Today’s technology has given consumers unprecedented degrees of decision-making power when making a purchase. At no point in history have consumers held so much power over a brand: using technology to gain unparalleled insight into the buying process, consumers hold the power when it comes to purchase. However, consumers are not the only ones benefiting from their use of these digital tools; by leveraging their consumers’ use of data, brands can gain insights on their consumers for their own advantage.
By tracking behaviors and linking real-time data to traditional consumer data points, companies can better monitor, measure, and enhance customer engagement. In addition, brands also benefit from consumers’ use of new tools, such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and artificial intelligence (AI), allowing businesses to capitalize on digital data to create a new, interactive, and customized consumer experience. The culmination of this technology is not only unrivaled consumer insight, but a consumer expectation that their brand experience be tailored precisely for them. Brands less willing or able to pursue these resources will inevitably fall behind in what has become an analytical arms race.
So, what does customer tracking look like in 2018? We’re outlining four ways that brands can leverage customer tracking to their benefit. Through dynamic pricing models, augmented reality, and real-time behavior tracking, brands can stay ahead of competitors with concrete insights into customer behavior.
1. Pervasive Dynamic Pricing
Dynamic pricing is becoming more prevalent as companies attempt to adjust pricing not only daily, but hourly to expand sales, capture new customers, and spot reputational threats. With the advent of digital shopping tools, business are able to collect information on customers’ purchasing history, preferences, and financial resources in order to set prices according to customer needs. 22% of retailers have chosen to implement pricing intelligence software; with a 25% boost in profits on average, these businesses show that dynamic pricing is an established—and valuable—strategy for businesses.
While dynamic price adjustment is easier for online retailers, new technology like “smart shelves” seek to replicate the dynamic experience in a brick and mortar setting. Many European supermarkets, like Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, and Tesco have implemented smart shelves with digital price displays offering deals at different times of the day. Grocery research firm IGD found that four in 10 shoppers would be interested in receiving phone alerts promoting deals while they shop in-store, making smart shelves a viable opportunity for businesses interested in dynamic pricing.
2. The Prevalence of Augmented Reality
AR, the ability to integrate digital data into a real experience, is predicted to become an $117.4B industry by 2022. A fast growing marketing tool, companies across industries are harnessing this technology to engage with consumers—from virtual hotel tours to placements of home furnishings and vacation trip previews. Nearly 88% of mid-market companies are using AR as part of their marketing and promotion as it allows them to engage with consumers more directly and track their behavior and interests in detail.
Once considered science fiction, AR is being implemented by companies like Google and Apple through apps that identify objects by sight. For example, the Google Lens app allows consumers to more easily identify the products they need while informing the manufacturer of the potential sale—information that can help sellers offer real-time incentives based on location, past purchase history, and length of time in making the purchasing decision. By utilizing these tools, companies can enhance the live shopping experience of consumers and offer personalized buying incentives.
3. Consumer Impact on Brand and Reputation Skyrockets
The rise of online shopping will enable collective consumer opinion to quickly cripple a reputation as easily as it builds one up from nothing. As 92% of consumers trust peers’ reviews (versus 14% who trust advertising), the impact of negative or positive social media buzz can swiftly inflect the bottom line.
Social media can be advantageous to businesses and even promote sales and a positive brand presence. 38% of consumers will post about a positive experience with a brand or business, proving social media to be a beneficial and lucrative platform for businesses. To encourage positive posts, companies should focus on providing a stellar experience to its customers by customizing their approach. By understanding what customers do and do not like about a product or service, as well as their preferences, behavior, and channel choices, companies can provide customized experiences to customers—and benefit from those who choose to praise their brand online.
4. All-Source Data Integrated into Consumer Outreach and Analysis
By leveraging information pertaining to consumer demographics, purchasing patterns, behavior, and even individual personality, companies will be able to target omni-channel marketing campaigns. Omni-channel marketing is a step up from traditional multi-channel marketing, which focuses solely on allowing customers to shop through multiple platforms. As John Bowden, Senior VP of Customer Care at Time Warner Cable states, omni-channel marketing aims to “[orchestrate] the customer experience across all channels so that it is seamless, integrated, and consistent…simply put, omni-channel is multi-channel done right.”
These campaigns will be capable of reaching the shoppers most likely to make a purchase and limit resources spent on those less likely to do so. To update a multi-channel approach to an omni-channel one, businesses should utilize customer behavior data to understand how consumers interact with a product or service on various platforms, noting the areas where the strategy should be adjusted according to the platform. This approach can also help marketers understand its audience’s most-used online channels, promoting their brand where potential customers congregate.