Five Key Moves to Make Now to Adapt to the Coronavirus Economy
How should brands react?
There are a number of key ways brands can remain one step ahead as the ground gives way beneath their feet and successfully calibrate for the widespread anxiety and social distancing that will characterize the next quarter and beyond. Here are five specific moves brands can make to come out strong in the post-coronavirus economy:
1. Floor the gas pedal on e-commerce and m-commerce.
The ForwardPMX research shows that during health crises, consumers become fearful and risk-averse. Behaviorally, this means a shift to staying home and buying online; in China, self-isolation led to a 20 percent surge in mobile usage. Brands should be making immediate investments in advanced digital capabilities to create an e-commerce experience that can substitute for the physical one, not just supplement it.
To do this, brands must first emulate the most mature e-commerce websites by utilizing a personalization platform that customizes the site’s architecture and content for each web visitor. In addition, during times of unstable supply chains, it is especially important to have web optimization integrated with inventory management systems, so that out-of-stock products are not presented to consumers. Similarly, robust optimization tools can use machine learning to determine which products resonate with consumers and give them prime placement on-site. Finally, whether leveraging the major e-commerce platforms such as Salesforce Commerce Cloud or Magento Commerce or architecting a custom site, the focus should be on efficiencies that have an immediate impact on on-site conversion rates: seamless checkout experiences, instant add-to-cart buttons and sitewide cart accessibility, among others.
2. Enlist chatbot and voice assistants.
A surge in e-commerce coupled with a consumer base largely staying home can be expected to expedite the growing instances of voice discovery. At the close of 2019, over 60 million Americans owned a smart speaker, with the market dominated by Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home. Currently, about 20 percent of those people make purchases through their smart speakers, but all evidence indicates that we are on the verge of a major boom in voice shopping; eMarketer predicts that by 2021, 38 million Americans will shop via their smart speakers. Brands should be actively preparing to capitalize on this coming wave by implementing voice search strategies as part of their existing SEO plans to ensure that they rank in the most relevant voice searches. As we have seen with other emerging digital channels, early movers will reap oversized rewards, so brands should look to their agency partners for guidance on early positioning in voice search.
4. Focus on first-party data.
The COVID-19 epidemic coincides with the early days of a monumental shift already happening in digital marketing: a cookie-less world. Google, for example, announced earlier this year that by 2022, Chrome browsers will no longer support third-party cookies. Luckily, although behavioral targeting is becoming more difficult, personalization via other methods is becoming increasingly sophisticated. With the demise of cookie-based behavioral targeting comes the revival of contextual targeting. There have been impressive advances in contextual, although it still remains more difficult to track than behavioral. Other limitations on frequency capping and attribution mean that contextual will never offer the same precision that marketers get with behavioral targeting, but it is a tool worth taking out of the toolbox and beginning to sharpen. Additional personalization strategies include content optimization, utilizing chatbots and voice assistants to engage with each consumer’s individual needs, and optimization of ad content or creative in real time based on feedback and testing.
This is a challenging time for every person and business, and most companies will concentrate on making it through with as few battle scars as possible. But now is also a time to think about the investments that can be made to position your business for a strong third quarter—and to withstand the next unexpected challenge thrown at your business.
And Dana Gibber
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