Re-Engaging Consumers in a Post-Pandemic Era
Adaptation is the key to success
A couple of weeks ago, I received my second COVID shot. In addition to protecting myself, I like to think that (in some small way) I’m protecting those around me and doing my part to bring things back to normal. Here’s the thing, though: Does anyone really know what “normal” is anymore? Some people think that things have never been more uncertain since the pandemic hit, but the truth is that the business world has always been fraught with uncertainty. Just when you think you’ve got everything all figured out…ideas, technologies, or even consumer behaviors will change. Today’s businesses must constantly adapt if they hope to survive, and this statement was as true 20 years ago as it will be as we move into the next decade.
The Business Landscape Is Changing
Even before we started seeing a light at the end of the COVID tunnel in the form of widely available vaccinations, consumers were shifting toward online buying. This trend started before the global health crisis emerged, and the pandemic only served to accelerate the online purchasing patterns that were already in motion. This was especially true for Generation Z. According to a WHSR blog, less than 10% of Gen Z consumers reported buying items in a physical store. For comparison, this share was over 25% for Millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers. Perhaps even more striking, these numbers are pre-COVID! There is no question that online purchasing is on the rise. In many cases, the default shopping behavior will NOT involve visiting a retail store; more and more consumers are buying online, and marketers must meet them where they are.
According to a landmark vertical market survey that Keypoint Intelligence conducted in 2020, nearly 70% of total respondents were shipping products directly to customers as a result of online purchases. Predictably, this share was higher for some industries than it was for others, but an online presence is key to reaching today’s consumers.
|Does your company ship packages directly to customers as a result of online purchases?|
Now is a great time to get your business in front of new buyers. According to the WHSR blog referenced above, 40% of recent online sales are from people who are buying online for the first time. Once people have a taste of the convenience afforded by online purchasing, they probably won’t go back. This isn’t to say that people won’t continue to shop at brick-and-mortar locations, but online purchases will become increasingly prevalent.
Unleash the Potential of Your Website
We’ve already established how important online buying has become, so it should come as little surprise that a web presence is a must in today’s business environment. During the early days of the pandemic, some businesses discovered the hard way that their websites needed to be front and center. The lifeblood of any business flows through its website, and people will generally visit your website first. Even after COVID-19 becomes a part of our history, this is unlikely to change.
The primary purpose of your website is to convert online visitors into sales, but conversion remains a key challenge. The fact is that most people who visit a website simply won’t make a purchase. So how can you convert more website visits into leads? The answer, of course, is data. Data plays a pivotal role in creating customized print and digital campaigns, so the more information you can find out about your customers when they visit your website, the better.
Although everyone has some degree of concern about the privacy and security of their personal data, the reality is that businesses and consumers have come to expect a personalized experience when they interact with brands. Today’s marketers must walk the line between respecting their customers’ privacy and collecting the necessary data that drives personalized communications. The good news is that most consumers are willing to divulge some of their personal information to brands that they trust, particularly if there’s some benefit for them. This is why so many websites will include offers that say something like “join our e-mail list for 20% off your first online order.” In situations like these, the brand receives access to the customer’s personal information so they can market to them in the future, while the consumer gets a chance to save money when ordering from that brand. It’s a tradeoff that’s beneficial to both parties.
Establishing a relationship with customers has never been more important because today’s consumers and businesses actually want to engage with brands they trust. Over time, marketers can obtain more information about their customers and, thus, develop even more customized messages across an array of printed and digital communications. According to Keypoint Intelligence’s most recent marketing communications data, “personalized and relevant content” was the single most important factor that prompted consumers to read/review their direct mail or digital marketing messages. Marketers must strive to obtain as much information about their customers as they can; delivering relevant communications across a wide array of media types will foster trust and help increase brand loyalty.
Today’s marketers must leverage their websites and customer data to create personalized messaging that strengthens the brand's connection with its customers. In many cases, customers are lost to competitors or fall out of the habit of doing business with a brand simply because they lose ties with it. Rather than being on your customers’ minds at all times, you should strive to be in their minds at the right times. After all, you want to attract new customers today, but building a relationship can help ensure that they keep doing business with you in the future!
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