2018: The Year of Experimentation in Marketing

Contemporary marketers have an unprecedented amount of customer data at their fingertips. From their browsing history, to shopping habits and personal style, marketers can obtain a great deal of data that simply wasn’t possible before. As technology continues to grow, businesses should take the customer experience to the next level by leveraging the data available for experimentation.

Simply put, customers are no longer content with receiving just a purchased product. Rather, there are increasing expectations for retailers to provide a holistic shopping experience for customers, both online and in store. In order to meet such customer expectations, brands need to experiment with new technologies so as to enhance the overall experience.

Examples of physical and digital marketing experimentations are already commonplace. From demonstrations of augmented reality (AR) to virtual assistants and stylists, retailers are evidently preparing for this next phase of customer engagement. With smartphones now delivering the majority of mobile transactions in every major market, this is another key platform that marketers need to pay attention to.

The rise of experimentation tools

Recent research has projected augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to hit a revenue of $120 billion by 2020. As these technologies become more mainstream, the challenge is for marketers to integrate them effectively while attracting customers at the same time. Many brands have already started experimenting on this front with the likes of Sephora’s Virtual Artist app, acting as a virtual makeup mirror for its users.

While it can be easy to dismiss such trends as technological novelties, there’s a clear indication that customers are interested in interacting with AR for retail. According to a recent report, 71 percent of consumers would shop more frequently at retailers that offer AR, while 61 percent would prefer to shop at stores that offer AR over ones that don’t.

With this in mind, here are a few things to consider when looking to experiment with new technologies:

Adopt a data-based approach

The first step when looking to introduce new technologies – such as AR and VR – into your business is to revisit your existing customer data. At the end of the day, they should be additional tools for marketers to promote engagement with current and potential customers. As such, look at the ways your customers interact with your brand and explore ways to enrich this further with experimentation.

Being data driven is a practice that cannot be understated. A recent Intelligence Report from Telstra found a clear disparity between what customers want and what small businesses are delivering. Despite the clear trend towards embracing digital technology, retailers are hesitant to close the gap and still have legacy views on customer interaction. For example, three quarters of small businesses indicated that they prefer to engage face-to-face, while this method of communication was preferred only by a third of customers.

Encourage experimentation in-store and online

It’s important to consider that any type of innovation from your end will be a new experience for customers. Encourage consumers to engage with experimentation through campaigns that highlight new features and the possible benefits, and whether they prefer to shop online or in-store.

Take, for example, Topshop’s Kinect Dressing Rooms which enables shoppers to try on their purchases quickly and easily. Approaching this new type of technology would be daunting for customers, so it’s essential to provide the necessary information that encourages seamless interaction.

Consider email campaigns that demonstrate how new features like this can be used, allowing the user to engage with the platform at their own convenience. What’s more, linking emails directly to customised landing pages is key in fostering user engagement.

As more and more retailers seek to engage customers with new technologies, it’s important to remember that these innovations are a means to an end. Beyond its sparkling exterior, AR is simply another tool to relate and connect with consumers. Subsequently, marketers need to align themselves with customer expectations by utilising the data they already have.

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