As we move into 2021, there’s no denying that our world as we knew it has changed –and with it, consumer behavior has also evolved as a result of the global pandemic. Brands can no longer rely on existing programs, but must review existing marketing practices and be ready to pivot and adapt; not only to massive consumer behavior changes in the world at large, but to individual customer needs.
More than ever, marketers need to leverage real-time data to personalize content and offers. Traditional loyalty programs also need to be adapted, as the value exchange you offer your customers must evolve beyond simple points based on spend, to capture explicit data essential in personalizing the customer experience. Loyalty must be driven by relevant personalized engagement, and not just incentivized spend.
At a top level, brands today need to focus on the customer experience they deliver, to add value into their relationships with their customers. To achieve this, here are four key aspects brands should focus on to drive an adaptive marketing strategy:
1. Message with empathy
Many people fear change, so brands need to put themselves in their customers’ shoes, embrace their fears and demands, and adjust their messaging accordingly. Part of this involves “listening” to the customers’ needs, better leveraging data to personalize the customer experience in real-time, and ensuring adaptive techniques are used.
2. Be more helpful in your messaging
In this new world, brands need to make their marketing messages more helpful; for instance, by combining traditional marketing with adapted messaging around improvements to service (e.g., more frictionless order processes, simple and safe returns, etc.). Combining these two types of messages allows brands to easily adapt in order to be more beneficial to consumers and create a value exchange, as opposed to just another broadcast to the masses.
3. Be relevant
For many brands during the pandemic, relevance went out the window. Messaging was either business-as-usual, or it focused on how the brand was adapting to COVID-19; for instance, keeping customers safe (e.g., contactless deliveries, handling packaging), or how they were handling their employees (e.g., ethical messaging). In the midst of this, some of the existing automated marketing programs (running in “lights out mode” behind the scenes) failed to deliver, lacking relevance and empathy.
4. Establish trust
In a data age driven by privacy and compliance, brands need to capture more explicit preference and interest data. Consequently, they need to be more transparent than ever into how they will use that data to deliver better and more relevant customer experiences to gain consumer trust. In addition, adapting existing marketing automation programs to ensure they are more relevant and to present the brand as being “authentic” will deliver a better customer experience, as well as fostering trust. Consistency of messaging and relevance across all marketing channels will also be key.
We recently published a guide to adaptive marketing techniques, to help brands leverage real-time data to “supercharge” their existing marketing programs; and to introduce some new conceptual ones they can adopt and change for their specific needs. We encourage you to download this free resource, using the link below. It will help you as you respond to your customers’ evolving expectations, offering authentic, personalized experiences on their preferred channels. Adaptive marketing must become a practice that all brands follow, to provide marketing that is truly customer-first – and to succeed in today’s ever-changing world.