Despite your best intentions, you probably weren't able to follow through with your marketing strategy for 2020 precisely as you planned.
Your plans were most likely based on certain assumptions that had to be thrown out the window during this period of uncertainty caused by COVID-19.
With physical stores experiencing mandatory shutdowns, office employees mostly working from home, and people making a strong shift towards online shopping and delivery, it's probably sensible at this point to go back to the drawing board to adjust your overall strategy.
All hope is not lost if you're a brick-and-mortar store. There are ways in which retail stores can pivot in the face of uncertainty and capitalise on the opportunities it presents.
The CMO survey researches the thoughts and opinions of chief marketers to gain insights into the future of market activity and direction. They recently published a special edition of the survey relating to the effects of COVID-19 on marketing operations.
In this article we have selected five data points most relevant for physical retail stores from the report, and explain how the data can support a positive move in the right direction for your business.
If you are interested in reading full research, you can do so here.
1 – The importance of social media marketing
This one might not surprise you – spending on social media and mobile marketing efforts surged during the pandemic, representing up to 23% of the overall marketing budget.
More importantly, the investments in social media showed a measurable increase in company performance, a 24% rise since the February 2020 report.
What does this mean for you? Well, with people spending more time on mobile, the use of social media as an advertising channel gains more utility and relevance. More so, this can present an opportunity for conversion if an ecommerce solution is integrated into your typical retail operations.
If you are the type of business which cannot package and send your goods to customers (say, a food establishment), then perhaps investment into a digital ordering system where customers can select and pay for goods for collection in-store could be a good way to capture your targeted social media users.
Alternatively, the use of influencers represented 7.5% of CMOs marketing budgets, and they anticipate that to rise to 12.7% over the next three years. Influencers are an increasingly popular and relatively cost-effective way to market physical stores, and perhaps something to consider for your next digital promotional strategy.
OMG has been creating collaborations within our network to promote physical stores on social media channels to help with this specific step. Be sure to get in touch with us if you would like to know more.
2 – Trust in customer/store relationships
A statistic that jumped out to us when reading the report was the significant increase in trust's perceived importance in the relationship between stores and their customers.
In February of 2009, only 19.9% of marketers rated the trust as a valuable asset in the customer/store dynamic. That figure jumped to 29.3% in the special edition report.
Many factors could have contributed to this rise.
The increase in transparency relating to corporate values and ethical practices may play a part. Additionally, as communication between customers and businesses become more frequent, more accessible, and more informal, trust could have become easier to build and asses for customers and businesses.
This is a key change that may be overlooked by some. The management of customer relationships is more important than ever considering the impact of customer lifetime value (CLV) on your store's financial health.
Attention must be paid to creating and maintaining loyalty initiatives to encourage repeat purchase and increased trust amongst your audience. The creation of a loyalty programme is one of the single most impactful things you can do to increase the CLV of your customers.
3 – Price is king
In ranking customers' top priorities, a low price was rated as the top consideration amongst 18.4% of marketers, up from 10.4% since February of this year.
With the world economy in freefall since the arrival of national lockdowns worldwide, average spending power has gone down with it.
Accordingly, price is back as a key consideration for the average consumer.
With the loss of untold amounts of business, you might be wondering how it could be possible for you to reduce your prices and remain profitable.
This can be achieved easily with the introduction of loyalty-based discount practices.
By offering discounts specifically to repeat purchase customers, you can attract more business from your most dedicated audience without experiencing a loss in revenue, as they are more likely to continue shopping at your store in the future if they feel their loyalty is being rewarded.
There are many ways you can do this, including simple targeted discounts as mentioned before, a digital loyalty stamp scheme [LINK TO https://partners.omg.one/blog/why-your-business-could-benefit-from-digital-loyalty-stamps/], or loyalty programme.
4 – Retention beats acquisition… again
We covered this topic in another article, but it speaks to its importance that the finding has reared its head again in a separate report.
Customer retention was rated as a key objective by 33.5% of CMOs, compared to customer acquisition, which was prioritised by only 14%.
More so, 54.3% of marketers reported 'retaining current customers' as a primary reason for using social media during the pandemic.
Given how expensive it is to campaign for new customers, marketing teams have understandably focused their efforts on retaining the customers they already have during the pandemic, hoping the investments they made in this area before will pay off.
Considering the newly increased importance in the trust we covered earlier, it looks like this is indeed the case.
Existing customers not only exhibit repeat purchase behaviours more reliably, but also typically spend more per transaction. Shopping at a familiar store reduces the perceived risk in spending as customers aren't certain of the value they will receive when exploring new options.
By increasing customer relationship management (CRM) efforts, especially on digital platforms, as well as focusing on existing customers favoring mass-marketing approaches, you are likely to get a better ROI on your spending.
5 – Shift towards partnerships
It looks like misery does indeed love company…
CMOs were asked what activities they have allocated resources to during the pandemic. 40.6% reported 'investing in new partnerships' as one of the most prominent opportunities.
Interestingly, it seems to be a more relevant opportunity for smaller businesses, with 61.3% of companies with under $25million in yearly revenue choosing to build new partnerships instead of other investments, for example, building more digital infrastructure.
In times of trouble, collaborating with other businesses to achieve a common good may be a sensible strategy when cash is limited. Consider what partnerships can be mutually beneficial at a low cost in your niche. We can think of one partnership that ticks those boxes, and then some!
The OMG Platform
It looks like the data from the recent CMO report confirms our suspicions.
Firstly, customer/store trust is gaining importance in the new era. This can be cultivated through increased interactions with customers through social media platforms and via new digital solutions that reward customers for loyalty. That's why we run collaborations on our social media channels! See for yourself.
Secondly, retaining customers is only becoming more urgent as the pandemic takes its toll. It was important before, but with customers unable to spend as much as pre-virus levels, they are looking for trusted vendors where they are happy with the value-dynamic and possibly recipients of personal discounts and rewards for their long-term loyalty.
How can your store successfully adapt to the 'new normal'?
The OMG platform allows stores to easily create loyalty programmes to track and reward your most valuable customers.
You can keep them interested over time by offering digital loyalty stamps, personal discounts, and cashback.
And you can do this all, absolutely free and with ease on OMG Platform.
Don't miss this opportunity – join our waiting-list here and be part of our London launch campaign.