We certainly are in some strange and challenging times. Brands and marketers are quickly trying to figure out where they fit in the new world and how can they reach and communicate with their customers, both empathetically and effectively. In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak marketers need to remain grounded and remember four foundational pillars that still hold true today:
1. Conduct a situation analysis
2. Develop a strategy based on the situation (both long-term and short-term)
3. Understand your aspiration: what you want to achieve
4. Identify the tactics to support the strategy
Bearing these pillars in mind, here is a simple five-step guide to help you maintain marketing efficiencies in these challenging times.
1) Effective Engagement Strategy
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. Think about what your audience cares about and what value you can add to their lives; more importantly, which communication channels you can reach them on. In our recent study on The Connected Consumer, the data shows that 40% of users have abandoned social media platforms due to privacy concerns. What was once the norm might not be anymore. 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.
2) Set Smart Goals
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; for example, a soft metric might be how many people saw your display or TV ad, whereas a hard metric might be how many people searched for your product or service and made a purchase. Think about your aspiration – what you want to achieve and how you’ll measure the success of it.
3) Micro-Moments of Opportunity with AI
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. Some consist of one to two touches, while others can be one to ten touches. 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. At Selligent Marketing Cloud, we refer to this an “event-driven journey,” which is the AI/machine learning element in our platform that automatically analyzes performance-driven data to trigger a journey campaign when a moment of opportunity presents itself. Work smarter, not harder.
4) Personalized Omnichannel Experiences
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 beyond these generic, 1:many emails by delivering a truly 1:1, personalized omnichannel experience. This fundamentally maps back to your strategy and supporting tactics: what does your data tell you about your customers? Analyze and understand what your best customers look like and what they care about most, in order to truly deliver a personalized, 1:1 experience that adds value when it matters most.
5) Love Your Customers and Grow Their 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. Remember our “dark social” example – 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 your 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 personalized value-add messages to their customers when the micro-moment of opportunity presents itself. Whether it’s free delivery on purchases, or a personalized promotional discount coupon, your customers will love you and keep coming back for more. Above all, they’ll become your loyal brand advocates.
Think about these five marketing efficiencies as you plan your communications and campaigns in this new environment. While you don’t want to overcommunicate, being sensitive to the situation, going silent now through these challenging times will only make it harder to come back later. Understand the situation, develop a clear strategy, set realistic goals, and identify the right tactics that will keep adding value to your customers, both short-term and long-term.