The pressure of the holidays on commerce merchants to reach the widest audience possible can result in failed targeting and segmentation plans, an increase in batch and blast email campaigns, plus discounts and blanket promotions. They can do better.
In our latest Get to Know interview, I spoke with Evan Britten-Bozzone, Director of Strategy at Bluecore. He discussed why it's more important than ever to connect data to personalize messages, drive commerce conversions, compete with Amazon, and what he thinks is next in retail marketing.
Bluecore's prebuilt integration with Oracle Commerce Cloud gets retailers up and running quickly with Bluecore's decisioning platform to increase relevancy and sales from email and other marketing channels.
1. How does Bluecore help eCommerce marketers convert more effectively and provide a better experience for their customers?
Commerce marketers are concerned because the retail industry is facing the biggest disruption it’s seen in decades. We’re helping them turn this into an opportunity to redefine the customer experience by using data science to drive personalization, make smarter decisions, and dynamically respond to customer demands in real-time. This supports our core mission to help eCommerce organizations discover their best customers and keep them for life.
2. What does Bluecore do and what makes you unique?
Bluecore collects and combines customer identity data, product catalog, and onsite behaviors in order to generate retail triggers and personalize audiences for marketing communications.
We also provide deep insights into those audiences by identifying things like audience health, customers’ likelihood to take certain actions, potential lifetime value and the channels where marketers can reach different customers. Most importantly, we make this easy for marketers to put into action with no technical skills required.
One of the unique things about Bluecore is that we specialize in retail with everything we do geared toward commerce. We collect data and layer intelligence on top. This specificity allows our platform to make deep, targeted decisions that align with the goals of retail marketing teams.
3. Email is still a key marketing channel, but it’s increasingly difficult to get subscribers to engage. How can marketers make email more effective and how it can complement other digital channels?
It’s important to remember that personalization isn’t one-size-fits-all. It’s not enough to regurgitate information like customer name and birthday. You also need to use what you know about them based on actions they’ve taken, such as how they’ve engaged with your website, your emails, or both. Starting there, you can infer which products they might have an affinity towards and use that knowledge to create a value-add experience.
There are several ways to integrate this personalized email marketing strategy across other channels. For instance, if you identify someone with a high likelihood to unsubscribe from email communications, don’t send them email. Instead, target them on Facebook or through search. Learn how customers interact with your email and website to build high value customers and then use paid media like social to drive lookalike acquisition strategies.
4. Why do retailers struggle with loyalty today? What can marketers can do to turn that around?
Increasing loyalty is all about improving the customer experience. Even if you have a great product at a great price point, it’s hard to attract and retain loyal customers if you have a subpar customer experience.
There’s a lot involved in turning one-time buyers into repeat buyers, or even getting repeat buyers to keep repeating. Marketers should be thinking about which other products their customers might like. When might they want to buy them? How often would they want to buy them? Never stop asking questions or experimenting about what you should recommend, what will add value to their lives and when is the best time to do so.
5. What are the key opportunities for retailers right now?
Two of the biggest ones are 1) developing a plan to co-exist with Amazon, and 2) re-thinking the best way to get in front of your customers.
Regarding Amazon, retailers need to accept the fact that Amazon isn’t going anywhere. Since most retailers don’t have the resources to compete against Amazon, they can develop a strategy to sell on Amazon, perhaps with a dedicated product line, or advertise on Amazon. The key is to recognize that it is possible to co-exist.
When it comes to getting in front of customers, retailers need to think much more about relevance. Not too long ago, reach was king -- the broader you could extend your message, the better. Today, reach still matters, but retailers need to layer in relevance. That means relentlessly identifying which customers are interested in which products, and using that knowledge to get the right products in front of those customers. Once retailers master that, they can begin to add channel decisions to the mix by narrowing in on the best places to reach individual customers. This shift is about maintaining and extending reach without sacrificing relevance. If you can still reach the same number of customers, or a smaller but highly profitable group of customers while still sending relevant messages to each one, that’s a big win.
6. What does the next generation of retail marketing look like? How will adding behavioral insights, data automation and AI help merchants?
Going forward, the typical marketer will worry less about the operational and executional aspects of campaigns and focus more on developing and iterating on newly defined strategies. Behavioral insights, data automation and AI will help marketers by handling a lot of the operational tasks and by making strategy development smarter.
Beyond helping marketers to be more strategic, insights, automation and AI will help eCommerce marketers bridge the gap with merchandisers. We’ve seen an ongoing struggle in those relationships. But the more data that can go into defining your marketing strategy and accounting for factors like inventory, the more we can bridge that gap. With these capabilities, the next generation will see merchandising and retail marketing working together much more closely.
7. Do you have any new cool features, products, or major initiatives that you can share with us?
We’re layering in data science and machine learning on top of the core data that we’ve collected all along to expand its use to other channels. Our major initiatives will revolve around using AI to help marketers define their strategies. We’re looking at how Bluecore’s existing commerce intelligence can identify new campaign opportunities, improve existing campaigns, strengthen our product recommendation algorithms, and most importantly, tie all of those activities to revenue projections for marketers to justify their efforts.
Additionally, we always aim to simplify the marketing workflow. Right now, that means bringing data into the Bluecore platform, streamlining workflows and syncing that data across the marketing stack for execution as seamlessly as possible.For more information about Bluecore’s prebuilt Oracle Commerce Cloud integration, take a look at Bluecore’s Marketplace listing here.
Check out our other Get to Know interviews with Oracle Commerce Cloud partners and find out more about other great solutions that help our merchants sell more effectively.