Successful customer relationships aren’t built through 30-second TV spots, 6-second pre-rolls or clever social media posts. They’re built through managing the totality of the customer’s experience moving down the sales funnel, shifting from prospect to customer to evangelist. But COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on brands’ ability to manage this experience, given that one of the most important touch points—retail—has been severely hamstrung.
Because we’re increasingly living in a no-touch world, brands must leverage digital connections to create a high-touch experience. This requires a holistic approach that addresses the critical pillars of marketing: strategy, creative and media. To thrive, brands must tackle the following action items:
Strategy: Map the Journey and Remove Friction
Not long ago, there were two primary touchpoints between a brand and its audience: advertising and retail. Now, there’s an almost infinite number of ways for brands to touch consumers. Most of these touchpoints are digital in nature. This digital-centric relationship has created growing sources of friction, which can negate successful brand positioning and traditional advertising.
Every touchpoint in the consumer journey sends critical conscious and subconscious signals. Advertising dollars must be shifted away from the big brand message and distributed across content, technology, UX design and data management.
Creative: Leverage Functional Content
With the purchase journey mapped, brands must create content that removes friction and empowers the audience at each granular step. Emotional storytelling is critical for brand building, but it’s even more important to provide extensive functional content that outlines each product’s features and benefits. This content needs to be developed not only for when and where each person is in the journey, but also in the format that meets their individual needs: text, images, videos, ratings, reviews, and interactivity.
Media: Connect The Journey
With the journey mapped and content created, it’s time to connect each chronological step for customers and prospects. Digital media enables brands to shift from human intelligence in the form of retail employees to artificial intelligence in the form of sequential content delivery. Custom audiences allow brands to interact with people individually, revealing and answering the key questions that each customer has about brands and products. Unlike retail interactions, this can be done at massive scale with consistent, dynamic messaging.
In a world where people spend the majority of their waking time connected to a screen, it’s critical to embrace digital for every granular step in the purchase journey. It’s a lot more challenging than simply managing a few touch points, but it’s also the most exciting time in history for those who are ready to view advertising as a holistic tool, not just a 30-second interruption.