(Photo: Reuters)
(Photo: Reuters)

Retailers have to install a digital, and online presence, otherwise they won't survive.

Speaking with IBTimes UK, the senior vice president at cross-channel market group ExactTarget says that the advertising and marketing has evolved beyond the scope of just the high street, and therefore retailers cannot resist the digital landscape anymore.

"If you are a brick and mortar shop, there is no option anymore to remain that way," said Sameer Kazi.

"You have to be online and use a variety of online tools to engage in the market place. You need to create interesting content, implement exciting and fresh techniques to engage with new and existing customers."

ExactTarget works with a number of small and large organisations, from your local pizza shop to Sony, Marks & Spencer, Expedia, Microsoft and Amazon.

Over the years, retailers have had to rapidly up their game when it comes to advertising and marketing.

One of the key ways, in which small and huge businesses have engaged with existing and potential customers, is by using algorithms to target audiences and their likes and dislikes.

"The biggest challenge for marketers over the next two years, is to sift through hundreds of databases and organisations, in order to determine the right message and targeted marketing for a select audience," said Kazi.

"But once certain audiences are identified, relevant and timely content is the key to customer engagement. Content is king."

The Social Media Megaphone

One of main ways in how small and large businesses alike have engaged more with their customers is through social media.

Through social media channels, such as Twitter and Facebook, companies have increased sales and customer engagement.

"For smaller retailers, many have overlooked the potential of engaging with customers through mobile and social media initiatives," said Kazi.

"If you are a bricks and mortar shop for example, by placing signage around the store to join an online programme or text to get instant discount, you not only get customers compelled to close a transaction but you also get the details of the customer for repeat business."

"In addition, their business could turn into ratings and reviews and create a fan base, that wouldn't have necessarily happened without that digital presence."

Social media companies, such as Facebook, facilitate targeted company advertising. Facebook has introduced a new system of "partner categories," which advertisers can choose from to target more specific markets.

On Twitter, viral recommendations can mean a boom in business for companies.

"Twitter can make or break a boom in business as positive experiences can translate into brand loyalty and new sales," said Kazi.

"However, Twitter is a megaphone for customer and business interaction, so if a company has done well, it is magical, but if customers feel that the firm is deaf to their experiences, it gets broadcasted to everyone in the world."

Big Brands Moving One Step Further

While many brands are starting to use algorithms to commence targeted marketing, business behemoths such as Sony are going one step further.

"It is not simply a case of targeting people who like gaming or certain games anymore, it is also about honing in on certain demographics," said Kazi.

"When I met with Sony Playstation recently, I said I like gaming, and they looked at each other and said 'midnight dad' gamer."

"They identified me as another key demographic that has a certain set of disposable income, played within a certain timeframe and that it is likely to have a secondary device, like a tablet, near me. By identifying that, they are able to hone in on a whole market that will respond to certain forms of marketing."