Why it’s time to tailor your omnichannel marketing strategy to fit the now

Bruce McMeekin is CEO and founder of BKM Marketing, an integrated marketing agency based in the Boston area. Bruce is a highly regarded direct marketer, serves as a judge for the ANA International Echo Awards and other awards programs, and frequently speaks at trade events. BKM Marketing serves results-driven clients with specific specialities in creating direct marketing campaigns for banks, franchise marketers, and other industries.

The Covid-19 pandemic has profoundly altered consumers’ needs. Specifically, customers who once settled for basic customer service now crave brands that make them feel valued, safe, and happier. Adjusting omnichannel marketing strategies to adapt to changing needs is always important, and now it is essential for building brand preference and loyalty.

Companies that instinctively pivot to “now” are thriving. For example, Tesla simplified its online vehicle purchase process with fixed pricing, limited buying decisions, and home delivery. As a result, the company boasts a 90% overall satisfaction rating and outstanding customer loyalty.

Clearly, the best omnichannel marketing strategies evolve along with market forces. Companies that adjust their strategies now will optimise their brands for success and build longer-lasting customer relationships.

Adapting to uncertainty to meet consumers’ needs

Marketing decision makers are required to adapt to change at any given moment to meet customer needs; this year has only prioritised this responsibility. Brands that don’t change their marketing strategies to fit the current landscape may lose leads, market share, awareness, sales, and — worst of all — customer trust. Here are a few ways to begin making adjustments:

  • Evaluate changes in your customers’ needs. Your customers have likely altered their priorities during the year. Examine whether your product or service still meets their needs — or if you need to reposition benefits or implement pricing changes
  • Observe competitors’ responses. Figure out whether your competition is accommodating customers in accordance with certain guidelines, such as social distancing rules. Also, determine whether they have changed advertising frequency, altered social media, or adjusted email timing and content
  • Gauge your company’s reaction. Brands need to be of service to customers. Prepare to shift strategies as necessary to be more helpful. If you’re in hospitality, for instance, use a hopeful tone and message to show that you’ll be there when customers are ready to get out again

The goal of any brand should be to build and sustain long-term customer relationships through all of its channels. Ultimately, customers’ needs should drive your marketing strategy — especially in times of uncertainty.

For example, let’s look at business-to-business lead generation, which relies on omnichannel strategies and data-driven tactics to move prospects through the funnel and upsell/cross-sell existing customers. Before the pandemic, this would have been done using a combination of email, direct mail, phone follow-ups, etc. Now that many businesses are operating remotely, some of these tactics would only reach empty offices. Therefore, marketers need to increase digital tactics — after all, consumers rely on digital channels now more than ever — and find new ways to connect with audiences.

How marketers can update their omnichannel strategies

To revisit and redesign your brand’s omnichannel marketing strategy to meet consumers’ needs, consider the following four steps:

#1: Centralise your data

Young companies often design digital systems that track current customer and prospect behaviours, anticipate future needs, and simplify the delivery of messages. As a result, they commonly outperform companies that lack these systems. A Capgemini study found that B2B businesses that embrace digital transformation are up to 15% more profitable than those that don’t.

Centralising your data on one database — ideally a CRM platform like Salesforce, HubSpot, Insightly, Microsoft Dynamics 365, or Zoho, — can help you keep up. Plus, it makes it easier to examine how your customers’ behaviours have shifted this year and adjust your marketing strategies accordingly. If you need more convincing, CRMs yield an average ROI of $8.71 for every dollar spent.

#2: Measure attribution rates

Despite the positives, you might lack a centralised CRM due to budget restraints, a lack of executive buy-in, or any number of reasons. But that doesn’t mean you should give up on measuring attribution rates. This metric can show which of your omnichannel tactics are working best along your customers’ journeys. Determining which channels or messages had the biggest influence on their decision to take the next step allows you to focus on fruitful marketing avenues.

For instance, if you see that your audience is spending more time at home, you can target them with display ads, direct mail, email, and social media ads. If your brand has national appeal, you could reach customers through local publishers. Track which media drives which behaviours, and strategise accordingly.

#3: Compare past sales

Sales analysis offers many benefits, including identifying customers’ needs, discovering reasons for failure and success, and spotting market opportunities. To take advantage of those benefits, compare recent sales figures with patterns from last year. Understand what has changed in your sales mix to help you meet the needs of your most profitable customers as well as potential customers.

Partnering with your sales team to examine behaviour in last year’s buying process should help you qualify and target leads more effectively this year. Looking at past buying processes also allows you to generate more personalised recommendations for what customers should purchase next. All of these steps can help you make the most of your current and future marketing strategies to present messaging that matches your customers’ needs.

#4: Anticipate future needs

The pandemic will end, and smart marketers should start preparing for this much-anticipated moment. In a post-coronavirus world, the most successful companies will deliver relevant and empathetic messages while putting their customers first.

When the time comes, anticipate what your customers will need from your business using forecasting, testing and experimentation, and social listening. Many CRMs can help by analysing data on your customers to predict future behaviour (another reason to adopt a centralised CRM). In addition, simply asking your customers about their anticipated future needs will help show that you care and want to provide the best service possible.

Conclusion

Consumer and business buyers’ needs have changed this year, but marketers have the same responsibility as always to monitor their omnichannel marketing strategies to ensure they’re adapting in the most beneficial ways. You wouldn’t just set your omnichannel marketing plans and forget them in a normal year. Why start now?

Read more: Why continuous testing holds the key to effective omnichannel marketing

Photo by pina messina on Unsplash

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