This article article was originally posted on Forbes.
The events of the last year have led marketers to step back and evaluate their marketing strategies. As consumers have become conscious of their spending, and with a need to stay home, marketers have been dipping their toes into the waters of new strategies to market and sell their products effectively.
One area where businesses have seen tremendous success is e-commerce marketing. The industry often rewards brands that market and sell directly to consumers and offers a potential for high growth for brands that prioritize their e-commerce marketing strategy to account for more consumers shopping online. According to Commerce Department data (via Digital Commerce 360), “Ecommerce sales hit $791.70 billion in 2020, up 32.4% from $598.02 billion in the prior year.” Additionally, according to IBM’s U.S. Retail Index (via Yahoo!), the pandemic accelerated retail trends by roughly five years.
The retail industry will likely never look the same, and brands need to cater their digital strategy to consumers to remain competitive. I believe brands that embrace agility will win.
How? As the senior vice president of customer innovation and marketing at a company that offers a platform for personalized digital marketing and advertising, here are three ideas I recommend.
Use Marketing To Drive Sales
Covid-19 has changed the way we communicate, and the economic impact has forced senior marketers to think differently. A Gartner survey found that 44% of CMOs expected “budget cuts of 5% to 15% or more” as of July 2020. Gartner found that digital spend was a top priority that accounted for 80% of marketing budgets in 2020.
Despite the benefits of a digital-first presence, marketers still face challenges. For example, marketers have traditionally measured their campaigns using clicks, traffic and other metrics that are based on little consumer data. They often delivered the same message to the consumer over and over, without data to prove whether or not it was resonating. This can lead to consumer fatigue and drive them to competitors.
How can you drive revenue while setting feasible KPIs to march forward?
In the post-pandemic era, the increased pressure to not only drive clicks and traffic to the website but also turn those into revenue requires a different mindset and strategy. If you are a CPG brand, you could shift your business model to digital commerce and your marketing focus to driving sales through e-commerce marketing. You would now have to set new KPIs to reflect these changes, like the actual number of purchases and the number of repeat purchases. Prioritize creating more precise and relevant ads in the lower funnel that lead to consumers making more purchases.
Adopt Direct-To-Consumer (DTC) E-Commerce Marketing
Marketing for DTC e-commerce allows brands to control the entire customer experience, from packaging to messaging. A DTC e-commerce strategy bypasses the traditional practices of selling through third-party retailers; instead, brands market and sell directly to customers through their own websites.
Although they traditionally sold through retail, I’ve found that consumer goods and CPG brands are increasingly seeking to build direct relationships with consumers. The closing of retail stores during the pandemic accelerated CPG brands’ move to selling online. Even before the pandemic, Nike — in pursuit of its digital commerce strategy — pulled its products from Amazon.com and later cut ties with large retailers in 2020. What could you do?
Focus On Personalized Messaging
If you are looking to switch to a DTC e-commerce marketing strategy, focus on promoting your best products based on your audience’s individual needs. For niche manufacturers or DTC brands that operate in niche markets, it’s essential that they understand each of their customer’s specific preferences. For example, a meal kit DTC brand needs to know not only how to communicate differently to vegetarians and vegans, but also these customers’ taste preferences, desired culinary experiences and so on.
Build your direct access to consumers into personal brand relationships. Use consented first-party data you collect from the various channels you own to gain insights about your customers’ interests, habits, past purchases and when they are thinking of buying. This gives you the power to own the one-to-one communication with customers. Now, as I’ve written about before, you should also find the right technology to scale personalization and use automation to bring down your personalized content and creative production costs. Make sure personalized experiences for customers are always top of mind.
Implement Omnichannel Personalization
A 2019 survey from Infogroup (via eMarketer) showed that 90% of U.S. consumers find messages from companies that aren’t personally relevant annoying. It’s important for brands to tailor their messaging to fit each consumer based on their individual needs in real time; it’s equally important to deliver that message to the consumer at the place — or through the channel — where they are spending time at any given moment.
Adopting an omnichannel marketing strategy is a good first step. To succeed in e-commerce marketing, marketers should take things one step further by incorporating the omnichannel personalization approach to marketing. While omnichannel and personalization have been around for over 10 years, creating a consistent message across all channels — including display, social, video/connected TV (CTV), email and website — has arguably never been more important than it is today, especially for digital commerce marketers. Where do you start?
Determine Your Ideal Channels
If you’re looking to get started with omnichannel personalized marketing, first determine which marketing channels best fit the brand experience and communication strategy you have designed. Imagine the experience every consumer could have: seeing relevant messaging and product recommendations on your website, social media platforms and email newsletter. Everything you communicate should speak directly to their interests.
Toward Personalized E-Commerce
As we look toward the end of the pandemic, I believe our relationships with consumers will continue to be more important than the products and services we sell. Connecting on a human level could have an extreme impact on your company’s future success. As more brands adopt e-commerce and DTC marketing, personalization and sales could directly affect how customers view your brand and give their loyalty — now and post-pandemic.