It’s no hidden fact. Despite all efforts, the retail industry constantly struggles to keep pace with what exactly it is that their consumers want. Expectations are temperamental and becoming increasingly difficult to live up to.
One conceivable way that can help retailers bridge the gap is by being in a constant state of dialogue with consumers. Fortunately, we live in a world where technology can bring the impossible to life. The world of digital has created conversations between retailers, mall managers and consumers. While traditional media like print and television may still dominate the media landscape, digital marketing is now beginning to bite off a significant piece of the annual budget. Younger audiences seeking more value, engagement and entertainment from their shopping experience are ensuring that retailers run at their pace of digital adoption. If that weren’t enough, digital marketing is an endless evolving discipline. Not only should retailers learn how to engage their audiences, they also need to better the engagement and keep bettering it, every time.
We asked 13 Marketing Heads across retail brands and malls to give us their Top 5 digital marketing strategies. The answers were varied. Each brand devises its own strategy basis the category, the consumer, and their own objectives. Yet, some factors remain common. Each of the Marketing Heads is looking for ways and means to stay relevant and engaged. Here are some of the key strategies they employ to stay connected, educate, inform and influence choice.

1Social Media

Every retailer has a social media presence whether with an active strategy or without. Consumers constantly communicate to brands through social media. They review and recommend products, advising for or against them, or even complain about them.
Indian retailers are leveraging this space for multiple objectives; from creating awareness of new collections, to creating engagement via contests, to generating customer testimonials.
Head-Marketing, Pepe Jeans, Neha Shah says, “We create style guides to show visitors across social media platforms how to incorporate items into their everyday life. This helps in creating awareness of collections season-on-season.”
It comes as no surprise that Facebook is the preferred choice. Whether it is to create constant engagement through contests, or to ensure that consumers can locate stores (especially for a predominant offline retailer like Toons Retail), or build preference through testimonials, retailers are leveraging the popularity of Facebook to their advantage.
Crocs India leverages Facebook to research prospective buyers and improve targeting the right consumers. Continuous analytics helps fine tune target audiences, resulting in more relevant communication rather than carpet bombing.
Contests seem to have emerged as a strong hook to engage consumers. Whether it is through region-specific contests done by Crocs India, or by creating content and contests around trending topics, or for creating relevant events for consumers like the World Shorts Day from the Future Group.
Effectively using Google Search and optimizing marketing plans using analytics is also becoming key to finding, connecting and engaging with existing and new users. Group Head-Digital, Future Group, Pawan Sarda says “We use Google search very effectively for our brands and formats. Use of digital to increase convenience for our customers is very important.”

2E-mail Marketing

New age analytics have helped e-mail marketing evolve from a one-way communication tool to an interactive and impactful one.
Head of Business – E-commerce, Orra Fine Jewellery Pvt. Ltd., Varun Arora explains how e-mail marketing has shed its fuddy-duddy imagery in the last few years. “Email marketing has evolved from a static imagery to interactive information with analytics involved. This means that we can decide our next line of e-mail communication to the customer depending on how consumers respond to the emailer. It has become an essential sharing tool with in-depth pre-and post-sharing analysis.”

3Influencer Marketing

Influencer Marketing is starting to resonate with retailers, be it for targeting online or in-store shoppers. In some ways, influencer marketing is nothing but a natural extension of traditional word-of-mouth marketing, with the friend at work or person next door being amplified by online voices that have become trusted sources for recommendations. The key difference is that retailers can now exercise some control over what is being said, influencing increase in sales.
By combining paid influencer content with unpaid user generated content (UGC), retailers have twice the opportunity to create a powerful platform to close sales.
E-commerce and Digital Marketing Head, Crocs India, Bhavna Tewari believes this is a key emerging trend. To quote, “Instagram led UGC campaigns to break the stereotype of clogs as the main product of Crocs. Our product portfolio has expanded since the days of just clogs. We have a stylish and trendy range that is relevant to a certain kind of customer. Digital media via strong creative and targeted reach is helping us change the way the brand is perceived, and is helping gain acceptance for our complete range of products.”
Head-Marketing, Amante, MAS Brands, Smita Murarka believes, “Effective use of influencer marketing helps build high SOV.”
Head-Marketing, PR & Loyalty, Celio Future Fashion, Abhishek Shetty too endorses the fact that influencer marketing is gaining importance in the Digital Marketing mix. He says, “We are also in the process of identifying digital influencers and building high quality native content to get more brand conversations going.”
Head-Marketing, Pepe Jeans, Neha Shah believes that working with influencers provides the brand access to a new audience and gives consumers unique content. She further emphasises that in today’s day and age, “social media influencers are at the pinnacle of the digital realm. Curating content specific to influencers who have great following, helps in not only retaining existing customer base but also in acquiring new audiences.”

4Shareable Content And Gamification Of Content

Shareable content is the benchmark of success in content marketing and what every retailer aspires for. Every marketing head acknowledges the fact that good quality and shareable content helps deliver value to consumers. To get it right, the industry is withnessing extensive experimentation with formats from blogs to video content, from listicles and infographics to even gamification of content.
Head Marketing, Reliance Vision Express Pvt. Ltd, Jermina Menon speaks of the efficacy of blogs in educating prospective customers about the latest trends in eye wear technology, and conveying their benefi ts to convince them to buy. On the other hand, Celio Future Fashion has been working with the gamification trend to deliver a unique experience to its digital savvy consumers.

5Data Analytics

Industry reports suggest that the online customers are going to cross the 100 mn mark by the end of this year. With so many consumers online, data analytics will become critical to predict consumer behaviour. Says Associate Vice President – Marketing and Corporate Communication, Inorbit Malls (India) Pvt. Ltd., Puneet Varma, “We rack conversations around retail brands to understand perception and feedback.”