How Companies Can Stay Successful When Face-to-Face Marketing & Selling are Impeded

Kimberly de Silva

You’ve probably seen it in the news every day, the coronavirus is changing the way people are going about their daily life. In light of the outbreak of COVID-19, companies are also struggling to go about business as usual. Digiday sums it up clearly: “The economic shock of coronavirus is unique in that it affects both the demand and supply sides of the economy. On the demand side, there is less travel and likely more hesitant consumer spending. On the supply side, manufacturing supply chains are disrupted.” To try to keep employees safe, companies are taking preventive measures. But with these preventative measures day-to-day business processes – including manufacturing, marketing, and selling – are being put to the test. 

Who is it affecting?

Companies are caught in a spiral of uncertainty, as the outlook for the spread of the virus changes every day. In the B2B realm, a lot of in-person events are being postponed or canceled – which goes for Mapp too – making it harder to find new leads and conduct global business. According to The New York Times, “companies are telling investors sales are slumping because of the outbreak, conferences are being canceled, and workers are being instructed not to travel.”

B2C companies are also seeing a decrease in sales, especially traditional retailers, as people are choosing to stay home, instead of going shopping. But there is a silver lining for retailers… The current state is changing people’s buying habits: less brick and mortar, more online shopping. Forbes says that “both customers who want to avoid the crowds and those who are running into empty shelves at brick-and-mortar stores are turning to the internet to shop.”

Online retail sales increased by +81% in the week after the emergency state arose, according to Nielsen. Sales of products that can safeguard health, such as gloves, masks, and sanitizers jumped 817% in February compared with the previous month. In addition, online sales of toilet paper, canned goods, cold and flu medicine, and groceries have risen tremendously, USA Today states.

What can you do?

Whatever situation your company finds itself in at the moment, it’s time to move your resources to digital marketing in the coming months to keep the business running – and growing. Retailers can drive revenue by reallocating their budget to online marketing to drive people directly to their online store.

No one knows when things will go back to normal, but in the meantime, is your business ready to face the challenge? 

Ask yourself these questions:

 

How can a digital marketing platform help?

 

1. Drive people to your online store

If you’re only using email, it’s time to branch out. Use all your marketing channels to send consumers to your online store, including paid ads, push notifications, SMS, social media posts, etc. Businesses that adopt omnichannel strategies achieve 91% greater year-over-year customer retention rates, according to Aspect Software. What’s more, those omnichannel shoppers have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who shop using only one channel. Think of appealing promotions that people might need or want right now to drive website traffic (but read the discount section below first!). Pro tip: Before directing consumers to your online store, make sure your eCommerce site is in good shape and ready to take on the influx – both on desktop and mobile.

Target existing customers with messaging that draws on their purchase history and encourages them to return and buy again. Target prospective customers using existing customer data and insights to build a lookalike audience for new ad segments. Then use web browsing behavior to finetune both of those target audiences. But make sure you don’t waste ad spend on the wrong people. Use AI to suppress paid ads after they have been shown to a user X amount of times and then build persona profiles to prevent the display of adverts to users exhibiting similar behaviors to the people not responding to your ad.

2. Personalize your website experience

Enhance the traditional purchasing path by adding value at every stage with personalized, relevant and automated engagement. Especially on your website, make every single customer-brand interaction count with relevant content. Recommend the best products based on their previous purchase history, as well as viewed products across multiple website visits and interactions. Show your website visitors content that they actually want to see in order to guarantee higher engagement rates and decreased bounce rates.

3. Optimize your abandoned basket campaigns

 Is your abandoned cart strategy actually bringing people back? Abandoned basket marketing involves follow-up messages sent to consumers who leave a website without purchasing the items in their shopping cart. The typical shopping cart abandonment rate for online retailers varies between 60% and 80%. These consumers have left part-way through checkout, which means that, at one point, they were considering making a purchase. The potential here is huge! In order to optimize abandoned basket messaging, use analytics and insights to find out more about the people abandoning their purchase. Target and automate these emails, so that an abandoned cart series can go all out on its own – and have the most impact. Win back revenue that would otherwise have been lost.

4. Rely on the power of smart discounts

To acquire or retain customers, a coupon can help seal the deal. Discounts are an effective – but costly – way to entice prospects to buy something from your online shop; the higher the discount the more likely the sale. But not everyone needs to be incentivized. Those who would buy something even without a coupon make discount campaigns an expensive undertaking, as you are losing money on a sale that could have been at full price.

The perfect solution is actually very simple: only offer a discount to those who won’t buy without it. That way you won’t interfere with potential new customers in the checkout process who have already made up their mind. With the help of AI (part of an advanced platform like Mapp Cloud), you can predict the conversion probability of a consumer in terms of selecting who receives a discount. These predictions rely on real-time and historical data, taking into account all behavior of a user in the past and during the current session. Then you define the thresholds for the conversion probability, e.g. offer everyone below 60% probability a discount, users above this threshold will not see any discounts. This will reduce the cost of discount campaigns while enticing the unconvinced to visit your online store and make a purchase. 

5. Build customer loyalty

If your inventory is linked to China and you’re grappling with logistical bottlenecks and product shortages caused by the coronavirus, you can still rely on digital marketing to keep your customer engaged. Don’t take for granted how important it is to maintain good customer communication. The most important thing is that you want customers to remain loyal even if things aren’t going the way they should. Keeping your customers in the know will relieve a lot of frustration. Customers might be upset or frustrated because they didn’t get what they expected, so it’s your job to let them know that you care. Send messages to keep them up to date on delays, when certain products are expected to be back in stock or to just tell them you appreciate their loyalty in this crazy time.

As we mentioned before, use all channels at your disposal to build that relationship with your customers, including web, email, mobile, and social. Wherever consumers are, meet them there. Keep it all manageable by automating these communications. Build targeted campaigns automating all steps ahead of time. The recipients’ response should be taken into account over the course of the orchestrated campaign sequence, as well as their individual preferences. For consumers who do not respond to the first message, the content can be repackaged and/or offered through a different channel.

Wrap up

There are companies that are unexpectedly seeing an uptick in business since the outbreak – and online retailers are among them. In a world where people are increasingly hesitant to go outside, consumers are starting to rely more heavily on the internet than ever to go about their daily life. Is your business ready to take on this new customer need in this challenging time? Mapp Cloud is an insight-driven marketing engagement platform that can help your company remain successful while face-to-face marketing and selling are impeded.

 

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