February 8, 2021 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
It’s been a turbulent past year, and isolated consumers stuck at home because of the pandemic expect a more personalized approach. The time for experimenting with digital is over. Gone are the days when marketers just sent a “We Miss You” email to inactive email subscribers, hoping to re-engage them with a discount to increase sales. Companies should instead be looking for new ways to connect with customers through new technology, targeted digital media and predictive analytics.
Check out my three tips to reconnect with your consumers in a more meaningful way while increasing incremental revenue.
1. Invest in new technology
Companies should continue to invest in and leverage the technology from relevant small businesses to expedite innovation within their own companies. For example, you could take 10% of your marketing spend and earmark it as a “test and learn” campaign budget. Once you get the results back, then consider re-allocating more.
Despite the economic slowdown, it’s no longer enough to simply own an end-to-end digital platform to power your ecommerce business. Sixty-one percent of consumers say that digital experiences are just as important as a company’s products.
Back in 2010, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and loyalty programs were relatively new. For example, when I led digital marketing at Giorgio Armani Beauty, part of L’Oréal, I also helped launch L’Oreal Women in Digital, part of their NEXT Generation program, to support new technology created by women for women. We partnered with the founders of the startup firms to develop new content to showcase how L’Oreal was supporting them and integrating their media platforms into one of L’Oréal’s brands. We then created the playbook to launch L’Oréal’s first loyalty program in their Luxe division through Armani’s then-new partnership with 500friends, one of the NEXT Generation startups, by crafting the strategy, designing the user experience, projecting the five-year profit-and-loss financials, and sharing the best practices to implement it.
One key lesson? Go beyond merely rewarding consumers for shopping with you through basic loyalty points (e.g. spend $1, get a point). Customers crave more meaningful engagement from the brands they love. Eighty percent say they want personalization from retailers, and about 31% are now more loyal to brands that did.
Think about where the gaps in your business might be (augmented reality, CRM, digital media, etc.) and set up virtual meetings to learn how these small businesses might be able to help increase your bottom line. Be sure to dig into what the return on investment might look like for your business, ask for case studies and analyze how their tools complement your existing technology infrastructure.
2. Experiment with paid social media formats and segmentation
Once you’ve locked down new technology, reserve a portion of your ad budget to increase awareness.
Despite the economic slowdown, shopping on social media is expected to grow 35% in 2021. In fact, women are still key influencers, with 42% previously purchasing from social media and another 27% expressing interest in it.
Take advantage of various segmentation opportunities to target consumers by gender, age and interests across Facebook and Instagram. For example, you might segment ads to moms of 18-year-old daughters, with a select household income living in a select zip code who previously browsed the website. Once you confirm the segmentation (who will see the ads), experiment with the creative (what type of visuals and messaging resonate best) and optimize based on consumer engagement (who clicks which ad unit and when).
One key lesson is determining how best to match the messaging with the ad targeting (e.g. your ad copy might look different for teenagers versus moms). Another key takeaway is to experiment with ad formats. For example, Facebook is rolling out augmented reality advertising, Instagram is adding try-on features, and Snapchat introduced Local Lenses. These could be great test-and-learn opportunities to provide interactive experiences from the safety of consumers’ homes and also to see what resonates with your customer base.
3. Leverage predictive analytics
Once you have your ad campaign set up and results start trickling in over the next few months, consider experimenting with predictive analytics. Companies like Custora can help to forecast who your most inactive customers will be so you can set up campaigns before your customers start shopping with another brand.
For example, when I led global CRM and email marketing at Converse, part of Nike, I explored which of my customer segments were “lost,” or those who were about to stop purchasing on Converse.com, in addition to those who were “at-risk” of lapsing over the next few months. Once you have the data, it’s important to delve deeper to see which customer group might be more price sensitive (who you might offer a discount to) and who just needs to hear about new-product arrivals. This would allow you to deliver more relevant communications and increase sales.
While the marketing landscape continues to evolve, particularly during the pandemic, by following my three tips to increase your brand’s revenue, I’m confident that you can re-engage with isolated consumers during this unprecedented time.