumers want to make sure they are getting the lowest price or the best value for money before they make almost any purchase.
As consumers are getting smarter about their shopping choices and habits, retailers are having to make sure they are thinking more innovatively to get their brand out in front of consumers, or risk losing out to more active competitors. It is also true to say that retailers are very aware that they have more cross-selling and up-selling opportunities when the customer is actually in-store.
So how can retailers encourage customers to spend money with them, and then again, and again? First, and quite wisely so, most retailers have maintained their marketing budgets. In 2009, budgets remained a top priority for marketers because every penny was being highly scrutinised from above. Investment in performance-driven marketing strategies increased in 2009, according to research firm E-Consultancy, with 61% of marketing spend now being made online (compared to 51% in 2008).
Retailers are working on the checkout process, and not only the online checkout. In fact, we have recently seen some retailers using their online presence to drive the customer into their bricks-and-mortar stores. In 2009 there was a dramatic increase in the use of vouchers and promotional codes by retailers (either redeemable online or in-store), encouraging the all-important 'footfall' in stores, which brings with it the chance to cross-sell and up-sell.
At the same time, new techniques in online lead generation are enabling retailers to target offers at the most appropriate potential customers, thereby increasing the effectiveness of both online vouchers and promotion codes. And, because it is supported by sophisticated technology that also allows the precise measurement of returns, online lead generation can also help marketers demonstrate the ROI of these promotional activities.
Retailers' are going to have to work even harder in 2010 and beyond to continue making their offline and online marketing efforts work together to increase footfall in stores. While online sales are a good thing, getting people through the doors is also important because customers often come face-to-face with other products of interest - something that can seldom be achieved effectively with a faceless online transaction.