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Two-thirds of UK consumers return to brands who treat them as an individual

New research has revealed the extent to which the pandemic has changed customers’ expectations of brands, and the increasingly important role of a streamlined digital experience post-COVID. 

The new data – from a survey of 2,000 UK respondents undertaken by OpenText – reveals that 62% of UK consumers are more likely to buy again from brands which treat them like an individual, rather than the same as any other customer. This demand for brands to engage with customers as an individual is mirrored across Europe – in Italy (70%), Spain (63%), France (59%) and Germany (55%).  

Four out of ten (43%) UK consumers only buy from brands that make them feel they understand their preferences, such as communicating with them through their favourite channels or providing tailored deals.  

Customer Experience is King 

More than half (56%) of UK consumers would be put off buying again from a brand due to a bad experience. In fact, six out of ten (60%) do not believe there is such thing as a ‘customer for life’ anymore in 2021, suggesting that brands cannot rely on customer loyalty stretching far enough to recover from bad experiences. 

Creating a frictionless experience for customers is key to providing a good experience. When buying products or services online, nearly three out of four (72%) UK consumers say that an easy search is very important to them. Furthermore, half (48%) prefer to shop with brands that auto-fill and remember their details for next time. There is, however, pressure on brands to store that data correctly: half (54%) would even be willing to pay more to do business with a brand that is committed to protecting their personal data. 

“The COVID-19 crisis has been a dramatic catalyst for digital acceleration across all sectors, forcing businesses to change how they communicate with customers,” said Lou Blatt, Senior Vice President and CMO at OpenText. “As a result, customer expectations have also shifted. They now expect more from brands – more communication channels, more personalisation and, above all, a more continuous and connected digital experience. The ability to deliver rich, ultra-personalised communications at scale, across all touch points and channels, is now mission-critical for acquiring, developing and retaining customers.” 

The importance of digital in a post-COVID world 

For 54% of UK consumers, the pandemic has changed their expectations of what a brand’s digital offering should be. One fifth (19%) won’t use brands if their experience isn’t excellent when buying online. 

Nearly half (46%) are now more comfortable with digital only businesses as a result of the pandemic. For more than 4 in 10 (43%) UK consumers, a personalised digital experience is now vital to them if they are to come back to a brand time and time again. 

The research also reveals consumer perspectives on which organisations have risen to the challenge of providing an optimal experience during the turbulence of the last year. Four in 10 (40%) say bigger established brands have been able to offer a smoother digital experience than smaller ones during the pandemic. 

“Creating a positive customer experience is all about removing friction and increasing relevance: the easier something is to do and the more relevant it is to each customer, the better the experience,” said Guy Hellier. Vice President, Product Management at OpenText. “Today, customers expect their journey, from researching products to tracking orders, to transition seamlessly from one digital platform to another while retaining a consistent personalised feel – delivered across any device, at any time. For brands, this means investing in a digital experience platform which enables them to integrate data, information, and assets seamlessly across different environments. Without this in place, brands will struggle to create and deliver the cohesive and personalised experiences needed to win and retain customers.” 

Marketing production in highly regulated industries: overcoming key challenges

By Paolo Teotino, senior technology alliance manager, OpenText

An effective marketing strategy today requires an integrated approach across multiple channels to reach an organisation’s target audience. As a result, many different channels are now pivotal elements for a compelling multi-faceted marketing strategy, including email, mobile apps, websites, microsites, social media, webinars and many more.

Yet in highly regulated industries, such as life sciences, the ability to quickly make the most of new digital marketing assets is restricted by compliance requirements and stringent regulation. This presents a major obstacle for organisations trying to use new digital channels to promote new products and services to consumers – with many finding their efforts significantly slowed down as a result.

Sector challenges

The life sciences industry faces some specific challenges. For instance, organisations must comply with the relevant regional regulatory authorities – such as the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the UK. Consequently, marketing assets for prescription drugs must be accurate, include balanced information on risks and benefits associated with the product and be consistent with the prescribing information approved by the regional regulatory authority. Furthermore, only information supported by strong evidence can be included. Some regulations also require materials to be auditable and even stored in certain ways for certain periods of time.

Additionally, life sciences companies must develop highly effective review and approval solutions to meet the demands of changing relationships with doctors and patients. These industry-specific obstacles are combined with the broader challenges facing rapidly growing global organisations in every industry today, from evolving operational needs and transforming digital processes to overcoming information silos and adhering to broad regulatory guidelines.

In this environment, it’s easy to understand why companies operating in regulated industries are searching for best practices that enable an efficient marketing workflow as well as rapid marketing process innovation. The ability to implement a completely automated platform — replacing manual processes with system-driven workflows and asset lifecycles that use Digital Asset Management (DAM) platforms – represents a major step forward today for businesses looking to reduce overall complexity and cut down on time spent creating a fully compliant marketing campaign.

Automate and speed up

Automating digital asset management is key if businesses are to enable a timely and efficient marketing workflow. Regulatory compliance demands that document management processes such as content creation, review and approval, and content distribution are executed in accordance with industry standards and are auditable. Creating workflows to develop and manage operating procedures for quality control ensures consistency, reliability and efficiency. Furthermore, streamlining collaboration via automation can also lower costs related to the creation, management, and storage of marketing content.

Automation can also extend beyond assets to project management. Marketing projects generate many digital assets. By implementing a content management solution that provides complete digital media supply chain management, teams can track individual elements and whole projects from inception through to distribution. Some systems also offer start-to-finish production accounting tied back to the business systems, providing details on how the budget is spent to bring greater accountability.

Utilising a comprehensive platform to regulate marketing asset lifecycle and unify cross-enterprise production and delivery processes enables organisations to achieve faster innovation, better brand consistency and regulatory compliance. Companies adopting these systems for their marketing project management processes can move more quickly. In fact, one OpenText customer experienced a 70 percent reduction in average time for asset review and approval – reducing the approval process from days to minutes.

While efficiently using and managing digital media assets can be a significant challenge for highly regulated organisations, employing the right technology to automate and streamline processes can transform the marketing function. Companies moving from manual processes to automated DAM platforms will quickly reap the rewards – from reducing time-to-market to complying with regulations – to benefit the entire enterprise.