As Coronavirus spreads, companies are taking preventive measures to try to keep their employees safe. But with these measures, day-to-day business processes – including manufacturing, marketing, and selling – are being put to the test.

How are businesses being affected by Coronavirus?

Companies are caught in a spiral of uncertainty, as the outlook for the spread of the virus changes every day. In the B2B realm, in-person events are being postponed or cancelled, making it harder to find new leads and conduct global business.

B2C companies, especially traditional retailers, are also seeing a decrease in sales as people are choosing to stay at home instead of going shopping. But there is a silver lining for retailers. People’s buying habits are changing: less bricks and mortar, more online shopping.

What can you do?

Whatever situation your company finds itself in at the moment, it’s time to move your resources to digital marketing to keep the business running – and growing. Retailers can increase 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:

Is your eCommerce traffic growing?
Are you increasing your advertising spend to drive more traffic to your eCommerce store?
Can you track which channels/formats are performing better?
Are you monitoring the customer journey on your eCommerce store?
Can you detect anomalies before it’s too late?
Do you have a strategy to convert new customers without burning your entire margin on discounts?
Are you asking feedback to your new customers after their first purchase?
Are you effectively managing abandoned baskets?
Can you classify customers by LTV and treat them accordingly?
Can you easily control which products sell more and why?
Do you have a strategy to engage new customers while they’re on your website?
Are you personalising the customer experience on your website?
How do you turn a first-time customer into a repeat buyer?

How can a digital marketing platform help?

1. Drive people to your online store

If you are only using email, it’s time to branch out. Use all your marketing channels to take consumers to your online store, including paid ads, push notifications, SMS, social media posts, and so on. 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. 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.

2. Personalise your website experience

Enhance the traditional purchasing path by adding value at every stage, with personalised, relevant and automated engagement. 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. Optimise 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. In order to optimise 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 incentivised. 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 (as 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.

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. You can also simply tell them you appreciate their loyalty in this uncertain time and keep them entertained by trialing different creative techniques such as video or AMP email that allow for much greater interactive and memorable experiences.

6. Continue tracking customer intent

It may be particularly hard if the majority of your business comes from high ticket items because consumers are less likely to make larger investment decisions in non-essential goods. In fact, Vogue Business reports that luxury retail could shrink by €40 billion in 2020. Rather than continuing to look for ways to accelerate sales in this time of consumer uncertainty, your time may be better spent focusing on brand values. But you should also continue to capture granular customer intent data so that you are able to engage with them using the most targeted and relevant message as soon as consumer confidence picks up.

The challenge you may face is that most platforms will limit you to only storing up to one month’s worth of intent data and cookies may expire seven days after the last visit. In moments like this, you need a platform that does not limit you to how long the data is being kept.


Are you ready?

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 to go about their daily life. Is your business ready to take on this new customer need in this challenging time?

By Ricardas Montvila, Senior Director of Global Strategy, Mapp Digital


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