Digital and retail marketing trends: 2012 is the year of…

So here we are…the start of another year.  Having settled back in to the swing of things after a much needed festive break, we’ve looked back on the events of 2011 to make our (slightly belated!) predictions for the key digital marketing and retail trends of 2012.

So here goes…


Mobile integration into multichannel retail:
While marketers have been proclaiming it to be the “year of mobile” for as long as I can remember, 2011 was perhaps the year when this was actually realised.

We saw a significant increase in the numbers of retailers integrating mobile tactics into their multichannel campaigns in 2011.  Most recently we saw John Lewis trialling QR codes in Waitrose window displays across various UK locations (Brighton included) to promote their click and collect service.

2012 will see more effective mobile integration into online and offline marketing campaigns as brands really start joining the digital dots, breaking down the silos between those channels to deliver seamless customer experiences.  As the penetration of smartphone use grows, mobile optimisation of websites, multichannel promotions and campaigns redeemable across social, mobile and print have to be the norm for forward thinking brands by the end of 2012.

It is also the responsibility of genuinely consultative digital agencies to de-mystify mobile for their clients and ensure investments are made when the right ‘tipping point’ has been reached. For example, we are typically seeing 10% of traffic to our clients’ sites coming from mobile devices. Comparing conversion rates between desktop and mobile visitors enables us to quickly calculate approximate losses in mobile revenue due to the lack of a mobile optimised site or application, which in turn helps build a business case for investment.

Social commerce:
If brands operating in the retail space aren’t already thinking about how they can enable customers to purchase via their social media channels then we’d argue they are already behind the curve.  The easier you make it for your customers to research, consider and purchase your products, regardless of the channel (website, mobile, social media, etc), the better it’s going to be for your sales figures.

We’re working with our clients on a variety of simple social applications to encourage sales via social channels.  Wary brands don’t need to commit to full Facebook shopping functionality immediately, but by starting to capture data, encourage honest reviews, have customer service teams communicating to customers via social channels and enabling social sharing once purchases are made, we can start more accurately demonstrating how social can have a measureable effect on the bottom line.

Genuinely putting the customer at the heart of your strategy:
With budgets inevitably squeezed in 2012, maximising return on investment from every activity is more vital than ever. As well as scrutinising every penny spent, 2012 also needs to be the year where you genuinely put the customer at the heart of everything you do.

Only if brands understand what their target audience genuinely care about, what media they consume, channels they use, how they want to interact with the brand and how they perceive the brand online and offline, can a digital marketing strategy reach its potential.

We’ve noticed an increase in our clients signing off customer insight projects during Q4 last year to refresh their understanding of their customers so that, in turn, their digital marketing strategy and tactical execution is relevant, compelling and effective as possible.

In recent years there’s been an explosion in brands getting excited about digital and allowing some creative hotshot agencies to convince them to throw vast sums of budget at a potentially great, but untried, idea – often without robust objectives, KPIs and measurement tools in place. These days are over – 2012 is going to be the year when brands invest time and money to ensure they truly understand their target audience, their most profitable customers and the lifetime value of those customers.  In turn, every digital activity will become more accountable. If it fails to increase customer acquisition, average order values or repeat business, it will be thrown out. Digital marketing will become genuinely targeted, executed and evaluated based on much greater focus on the customer.

For me, a happy client with a double-digit sales increase from activity we’ve delivered is more exciting and rewarding than a night out at a creative awards ceremony!  This is not to say we shun creativity, far from it! But creativity needs to be balanced with commerciality.

Delivering cross channel ROI and measuring the impact of online activity to offline sales:
It’s becoming increasingly important for brands to demonstrate how a digital tweak here, can have a positive impact in offline sales there.

In 2011, we significantly expanded our tracking and sales attribution tool set. In one case, we’ve worked with a client to integrate call tracking software into the multichannel attribution software we use.  This has helped the client gain a full 360 view of the impact each of their marketing channels plays in the research and consideration phases of their customer buying journey. Tracking the relationship between online and offline sales has meant that we have been able to measure how online activity influences offline sales with some really exciting results.

As marketing budgets comes under more scrutiny, combining offline and online data to build a more accurate view of customer behaviour and importantly, accurately attribute sales to their respective marketing channel, is going to be vital in 2012. This will help brands better understand their most productive marketing channels so they can take a flexible approach to their wider marketing budget and siphon budgets into channels that are genuinely making a difference to sales.

That’s what we think 2012 has in store. What about you?

Leave a reply

What do you think? Please leave a comment below

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *