- In light of the pandemic, as some brands have cut back on marketing spend and resources, marketers are finding they don’t have the capabilities or in-house stack needed to keep up with emerging consumer trends and behaviors.
- With a more critical eye to their current strategies, marketers have the opportunity to identify inefficiencies, such as:
- Fragmented consumer analytics across different media channels, such as search, social, display, video and connected TV
- An inability to combine online click data with offline conversion data (like in-store visits or phone calls) to get a complete view of the customer journey
- Going with a “gut feeling” on what strategies are driving the best results, rather than relying on data-driven insights
Call me dramatic, but I think everything we relied on as marketing experts pre-COVID-19 needs to be reconsidered – everything.
I am optimistic for the future of businesses across industries as confidence begins to rise and spending starts to re-emerge, but many marketers are finding that they don’t have the capabilities or in-house stack needed to keep up with emerging consumer trends and behaviors.
Consumer priorities have changed, affecting category growth; consumer habits have changed, affecting loyalty; and consumer buying activities have changed, affecting channels where conversions take place.
Retailers I’ve spoken to have said their ecommerce growth has accelerated beyond their five-year plan.
So here we are, five years ahead – and it’s time to accelerate our marketing tactics into the unknown. In order to be successful, marketers must take a more critical eye to their current strategies and identify inefficiencies.
Identify and connect with your loyal and known users
Start by taking a deep dive into (Read more...) behavior of your known user base – the only true, immediate window into how behavior has and will continue to change.
Then, work with partners who can match and execute against these known audiences at scale and across all channels. This will allow you to test relentlessly against messaging, offers, channels and product mix.
In the current environment, loyalty is fragile and should not be taken for granted. Consumers have been exposed to many other brands during this time out of necessity, or deep research.
Matching your messaging and media to the intent signals coming from the marketplace ensures that marketing is personalized, relevant and effective.
An engagement strategy should identify what consumers are interested in and ready to buy, as well as their purchase patterns and where they like to shop.
By leveraging technology solutions that take into account factors such as historical coupon redemption, as well as intent and daily location signals, marketers can look at the consumer journey holistically and engage the right audience at the right time (via the most effective channel).
Understand every conversion and purchase path, no matter the marketing channel
Too many marketers look at online conversion only as a proxy for their total business. Yes, online conversion is seeing tremendous growth; however, as the physical world begins to reopen, we must understand the role of the store.
Consumers have been doing a lot of online research during this period, but we have not seen the spend fully follow.
In August 2019, the Valassis Awareness-to-Activation Study found that 59% of consumers who purchased furniture in the past few years did their research on a retail website, although 68% made their purchase in-store.
Due to the nature of furniture purchases, and the desire to physically test products, half of shoppers will complete their research in a physical store before buying the product.
Conversely a recent campaign for a mid-tier furniture store showed that over 30% of buyers visited a store before purchasing online. A single view of online activity would not allow us to fully influence the path to purchase.
Implementing a custom, multi-touch attribution model can help accurately account for the media touchpoints that occur along the path to purchase; allow marketers to effectively allocate digital media spend; and improve return on ad spend.
By combining online click data with offline conversion data (such as phone calls or in-store purchases), brands will get a more complete view of the customer journey and a more effective measure for the impact of each media interaction.
Develop local marketing strategies within a national plan
As I write this, I cannot go to my favorite restaurant, but I can drive 10 miles over the state border and eat out at a variety of places. There is no current uniformity in consumer options or behavior as everything is in flux.
The country has variations of local regulations, and experience-driven consumer behavior based on proximity to COVID-19 outbreaks. Marketers must understand that one national strategy will not work, and instead listen, learn and react locally.
Brands can develop a hyperlocal advertising strategy based on each neighborhood’s behavior. Utilize real-time messaging and offer testing to understand what is resonating by locale and optimize to that.
This is where AI-based platforms win and can provide true efficiency. Technology that is rooted in geography allows brands to reach consumers 1:1 or scale to a neighborhood and store for expanded reach, to deliver smarter multi-channel campaigns.
The race is on: Speed to execution
Regulations and sentiment are changing daily. Consumer behavior is reaching a tipping point where they are ready once again to spend and that decision is made quickly.
During this time, if you have a lag in how quickly you can react to a data signal, you not only missed the opportunity for a purchase, you may have missed long-term value.
Meeting consumers in the moments when they are most receptive to your message – based on their current behavior and intent – is critical.
Marketers must rely on data-driven insights to fuel the best results and that can only happen by tracking physical traffic, intent, content consumption and conversion data, and reacting in real-time to those signals.
The marketers acting on this level of insight will be relevant and helpful when a consumer re-engages, possibly creating enough goodwill to drive loyalty.
Tom Dolan is executive SVP of media services at Valassis. Tom is charged with the development and growth of our Performance Media and Channel Services as well as Retail Media and Platform Services. His success in leading our digital sales team and strategizing with CMOs and executives at top brands and agencies ensures he’ll deliver cutting-edge solutions.