In an increasingly fluid and competitive consumer landscape, customer-centric campaigns are now the driving force behind the GTM strategy for most firms. Even as automation and progress in marketing technology have helped in increasing productivity; shifting customer preferences, an increasingly connected and shrinking global market and single-digit growth economies are all adding pressure on the bottom line.
capturing the shifty customer
In today’s omnichannel environments, customers shift seamlessly across marketing and sales channels in their decision-making process, before successfully converting. The urban homemaker watches TV commercials for an online furniture store, researches their furniture and reviews online and compare them with other furniture retailers, identifies and narrows down on preferred designs on their app, and walks into the store just to double check the look and feel of the sofa set before placing the order.
It is extremely important for companies to keep track of these customers and their progress through the sales funnel to succeed and gain market share. On the other hand, it is equally crucial to keep track of the channels themselves including the digital store, retailers, re-sellers, vendor network, distributors and more. Organizations need to harness the power of data and analytics to identify and target prospects with the highest profit potential. Typically, organizations have always identified and scaled channels that are low cost and high ROI. But in an increasingly diversified environment with multiple customer segments, identifying the one channel to focus on is not only difficult but also perhaps an inaccurate strategy.
Agility is key and organizations must constantly evolve with changing business trends. While retailers have started relying on data to plan their channel and category strategies, in most cases, the data is often incomplete and represents only a part of a much bigger picture. With the advent of analytics and more customer and market data available at their disposal than ever before, here are three steps organizations can take to optimize their channel sales strategy.
1. integrate the data cousins for a comprehensive picture and get comfortable with them
Working with customer data in isolated parts will probably do the new age marketer more harm than good. It is only when companies harness the power of data across all their divisions for an integrated picture that they can derive accurate insights. Firms that are focused on capturing the market need to invest well in integrating their data from product research, competitive market analysis, customer segmentation, marketing automation, supply chain and CRM tools for truly actionable insights. In the omnichannel world, understanding and analyzing point-of-sale (POS) data, channel insights, customer conversion triggers and the customer’s complete digital journey are very crucial in order to optimize channel strategy and positively impact the bottom line. Connecting the dots between sales and marketing data and overlaying the numbers can provide some very interesting insights. For instance, while participating at a sales conference might be garnering the company good leads, the amount of marketing budget spent on the conference might well lead to better results from another channel.
PepsiCo connected the dots between their warehouse inventory systems with that of their POS tracking software to reconcile demand and forecast production and shipment requirements. This way, they ensure retailers are always stocked with the right products in appropriate quantities.
2. identify loyal, risky and new partners
Companies with a sizeable market share will likely know their loyal partners well and will be rewarding them through well-established partner recognition programs. However, this needs to be done with consistency and accuracy, periodically reviewed through bullish and sluggish seasons alike. For example, sales channel data must be analyzed thoroughly, and partners rewarded for meeting their total sales targets over a two-month period and for exceeding sales volume targets in six out of the eight weeks in those two months. In equal measures, sales organizations need to realize market dynamics are changing faster than ever before and cut losses on long-established partner channels who are no longer showing potential or are showing negligible growth in saturated markets.
Analyzing sales channel and POS data periodically can provide data on the worrisome reseller who is no longer achieving consistent growth or whose conversion rates are very dear. New channels, opportunities and partnerships are cropping up everywhere and good sales organizations will be quick to cash in on these opportunities to reach hitherto untapped markets. It could be a new app that they partner with for last mile retail partnership or an e-commerce site that guarantees access to Tier-3 markets. Distribution innovation is key, and companies need to constantly look out for effective ways to reach their customers faster and better than the competition. Consider the case of Avon who relied on the old door-to-door selling strategy to gain a significant share of the market at a time when the competition was battling for shelf space.
3. juggle the product and channel mix
Researching the market dynamics thoroughly and consistently, and tracking competition moves will help organizations determine if the market is ready for change – this could be a new product launch or variations to the existing product mix. It is important to leverage insights to broaden the complete product line and plan for the future in order to gain market share. Consider introducing new products, targeting new segments, trying out new distribution strategies or working on tailored promotions targeting specific segments. Organizations need to invest in research and development and keep track of the market to redesign or repackage their products wherever necessary.
Optimizing the channel mix is critical in today’s omnichannel market. Consumer companies and others are starting to leverage attribution data in making smart marketing channel mix decisions. Attribution data helps marketers connect their promotional and marketing efforts to down-funnel metrics and revenue, helping them decide on the best channel mix. Leveraging data analytics to keep track of the customer journey and identifying the most promising channels will help organizations focus on the ones that are contributing to successful conversions. Tracing quality leads and customers backwards will help analyze better the initial touch points, the pace and rate of conversion, the triggers, revenue by channel and the ideal channel mix that delivers the best results for your set of products.
Wells Fargo, realizing how competitive the banking segment is combined their CRM systems with social media for customer connectivity, ensuring customer concerns are quickly routed through the systems to the relevant authority who can help them.
minimizing risks and response time is key to success
The emphasis on growth is real and executives everywhere are focused on identifying new revenue streams with innovative product and service offerings for an increased share of the pie in mature markets. Consider the case of Uber, who have diversified into not just alternate commuting options, but also other related services.
The dynamics of capturing market share are trickier for larger organizations as compared to smaller, more nimble ones. While fast-paced technology start-ups are agile in altering their marketing strategy and mix, and sometimes the very nature of their offering to succeed in a cut-throat market, larger organizations are slower to respond, given the size of their operations and decision-making process.
While optimizing channel strategies is likely to result in a larger share of the market, it can also mean increased complications and greater risk of failure if not assessed right. Firms that have a higher share of the market are also at increased exposure to risks and threats from competitors. Organizations need to plan for risks and associated problems that come with aggressive strategies to increase market share. Only those that combine the power of market intelligence and product insights with agility in implementation will succeed in the fight for a larger share of the market.