When it comes to customer retention, marketers tend to focus on their owned media channels. But this strategy alone can lead to missing up to 88% of your customers.
Fortunately the solution is out there. It's time to boldly go where your customers have gone before (and where the majority of them are spending their time online)—the open web. In this article, we’ll explore why such a high percentage of a brand’s audience exists outside of owned channels, how marketers can avoid overlap issues when expanding to the open web, brand success stories and questions to consider in your retention efforts.
What are owned media channels?
What are the benefits of owned media channels?
Owned media channels offer the "owner" full control of what is published and when, communicating directly with the audience. This control can be very helpful in terms of brand consistency, flexibility and agility, and more. Owned channels also help brands generate large amounts of data that can be used to tailor retention strategies, personalize communications and enhance customer experiences.
What is the open web?
The open web, or open internet is any online property, website or app not owned by a major tech company such as Facebook, Amazon or Google (otherwise known as walled gardens). It is everywhere that people shop, read and learn across the internet in publicly accessible spaces. A survey from The Harris Poll, commissioned by OpenX, found that American consumers spend about 66% of their time on the open web.
What does this have to do with customer retention?
Many clients come to us and say "I’m already retaining my customers through my owned media channels." Our response is as simple as this: Owned channels, like email, are only a part of how you retain customers because not all customers are reachable or responsive within a single tactic or channel. Therefore, owned channels aren’t truly representative of a client’s customer base.
Expanding from owned-channel retention efforts to the open web allows brands to tap into a broader and diverse audience pool, reaching potential in-market customers who may not actively engage with the brand's owned channels. This looks like advertising on publisher websites you don't own: the spaces where your customers are when they're not available through your owned channels.
The numbers we are seeing support this approach. For example, a regional grocery store found that only 12% of its buyers visited the retailer’s website. That means that 88% of customers didn’t visit—but are reachable on the open web.
TITLE: Customer reachability examples: Owned website visitors vs. Open web
How to expand retention efforts to the open web
Expanding your efforts to the open web really comes down to one thing: the right digital media partner. But how do you know which partner is right for you as you embark on your new retention journey? Make sure they have these three core capabilities:
- A robust, people-based identity solution to message real in-market customers: A solution like Epsilon’s CORE ID ensures you can identify both individual customers in your loyalty customer database as well as those that are not. It’s also imperative that online and offline purchases are connected so that a customer’s full journey can be tracked and their in-market status can be updated based on their true behavior.
- Predictive AI to drive real-time decisioning and optimization: A partner that uses artificial intelligence well can help you know who message, what to say, where to reach them across channels and when to talk them so that they are most receptive to your message. At Epsilon, our mature predictive AI is the foundation for delivering personalized, impactful advertisements across our network of 17,000+ brand-safe publishers.
- Transparent, closed-loop measurement to improve performance and prove value: Ensure your partner can provide granular-level measurement, reporting on every impression and outcome and tying online and in-store purchases back to the ads they serve. Ask for a custom data feed to give you a clear lens into the true impact of your marketing across touchpoints—including cookieless environments.
How to maximize ROI with the right partnerDownload the buyer's guide
Solving for the most common open-web barrier: Overlap
A common barrier to open web expansion is the issue of overlap. Without proper coordination, brands risk sending redundant messages to customers who are already engaged through owned channels. This can lead to message fatigue and annoyance for the customer, and wasted resources and decreased return on investment for the brand.
The solution? Brands need to use an identifier that enables them to run additional retention campaigns that enhance their existing efforts. Here are a few examples of how a supplemental campaign could be structured:
- Cross-channel personalization: Brands can leverage data integration to personalize messages across both owned and open web channels. This would ensure that customers receive content that aligns with their previous interactions and preferences, creating a seamless experience regardless of the channel.
- Frequency and timing optimization: Optimizing the frequency and timing of messages prevents overload. Brands can coordinate the release of messages to avoid simultaneous delivery across channels, ensuring that customers don’t feel inundated with redundant information.
- Channel-specific incentives: Tailoring incentives based on the channel through which customers are engaged is another effective strategy. For owned channels, exclusive promotions or early access can be emphasized, while open web campaigns could focus on broader brand awareness or highlight unique aspects to capture wider attention.
Open web success story: Auto retailer's $67M boost
A national auto retailer was struggling to reach their customers through existing loyalty efforts. They wanted to grow their addressable audience, introduce more customers to their loyalty program and bring them in as members.
When the retailer leveraged new customer insights and activated across all devices using Epsilon Digital, they were able to identify and message a whopping 10 million non-loyalty buyers. This led to $67 million messaged revenue from this group—a huge win.
Questions to consider in retention efforts
You may think you have customer retention covered via your owned channels, but it’s helpful to check in on the actual numbers with some questions:
- What is the size of your customer file? Do you know what your reachable audience is in your owned channels?
- What percentage of your customer file is subscribed to your email? What is your open rate?
- How many unique individuals does your email or text database represent? What percentage of your total customers does this represent?
The open web offers an expansive landscape where brands can discover, engage and reconnect with a broader audience. Running supplemental open-web retention campaigns alongside existing owned channel retention campaigns can help brands reconnect with a large chunk of their customer base they might not have even known was missing.
For more information, check out our guide “Digital media buying solutions: Maximizing ROI with the right partner.”