How to Adapt Your Current Personalisation Strategy for a COVID-19 World

See how brands are pivoting their digital personalisation strategies to serve relevant content to customers in a new reality.

pivoting digital experience

As 2020 began, many of us had personalisation at the top of our priority list. But then came the COVID-19 pandemic and many digital marketers had to pivot their strategies and move quickly into crisis-management mode. Existing campaign plans were thrown out overnight and we had to quickly re-focus on COVID-response communications and strategies. We had to navigate moral and legal considerations while accelerating our digital transformation pursuits to stay connected with our customers from their homes.  

As we move into the ‘new normal’, whilst many marketers’ first instincts may be to throw out their entire playbook, there’s no need to start from scratch. In a Virtual Roundtable earlier this month, Acquia founder Dries Buytaert pointed out that the pandemic isn’t causing digital transformation, it’s accelerating digital trends that were going to occur in the next few years, now that there’s an immediate need. 

The companies who survive are those who show agility and creativity and a willingness to adapt their digital experience to meet the circumstances, even if they’re in traditional “in-person” industries such as travel and hospitality. One great example of this is TimeOut’s ‘TimeIn’ - brand refresh which completely shifted their content strategy for their ‘stuck at home’ audience. 

In a time of uncertainty (economic and otherwise), marketers should focus on what they know works and double down on nurturing and building relationships with their existing customers.

Offering Relevant Content

Isolated in our homes, the digital space is our link with the outside world. We’re relying on it to stay informed, keep us entertained and even to stay fit. Your website is the face of your business (more so than ever before) and the race is on to engage meaningfully with our customers via a slew of digital channels.   

So how do you cut through the noise of bland COVID position statements and platitudes? You need to be relevant, useful and in context with your customer’s situation and needs. Personalised experiences, offers and services will be key to this. 

Acquia customer Capita identified that the COVID-19 situation has impacted their target industries (education, healthcare, government) in different ways. They have invested in industry-focused thought leadership content and used personalisation engine Acquia Personalization to surface that content to the relevant audiences visiting their site.

Similarly,  Acquia customer VSO have recently launched personalisation on their site, carrying through their investment in a new tool, albeit with a different than planned initial use cases that focus on their COVID audiences and adjusted priorities. 

Many companies have seen their earlier investments in digital experience and personalisation technology pay off. Here’s our advice for how to refresh and adjust your current approach to personalisation and digital marketing and optimise your content for our current reality.  

What to Do Now

1. Revisit your customer segments and persona definitions 

Explore how the COVID crisis is changing behaviour and consider what changes are likely to stick as we move to ‘the new normal’. Did your old model assume older generations are less likely to be on social media or consume video content? Think again!

2. Look for new opportunities 

In an economic downturn, people are less likely to be spending on luxuries, but we can help them get hold of necessities with personalised “back in stock” notifications and replenishment reminders 

3. Audit your automated campaigns 

Is your current tone and messaging still relevant? Or are you accidentally spamming people with reminders to trade shows that are now canceled? Look into your marketing automation campaigns to make sure touchpoints, messaging and tone of voice are sensitive to the current situation.

4. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater

Update existing and planned campaigns when it makes sense. Acquia customer WaterAid have added COVID variants to their Acquia Personalization abandoned donation campaigns 

What to do next?

Make sure that crisis management doesn’t get in the way of long-term success. Take a medium and long term view, and ensure that you’re investing appropriately in personalisation technology, infrastructure, skills and planning that will position you to take advantage of new world opportunities. 

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