VP, Business Development

The Future of Retail & eCommerce: Q&A with Women at Rise

According to a recent Harvard Business Review study, women on average make 94% of home furnishing decisions, 92% in vacations, 91% in homes, 60% in automobiles and 51% in consumer electronics. And you can find similar stats just about anywhere you look. We women do most of the shopping (duh). So it stands to reason that we should do most of the marketing, no?

That’s why I was so impressed to learn that nearly 60% of Rise Interactive’s marketers are women. We nurture and support women marketers through our Women on the Rise program and the result is innovative work that inspires me daily to think bigger, more analytically, and more optimistically about the future of digital marketing. So I asked our female leaders some of the questions I commonly receive from retail and eCommerce marketers. Below, I’m happy to share their insightful, refreshing perspectives.

Q: Marketers that use data to their advantage have been able to thrive. The use of technology—including automation and machine learning—has provided them with easier ways to optimize. Could you talk about the most powerful integrations that have and will continue to drive success?

Megan McGowan
Director, Analytics

A: "You’re right! The use of data, integrations, and automation is not only helpful but absolutely essential in digital marketing. In retail media, connecting performance data from your marketplaces to other channels like search and programmatic is table stakes. Especially in the eCommerce industry, datasets expand quickly, and if you can’t act on real-time product-level insights, another brand can and will win out. For that reason, the most powerful integrations—now and in the future—are those that enable marketers to automate reports and optimization based on media anomalies to sift through the data quickly. 

By incorporating data from Connex—our proprietary media technology—with machine learning, we make proactive budgeting decisions by understanding what channels to invest in for optimal results. To act on this information even faster, we rolled out Connex Alerts this year: proactive intelligence  in real-time based on a customized set of media KPIs.

For example, we could design an alert to notify teams 3x/day which products are performing above a business KPI; let’s use ROAS in this example. So at 9am, 12pm, and 3pm, marketers get a report via email, text, or Slack alerting them to a very granular subset of data that has actionable insights. Example action: Products with ROAS above goal and exceeding spend pace will run out of budget, leaving money on the table. Reallocate spend here for even greater returns."

Q: In 2020, consumers drastically changed their shopping behavior, focusing more on digital interactions than in-store. How can marketers continue to make the most of their customers’ willingness to shop online?

Jaclyn Shifrin
 Manager, Programmatic

A: "As you mention, consumer behavior is certainly changing and is doing so at break-neck speed. I remember spending so much time in April 2020 learning as much as I could about how the pandemic will continue to shape our industry—truthfully, we’ve seen several transformations since then. 

When consumers had to rely entirely on digital for their buying journeys, some industries had a big wake up call and re-invested heavily into their advertising and digital identities. Retail and eCommerce brands had an advantage, especially D2C online brands—digital has been your gig the whole time! 

Moving forward, some brands may divest slightly from digital as in-store shopping ramps back up, but I’d strongly advise against that. Consumers at large have grown more comfortable with eCommerce. Audiences that maybe didn’t trust the shipping process or security of digital payment have had nearly a year of more exposure and positive experiences—those audiences are in digital for good. Permanent converts. 

That’s a net expansion to every brand’s digital audience, and reason to stay in it and think more creatively about reaching them. We partner closely with The Trade Desk which has made strides of innovation recently getting brands in front of their target audience. Connected TV, for example, is worth every brand’s consideration. As streaming services continue to grow, CTV is a marketer’s dream opportunity to show up on a user’s TV during their favorite show without paying Super Bowl prices. That channel is here to stay." 

Q: As an online advertising strategy, co-op was reported to be offered by 69% of brand marketers in the U.S in 2015. Since then, strategies have evolved and investment in online has increased. What are the advantages of strategic partnerships between brands and retailers and how can marketers benefit from them?

Amanda Sykes
Director, Account Management

A: "It is really interesting to see how strategies have changed since then. Among many other advantages, I can tell you that partnerships between brands and retailers is one of the many solutions digital marketers have today to prepare for the cookieless world. Retailers can monetize their 1st party data in a compliant way to participating brands, who front the advertising costs to access a wider net of prospective customers. Through the retailers’ CRM and loyalty programs, brands have a whole new ecosystem to explore and test."

Q: As an expert on cutting-edge user experience, how can eCommerce brands engage customers in a memorable way through their website?  

Jean Zhang
Vice President, Customer Experience

A: "Changes in consumer behavior and increased competition online has forced brands to innovate new ways of connecting with customers. Personalization is already key and will be the base of what any marketer should be thinking about when creating or improving their online presence.

To succeed in adding personalization at scale, marketers should consider:

  •  The specificity of digital marketing campaigns. Our ability to target specific users means we're able to bring users a value proposition for brands that are more in line with their specific wants and motivations.

  • Your holistic campaign strategy. Verifying all campaign assets are working in concert to tell the brand story even while they are resonating.

  • Your technology stack! There are features that are included in certain CMS technologies that afford brands the ability to personalize their actual website experiences—oftentimes this level of personalization can yield a higher AOV, or at least yield a more streamlined user experience."

Q: As data privacy laws increase, they pose a challenge to the way in which marketers plan for effective audience targeting strategies. What can marketers do to prepare for this shift and excel in a 1P data world?

Megan McConkey
Director, Social Media

A: "First, to level-set: marketers have made it through several major transformations in our industry. Many of us may remember the feeling of watching our keyword data on Google slowly slip away… has that destroyed SEO as a channel? No! 

Marketers of the future are data-driven innovators, and now is their time to shine. Excelling in a cookieless world will take: 

  • Improved collection and activation of 1st party data. If you aren’t currently leveraging your CRM to drive audience strategies, definitely start. If you are...it may be worth looking into CDPs to improve the segmentation of that data.

  • A deeper understanding of your audiences to inform better contextual targeting strategies.

  • New, tested solutions in the marketplace - e.g. UID 2.0, Liveramp’s IDL, etc.

  • ‘Modeled’ conversions (at least within Google).

  • A solid measurement framework that goes beyond the platform reporting."

Q: The need for more diverse and inclusive advertising has never been greater. As leaders of Rise's DEI programs, and as marketers, what advice would you give brands as they address this priority?

Chinye Osamusali
Sr. Project Manager

A: "You know that as advertisers we have an enormous responsibility to think of the user experience with every ad and campaign that we put out. As The Wall Street Journal put plainly: social media feeds can change how we view the world. And our ads are a big part of that feed.

Brands should be authentic. Make sure that your brand and your team genuinely believe in the content that you're posting and it's not a reaction to what you think your customers want to hear. People can sense when something is just a post for the sake of saying something vs something that reflects the company's mission. By thinking beyond the post itself, you can make sure that you'll get the most from your content. Some questions that you can think through: 

  • Does your company or team reflect what this post is trying to illustrate? 

  • Can you connect this post to something in the company mission or culture?"

Alison Golin
Vice President, Project Management

A: "Some brands look for a quick fix when it comes to addressing diversity and inclusion in marketing, especially in the age of immediacy that we're living in. But there isn't a quick fix - DEI within marketing can't stop at having varying demographics in an ad. It has to reach deeper and wider; my advice for brands is:

  • Have a diverse team! Having diverse perspectives within the team that develops content is the first step in making sure diverse perspectives are reflected in your content.

  • Foster inclusion amongst your team. Inclusion is different from diversity. Diversity is about having different demographics and perspectives at the table. Inclusion is about making sure those different perspectives are then heard and valued equally. Listen to and elevate diverse voices.

  • When developing content, ask yourself if it's diverse and inclusive in an authentic way. Do the people in my imagery span different races, age, and cultures? Does my content elevate marginalized voices? Does my messaging only reflect non-minority views? And lastly, don't mistake cultural appropriation for diversity. Avoid this by educating yourself,  listening to your customers, and make sure diverse voices are heard throughout the creative process."

Q: Women were responsible for almost $32 trillion in worldwide consumer spending in 2019. As this number grows, what are some of the most effective ways that businesses targeting female audiences can build loyalty and meet their needs? 

Karen Berman
Account Manager

A: "Exactly, Ruth. What’s also interesting is that women make up more than half the population and influence nearly 85% of consumer spending. Rise has clients in the maternity, beauty, and CPG industry that rely on precision targeting to connect with women in their audience, but for other industries or up-and-coming brands, building loyalty with this audience is a great step to improving your Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).

To build loyalty with a subset of their audience, I want to urge marketers to consider:

  • Displaying your brand's priorities: are your products cruelty free, eco friendly, vegan? Consumers are looking for more than just a product these days, so tell them about these priorities.

  • Support content creators who support your brand: show off the ways that your followers are getting creative with your products and give them some social media attention. You'd be surprised at how this type of user engagement drives loyalty!

  • Create a brand voice and be genuine: the days of a stiff corporate voice have passed, and customers want to feel like they're hearing from someone like them. Be genuine, be kind, be serious when the world is serious, and don't forget to have some fun when it's appropriate."

Thank you to each of these women for sharing their insights with me. I deeply admire their dedication and the knowledge they share with Risers and clients alike. Want to hear more from our team? We’re here to help you make the smartest decisions and achieve the best business results.

05/13/2021 at 12:10