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Up the value of customer insight during COVID-19

24th Sep 2020
Apteco
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In the second half of 2020, as the nation starts to navigate out the other side of lockdown and the Covid-19 global pandemic, every business shares one thing in common - trying to discern what the ‘new normal’ is for both their industry and their brand. 

Now more than ever before, fully understanding and being in tune with customers’ needs is a top priority, especially because personal needs and requirements will have changed for many people throughout the course of 2020 so far. 

From changes in customers’ financial situations to a shift in the values they now look for in brands, companies need to reposition themselves in a way that will ensure customers continue to trust both them and their services.

Gathering data is a critical part of how brands can grow and develop in line with what their customers are seeking from them. And, in the ‘new normal’, brands need to be taking action and diving deeper into data than ever before.  

Increased importance of stability in the customer relationship

With many households facing changes in their financial situations - and many of these changes having a negative impact - brands need to ensure their messaging and content is providing a reassuring message. 

During this time, brands should be looking to shape their marketing strategies to best reach their existing customer base with empathy, as well as emphasizing loyalty and service. More specifically, they should be aiming to create content that is genuinely helpful and relevant for customers, rather than content that solely seeks to serve a promotional purpose. To do this, be sure to create content that is driven by insight from your business data. 

The use of platforms such as Google Analytics will help you to identify new search, journey and goal results that reveal the key topics and themes to improve traction on your website. Use of CRM and operational analytics will enable you to see changed spending patterns and new customer segments. You can use these insights to inform the content you share and create, to ensure that your brand’s values are evident and help maintain customer trust.

If your brand’s products and services are bigger than a transactional spend and require a significant investment from customers, now more than ever your prospective customers will want to be confident that your company is stable and secure for the long term. Consider analysing customer behaviour - which we’ll discuss in more depth later on - to identify certain behaviours that should trigger the use of content or promotional material that has a reassuring message regarding your organisation’s stability during this time and beyond. 

Feedback in one of Apteco’s recent webinars showed that brands have noticed an increase in email engagement since the Covid-19 lockdown, suggesting customers are seeking to maintain their relationships with brands they’ve purchased from in the past. In light of this, brands can look to adapt their email communications to ensure they’re relevant, suitable and sensitive to the current climate in order to keep relationships with customers strong. 

Adapt your customer journey based on what data is telling you 

Every customer’s journey is unique to their individual and specific experiences with your brand.

As a brand, your efforts should be focusing on proactively looking for ways you can adapt and change your key processes to best support each customer on their journey with you. Certain challenges to your processes will likely have arisen during the pandemic, such as whether you’re able to operate predominantly online. Whilst many consumers turned to making online purchases when shops were closed, will this behaviour continue? Let’s take Amazon Prime’s subscription service as an example, as their revenue increased by 28% in Q1 2020 compared to the same quarter a year ago, with an influx of people turning to them to purchase essentials. Will users of this service revert back to going into shops, or will there be more of a balance between the two than there was previously? 

Data can support you in positioning your brand in a manner that meets customers’ expectations and needs as they go through their journey towards making a purchase from you. Whether this is taken from surveying your customer base to learn about their current attitudes and choices, or from your digital or operation platforms, your data needs to be real and insightful. 

Feedback from the webinars showed that whilst many attendees were monitoring email open, bounce and click rates, fewer people were tracking email campaigns from send through to basket orders. With that in mind, it suggests that businesses could be putting more efforts in place to analyse customer behaviour more deeply, and then make informed decisions as a result of what the data reveals.    

During this time, brands should also be looking to shape their marketing strategies to best reach their existing customer base with empathy, as well as emphasising loyalty and service. More specifically, you should be aiming to create content that is genuinely helpful and relevant for customers, rather than content that solely seeks to serve a promotional purpose. To do this, be sure to create content that is driven by insight from your business data. 

The use of platforms such as Google Analytics will help you to identify new search, journey and goal results that reveal the key topics and themes to improve traction on your website. Use of CRM and operational analytics will enable you to see changed spending patterns and new customer segments. You can use these insights to inform the content you share and create, to ensure that your brand’s values are evident and help maintain customer trust.

Use customer behaviour analysis to benefit your brand

Data should be at the very foundation of your content strategy, and gaining a deeper understanding of your customers’ behaviour during this time will help you to pinpoint the promotional messages you should be using. 

Transactional analysis, customer journey analysis and a gauge of the level of support required for each customer, should all be things your brand thoroughly understands. 

Firstly, use both analytics tools and third party analytics, such as Hotjar, so you can ensure that real and accurate data is informing your decisions. 

Then, when you have the insights, knowledge and more awareness as a result of the data you’ve gathered, don’t just sit on it - make clear actions and changes with this data at the forefront of your decision making. Make preparations to better understand and allow for measurement of the effect, too, by testing every change using control groups. Timing is key at this stage; any changes you make should be swift, as leaving it too long will mean you run the risk of your messaging being outdated or inappropriate for the current time. This could, in turn, lead to customers losing trust in you and your brand.

There are many advantages to turning your customer interactions into likely outcomes, or ‘predictions’, for future behaviour - otherwise known as the practice of behavioural modelling. For example, you can then adapt your internal strategies for business and marketing activity in a way that is directly influenced by your customers’ recent behaviour. Don’t just limit this analysis to purchases, but also look to analyse data from your contact centre, website activity or your app. Things like whether a customer is making their first order, or alternatively have been making fewer orders than normal, can all add to this bank of data and insights you’re creating to shape your activity and strategies. 

What does the future look like for using data to adapt to customer needs?

Every industry is currently working to prepare for the ‘new normal’, as well as the permanence of the effect of Covid-19 - and there’s not just a simple one answer to fit all. 

Every brand and sector should be using their unique data, trends and year on year comparisons in order to shape predictions for what should be expected from the remainder of 2020 and beyond - such as whether online purchases were just a short-term solution, or if this is now the go-to platform for trade. 

To truly understand your customers, you need to be using data in a way that not only gets under the skin of behaviour, but also make actions and changes to your processes in line with these results. Look to re-evaluate your segmentation so that your marketing strategies are customised for different customer types. What new personas could you make as a result of emerging segments in new trade trends? Bear in mind that some of your previous segments could either now be irrelevant, or may need to be subdivided. 

Whilst no brand knows for certain how to orientate their way through the other side of the pandemic and the remainder of 2020, it’s no secret that businesses need to be on the ball more than ever before; constantly seeking ways to better understand your customer base, their behaviour and their priorities during this time. If you take the time to make changes to your messaging, content and strategies based on what your unique data reveals to you, you’ll be in a far stronger position to manage and maintain customer loyalty for 2020 and beyond.

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