Online retailers should remember their heritage in order to ensure they stay ahead of the competition.

The traditional role of the retail marketer has centred on the management of brands, understanding customers and developing effective product campaigns for them.

In the online world, marketers effectively also run the estates department; acquiring visitor traffic and managing its interaction with the site.

With so much focus on acquisition and analytics it is difficult for marketing chiefs to see how promotional campaign management can be developed as a metrics-driven discipline online.

Herein lies a great opportunity for the retail marketer; by keeping a focus on understanding customers and letting someone else deal with the ‘clicks and mortar’, real uplifts can be achieved.

Content optimisation will increasingly position retail marketers at the crossroads between visitors and products.

This technology allows retailers to run multi-channel promotions to specifically targeted audiences in a new, concurrent and accountable way.

For example a page that carries three promotional displays for groups of products can now carry fifteen or more, serving the highest converting combination of promotions to the right people at the right time.

Multivariate testing is used to work out, in real-time, which content combination is driving sales most effectively.

The retailer’s content management system can be told what content to show to an individual visitor.

By applying visitor segmentation e.g. by referring site and multivariate testing within subsets of site traffic, the retail marketer can deliver the right campaign message to the right customer at the right time.

Behavioural targeting can take in a range of demographic factors including age and location and use multivariate testing to find the best performing content down to the individual visitor.

A customer searching for “garden tools” can be served the content that has been shown to increase sales to similar visitors in the past. Repeat customers can be served behaviourally targeted campaigns based on their history and demographic profiles.

This allows the marketer to automatically optimise web offers and campaigns to deliver measurable success within customer types.

By measurable success we mean whatever metric gets the board excited, usually its revenue but it might equally be registrations or page views.

Mark Simpson, MD Maxymiser, a provider of Multivariate Testing and Content Optimisation.