May 28, 2015
Every good marketing professional understands the importance of strong customer data. Understanding who your customers are and how they interact with your brand are keys to every strong marketing plan. The challenge many marketers face though is exactly how to use the data that they have gathered to speak to their audience on a more personal, targeted level.
One of the longest tenured Informz clients, Price Chopper Supermarkets, a chain of 130-plus stores in the Northeast, faced this very challenge recently. They embarked on a collaborative process that led to a new digital strategy for the grocery chain. Their objectives were to better connect with shoppers to deliver what they want and to move from being a value-driven grocer to an experience-driven one. One of the ways Price Chopper intended to connect with shoppers is through the use of 1:1 targeting. In this case it was via a weekly email to their customer base.
Price Chopper worked closely with Informz and its other partners to develop a pilot program to provide personalized emails to shoppers featuring the items and prices from the weekly flyer that would be most relevant to their household.
Using the Informz application programming interface (API), Price Chopper’s customized data seamlessly populates into weekly email communications giving customers a truly personalized experience. The weekly program has grown to over 500,000 customers with plans to expand the program with even more personalization in the coming months.
I sat down with Heidi Reale, the Director of Shopper and Digital Marketing for Price Chopper, to discuss the challenges they faced, lessons learned, and what the future holds for this exciting program.
Chris Scavo, Informz: What was the key driver for changing the weekly advertisement email?
Heidi Reale, Price Chopper: We had a weekly email for our customers, but it was generic and not giving us the level of personalization that we were trying to get to. With the generic email, customers would click on the full online advertisement, choose their local store, and then browse to determine if they were interested in the sale items for that week. We wanted to be in a position where we could look at what customers have purchased in the past, what their buying patterns were, and determine what items were going to be most relevant to them and most likely to get them in our store.
CS: Why is customizing the digital experience such an important part of your strategy?
HR: In order to continue to reach our audience, we need to utilize multiple marketing channels. Traditional marketing channels such as direct, newspaper advertisements, etc. are not typically personalized, nor do people really expect them to be. However when you think about digital marketing there is almost this expectation that the message is tailored to your likes or needs, especially within younger demographics. If someone does not receive the newspaper with our ad, they are not seeing the best things for them that may be on sale. Leveraging our data within the email marketing channel allows us to deliver our advertisements in a more personal way, which ultimately can build a stronger relationship with our brand.
CS: Where did the vision for this program come from?
HR: The program came about from a casual conversation we had with one of our partners. We know what people are buying, and we have thousands of items in our advertisement, so we knew we had the data to put this in motion. The more we discussed the idea the more achievable our goal seemed to be. The more we looked at the data we had at our disposal it was never a matter of if this could be done, but how to do it in a scalable fashion.
CS: What advice would you have for organizations that want to take their digital strategy to the next level?
HR: Our core objective was to find a way to leverage our data assets and utilize technologies that are available to us through our partner relationships. There are going to be anomalies when you put the technologies of multiple companies together. You need to have a solid plan in place that allows you to easily identify when there is an issue, where it is happening, and how to fix it. In addition, when it comes to personalizing content you need to be cognizant of what is being included. You want the content to be relevant, but touch on multiple categories to ensure that the message is well rounded. You cannot just blindly trust the technology, there is a common sense factor that needs to be considered to ensure that the message makes sense for the target consumer.