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79% of Retailers Use Digital Content and Qualitative Data to Inspire Meaningful Connections with Customers, Study Finds
brought to you by WBR Insights
For retailers, the best customers are those who are emotionally attached to their brands. Successful retailers are using social and digital content to bring customers together and foster communities that generate emotional connections. But most retailers struggle to develop content strategies and social campaigns that deliver success in this complex, unstructured arena.
eTail Canada partnered with the WBR Insights research team to conduct a study about how retailers build meaningful relationship with customers, who in turn develop emotional connections with those brands. Retailers who confirm these connections highlight standout interactions with customers to validate those connections.
The vast majority of retailers (79%) claim their customers have already established emotional connections with their brands. Meanwhile, 21% of retailers are not yet doing this successfully. Although there is no prevailing metric of the quality of these connections, nearly all of the respondents had genuine experiences in mind that confirmed the strong feelings of loyalty and appreciation they generally identify among their customers.
What do retailers consider an emotional connection?
We asked survey respondents to share details about these emotional connections, and some examples of meaningful experiences they've witnessed among customers. "Individuals thanking us for what we do and the sense of community and joy they have being a part of our platform," one SMB Sales Manager offers as an example. In a more personal case, one C-Suite executive of a personal products brand referenced "a customer testimonial that describes how our products really changed their life and how they felt about their body."
In today's political environment, some brands have developed a customer base whose relationship with these brands is so strong, they come to the brands' public defense. In one example:
"We're a pretty politically active, feminist brand, and so when we recently got targeted by an angry group of online haters, our customers and community activated around us to tell the world about our values through social commenting, positive reviews and affirming our good name to their own networks."
Department Head, Digital Marketing at SMB retailer
In each case, retailers engage customers on a personal level that steps beyond traditional retailer-customer relationships, and even most widely practice loyalty and engagement initiatives. In the digital age, individual acts of generosity and interest can carry high value across the brand, resonating with customers not even involved in the act itself.
(You can see more qualitative responses from the survey in our upcoming report.)
How are these connections made?
Despite the highly qualitative nature of these connections, as retailers observe, retailers attribute their development to the deliberate use of digital content and qualitative data. Among six options, retailers most often attribute attracting and uniting their customers to their use of social and digital content (86%) and their use of feedback and data provided by their most loyal customers (63%). (Four options are excluded from the chart and will be shared in the upcoming report.)
In fact, customer feedback and digital content are more widely attributed than interactive, collaborative, and inclusive methods also measured in the study. In the report, we'll investigate why this is the case with a closer look at how retailers make their brand more welcoming, their biggest pain points in terms of technology adoption and strategic execution, and additional direct responses from retail professionals managing new strategies for customer engagement.
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