The Elevator Pitch… The UQ Marketing Automation Platform helps retailers get more customers more often by creating prospect and customer funnels that track every interaction, from first website visit to online or in-store purchase. The UQ Marketing Automation Platform is the foundation for e-mail and paid social marketing.

The Pandemic Impact … On March 13, 2020 retailers had walk-in customers who obtained fittings, discussed their race plans and tried on a few shoes. On March 15, retailers woke to a startling new reality. To survive, each of those customer touchpoints needed to be technology-driven, virtual interactions. “Suddenly, the online store went from back-burner priority to critical lifeline,” recalls managing director Scott Rakestraw. In addition, new, virtual customer approaches needed to be inventedoften against headwinds of entrenched industry truisms and assumptions about customers. E-commerce, appointment scheduling, virtual fittings, local delivery, curbside pickup and free shipping became industry norms. Three of the six are technology-driven.

Looking Ahead … Which of these trends will continue? “In short: All of them,” Rakestraw says, pointing out that retailers will need to keep and even build on omnichannel services. “What will change is emphasis,” he adds. Pre-COVID, people were skeptical to schedule a fitting. Now almost every retailer has a scheduling option.

What’s Ahead for Technology … Eventually Rakestraw believes there will be a world where gift cards work online and in-store and where an online fitting using a phone’s camera will rival an in-store foot scan. “Technology is evolving to provide the in-store experience online and consumers have changed, too,” he says.  “As run specialty became better at virtual sales, so did all other buying channels. Now, consumers are better online customers for everyonenot just running stores.”

The Need For Tech … In order to stay top-of-mind in a customer base with many options, running stores will need to create and curate customer funnels, which is the core need addressed by the UQ Marketing Automation Platform. The Platform gives stores the ability to track every step of a customer’s journey Ð from a website visit to an in-store purchase.

Advice to Retailers … “Retailers need to leverage marketing automation and technology to compete,” Rakestraw advises. “Embrace an omnichannel experience where your online shopping experience matches your in-store experience.” Technology is evolving and soon the online fitting experience will rival the in-store experience. “Embrace where the market is going now so you don’t get be left behind.”

The Future of Brand and Retail Technology … Upper Quadrant’s product vision for 2021 and into 2022 is to provide industry visibility and collaboration tools for marketing and buying. It is releasing new products for run specialty this fall aligned to this vision that will help both retailers and brands.

Reaching and Converting New Runners in a Pandemic

The search for running shoes reached an all-time high in May 2020, per Google trends. People stuck at home took up running. The big challenge was how retailers could identity and engage these new runners.

Upper Quadrant clients track every customer interaction – in-store, online and at races – with its customer data platform (CDP). This customer insight enables retailers to dial in marketing tactics and messaging based on where the customer is in their journey.

To Identify a new runner is just a few clicks in the CDP to create a new customer segment: People who first purchased footwear in the last 30 days, although users can choose 60 days or six months if they want to.

Then, with the toggle of a switch, this new customer segment is synced with Facebook, whose  algorithms create a “look-alike” audience of other likely-to-be-new-runners for retailers to target with paid digital marketing campaigns.

Next, UQ targets New Customer Look-alikes with lead-gen digital ads promoting virtual fittings and “Win Free Shoes” to engage this new runner audience.

Using other digital ads, they gently steward new runners through a funnel, moving from awareness to conversion. As new runners are engaged, remarketing and email are leveraged to drive conversions.

The lead generation campaigns work for new runners and help identify who is interested in shoes — retailers automatically capture the email address and can trigger an entire email series to drive conversion.