The three Rs of retail marketing

Topic: Retail

Retail Marketing
It was my first day at Esendex in 2011 when I came across the three Rs:

  • Right Message
  • Right Time
  • Right Person

This became my business mantra and five years later, it’s just as important. The difference is that we now have the tools and channels to give us a deeper insight into the behaviour of customers, and so we can – and should – be more on point than ever.
In retail, the smartphone has changed everything. We can book a summer holiday while enduring a rainy Monday commute; we can pay bills in front of the TV, and do the weekly food shop on our lunchbreak for delivery that evening.
In short, we can buy almost anything, any time, in any place: a completely ‘on demand’ experience that’s light years away from the shopping experience of a decade ago.
Similarly, marketing to your customers by sending a ‘one size fits all’ message is not enough, now, to compete in retail. The three Rs illustrated the basic requirement to understand your customers, but must evolve to meet the needs of today’s consumers.

The evolution of the three Rs

Right Message = right content

You may have heard the anecdote about an American supermarket inadvertently alerting a teenager’s father to her pregnancy…? Her changing shopping habits had prompted them to send out promotional material specific to expectant mothers, which he saw, confronted his daughter with, and found out that she was indeed in the family way.
It’s an extreme example but retailers like Amazon have proved that the more tailored a promotion, the greater the adoption. Obviously, a campaign about Kobe beef sent to vegetarians isn’t going to fly!
Your easy sources of customer data range from the obvious – purchase history – to tracing which pages they’ve visited on your website, which offers they’ve clicked through from your email campaigns, and the contents of wish lists.

Right Time = *their* time

Do you read promotional messages as soon as you receive them? Of course it depends where you are, what you’re doing, what time it is etc. – and these are all elements that retailers need to be aware of when scheduling content.
Even if you don’t know in advance when customers are most likely to engage with your message (reading it, clicking through etc.), you can experiment by sending your promotion at different days and times to segments of your database, and see which performs the best.
We’ve seen some of our customers achieve double figure uplifts in campaign engagement simply from moving a mid-afternoon message to a lunchtime message – so a continuous programme of testing, analysis and improvement should be at the centre of your engagement strategy,

Right Person = treating customers as individuals

Easy if you have a small number of customers, of course, but you need to be able to scale up and automate the selection of the right promotion for the right person. To do this you need to start collecting data and identifying trends.
If 100 customers who purchased x also purchased y, it’s worth sending a message to everyone who purchases x and doesn’t purchase y to suggest that they might like to.
If a particular demographic of customers (age, location, gender) proved more likely to engage with a text message promotion than an email, it’s worth adopting a mobile-first strategy to all customers who meet that same criteria.
Once upon a time, these sort of tactics were the preserve of the most successful companies, but now, business intelligence of this sort is built into almost every communications platform. You can start small – simply by testing different times of day for example – but the important thing is to *start* at all.
Learn more about Esendex’s communication solutions for retailers.