In times of great disruption and change (see: 2020 and the foreseeable future), brands rightfully adjust their strategic marketing plans, sales strategies, and overall business goals.
They don’t just do this to ‘steady the ship.’ They do so to become (or remain) customer-centric. That is, they modify their marketing goals and business objectives to ensure they continually exceed expectations for existing and potential customers.
Of course, there is no single ‘right’ formula for shifting one’s strategic marketing plan and/or business model in times like these. Examine 100 companies’ reactions to COVID-19, and you’ll likely see 100 unique organizational approaches.
However, there are certainly adjustments brands can make during periods of hardship and uncertainty to respond to customer needs and make up for lost revenue.
In fact, we’ve seen several BlueConic customers alter their marketing strategies accordingly to more capably navigate the ‘new now.’ Moves that help them not just improve tactical metrics, but also accelerate growth and transform their businesses.
To make the most of trying times like today from a business perspective, we figured it’s worth sharing some BlueConic customer stories to provide some inspiration regarding how you can modify your strategic marketing plan and keep your customers engaged.
Adjusting your strategic marketing plan in times of great change and uncertainty
Reacting to customer needs during times such as this doesn’t require you necessarily require you to drastically alter your business model or create a marketing strategy from scratch.
But you may want to reconsider target market segments, revise your marketing budget, and rethink your high-level strategic marketing plan, including your customer engagement efforts.
In other words? Conduct a SWOT analysis.
That is, identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats as it pertains to your business as a whole. Then, use these insights to improve your marketing program.
Here are some ‘thought-starters’ for revamping your strategic marketing plan.
Audit your stack to identify inefficiencies and gaps.
Many CMOs and business leaders are spending their time these days by taking a step back to audit their data-driven efforts across their companies: marketing campaigns, social media marketing, targeted advertising — and their technologies.
Identifying how each tool in their stack impacts growth-focused teams’ day-to-day efforts and long-term goals helps them set those teams up for success.
No two tech stacks are the same. But there is one tried-and-true approach to analyzing your business technologies and, in turn, ensuring your teams have the right tools:
- List every tool and platform you use
- Determine the efficacy of each one
- And pinpoint the tech “gaps” to fill
Note that filling a tech gap may not necessarily mean a new technology acquisition.
Rather, it might simply mean better understanding where and how you can use existing data from other systems and build connectors between them for more efficient utilization.
Conduct a comprehensive customer data clean-up.
A customer data platform (CDP) like BlueConic can help you liberate your cleaned (and consented) first-party data to use it in real-time, cross-channel marketing efforts.
Having said that, effective use of your first-party data requires clean data. (“Garbage in, garbage out,” as the saying goes.)
“A [customer data platform] is only as good as the data that is imported into it,” digital marketing expert Brian Carlson wrote for CMSWire.
While a customer data platform will unify data from across systems and sources, identity resolution won’t work with dirty data. Using a CDP with clean data will allow you to activate across marketing channels to target your audiences with confidence.
Start (or restart) your digital transformation initiative.
Consumers rely on digital services now more than ever, prompting companies to accelerate digital transformation plans to keep up with changing consumer behavior.
Thus, their marketing teams now need strategic marketing plans to help execute on such a transformation.
Businesses can accomplish this by incorporating artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities in their daily marketing efforts.
Doing so can enable marketers and other technology users to better analyze customer data, predict engagement, and assign value/scores for prospects and customers.
If you’re concerned about starts and stops with your transformation when things (presumably) return to a semblance of normal, don’t worry. The “discontinuous” digital transformation method means you can simply pick up where you left off when it suits you.
Examples of companies that adapted their strategic marketing plan due to COVID-19
All the aforementioned undertakings are certainly worthwhile ones that mid-sized and enterprise companies across industries should tackle during times of crisis and change.
But you may be wondering:
“To create a valuable, frictionless customer experience today what are some industry-specific strategic marketing plan modifications I can make?”
Here’s how some BlueConic customers with different business models and who sell a variety of different products and services have transformed their strategic marketing plans.
Shifting to a direct-to-consumer focus
Organizations that historically sell most of their goods through retailers are now prioritizing direct-to-consumer relationships and marketing programs.
To make up for lost revenue at its stores, one manufacturer is using geo-location data and other customer attributes captured in BlueConic profiles.
This helps the company target customers who live near high-earning retail locations with new messaging for at-home deliveries.
Having unified customer profiles in BlueConic with geolocation data, the ability to build a segment in just a few minutes, and then send that dynamically updated segment to their marketing activation platforms allowed them to get up and running quickly.
Personalizing messaging in real-time
COVID-19 has impacted supply chains the world over. So, it’s in retail and ecommerce brands’ best interests to keep customers apprised of shipping timelines and changes.
To provide the best customer experience possible, retail marketers need to communicate any operational or order-related information to customers to set expectations.
Retail marketers who use BlueConic’s CDP have been able to do just this.
Again, by using geolocation data for buyers, these marketers are able to dynamically update shipping details onsite to customers based on where they plan to ship products purchased.
As store hours, inventory levels, and estimated shipping arrival time and dates change, BlueConic customers are armed with the ability to use on-site personalization on a 1:1 basis.
It’s a seemingly minor touch. But it’s one these consumers undoubtedly appreciate in times of uncertainty like today — and ones that contribute to positive customer experiences.
Monetizing first-party data to build premium audiences
Many media and publishing companies are seeing a notable decline in ad revenue from advertisers that are scaling back their spending amid this pandemic.
As a result, one publisher is using the rich profile data available in their BlueConic tenant to develop premium audiences.
They then sell them to advertisers to mitigate the impact of ad dollars lost in the market.
The process of creating these intricate audience segments used to be arduous. But not BlueConic customers. Our multi-dimensional segmentation capability helps users construct rich segments in minutes. That is, not in hours, days, or weeks.
Adjusting paywall strategies for audience development
Keeping crucial updates from the public during a crisis through the continual use of paywalls can lead to diminished brand trust for news publications. Plain and simple.
Paywalls exist to entice subscription sign-ups and access to premium info and insights.
But publishers are dropping them during disruptive periods like the pandemic in favor of putting local news and important info in the hands of their readers.
And that’s exactly what several renowned publishers who rely on BlueConic’s customer data platform to build and manage their paywalls have done amid the coronavirus.
They ask readers for their email addresses to access to the latest COVID news.
One publisher has collected over 70,000 emails in the past few weeks and continues to get 1,000-2,000 emails per day.
With email addresses in hand, publishing brands have the first-party data they need to grow their audience and continue to understand individuals in their database.
As they build out profiles for these readers, they can understand their content preferences, interests, and track behavioral data to find the right time to ask for a subscription.
Crafting a new, strategic marketing plan for your business with a pure-play CDP
There’s obviously a lot on marketers’ minds aside from work during crises. One way these professionals can alleviate their business-related concerns is to adapt as best they can.
But this adaptation is certainly a team effort.
And when implemented successfully, brands’ modified strategic marketing plans can help them flourish during the perilous times in question — and long after.
Before moving forward with a reformed marketing plan, though, CMOs need to balance the need to achieve pre-crisis KPIs (or get as close as possible, given the circumstances), double down on their brand values, and develop and maintain operational efficiency companywide.
As Gartner Principal, Digital Performance Lili Meng noted:
“To best optimize both short-term objectives and create long-term efficiencies, marketing leaders must first focus on what to put spend behind versus where.”
Another way to put it? If you’re a customer-first organization, where can you focus your efforts to strengthen your customer engagement in the short and long term?
Only when you have a framework in place for your altered engagement approach can you start to peel back the layers of what you need to do in order to achieve your new goals.
The true value in a CDP lies in the increased agility and flexibility it gives to marketing.
Having a CDP in place and being able to quickly make adjustments to the kind of personalization messaging and programs you run in marketing is invaluable.
Especially in dynamically changing times like today, marketers can make sweeping changes to their entire web experience and email campaigns in a matter of days in reaction to any macro factor largely because they have BlueConic at the center of their tech stack.
The addition of a CDP is about creating a glue between systems that didn’t exist before — and eliminating and/or consolidating systems as needed.
When all essential, accurate, up-to-date consumer data lives in one place and no onerous structures or limitations are put on it — as is the case for brands that utilize BlueConic — your company’s agility with your martech ecosystem increases markedly.
In short, the right people, processes, and tools — and a CDP as your data hub — can help you realize your desired strategic marketing plan during the tough times and, ultimately, ensure you and your business come out the other side of a given crisis even stronger.
Learn how to modify your customer engagement model and adapt to the new business and marketing climate accordingly in our in-depth eBook.