Do you remember when the only retail marketing strategies and ways for consumers and retailers to communicate revolved around phone, post, or in person? Even if you do, many of your customers don't. Millennials barely remember a time before email, texting, and social media. Meanwhile, Generation Z grew up with smartphones in their hands and a variety of social media accounts.
Considering Gen Z has begun to join the workforce, they're about to have more than birthday money and allowance to spend, which means it's time to include them — and their preferred communication channels — in your retail marketing strategies.
So, how do you increase customer engagement and drive sales in a marketing landscape where you need to interact with several different generations — most of which now bounce from one communication channel to the next? That's where social media chatbots and other APIs for retail come in handy, enabling your brand to be engaging and responsive across all channels, all the time.
You Can't Please Everyone (or Can You?)
Every generation — and every individual in each generation — has their own preferred channels. When it comes to digital communication with brands, Gen Zs go for mobile apps, while Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers prefer email, according to Yes Lifecycle Marketing.
Still, don't count out social. Fifty percent of Millennials and 42 percent of Gen Z say they value social media as a marketing channel. And it's not just the young folks; nearly 20 percent of Boomers like social marketing, too.
Social media isn't just a place for shoppers to communicate with brands; it's also where they get inspiration for purchases. More than 80 percent of Gen Z and 74 percent of Millennials say social media influences their shopping, while 58 percent of Gen X and 41 percent of Baby Boomers say the same thing, reports Retail Dive.
So if your retail marketing strategies don't include a strong social media presence, you're missing opportunities to build customer relationships. You're also out of sight and out of mind when they're making important purchasing decisions.
How APIs Can Benefit Retail Marketing Strategies
You understand the importance of omnichannel retail marketing strategies. Even if you haven't heard about it for years, you have enough business experience (and common sense) to know that marketing is about getting your message in front of your audience and building customer relationships. Simply put, you go where they go.
However, while omnichannel marketing might be common sense, it's not a small undertaking. There are just so many digital channels: email, SMS, mobile apps, social. Of course, social media breaks down into a bunch of other channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and YouTube.
Engaging and responding to customers across all of those channels takes a lot of time and human resources — or just the right communications APIs.
Communications platform-as-a-service (CPaaS) lets you use developer-friendly APIs to embed real-time communication features (voice, video, text, and instant messaging) into your mobile apps, websites, and various social channels. That way, your team really can be everywhere at once.
Imagine: a customer reads about your products on a friend's Instagram page and wants to learn more. She visits your page and likes what she sees, but she's got some questions about the product extensions and isn't sure which item would be best for her. With one click, she can initiate a conversation with a brand representative, get answers and personalized recommendations, and complete her purchase — all without ever leaving the social network.
Of course, you know who's really good at answering questions and making personalized recommendations? Chatbots.
Omnichannel marketing is a big job. Why not let machines do the heavy lifting?
Chatbots at Checkout
There are times when customers will want to talk to a real, live person — whether to hear a welcoming voice or see a friendly face. Other times, a machine might be the best bot for the job.
Consumers think so, too. In a joint research project by MyClever, Drift, Salesforce, and SurveyMonkey Audience, consumers were asked about the potential benefits of chatbots. The majority of respondents agreed that this technology provides:
An instant response
Answers to simple questions
Surprisingly, it's Boomers who like chatbots best. They reported a greater benefit than Millennials in five out of the 10 use cases they were asked about.
Consumers across age groups also see chatbots as a way to connect with humans. One-third of respondents (34 percent) said chatbots could be useful in finding human service assistance.
A strong, AI-powered chatbot can answer questions, take orders, and make personalized recommendations based on customer preferences and previous purchases. Then it can either complete the sale or pass the client along to another person — customer's choice.
After all, omnichannel marketing is a big job. Why not let machines do the heavy lifting and free your people up to make more connections with more clients?