With 2018 almost in the books, Gartner L2 pored over a years’ worth of Gartner L2 Intelligence Reports to discover the brands with the winningest digital strategies.
Using a two-dimensional grid, it analyzed 600 brands in 14 sectors, identifying smart trends — and smarter brands — in a variety of categories.
Omnichannel was an important trend, says Mike Froggatt, a director on Gartner L2’s Intelligence Team. “With increased pressure from Amazon, physical stores are becoming a competitive advantage.”
The retailers thriving most in a channel-agnostic world are those optimizing the size of their physical footprint and using cannier digital marketing and fulfillment strategies, he tells Marketing Daily. And while these were once the purview of Warby Parker, Away and other digital-first brands, traditional retailers are now nailing these strategies, he says.
Some 52% of the retail brands Gartner L2 analyzed beefed up digital channels and in-store experiences throughout the year. About 42% have only improved in one domain, while 6% are stuck in neutral.
Among the best performers? Walgreens and Walmart, which Froggatt says is “constantly testing and learning with its app, turning it into an even bigger payment service than Apple Pay.”
In evaluating content and commerce, Gartner L2 points out that marketers seem just as overwhelmed as consumers. Standout brands are able to create content that is both streamlined enough that it works on mobile, and detailed enough that it helps people make better shopping decisions.
Froggatt says content is increasingly important in driving search results. “One of our key takeaways is that when people come to branded websites through social visits, they spend more time there than if they came from organic search. That means a higher level of engagement.”
One power player is J. Crew, which he says excels at using personalized email not just as marketing, but content, too, highlighting new arrivals in a way that boosts the open rate.
Nike also earns high praise, blending content with loyalty in NikePlus, based on customer data. “They moved away from that purely transactional relationship to one that is experiential,” Froggatt says.