In 2021, with the world still changing dramatically because of the pandemic, companies and brands are evaluating their emotional connection to their customers.

And to put it mildly, it’s complicated!

On one hand, consumers are hopeful about the arrival of vaccines and the prospects of ending lockdown measures that have left people isolated for almost an entire year at this point. They are also trying to connect with others as much as possible, indicated by a sharp uptick in social media use, which is 50% higher than before the pandemic.

But on the other hand, consumers are more safety conscious and concerned about protecting themselves and their loved ones. They also want guidance and trustworthy information in these uncertain times – which is where companies can make a big difference now and in the months ahead.

With that said, here are five digital marketing strategies to make your customers love you in 2021:

1. Make a personal connection

Now that digital channels have become the status quo for staying connected with customers, personalized engagement is no longer a premium feature, but a must-have. Consumers expect website content to be personalized, and 74% of customers feel frustrated if it’s not. Leading genealogy platform FINDMYPAST (FMP) wanted to provide a more personal and engaging experience for users after logging into their account, to ensure maximum relevance. Using Selligent’s Site module for website personalization, FMP was able to boost user engagement by displaying personalized content via the website dashboard, which significantly improved the user experience, leading to 23% growth in records viewed and searches completed.

But creating a personal bond at scale can be challenging. Companies need a 360-degree view of each individual customer; for instance, by connecting the latest behavioral data to universal profiles. From there, it’s up to marketing-specific AI engines to make magic out of data and pull on those heartstrings.

2. Offer shopping options they love

Even in our post-pandemic reality, customers still love to shop. But shopping habits have changed forever, so make sure to be receptive to the new ways customers like to shop.

The biggest trend in 2021 remains with mobile and contactless pick-up options, which 64% of consumers request now. Searches for contactless shopping experiences grew seven-fold in 2020, and the retail segment has raised the bar with BOPIS and curbside options. In a recent push, Dutch retailer and Selligent client HEMA encouraged in-store customers to fall in love with digital purchases, and saw a 23% boost in online shopping revenues.

3. Look attractive on mobile

Create appealing experiences on small screens, or consumers will swipe left. The importance of smartphones skyrocketed during the pandemic. Global use of smartphones has increased by more than 70% since the start of the global pandemic. As a result, marketers can no longer neglect how their experiences play out on mobile devices. Belgium’s number-one fast-food restaurant, Quick, recognized the need to boost customer loyalty via its mobile app, when many new customers were completing one purchase on the app – and never coming back for a second or third. With Selligent as its omnichannel marketing automation platform, Quick was able to successfully target app customers right after their first purchase, on their preferred channel, and create a customer journey toward two, three, four or more consecutive meals.

Looking attractive on mobile has never been more important than now. It’s already common knowledge among marketers that 40% of consumers will leave a mobile site that takes longer than three seconds to load.

In May 2021, Google is actively putting a premium on mobile experiences when a set of metrics known as Core Web Vitals become search rank signals. As a result, the search engine will dock sites for requiring more than 2.5 seconds to load large-sized images above the fold or being unresponsive to input for more than 100 milliseconds.

4. Reward loyalty and commitment

You got to have faith. Before the pandemic, marketing was obsessed with creating new (customer) relationships. But the pandemic shifted the scales and as a result, doing more with existing customers is the new focus. The popularity of loyalty and membership programs is at an all-time high, especially those enhanced by gamified experiences and personalized member services on company websites. In a win-win scenario, Selligent client Alliant Credit Union let members recruit other members, garnering 7,000 new prospects in less than four weeks by harnessing the power of word-of-mouth and rewarding loyalty.

5. Be a trusted partner

Time to get real. The pandemic has stripped away hype and empty promises and placed trust at the center of customer relationships. For 53% of consumers, trust is now the major factor when it comes to buying from a new brand. And in 2021, the journey towards winning lifelong trust starts with being transparent and committed when it comes to privacy and security.

Looking ahead, the days of third-party cookies collecting customer data appear to be numbered, with Google phasing them out in 2022. Instead, it will be paramount for brands to access opted-in and voluntary data submitted by consumers (for instance in loyalty programs; see 4).

As consumers are becoming more aware of data protection legislation such as GDPR and CCPA, demonstrating value in return for data is key, an increasing number will fork over data in return for personalized experiences (see 1.), thereby creating a virtuous cycle of accurate and timely data in return for added value in long-term relationships with companies.

Keeping the spark alive with your customers is an ongoing mission! Use all the insights and creativity you can and keep listening to your customers. Also, download our free white paper, Adaptive Marketing Techniques for Post-Pandemic Messaging, for proven strategies to be a responsive and connected partner in these unprecedented times.

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Adaptive Marketing Techniques for Post-Pandemic Messaging: Our world has changed dramatically, along with consumer behavior

This guide offers techniques to help marketers adapt existing strategies and programs to better meet the evolving needs of consumers in a post-pandemic world.

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This guide offers techniques to help marketers adapt existing strategies and programs to better meet the evolving needs of consumers in a post-pandemic world.

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