This past year has shown us that digital channels can be responsible for an entire customer experience. From advertising to promotions to point of sale, the entire funnel can be managed digitally, and COVID-19 accelerated digital transformation even further.
As we move into 2021, organizations are accelerating their digital transformations, and they have to manage a balancing act between budget restrictions, managing a response to changing market conditions and fostering innovation. We’re in an age where compromise isn’t an option, so only the brands who get creative with their marketing strategies will succeed.
There is a bright side, though: B2C and B2B brands, non-profits, and government entities are all going through the same thing. So let’s use this time to learn from each other, forge a path to what works, and generate insights that drive future initiatives.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a few of the challenges marketers are facing today, and offered a quick look how to overcome them.
Challenge: There’s been a fundamental shift in the customer journey, skewed dramatically toward digital.
What To Do: Embrace empathy in marketing.
First off, breathe. You’ve been planning for this. The shift toward digital has been on its way for a while now, and you’re more ready than you think. So start by adjusting your mindset, so you can see the world from your customers’ eyes and build a solid foundation of customer understanding. Then you just need the right tools in place. And it starts with an interesting one: empathy.
Understanding your consumer and what they’re going through on a day-to-day basis is vital to creating a digital experience that works for them. Consumers don’t think in channels or funnel stages, so you have to design your campaigns with their lifestyles and unique needs in mind. Then tailor the tone and types of content you offer to be valuable beyond just making a sale. This could mean leaning into educational content or giving loyal customers exclusive VIP perks to build their relationship with and community around your brand.
Offering the right content at the right time on the right device and channel is key, and to do it right (that’s a lot of “right”), you need a data platform that shows you who your customer is.
Challenge: Brick and Mortar is facing major upheaval.
What To Do: Prioritize long-term customer loyalty.
The age of in-person browsing for many retailers may be over. That means higher acquisition costs and a less-cohesive experience. COVID-19 has vaulted consumer adoption of digital channels about five years ahead in a fraction of the time. So use technology to your advantage. Business intelligence tools can help you analyze the new trends in customer behavior during COVID-19 and adjust your strategy going forward. Implement the changes you need to make and allow yourself to innovate at the customer level. Whether it’s appointment-based shopping you can book online, or a seamless transition from email marketing to e-commerce, you have the ability to use these changes to better relate to your customer and foster a sense of community and connection.
And those connections can’t only happen in one channel. You need a unified brand experience that feels personalized to create those 1-to-1 relationships. But the results are worth it. You can see it in the ROI, but you’ll also be able to see it in the lifetime value of your customers, both new and existing. This is a time to build relationships and trust with your customers, whether it’s through brand recognition, personalized cross-channel campaigns or in-person service.
Challenge: It’s hard to tell what trends are temporary and which ones are here to stay. That makes investment more difficult.
What To Do: Trust your data.
But first, fix your data. No more silos, no more disparate experiences. This is all about a unified view of both your organization and your customer, and when your data is disjointed, it’s not going to give you the right guidance.
To solve this, there are two parts. First off, include your entire organization in the process and establish a culture of data-driven decision making. Collaboration across teams is absolutely vital, because it helps create a more unified experience. And the customer can tell. Plus, with a more unified experience, the data you get back will be clearer and more actionable. Trusting your data starts with making sure all of your data is transparent, accurate and accessible. Data tools that feature capabilities like identity resolution can help marketers stitch together all of your separate customer moments into one full total picture of who that customer is. When your data is unified and actionable in real-time it can help you make better decisions for years, not just in the first few months post-COVID.
Second, put your customer first (even though we put this second). This isn’t just a one-way conversation. It’s a real dialogue. You can listen, be responsive, learn and adapt. Meet them where they are, no matter where they are in the consumer funnel. You can achieve this through strategic automation, robust consumer insights, and a brand experience that can live on any channel.
It sounds wild, but data, marketing tech and machine learning can help you be more human with your marketing. And that’s never going away.
For even more tips on how brands can transform their marketing strategy for a post-COVID age, get our e-book: Who Are Your Best Customers? Rethinking Customer Loyalty in a Digital-First World.