Over the past year-and-a-half, companies around the globe have accelerated their digital transformations. In fact, a McKinsey survey of 899 C-level executives and senior managers found that the share of digital or digitally enabled products in their portfolios has been expedited by seven years.
But will this digital-first reality outlast the restrictions put in place because of the pandemic?
New research is indicating that people are eager to resume in-person activities (albeit often masked, once again). For example, one study found that many consumers want to get back in the shops, especially for household essentials and fashion and clothing. Another revealed that 80% of executives want to return to live events.
Finding the right marketing mix for this dynamic post-pandemic environment will require careful consideration and analysis. As you start deciding where best to direct your efforts, make sure you know the answers to these three essential questions:
- What do your customers want most? Digital, in-person, a little bit of each— even without looking at your data, I can tell you what your customers want most, and that is: choice. It’s that simple (and at the same time, so very complex). Your customers want to be able to interact with your brand wherever, whenever, and however it is most convenient for them. That means your marketing mix must be multi-dimensional enough to support a frictionless omnichannel experience.
In addition, the experience you offer must be adaptable, so that once a customer’s expectations are understood, you are able to react quickly. Artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies can enable this level of real-time insight and make it possible to appropriately provide either a digital or physical interaction. For proof, take a look at Microsoft’s Partner Network team, which is using Sitecore AI- Auto Personalisation to identify visitor segments through AI and deliver personalised content through machine learning algorithms. The network also benefits by using Sitecore to implement further personalisation that shows results of higher engagement with target audiences who are receiving greater value and more relevant content in their partner network experience.
- Is your digital experience the right size? At its most fundamental, digital engagement is about enabling customers to interact directly with your brand and understanding who they are as humans—not data points. That requires shifting your mindset from measuring output metrics (e.g., impressions, click-through rate, cost-per-click views, shares, likes, and share of voice) to focusing in on telling the right story, personalising experiences, and driving action. Your goal is to understand, empathise, and connect with your audience in the ways that are most relevant to them. To deliver this kind of support, you need to be able to thoroughly collect, unify, and then analyse customer data, right-sizing the interactions as buyers progress on their journeys.
- Do you have the personalisation capabilities to compete? The shift to contactless interactions during the pandemic changed the way we work, shop, and consume services so, it’s no surprise that the optimisation and personalisation of B2B, B2C, and D2C digital content has become a top priority. In an online survey of 1,000 consumers aged 18-64, a whopping 90% said that they consider personalisation appealing and 80% indicated that they are more likely to do business with a company if it offers personalised experiences. That message is being heard loud and clear. In a February 2020 study of marketers in the United States and the United Kingdom, about 33% of respondents said they were devoting more than half of their budgets to personalisation. Competition for customers is fierce and the brands that are able to deliver connected and contextualised experiences will be the ones that prosper.
Adapting to a post-pandemic world will require reevaluating your marketing mix to ensure you are delivering the best possible customer experience. The key is to understand your customers and continue to improve how you interact with them across all channels, using digital processes and platforms to help you do just that. Make sure you have not only the mindset, but also the tools, you need to rise to this new challenge.