What bike would you choose for a ride with really steep hills or climbs; an old-school 10-speed with friction downtube shifters or a modern carbon-fiber bike with an 11 or 12-speed cassette and electronic shifting? Unless you’re a die-hard vintage bicycle enthusiast, and really strong climber, choosing the modern bike for a difficult ride is a no brainer. It’s simply more fun and more efficient because you can have all the gears you actually need at your fingertips.
In some ways, there are parallels in the way you can choose to approach shop marketing today. Many shops still rely on blanket emails or promotions that are designed around trying to appeal to the widest possible audience. And they are missing out on the advantages of modern data-driven approaches that make marketing easier and more effective.
Adapting to a fast-changing sales landscape
Consider how fast the sales landscape has changed in the past year. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we quickly went from worrying about the economic fallout to being overwhelmed by demand from new and existing customers. In short order, the COVID-19 pandemic changed peoples’ priorities and led to entirely new packs of outdoor and bike enthusiasts.
The shift created unprecedented challenges in how shops interacted with and served their communities. Many new enthusiasts have all kinds of questions, since a lot of them haven’t ridden bikes since they were kids. What’s more, in many shops, service departments are backed up for weeks at a time and bikes practically fly off the racks. In this environment, it’s more important than ever to capture customer data (which can be as simple as collecting an email at the POS) to help provide more personalized service.
As vaccine rollout accelerates and things begin to “normalize,” shops face the challenge of keeping new riders motivated and engaged. At the same time, some customer habits from the pandemic will likely remain. For example, many people will default to shopping from home and picking up at the store.
Given the diversity in bicycle types and riding preferences, and new shopping expectations, it’s nearly impossible to effectively market to customers using old-school methods.
Marketing should fit customers as well as their bikes
Your shop likely spends a decent amount of time helping customers adjust their riding positions. You may even offer a pro fitting service. Fit is important for efficiency, comfort and safety, so it would be foolish to ignore.
Marketing that “fits” is also critical because your customers will ignore anything that doesn’t immediately register as relevant to their interests or needs. After all, data and automation have driven personalization across nearly every facet of our digital lives, so everyone has a lot of competing information to sift through and choose from. To nurture strong relationships, you have to make sure your communications resonate. But how can you do that cost-effectively and without overstretching your team?
Tap into the power of your POS and ecommerce data
Fortunately, good marketing no longer requires a big team or significant technology investments. Your shop just needs to be smart about using the data you already have—namely POS and ecommerce data. From those sources you can understand how individual customers prefer to shop and customize your outreach to them accordingly. From your POS data alone, it’s possible to accurately target information and offers to all of your customers. You simply need a way to segment customers according to things like buying habits and interests, send messages that are highly relevant and then measure the results so you can continually fine-tune your approach.
When you have the ability to analyze and use both POS and ecommerce data, you are even better positioned to understand customers and meet their specific needs. Beyond providing easy purchase pickups and making your shop feel welcoming and safe for in-person browsing, you gain many more opportunities for keeping sales cranking beyond the pandemic.
Target offers more effectively and increase sales
A hard-core roadie likely wouldn’t care about your latest e-bike arrivals. And an e-bike rider likely wouldn’t care about an Ultegra Di2 or GRX group set promotion. With the ability to segment and target customers, you can direct highly relevant communications to different rider groups.
Even more importantly, you can better serve your most valuable customers. That’s huge when you consider that 80% of revenue typically comes from 20% of clients.
One of the great things about local shops is their community involvement. But it’s hard to encourage involvement from individuals when you don’t understand their potential interests. Using your POS and ecommerce data, you can make more accurate assumptions about customers’ interests in specific activities and build campaigns that target them accordingly. That means you could send targeted communications for:
- Women-specific rides and clinics
- Charity rides
- Weekly group rides (by ride type)
- And more.
Stay connected with new and existing customers
Everyone is busy, so it’s easy for customers to forget about things like service checkups for new bikes. With data-driven marketing, it’s possible to automate reminders or check-ins with customers. For example, some shops send discount promotions for bike anniversaries. The fact is that when customers come back to take advantage of a 30-day tune up or some other targeted discount or promotion, most of them will spend money on other things as well.
If you’re helping, customers will welcome your emails
If you’re thinking that all sounds great but we want to respect customers’ privacy, it’s understandable. But the reality is that when people opt into emails, most welcome relevant communications. That means you just need to be strategic about what you send and how often you send it. What’s more, a data-driven approach helps on multiple levels, including:
- Simplifying recall communications
- Streamlining COVID-19 protocols
- Helping with providing documentation for insurance claims
- Providing service reminders
- And more.
Set your own tempo and elevate your brand
One of the nice things about data-driven marketing is that a well-conceived campaign or two can deliver rapid results. And once you’re rolling, it becomes easier and easier to add campaigns and adjust your strategy based on the shifting customer dynamics. Your outreach should be a reflection of the “personality” and brand of your shop. It’s impressionable so it’s important that you get it right.