As we all begin to slowly return to a new kind of normal life, it is clear that the COVID-19 outbreak has brought with it many new experiences and learnings that will change the way we live, work and play going forwards.
Brands and marketers, among other industries, have never found themselves in a macro-situation of this scale before. Many have had to find new ways to manage and navigate business continuity, and now find themselves in a different space than before. As the world awakens, brands are figuring out where they fit in, and how to reach new and existing customers, both empathetically and effectively. This requires marketers to evaluate their current marketing strategies, with adaptability in mind, to ensure continued success.
Rethinking go-to-market strategies
As a result of the pandemic, brands are having to completely rethink their go-to-market strategies and redefine their business goals. But the key to all this is to look past all the “noise” and think long-term, not just short-term, such as what your audience cares about and the value you can add to their lives; more importantly, which communication channels you can reach them on, as recent research found that 40% of users have abandoned social media platforms due to privacy concerns.
As more and more people rely on online processes for everyday aspects such as shopping, work and banking, transparency about how and where data is being used and stored is key to building a strong relationship. Marketers need to think strategically about which communication channels are most relevant and effective to reach their target audience, to deliver their message and add value.
Setting smart goals – soft Vs hard KPIs
As marketers, we love the concept of attribution modelling, but the reality is that not everything can be tracked and attributed. In digital marketing especially, we often forget the notion of ‘dark social‘. This is when a customer has a good (or bad) experience with a brand and socially shares that experience/product/service with their family, friends, and colleagues, so the influenced prospect can then pursue that same experience, product or service. Marketers need to be smart when setting campaign goals and break this down into soft (qualitative) and hard (quantitative) KPI metrics, focusing on the end goal and how to achieve it.
Working smarter not harder
Understanding the customer journey is not easy. In fact, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all customer journey. We all know that it’s a multi-touch journey we endure on the path to purchase. However many touches it is, each of these ‘micro-moments’ plays a vital role in terms of winning or losing a customer at any given time. Marketers need to think logically when analysing data, in order to extract actionable insights they can apply to future campaigns: what worked, what didn’t work?
True marketing personalisation
1:1 vs. 1:many. As consumers, we have modified our behavior as technology has evolved, becoming savvier and less responsive to the generic messages we are pushed by brands. We’ve all been hit by a tsunami of 1:many empathetic brand messages recently, which is a good thing. But to truly keep the momentum flowing, marketers need to be able to add value to their customers’ lives by delivering a truly 1:1, personalised omni-channel experience. This comes from analysing and understanding what the most valuable customers look like and what they care about most.
The value of customer loyalty
Customer loyalty is something all brands should aspire to simply by the virtue of their existence. In times like these, it’s more logical to keep and retain your loyal customers than it is to try and buy new ones. Let your loyal customers become your brand advocates to attract new customers. One of the key ingredients to the success of any loyalty program is the customer data platform (CDP) – insights such as purchase history and real-time web activity data can be merged together through AI, allowing marketers to push personalised value-add messages to their customers when the micro-moment of opportunity presents itself. Whether it’s free delivery on purchases, or a personalised promotional discount coupon, customers will keep coming back for more, and become loyal brand advocates.
Right now, it is important that brands strike the right balance between over communicating and under communicating with their customers. While saying too much could come across as insensitive to some customers, brands that don’t maintain some sort of ‘normal’ communication with current and prospective customers will make it harder to make the strong comeback that so many companies need. Keeping a clear understanding of the wider situation, developing a clear strategy, setting realistic goals, and identifying the right tactics will ensure marketers are reaching customers and adding value to them. This will set them up positively and more effectively not just in the short term, but the longer term too.
Sam Counterman is the Director of Marketing, Northern Europe & Global Digital Lead for Selligent Marketing Cloud. He has more than 15 years of marketing experience within B2B and B2C environments.