Masterful storytelling can turn interested viewers into committed customers—but if your message isn’t relevant and consistent, people switch off. How could HSN inspire customers on every channel?
HSN uses analytics to identify individual customer preferences and retail journeys, helping it to deliver compelling, tailored and timely messages at every touchpoint.
Deliverscompelling messages to the right audiences, boosting customer engagement
Identifiessticking points in omni-channel journeys for seamless retail experiences
Inspiresmore viewers to make the leap from browsing to buying, driving sales
Business challenge story
Compelling storytelling drives sales
To drive sales in the competitive retail space, having a great product is only part of the recipe for success. Inspiring people to make the jump from browsing to buying increasingly depends on connecting on an emotional level—and great storytellers can be the key to transforming casual viewers into loyal customers.
“We are in the business of delivering great products combined with great stories and great storytellers,” explains Ramin Eivaz, SVP Strategy Insights and Analytics at HSN. “As today’s customers choose to engage with us on more channels than ever, it’s vital for us to make that storytelling experience seamless and consistent across all our touchpoints.”
Like many leading retailers, HSN previously relied on separate processes and systems to drive its marketing strategy for each channel. However, this approach made it complex and time-consuming to integrate data on customer interactions across different channels. As a result, it was difficult to answer questions such as: “Which of our products are most likely to appeal to this customer?”, “Which is the best channel to reach this customer on?”, and: “What kind of message is most likely to inspire this customer to purchase?”.
“We decided to break out of the channel-by-channel mentality,” Eivaz continues. “Instead, we wanted to deliver an undisrupted, consistent experience regardless of how our customers chose to engage with us. The aim was to take down the walls between our channels, and we looked for a way to turn our boundaryless retail vision into a reality.”
Ramin Eivaz adds: “In today's retail environment, technology alone is not enough to create a point of differentiation. We knew that we needed to harness our big data on customer interactions to understand which messages were most likely to resonate with each prospect.”
Discovering messages that resonate
To achieve its boundaryless retail goal, HSN created a cognitive marketing platform integrated across all its channels—including online, mobile, email and direct mail. The new approach enables the company to build up a more complete and accurate picture of individual customer preferences based on all their interactions with HSN.
Ravi Mohan, Senior Director, Omni-Channel Marketing at HSN, comments: “We have to understand our consumers’ mindset; what their needs are, and what they're looking for when they visit us online. Having all our customer information in a single analytics platform helps us to segment them more precisely, and build marketing strategies that better serve their unique needs.”
Michelle Voorhies, Director, Omni-Channel Marketing Strat at HSN, continues: “We have created a cross-channel view of our customers supported by highly efficient omni-channel marketing processes. This approach means that we can look closely at the journeys that customers take from becoming interested in a product to making the decision to purchase.
“Because we can now see the ways that customers move between channels throughout their journey, we can empower our marketing teams to craft omni-channel, multi-wave campaigns that reach those customers on their favored touchpoint at the right time.
“For example, if a customer reads one of our emails and clicks through to the page for a particular product, we can automatically follow up with a piece of direct mail to help them get the information they need to make a decision. The next time that customer visits us online, we can reach out with a message asking them if they would like to add the product to their basket. By making the customer’s journey as smooth and straightforward as possible, we dramatically increase the likelihood of conversion.”
Helping every story find the right audience
By embracing omni-channel marketing, HSN can more effortlessly find the right audiences for its best storytellers—making it easier than ever to inspire viewers to engage, browse and convert.
Eivaz says: “For us, cognitive analytics means that we can bring together all of our customer insight to make better marketing decisions. We now have a picture of the whole customer: including their behavior and attitudes, product preferences, content preferences and favorite channels. The result is that we can give each of them what they want, how they want it, when they want it.”
He continues: “Better still, because we have embraced a cognitive platform to drive our customer analytics, we can use machine learning to ensure that our models become better and better over time as the platform gathers data about which methods are the most successful in engaging our audiences.”
As HSN engages with thousands of customers every day, automation helps the company to maintain manageable marketing workloads.
Voorhies adds: “We enable our people to create intelligent event- and rules-driven campaigns quickly and efficiently. Automation means that we can share the right messages with the right customers without tying our people up in complicated and time-consuming manual processes.”
Eivaz concludes: “We believe that we work with some of the best storytellers in the world, and our aim is to connect their message with the best audience. By gaining a deeper and more holistic view of customer preferences, we can share compelling, sales-driving content with the perfect audience.”
Founded in 1981 and headquartered in St. Petersburg, Florida, HSN is a leading interactive multichannel retailer offering a curated assortment of exclusive products combined with top brand names. Today, the HSN television channel reaches 95 million homes 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 364 days a year, and features more than 50,000 product videos through its hsn.com website.
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