Consumers are more connected now than ever before, leaving a huge opportunity for brands to be engaging with, and more notably, collecting data on their audiences. As consumers’ expectations evolve toward a more integrated experience, it is critical that retail marketers offer ways for customers to engage and shop when, where and how they like.

So how does a marketer provide a true cross-channel experience? Data from our recent report reveals a few things marketers should consider before mapping out their next cross-channel marketing plan.

Content reigns as king

Today’s consumers look for relevant, high-value content that moves consistently and expects you to be with them at that same moment.

Today, content is a top priority and is at the core of leading enterprise retailers’ marketing.  As multichannel content strategies develop, the vast majority of these retailers have an increased need for content versus the previous year.

The majority of retailers (59 percent) claim their need for content has increased significantly over the past year, while another 33 percent claim there has been at least some increase. This means 92 percent of retailers have seen an increase in their need for content, the vast majority of which have seen those needs increase significantly.

Retailers are adapting by using external resources for creating content. Those resources may be creative as well as supportive tools for managing content. And so, with the right management and content creation tools, retailers can look to their marketing channels and begin meeting customer’s demands at every touchpoint.

High-quality content and evolving personalization go hand in hand throughout the customer journey. Enterprise retailers are successfully personalizing shopping experiences across multiple channels. However, enterprise retailers’ responses are less positive when compared to their performance promoting brand and product content.

Personalization, as a result of data collection, leads to the best consumer-facing content. This means that the expectation for higher quality content has increased along with it, as consumers are looking to be inspired by brands.

Digital dollars are worth the spend

Understanding how enterprise retailers are acquiring and applying their customer data begins with a look at their marketing spends. When it comes to allocating marketing budget in 2017, most marketers see budgets spent on SEO and SEM, or email marketing. Fifty five percent of enterprise retailers rank SEO and SEM as their first or second highest spend. Email marketing is also a high contributor to marketing spend with 43 percent of marketers ranking it first or second highest.

According to the report, channels through which data can be neither significantly acquired nor applied represent the lowest spends among retailers. So, as part of their marketing budgets, retailers prioritize digital channels through which intelligent data can be both measured and implemented effectively.

Ultimately, digital investments provide the most amount of data to retail marketers and provide the retailer with the most control when it comes to targeting specific audiences. The result: smarter marketing and higher rates of success across channels.

Omnichannel is still the goal

Since retailers achieve better results across more of their channels when customers have a seamless experience across platforms, retailers must redesign their online buyer experience to optimize all channels to meet the demands of today’s customers.

Many retailers have developed their marketing mix with champion channels, but many retailers struggle to find equal levels of success across these channels. This perspective is largely due to the difficulty for marketers to adopt multi-attribution models.

More than half of retailers surveyed feel their websites’ and e-commerce performances are above average or excellent (56 percent and 54 percent respectively), largely due to the direct link between the channel and conversion, but despite these positive marks, an astounding 40 percent of respondents consider their omnichannel performance to be only average.

New research indicates that 40 percent of respondents consider their omnichannel performance to be only average.Click To Tweet

To stay ahead of the game, retailers must redesign their online buying experiences to optimize all channels and reflect that increasingly, consumers will visit them via multiple channels and devices. The goal is to provide a frictionless shopping experience. And as we found in the report, enterprise retailers are less confident in their ability to personalize content for shoppers across those same channels.

Now, more than ever, retailers’ key to success lies in a positive user experience across digital channels. Today’s brands need to be specialized, faster and more personalized to both encourage and inspire consumers. The future of retail exists in the relationships built as a result of connectivity of content and data.

To learn more, download the full report, here.

About the Author: Jeffery Parrish is the Director of Retail and Consumer Goods Strategy and Marketing for Aprimo.  He has a strong desire to understand how people think and make decisions, and the factors that influence those decisions. He continually helps many marketing organizations within large global brands cut through the marketing and operational noise. When he’s not doing that, he’s trying to entertain his rambunctious 6-year-old boxer, Bronx.