The Digital Revolution began somewhere in the late 1950s as the world adopted a new form of technology which simplified and streamlined everyday tasks, but we have seen a more dramatic shift in recent years with the development of the internet, mobile devices and digital communications. This revolution has had a significant impact on the way marketing has developed and how strategies are implemented to attract consumers. Where success was once measured on ‘followers’, the industry is now competing to develop and implement targeted content which engages consumers on a far more advanced level.
As the internet and web communications have developed, the message has been simple: content is crucial. It has always been crucial to engage your target audience with the right content, relevant and informative to your brand and their interests. This still remains true, but now we can control this in a much more intelligent way and ensure we utilise content to its optimal potential.
Technology has developed in such a way that we can now target individual demographics within a group of consumers and send focussed advertisements, articles and offers dependant on what factors influence their decisions. While this technology has been at our fingertips for a number of years via email marketing, we have now developed the technology to target consumers based on their specific interests, in a specific location, at a specific time.
Most shopping centres do not have the social media following of global brands like Coca-Cola, McDonalds or Nike, and although social media goes a long way to driving engagement, shopping centre marketing teams are now able to impact consumer activity in a much more intelligent way. Digital marketing and social media is being integrated in strategies to allow us to have conversations with consumers, drive engagement and increase sales in real time.
Specialist analytical tools such as MyDeck and Destination CMS allow shopping centre marketing teams to gather, translate and analyse masses of data to target deals and messages based on what individual customers want. We are also seeing more Landlords installing free wi-fi within their schemes to drive engagement, with Land Securities and Intu rolling out free wi-fi across their schemes nationwide.
New technology is also allowing us to connect with consumers in a more advanced and strategic way. iBeacons are small devices that enable shopping centre marketing teams to pinpoint the exact location of a smartphone user within the scheme, and send highly relevant communications and adverts to individual customers. This technology not only allows us to maximise our content and communication, but also allows us to map consumer behaviour and introduce more effective commercialisation in to schemes.
The retail environment is more challenging than ever and it is essential shopping centre teams create a destination that people want to spend time in, which ultimately comes down to engagement and communication. The rise of digital communications and technology does not mean the death of traditional marketing methods such as events, outdoor media, print and radio – it means these methods must be integrated to achieve optimal reach and engagement. Data gathering and translation has to be seen as a gold mine, allowing us to set variables, target customers and measure return on investment. The digital revolution does not mean the death of the high street, it simply allows businesses to bridge the gap between online and offline shopping and ultimately drive footfall, loyalty and sales.
Shaunagh Durkin, Consultant, Foundation Recruitment