While the rise of automation will affect roles across the retail sector, the best marketing strategies will combine data with human insight.

Deloitte’s prediction that another 2.1 million jobs in retail and wholesale have a “high chance” of being automated has put automation firmly into the “enemy” camp for many retail employees.

However, when it comes to marketing, automation can help retailers stand out from the crowd and deliver a first-class customer experience.

“When it comes to marketing, automation can help retailers stand out from the crowd and deliver a first-class customer experience”

Ol Janus, OgilvyOne

The majority of retailers have invested, or are about to invest, in some form of marketing automation technology.

The problem is that many of them believe that once they have bought the piece of technology, received training on it and had their data input into the systems, the tech will answer all of their engagement issues.

But the technology itself isn’t a silver bullet and while having the right tech is important on its own, this just gives brands the opportunity to automate their marketing when what they need to remain competitive is smart automation.

Core customer

Once a retailer is clear on what its objectives are when using automated marketing technology and ensuring the right talent is in place to implement it, there are three core elements that will help retail brands take their efforts to the next level.

Firstly, retailers should combine all of the data available to build a comprehensive profile of who their customer is and what they want.

Once a retailer has established who their marketing needs to speak to and why, they can identify how you need to talk to them.

Data can provide the raw information on this, but it will take human involvement to shape this into a full profile.

From there, using automated marketing technology enables retailers to send shoppers relevant and convenient marketing messages through a variety of channels.

Enhanced experience

Secondly, retail marketers should focus on creating rich and engaging content for online shoppers, ensuring they have seamless, dynamic content and experiences that hold the attention of the customer and engage them, rather than offering a purely transactional experience.

“Retailers should create a content bank that enables them to make the most of the insight and personalisation opportunities”

Ol Janus, OgilvyOne

Retailers should create a content bank that enables them to make the most of the insight and personalisation opportunities their data offers.

Finally, retailers should design customer journeys to enhance the retail experience for shoppers.

Marketing automation tools provide retail brands with an unrivalled opportunity to create multichannel experiences.

Identifying insight

However, failing to map out the actions and reactions to every potential interaction a customer could have with a brand will diminish both the experience and the number of customers who return.

For most retailers, technology partners will be key to bringing about changes in marketing automation. If a tech supplier isn’t able to identify insights from a retailer’s data and advise it on how to shape its strategy as a result, then it isn’t the right partner.

From the basics of how to alter the customer journey through to the more complicated challenge of re-engineering the business to support the new approach, partners should be guiding retailers in their marketing offer.

If they are not then they, and not the automation technology itself, should be the enemy.

  • Ol Janus is head of data at OgilvyOne