Listen to your customers: five marketing lessons 2020 has taught us
By Stefan Britton, CRO, Datasine
2020 has been a challenging year for all businesses and has certainly kept marketers on their toes. We saw massive societal change due to the Covid-19 pandemic but also with events like the Black Lives Matter movement which have had a significant impact on the mood of the nation. Brands have had to quickly pivot their approach to respond appropriately.
So, what has this year taught us? How can marketers prepare themselves for what is looking likely to be an uncertain start to the year ahead?
- Brands must be on good behaviour
In 2020, we saw many brands realise the hard way that their behaviours are just as important as their marketing campaigns, and we’re increasingly seeing consumers shun brands that don’t behave. We saw Wetherspoons meet a barrage of criticism when it withheld payments to 43,000 staff until it received the Government’s furlough payment. As a result of this backlash, the pub chain soon reversed this decision and promptly paid its staff. Fashion brand, Boohoo, was also called out when questions were raised about poor working practices in their supply chain. These claims came at a cost to its reputation, and damaged relations with other retailers who sell the brand.
Businesses are clearly being held accountable for their actions by consumers – perhaps now more so than ever before – and it’s important to be mindful that it’s not just their online behaviours that are being judged. Social media has given audiences a very loud voice and long memories and good marketing can’t outrun bad behaviour.
2. A move to mobile
New habits were formed during lockdown as online shopping became more of a ‘lifeline’ than lifestyle choice. Online sales are expected to account for 27.5% of total retail sales this year, and no doubt the impact of lockdown on the high street will continue to be felt far into the future.
The conversion rates from desktop devices are typically twice as high as they are from mobile devices, however this year, there’s been a significant shift to mobile online shopping (mcommerce) with more people being at home and using their mobile phones to shop.
Brands need to look at the mobile experience they offer their customers because consumers expect a common experience, no matter how they engage with a retailer. Help customers engage in whichever way they want to.
3. Intelligent analysis of data
Research we undertook in 2020 showed that only 46% of marketers are using their data effectively to inform their future campaigns, yet 100% acknowledge that harnessing customer data more effectively could boost the success of these campaigns.
Effective use of data enables marketers to move from insights to action and make quick decisions on the journey they want to take their subscribers on. Alongside this, marketers need to have a better understanding of exactly who their customers are – that’s a piece of data in itself. We frequently see big brands with multiple CRM systems and multiple points of entry for data collection, and no single view of their customers.
Data can tell us a lot about our customers. Digging into this data more deeply will enable marketers to understand why, how, and when people make the decisions they do.
4. Tell us what you want
A report from EY shows that the Covid-19 crisis has boosted technology engagement for 21% of households but less than half (44%) now feel in control of their personal online data. Consumers’ growing scepticism about use of their personal data is making access to crucial customer insights increasingly difficult. To provide customers with the personalised experience they have come to expect, many marketers are now looking for ways to engage with them more directly.
It’s ok to talk to customers and canvas their opinion about how they want you to sell to them. If your customers know that you want to learn more about how to keep them happy, chances are they will respond. Ask them questions and opinions on the marketing activities you have planned. For example, ask them about how receptive they would be to discounts on certain products, or if they feel you need to make improvements to a current product set.
Once you’ve embarked on this journey to get to know your customers better, keep this dialogue open and try to speak to them as often as you can. For example, you might decide to change brand identity – ask customers what they think and involve them in the decision-making process.
5. A place to listen, not just shout
Facebook is evolving as a platform, and the introduction of the Business Suite and improvements to brand safety options are just some of the enhancements we’ve seen. Next year, I expect to see more brands using the platform to create communities rather than just using it to promote products. Facebook, is no longer just a place to advertise and shout about how great you are, it’s become a platform for listening and learning more about customers.
Marketing professionals need to brace themselves for another bumpy ride in 2021, and as the only constant currently is change. If 2020 year taught us anything, it’s that it is more important than ever before to listen to our customers.