How to build trust and loyalty in retail with reception marketing

Here's how retail brands can connect with consumers by delivering valuable content whenever and wherever they need it.

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The consumer experience has fully evolved from anonymously transactional to personally helpful. Retail brands must seamlessly mesh into and be present throughout the customer journey to remain useful to consumers. They must provide real value in the right place at the right time.

Consumers make purchase decisions largely based on their online research, not necessarily on product packaging, benefits or customer service. What does that research look like? Searches for comparison guides, ingredient overviews, brand and product reviews, etc.

The brands that proactively provide the information their audiences seek will build long-term relationships grounded in trust. This information should be brand-controlled to ensure the preferred narrative is told clearly and directly. This is especially true in the retail industry, where establishing trust means delivering relevant, comprehensive answers to the consumer’s concerns and interests.

Because 87% of shoppers use smartphones to research a product in-store (price comparisons, customer reviews, etc.), retail brands must be present, helpful and authentic online. If not, they risk ceding the narrative and attention to competitors, influencers and online publications.

Forging a strong connection with the audience in their moments of need is the way to create lasting brand affinity and loyalty. Let’s dive into how to ensure your brand is present when and where it matters most.

Your data is talking

Consumers are leaving digital breadcrumbs for you to follow — from specific website feedback to the content they’re viewing to their social media reactions and online searches.

For example, you can identify the most common terms being searched related to your market. Take the fashion retail category, where common queries include:

  • “How to clean white sneakers.”
  • “What is business casual?”
  • “How to shrink jeans.”

Paying close attention to those triggers, understanding related emotions and using them to inform your content marketing approach are keys to retail growth.

A marketing shift that’s moving product

The proactive approach, known as reception marketing, uses this readily available consumer data to understand consumers better, then turns those insights into valuable content delivered at the moment they need it.

But what about interruption marketing? Most people don’t like being interrupted — especially by a message that doesn’t provide any value. Then what about permission marketing, the long-standing retail marketing favorite? It’s an often disconnected, transactional tactic that is fading fast.

With reception marketing, your brand can become a trusted source of authoritative, useful content that meets consumers — even when they turn to Google in your aisles rather than store employees. Are you ready to provide the answers consumers are looking for?

OAO has the goods for growth

You can provide the answers consumers want by leveraging owned asset optimization (OAO) — the quintessential reception marketing strategy. OAO allows retail brands to guide consumers to make sense of all the information and options swirling around.

Establishing your brand as a trusted publisher in its own right is a proven, scalable method to connect with consumers and is a very real possibility with OAO. Your brand status means you have industry knowledge, while OAO ensures you now have the data and the platforms to deliver exactly what consumers want.

Letting consumer behavior data inform what content you prioritize so you’re best equipped to solve real user problems is a transformational strategy in the retail space. Your visitors don’t care about everything, only “their thing.” So make your content about what they want to know — not a generalized message that speaks to everyone and no one all at once. With OAO, you can consistently deliver this relevant, useful content through your network of assets, starting with owned media such as your website. 

Then, optimize it for visibility and user experience. Regularly analyze user behavior and adapt strategies based on where audiences spend time with your brand. Let those insights drive incremental adjustments that add up to long-term brand loyalty and eventual conversion. This will support cross-channel value, ensuring your owned asset informs the content shared in external platforms.

So, how can retailers apply this strategy?

Putting OAO to work in retail

For retail brands, the opportunity is ripe. When a consumer searches for “business casual” and “how to dress for an interview,” they would likely respond to informational content that guides them through dressing for different professional industries, body shapes and event types.

You could run an interview series, sharing stories of your clothes in action in the office or the field alongside a suite of brand-owned videos celebrating the versatility of their looks. You could assemble a guide or lookbook for users to inspire their own looks.

These resources help to position your brand as a trusted guide early in the shopping journey. You’ve laid the groundwork in the consumer’s mind with the knowledge, support and value you provide. Over time, those associations will bear fruit when consumers are seeking a new purchase.

These owned pieces of useful, consumer-relevant content can then be utilized in channels with less control but higher visibility, like social media, PR, ads and news. This helps expand your footprint while asserting a positive influence over the narrative about your brand out in the wild. 

Dig deeper: 5 tips for balancing ‘push’ and ‘pull’ in content marketing

Help consumers check things out — before they checkout

Consumers are constantly doing their own research and working through all their options. That’s a simple fact among retailers. What’s less apparent is that all this searching creates the signals retail brands can use to truly understand their audience’s needs. By plugging into this data, brands can craft the right resources and build a network of owned assets designed to deliver value whenever and wherever consumers are in their journey. 

By understanding the value of reception marketing and creating an OAO plan, your brand can stand out from the undifferentiated competition. All you have to do is connect your vast product and industry knowledge with what consumers are already searching for. That’s how you position your brand top of mind early on and throughout the increasingly competitive buyer’s journey.


Contributing authors are invited to create content for MarTech and are chosen for their expertise and contribution to the martech community. Our contributors work under the oversight of the editorial staff and contributions are checked for quality and relevance to our readers. The opinions they express are their own.

About the author

RJ Licata
RJ Licata is the Sr. Director of Marketing at Terakeet, the Fortune 500's preferred owned asset optimization (OAO) partner for strengthening brand and consumer connections. With over 20 years of experience in the corporate, collegiate athletics, and small business marketing sectors, RJ guides Terakeet’s brand growth, protection, and expansion among its global business partners and growing employee base. He is a leading voice on the value of OAO as a dominant marketing strategy. His marketing expertise has been featured in Entrepreneur Magazine and MediaPost, and he has been a featured speaker at several industry leadership events.

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