1. Data & Insights

How Centralizing Data Can Help Retail Apps Overcome Industry-Wide Headwinds

Retailers are facing challenging times. A persistent pandemic, inflation, supply chain disruption, and competition from giants is forcing smaller and mobile-only retailers to get crafty to avoid slipping margins. On top of all this, mobile marketers are facing ecosystem changes around privacy that are making it harder to tailor messages to prospects and acquire new customers.

For retail app marketers, centralizing consumer and performance data can provide a long-term competitive edge. Achieving a single data-driven view of customers can help mobile marketers balance personalization with privacy by determining which prospects matter and how to reach them, even without personally identifiable information. They can then connect and calibrate marketing performance across channels.

But first, retailers need to take stock of data fragmentation challenges.

The Problem: Centralizing Customer and Performance Data

Today’s retailers have to make sense of customer data that’s walled off in various channels and technologies. Customer insights live siloed in social platforms, media partner clean rooms, CRMs, and other systems. Putting it all together is a formidable technical challenge.

The same applies to marketing performance. Marketers know that they can benefit from a halo effect — i.e., the capacity of spend on certain platforms and products to boost sales for complementary products or on other apps, platforms and channels. Yet when it comes to visualizing overall marketing performance, marketers are often limited to individual campaign metrics on given platforms or apps. This obscures the full view and leaves gains in efficiency on the table.

With a single view of their customers and marketing performance, smaller retail marketers can take advantage of their size to adjust spend swiftly. This can prove a competitive advantage against larger competitors with more dollars to spend, but also more roadblocks to clear. Here are two ways centralizing data can help retail marketers grow and improve return on investment.

Balancing User Targeting and Privacy

Marketers know they need to tailor creative to consumers to drive user acquisition and revenue. But that’s getting much more challenging at a time when privacy changes are making it harder to track individual users, especially across apps. Add in fraud, fragmentation and the impossibility of getting key performance indicators without large enough cohorts of users to analyze, and marketers risk a return to the days of spray-and-pray marketing.

However, centralizing data can flip the script, helping marketers understand performance and even achieve effective targeting without access to personally identifiable information. By leveraging ATT opted-in data side-by-side with SKAdNetwork data to paint a full picture, marketers can gain the insights needed to segment audiences according to metrics like lifetime value. Then they can target these segments with appropriate messaging and keep following the data to optimize for KPIs.

Key to this game of anonymized and predictive analytics is the ability to determine which KPIs signal users with high lifetime value, make that data available in one place, and optimize. Technologies like customer data platforms, data clean rooms, and analytics software can enable that view of customers and marketing performance, helping marketers figure out who their most valuable customers are and surfacing key insights to drive decisions that make a difference.

Connecting and Calibrating Performance Across Channels

Predictive analytics and privacy-safe insights can be a boon to retail marketers, but their utility is limited if they’re siloed, cookie-cutter or slow. Marketers should be able to integrate data from all channels and platforms into one dashboard to gain a single view of campaign performance. They should be able to customize their reports to extract the insights that matter most to their business. And they should get those insights in real time to facilitate speedy decisions.

Just five years ago, marketing was dominated by an ethos of maximalism. Marketers collected as much data as they could on customers and worried about sifting through it later. Now, marketing is moving to an emphasis on minimalism and, as opposed to collecting as much data as possible, generating the most powerful insights via the most streamlined process. Centralizing data is a key part of that puzzle.

Earlier this summer, Amazon.com racked up an estimated $12 billion in sales during Prime Day, following that up with a second Prime Day-like event, Prime Early Access Sale, in October. And retailers such as Target, Kohl’s, and Best Buy have been throwing their own early Black Friday sales events.

Between the intense competition from industry giants and macroeconomic and geopolitical events, smaller retailers have their work cut out for them. With centralized, timely and customizable analytics, marketers can make each ad dollar go further, maximizing ROI and spurring growth — even if a recession strikes or giants pump up the pressure.

Greg Wang is head of sales, North America at Adjust, the mobile marketing analytics platform.

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