Marketing automation was designed with two primary objectives – to increase marketing efficiency and to personalize the user experience. For a lot of ‘massy’ brands, marketing automation has rendered superb results. But since luxury brands typically involve a niche product and audience, the use of marketing automation has to be more nuanced.
The basic premises of luxury marketing set it apart from any other category of marketing. To elaborate on this, here are the six P’s of luxury marketing:
- People: Recognizing the value of your customers and their investment in your brand is of utmost importance.
- Product: A luxury product can have one or more of the following characteristics – heritage, integrity, monetary value, scarcity, non-utility – and your messaging should be shaped around this.
- Passion: The pursuit of luxury consumption often carries a higher degree of emotional relevance, so marketing must appeal to that passion or emotion.
- Pleasure: Luxury consumption is all about the experience, so it’s essential to provide consumers with a deep sensory connection to your brand.
- Purpose: Marketers should use some combination of practical, factual and emotional touch points to define the purpose of the luxury product.
- Price: Consumers don’t pay to buy a luxury product – they pay to own it. Marketers should include the idea of fractional ownership in their marketing message.
Bearing in mind these unique qualities, here are seven ways that marketing automation and other marketing technologies can help you get the most out of your luxury brand.
1. Provide Assistance Before Customers Ask for It
As a luxury brand, your entire marketing strategy should be proactive rather than reactive. It should be aimed not at selling but at assisting, because you are here to build brand loyalty and not to make a quick buck.
You need to foster a customer support team that is highly responsive and can act on customer needs in a jiffy. If you take too long to solve a problem, you don’t just lose a customer – you lose a brand ambassador. The key is to implement a helpdesk platform that gives real-time data on your support team’s response rates, so you can make constant improvements.
Then, you can take things a step further by providing assistance before customers even ask for it by triggering live chat messages based on specific user activity. For example, if a visitor stays more than a minute on a specific page, an automated chat message pops up asking if they need any help related to what they’re viewing. Check out this example:
2. Offer Hyper-Personalized Content
Keep in mind that the feelings that drive people to invest in luxury brand items can ebb and flow – more so than those driving people to purchase everyday consumer items – so it’s important to target your customers with engaging and personalized messages at exactly the right times.
Say a customer goes through your site and adds a sleek pair of luxury shoes to her shopping cart, but then she suddenly halts the purchase. We know she most likely has the capacity to buy, but it might be passion or incentive that’s missing.
To prompt customers to complete their purchases, you need to create a dynamic user experience that provides engaging and stimulating content right when customers need it most.
Again, automated pop-ups are a great way to do this. Once someone has shown interest in a particular piece of merchandise, you can trigger a pop-up that offers additional content related to the merchandise in question and speaks to the customer’s aspirations and dreams.
3. Provide an Integrated Shopping Experience
Today, users are accessing your brand through a variety of channels and devices. In fact, 80% of luxury brand customers demand an omnichannel experience. So in order to provide a truly integrated shopping experience, you need to automate a holistic, multi-channel marketing strategy.
Say a customer goes to your mobile website to do some initial research on your product line, background, etc. Next, the customer goes to your desktop website and finds a stark contrast in your messaging or even your offering (e.g., there is a reward program mentioned on your desktop site but not on your mobile site). This can easily raise trust issues and discourage people from making purchases.
Take a look at how Gucci, time and again, has provided an impeccably integrated shopping experience to customers through its mobile and desktop channels:
4. Make Customers Fall in Love at First Sight
The phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover” doesn’t work for luxury brands. Customers aren’t going to wait for you to slowly win their affection through a series of calls or emails. Once they’ve landed on your homepage, they’ll know almost instantaneously whether they want to do business with you. Luxury consumption is all about appearances and aesthetics, so your website should meet those same standards.
Any page on your site could potentially be a customer’s first point of entry, so they need to be as powerful as possible. Your landing pages need to highlight every brand element, from colors and images to your offering and even your company vision. You should think of your website not as a platform to be used for a sales pitch, but rather as an invitation for customers to engage with you.
So, how do you know if your landing pages are hitting the sweet spot with customers? The only way to find out is by creating multiple versions and then testing to see how people respond. It’s just like having a fashion line – you have to keep trying different things until it’s clear what people like the best.
5. Optimize Your Customer Lifecycle
Since luxury brands initially focus more on building reputation and trust than on making the sale, they typically sustain a longer customer lifecycle than daily brands. Not only does this present the challenge of keeping people engaged over long periods of time, but it can also make it difficult to create an effective loyalty program.
Brand loyalty is largely based on frequency of purchase, but many consumers will buy only one or two items from a given luxury brand, and it might take them weeks or months to make the initial purchase. Furthermore, while everyday brands can reward loyal customers with small discounts or complimentary services, these tactics don’t go very far for luxury brands.
Here are some ways your luxury brand can create a loyalty program that will provide real value to your customers and help you derive value from them over the long term:
- Don’t give cheap discounts. Instead, add more value through things like new features, new product lines, etc.
- Design a hierarchical point system, and ascribe names or titles to each level that exhibit exclusivity and status.
- Reward customers through enhanced experiences, and not through monetary incentives like complimentary gift wrapping or appointing a personal shopper.
But none of these tactics are of any worth if you do not add marketing automation to the mix. With marketing automation, you can segment customers within the loyalty program based on behavioral data and then create separate strategies and content to increase engagement in each group.
6. Stay Engaged Post-Purchase
Today, even run-of-the-mill brands are increasing their post-purchase service efforts. So when it comes to your luxury brand, it’s not a question of whether you need an after-sale customer support service – it’s a question of how great you can make that service.
Marketing automation provides data on individual customer activity, so you can retarget customers post-purchase with content that’s even more personalized.
Let’s say a customer buys a handbag. Once the purchase is complete, an automated email can be sent asking for feedback on the shopping experience. Practices like these that show you care about your customers can certainly amplify your brand value. But remember that gathering the customer feedback is not enough – you need to take it seriously and start acting on it. Otherwise, the entire process will be rendered meaningless, and your customers may dismiss it as a mere charade.
Continuing to engage with customers after they’ve made a purchase will make them feel that they are being taken care of. It builds trust and encourages customers to make your brand their preferred choice for their luxury shopping needs.
A great way to make customers feel special post-purchase is to automate messages like these:
7. Understand What Your Clientele Really Wants
To be competitive, luxury brands have to stay constantly up to date on the needs of their customers. Marketing automation provides data and analytics to help luxury brand marketers understand the most granular aspects and dynamics of customer needs.
For instance, imagine a returning customer is showing interest in buying a watch. Using behavior tracking analytics, you find out that the customer has bought only analog watches in the past. Armed with this information, you can automate trigger-based recommendations that will display at just the right time and provide the customer with product information and incentives to purchase.
Analytics also help you understand your marketing campaigns from start to finish. By identifying what worked and what didn’t, you can make improvements to optimize your funnel and gain higher returns at every phase.
This image shows how Net-A-Porter has used data to optimize its interface and create a super-efficient sales funnel:
Playing the Luxury Brand Game
Let’s face it – without marketing automation, your luxury brand will not have the digital presence required for businesses to be successful today. But the more important point to remember is that even with marketing automation, the rules of the game are different for you. Your marketing efforts have to be aimed at providing a personalized and highly sensory user experience – only then will you be able to set your luxury brand apart.