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Frontline Employees Are Your Most Underutilized Marketing Tool

7 minute read

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half!" 

If only John Wanamaker, the marketing pioneer credited for the most famous industry quote of all time, was alive and well to see today’s era of marketing; dominated by digital advertising, and the sentiment of 'the customer is always right'.

It should come as no surprise that customers expectations are at an all-time high; 70% view connected processes as highly important to winning their business. Attribution of offline marketing efforts are still a never-ending challenge for marketers, and measuring consumer sentiment - in a timeframe where you can take impactful action - can be a complicated process. To win hearts (and wallets), marketers need to be closer to the end consumer to interpret and respond faster.

Attribution models within the industry have advanced by leaps and bounds since the early 2000’s, and technology certainly has become the star of the show. In the same way that we’re careful to not let technology dominate our personal lives (social network detoxing, anyone?!), we should also be careful not to let technology dominate our marketing efforts and decisions, in favor of human touch-points and interactions. 

There’s a human touchpoint that retail marketers of today are under-utilizing: Frontline Employees.

The importance of the ‘human’ element - in terms of customer experience - is emphasized in today’s competitive retail landscape, where bricks and mortar stores are competing with agile online retailers. But when it comes to our actual retail marketing campaigns, as well as being able to actually prove the ROI of offline marketing efforts, frontline employees are often overlooked as the enabler to close the loop of the organizations strategy.

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Passionate employees convert to passionate customers

In today’s hyperconnected world, where consumers have product information readily available at their fingertips, the influence your retail staff brings to close the sale has never been more important.

If you view your retail staff simply as enablers of processing a customer transaction, you’re missing out on the potential to maximize campaign efforts. 80% of customers say that the experience a company’s employees provides is as important as its products/services, and so the customer experience is a vital touchpoint for your campaign messaging.

Maximize the impact of your final campaign touchpoint; turn your staff into a living extension of your brand, giving your customers the confidence to go through with their purchase decision. 

Informed Employees + Confident Customers = Sales

Groundbreaking stuff, right?!

But in all seriousness, the planning of adequate product knowledge amongst your staff can often be overlooked in an end-to-end marketing plan. You can execute a perfect campaign, reaching potential customers in all the right ways, at exactly the right moments… to have a disappointing experience with a staff member once you get them through the door.

 Let’s say that a customer comes to your store to enquire about a product that is due to be released soon. Perhaps they could be excused in the past for being unaware of this product launch, but given that 45% of all retail journeys now contain an element of mobile research there really is no excuse for them not to be informed.

Whether it’s extensive knowledge on a big household item, or simply receiving the proper training for the sales process in a quick service environment: an invested and informed workforce servicing your customers is a key market differentiator in today’s crowded marketplace. In order to achieve this, it’s imperative that your employees are adequately updated on new products, upcoming promotions, and current marketing campaigns to deliver the best-in-class customer experience.

Our global retail clients, who are renowned for consistently delivering high standards of customer experience, have seen a 10% increase in average sales transactions since adopting an ESN (Enterprise Social Network) to connect with their frontline workforces. 

Now that's the stuff we want to hear!

Optimize your offline campaigns in real-time

Say again? 

In today’s fast-moving retail landscape, the ability for companies to respond and act on consumer demands has never been more important. Simply put; you can’t afford to waste time in finding out that your product is faulty, or isn’t selling because of a common factor, or even that your in-store marketing campaign is perceived negatively by consumers. 

So how can you track the offline consumer journey, from start to finish?

Through your frontline employees.

Authentic and accurate market feedback allows you to make timely business decisions at critical campaign timings, and closes the gap for better understanding your most effective marketing efforts. ESNs allow for shorter lines of communication and lowers the barriers for frontline staff to share feedback, allowing companies to be more agile and efficiently meet the needs of your consumers. 

One of our multinational retail clients have seen a 1-2% increase in revenues, due to faster and more effective information sharing regarding new products and promotions within their organization.

Speaking to the frontline, at scale

After understanding the value the frontline can bring to close the loop on marketing campaigns, the next step is to find a strategy and solution that allows this to efficiently happen. Thankfully, there are solutions out there (like Speakap, of course) that connect head office with frontline staff members that don’t have a company email address, or access to the intranet.

Employee engagement is just one of many benefits an organization will gain from establishing a way for ALL employees to connect. Expensive and time-consuming research simply isn’t necessary when you can access customer testimonials, feedback and market sentiments all in one platform, instantly.

An ESN solution won’t just help you to solve the challenge of proving retail marketing ROI, it will  provide value to the organization as a whole.

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All the way from "down under" Louise has joined Speakap to help businesses to build better relationships with their workforce. When she's not busy producing the Frontline podcast, you might catch her running... while listening to a podcast.

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