If you had a Pound Sterling for each time you’ve been told you need to reach the omni-channel customer, you’d have at least £200. 

I think I’m up to £450. This relentless, finger-wagging isn’t unjustified however. It is the always-on availability of high-speed internet connections and the warp-speed evolution of mobile devices that has created a consumer that gets what they want, when they want it, and usually with free shipping.

Marketers have tackled this criss-crossed channel chaos by focusing their marketing efforts on specific events that occur during a linear purchase path. For instance, when a shopper leaves a product page, you send a product abandonment email. If a shopper leaves items in their cart, you send a cart reminder email. When a shopper submits an order, you send an order confirmation email.  

Now, all of these messages use a responsive design, so they render nicely on any gadget. Additionally, store and site information are included, to give the shopper the information they need to reconnect to your brand where they left off. But, is this connect-the-channel strategy enough? Is this approach going to meet the instant gratification demands of today’s consumers? Not really.

Innovation is found by moving your marketing beyond the moment. This call and response along an ideally structured customer life-cycle simply doesn’t echo the way consumers shop. Yes, they will shop this way, but relying upon the consumer to take the next step introduces barriers and friction. Consumers have shifted their shopping instincts, so it’s time for you to shift away from this type of calculated automation.

Here’s how to rethink and reposition those three marketing emails I mentioned earlier, to anticipate the shopper’s next action and build a strategy that relies less on simply reacting to what they’ve already done.

Product page abandonment emails

Your products are probably already aligned by affinities such as brand name, style, price point, etc. Most of this data is used to create product recommendations during the site experience. Start your product page reminders by using this data, but take the time to factor in the shopper’s full, unified customer profile. 

Past shopping and purchase data can go beyond look-alike or related items by factoring in incentives, promotions and message timing that can motivate a shopper to buy. While showing the product that was abandoned may give a visual cue, there are several behavioral data points that can truly influence the purchase decision.

Cart reminder emails

We all know that leaving an item in a cart doesn’t always mean the shopper has abandoned all interest in completing the order. Many shoppers will use the cart to build a shopping list, either as a way to store items as they move between sites and stores, or simply as a way to momentarily pause their shopping. 

Marketing toward the moment of cart abandonment may be the wrong way to approach these shoppers. Use data from their site interactions and past behavioral information to determine which actions they are likely to take next.

Perhaps the shopper loves researching items on your site, but always purchases in a store. Another shopper may load up a cart with plans to see what goes on sale over the weekend. All of this information can be used to build a message that predicts the shopper’s next steps and how they can be motivated to buy, rather than simply reminding them about what’s in their cart.

Order confirmation emails

Everyone sends an order confirmation. They are so ubiquitous that they are often overlooked by both marketers and customers. However, this message represents a crossroads of customer loyalty, especially for first-time customers. Rather than marketing to the moment of what was purchased, use data from their unified profile to include content that will build a foundation for long-term loyalty.

With most retailers, offering similar discounts and incentives (especially during the holidays) for your brand to stand out can be a struggle. Interactions in your store, or on your site, that were the catalysts that propelled the shopper to complete their order can be used to create a dialog that goes beyond engagement and truly connects with the shopper on a personal level.

This could mean the introduction of shopping tools that make buying again easy – such as style guides, personal in-store stylists, or automated order replenishment. Interactions with apps, loyalty programs, or customer service can also help to set the tone and content of these post-purchase messages.

The daily demands for marketers to meet the needs of the shopper and beat sales goals often leads to a focus on how to improve messages that already exist. Marketers need to break this repetitive loop and face the reality of today’s retail environment. 

To be competitive, marketers must move beyond the moment, break with the concept of a linear purchase path and stay one step ahead of the shopper.