4 Considered Purchase Principles Brands Should Live By During COVID-19
When done correctly, considered purchase marketing operates by certain principles that put customer needs first. Since the onset of COVID-19, some of these principles have become more important than ever — even taking on additional expressions now that customer needs have changed. Here’s how we see the four most important parts of considered purchase marketing taking shape in the age of COVID-19.
1. Building Trust
Trust has always been an essential part of the relationship between a buyer and a business. Your buyers are more likely to purchase from you when they feel you have the expertise or best products to handle their problems, and when they feel connected with your company. The pandemic hasn’t changed this, but it has uncovered more ways considered purchase brands can build trust.
- Don’t take advantage of the situation. Manipulating the pandemic to increase your bottom line will backfire. More than 70 percent of consumers will abandon a brand forever if they believe the brand prioritizes financial gain over the well-being of its customers.
- Take care of your employees. The internet and social media have made it very easy for disgruntled employees to vent about unfair conditions. Make it a priority to give employees what they need to get through this time. 48 percent of consumers indicate that they trust a brand more if it treats its employees correctly during a crisis.
- Take care of your customers. Two-thirds of consumers state that a company’s actions affect their level of trust in the brand. Make life as easy as possible for your customers — convenient hours, a clear sanitation policy, and contactless pickup are essential for any brick-and-mortar business. And if you operate online, make sure your service and cancellation policies are straightforward, and that you have virtual meetings and online chat available if someone needs to speak to a representative.
- Be transparent and stay in touch. Issue clear communication to your customers so that they know what to expect at every point of interaction. Use email and social media to tell customers what you’re doing to make their lives easier and how your brand can help solve their pain points.
- Incorporate feedback. Listen to what your customers have to say and show you’re paying attention by implementing their suggestions. Communicate new policies clearly, noting that these changes are a direct result of consumer feedback.
2. Understanding Your Data
Just as buyer behavior changed before the pandemic, it will change even more drastically and more often during the pandemic. As a considered purchase brand, you know that capturing buyer behavior in the form of data helps you to best respond to trends as well as buyers’ needs. A customer-centric analytics framework is what will carry your business through this pandemic and into the future.
- Collect the right data. Who’s opening your emails? When do customers most frequently place orders? In which demographics do your top customers reside? Know these numbers and keep track of them moving forward.
- Understand your sales funnel. Everyone’s path to purchase is different. Identify common tendencies among buyers within the funnel and use those trends to help guide leads through the various stages of the funnel more efficiently.
- Be adaptable. Don’t go all-in on any one tactic. Instead, let data dictate where you should focus your time and resources. If you’re seeing qualified leads dropping off at the point of purchase on your website, consider implementing conversion rate optimization tracking and A/B testing to find the right user experience.
- Segment your audience. Use data to group leads and customers with similar needs according to where they sit in the funnel. Use this information to send personalized messages that cut through the noise and speak directly to their pain points and stage in the buyer’s journey.
- Identify churn areas. Churn is a part of business, but you can minimize its impact. Analyze your sales and customer service data to figure out what is causing churn and strengthen any weaknesses in those areas.
- Optimize the sales process. Data can illuminate areas where your current sales process is failing. Empower the sales team to make data-supported changes that will improve close cycles and increase retention.
3. Evaluating the Buyer’s Journey
Keeping a close eye on the path to purchase of your customers is what allows you to anticipate their needs. Pandemic or no pandemic, your customers’ lives, goals, and challenges are changing. How you take action to monitor these changes and implement changes to your strategy should continue to be a primary focus for considered purchase brands.
- Revise your approach. The buyer’s journey you created before the pandemic needs a serious update. Look at your journeys and identify ways in which the path to purchase journey may have changed for your buyers.
- Conduct research. Ask your customers how life has changed for them. Identify their needs and wants, and consider how your business’s touchpoints fit into those.
- Plan for change. Understand that customers’ needs will continue to change, and be prepared to adapt at a moment’s notice.
- Create a monitoring plan. Don’t set it and forget it. Make evaluating your buyer’s journey a routine practice. And while we navigate the pandemic, consider making your evaluation more frequent.
- Assess your content. Chances are, your long-term content plans don’t make much sense in the COVID-19 world. What was planned in Q1 for the last half of the year may no longer be relevant to your buyer. Make sure your current content is sensitive to both COVID-19 and changes in society.
- Be aware. Take regular stock of what’s going on in the world and how that might impact the buyer’s journey. Incorporate societal changes into your communications. Don’t miss opportunities to stand for something, especially if it’s important to your customers.
4. Keeping Content Contextual and Useful
Considered purchase marketing uses context to deliver relevant and timely communication to buyers as they move along their path to purchase. Today’s buyer expects something more than a boilerplate email blast, especially in this COVID-19 climate. Communications that don’t directly impact and provide value to recipients are meaningless.
- Don’t waste people’s time. It’s natural to want to keep your brand top of mind, but spamming people or sharing content that isn’t relevant to your business or your audience will have the opposite effect. Communication for communication’s sake will only alienate the audience you’re trying to reach.
- Usefulness is value. Ask this about each piece of content, each email, each social media post: Is it useful? Does it help my audience in some way? Does this solve someone’s problem or answer a question? If your audience finds value in your content, they’ll keep consuming it.
- Incorporate the buyer’s journey. Your research into the phases of your customer journey should inform your decisions about communications. Look at what their changing emotions and actions are telling you, and craft messages that resonate with consumers at each decision point.
As a result of the pandemic, two-thirds of consumers are postponing large purchases and travel. Businesses are struggling to adapt to this changing world. That’s why these principles for considered purchase marketing are more important than ever. Building trust and delivering value, combined with data analysis and continuous review of the buyer’s journey, will enable considered purchase brands to carry on successfully through the unknown.
Written by Shawn Murdock
Shawn’s 30 years of brand innovation and entrepreneurship have led to incredible growth for Icon’s clients – both the long-standing and the new. Starting with a focus in consumer durable goods and CPG, Shawn’s vision as Icon’s President is to bring decades of customer journey expertise to digital innovation. In addition to leading the agency, Shawn is an active investor, mentor, and advisor in the startup community.