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Trends we’ve identified from the 2023 Chicago Retail Summit

Dive into the key trends from the 2023 Chicago Retail Summit as we explore the power of personalization, embracing AI, and understanding shifting consumer expectations.
Attendees at the 2023 Chicago Retail Summit

The 2023 Chicago Retail Summit is an annual event in Chicago, IL that brings together influential retail executives, industry suppliers, and solution providers to discuss the latest trends and strategies in the retail world. With a focus on digital disruption, analytics, customer experience, and emerging trends, the summit is a vital source of knowledge-sharing and insights. Let’s delve into some significant takeaways from this year’s event.

Personalization: who, what, when, where, why

Customers nowadays are extremely aware of traditional marketing and sales tactics. Generic batch and blast messaging should be considered a thing of the past with personalization strategies now producing the best results. Personalization can apply to several different areas in your marketing plans. This may include utilizing dynamic content in your messages based on specific data points about your contacts or creating fully customized strategies for distinct customer persona groups.

It’s important to analyze your customers and subscribers to fully understand their wants, needs, preferences, and interests to effectively communicate with them and deliver the right message at the right time to the right person.

Listen to your contacts’ interests and anticipate their needs by using dynamic content based on zeroparty data they’ve provided or order data to showcase content they’re interested in such as product types, categories, and attributes. For example, let’s say you sell clothing and shoes online. You can segment your customers by climate regions based on first-party order data and promote products that pertain to their current climate. 

Customers who live in a warm, coastal climate most likely aren’t going to be regularly interested in apparel and shoes such as winter jackets and snow boots. The relevancy of your marketing content is key to boosting engagement and return on investment (ROI) over time. 

An important step in strategizing your marketing plans is determining who you want to target to receive the messages you are sending. Using subscriber data is key to implementing a personalized approach to your marketing activities in Dotdigital. 

Create and send to segments based on the data you have stored such as age, geolocation, customer persona characteristics, purchasing frequency, purchase location (in-store, online, social commerce), predicted churn rate, expressed preferences, survey response data, the list could go on and on. The personalization possibilities are endless and can be very simple to implement into your current and future marketing strategies.

Using artificial intelligence to achieve business goals

Artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t anything new, and it’s definitely not going away anytime soon. So, it’s important to understand the practical applications of AI tools you have at your fingertips that can help you achieve business goals, boost conversions, and operational efficiencies. 

Dotdigital’s WinstonAI is a fantastic example of cutting-edge marketing intelligence. We’ve integrated predictive algorithms, state-of-the-art machine learning models, generative AI, persona analysis, data enrichment and more within the platform to empower marketers with AI-powered insights and analytics, captivating content creation, and optimized communications. 

Utilizing AI-powered insights and analytics in your marketing plans and sending strategy can be crucial in the goal of sending the right message at the right time to the right person. Our predictive analytics segmentation tools give you real-time data to create segments and trigger messages based on churn probability, predicted customer lifetime value (CLV), predicted number of upcoming purchases, and predicted next order date. These segmentation tools make it quick and easy to understand where your customers are in the customer lifecycle, target customers with high churn risk and give an attractive offer, reward predicted VIP brand loyalists, and more. 

Generative AI can be beneficial in many ways, a big one being operational efficiency. WinstonAI’s subject line and email campaign assistant helps marketers unleash their creativity by offering subject line and campaign suggestions to create content that is engaging and drives conversions.

WinstonAI offers comprehensive assistance in your copywriting process, providing accurate grammar and spelling checks. This ensures that your marketing campaign’s copy is error-free and frees up time that would otherwise be spent on manual content review processes. With all of these tools combined, you can be confident in your marketing effectiveness, experience increased team autonomy, and let the data-driven results do all the talking. 

AI tools can be extremely helpful in streamlining processes and assisting in idea generation but it’s important to note the constant need for human review. Training generative AI tools, like our subject line and campaign assistant, is an important step in using this type of technology. Generative AI learns from and adapts to the information you feed it so the more feedback you give it, the better it will understand your prompted needs going forward. 

Shifts in consumer expectations

The direct-to-consumer (DTC) playbook of the past 5-10 years has completely shifted. We now have numerous communication channels, and various paths to purchase, and consumers now have more information at their fingertips than ever before, significantly increasing the level of competition. That’s why it’s important that you understand your consumer’s preferences at every point in the customer lifecycle to create an exceptional customer experience. 

Dotdigital’s Marketing Strategist, Brianna Martinez, spoke on a panel with other marketing experts about digital and cross-channel strategies to amplify your brand where they discussed the importance of analyzing your customer base in order to successfully market your brand.

To produce the best experience, you must fully understand who your customers are. Dive deep into your analytical platforms and pull information that you can use to personify and envision your customers or groups of customers to better communicate and provide an experience that they enjoy. Then, dive into researching consumer shopping habits and online behavior characteristics on those persona groupings to begin learning about how they shop and interact with brands before making a purchase.

By building your marketing plans with your brand’s customer personas in mind, you can create an enjoyable, seamless, personalized, cross-channel experience. Here are 6 analytical data points to look for when beginning to develop your customer personas:

1. Demographical analytics

It’s important to examine your audience’s age in depth to gain a better understanding of their behavior. By dividing demographics into generations, you can investigate online shopping patterns that vary by age group. Additionally, analyzing gender-specific data can provide a more comprehensive understanding of your target audience’s interest in the product categories offered by your brand.

2. Location-based data

Location-based data refers to information gathered about a customer’s location, such as their city, state, or zip code. This data plays an important role in developing effective marketing strategies that cater to the specific needs of customers in each region. By understanding their unique climate and location, businesses can tailor their products and services to meet the needs of their customers better. Analyzing location-based data on a country level can also help businesses identify preferred languages, cultural values, and regional expectations, which can further enhance their marketing approach.

3. Device usage

It’s important to keep track of how your audience uses different devices such as mobiles, tablets, and desktops. This helps ensure that your website and digital marketing designs cater to all users. Analyzing this breakdown can significantly improve the overall user experience (UX), making it an essential component of your marketing strategy.

4. Conversion rate data by channel

In today’s customer journey, there are numerous paths to purchase, ranging from email and SMS to social commerce, direct website, or in-app checkout experiences. It’s important to understand where your customers are buying from your brand, how valuable those commerce channels are to your business, and the experience that goes along with them. By doing so, you can improve your strategy by identifying and promoting the preferred paths to purchase and providing relevant communication based on those channels at the right times.

5. Traffic sources

By monitoring the channels driving traffic to your website, you can identify new points of acquisition and understand what communication channels your consumers prefer. Additionally, taking note of other websites and social media sources that direct traffic to your brand can provide valuable insights into your target audience’s interests, preferences, and behaviors.

6. Google Analytics “interests” or“affinity categories

Google Analytics (GA4) offers a user interests section that provides valuable information on your website visitors based on their online journeys and purchasing activities. This data encompasses hobbies, entertainment preferences, and other interest categories like banking, outdoor activities, shopping, DIY, news, politics, and more. By utilizing these insights, you can develop a more comprehensive understanding of the content that will resonate best with your audience.

A personalized cross-channel approach is an important strategy because the everyday consumer is extremely aware of typical marketing and sales tactics. Batch and blast messages are a thing of the past and generic content is irrelevant to most consumers. With this personified, 360-degree view of your customers, you can tailor your marketing to deliver the right message (containing the right content), to the right person at the right time. 

Reflecting on the 2023 Chicago Retail Summit

The 2023 Chicago Retail Summit provided valuable insights and takeaways for retail professionals who want to stay ahead in today’s competitive market. By participating in events like these and engaging in conversations, our team members are better equipped with the latest news, trends, and insights. This knowledge empowers us to assist marketers using the Dotdigital platform and ensure continuous growth and success in the ever-evolving retail industry.

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