• May 4, 2021
  • By Tauseef Syed, director of digital marketing, NetElixir

How the Pandemic Pushed Retail Marketers To Personalize

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In an unexpected way, 2020 was the year of the customer. Emotions were at an all-time high; people were scared, confused, anxious. Everyone in every industry had to learn to adapt and think quickly on their feet. Customers were no longer shopping endlessly or splurging on random products. They were savvier shoppers, and they prioritized their needs versus wants and committed themselves to supporting brands that aligned with their core values. Last year kick-started the notion of customers feeling like every dollar counts and that every decision matters more.

Moving forward into 2021, there is no room for broad-stroke marketing. The pandemic’s effect on shopping behaviors will demand more experiences and more personalization in a brand’s marketing efforts. It’s time to take personalization to the next level. But how?

Personalization is a versatile tool; useful to marketers, retailers, and shoppers. When the pandemic first hit, retail brand marketers were either focusing their marketing efforts strictly on survival or beginning to rely more heavily on savvy personalization tactics to target their consumers online. Let’s take a look at how personalization is evolving, and what marketers can do next to elevate their strategies.

An Unexpected Boom: How the Pandemic Pioneered Personalization Efforts

It is no surprise that the pandemic affected every industry drastically. COVID-19 caused business professionals to make tough choices every day regarding their marketing and operations. In the retail industry specifically, brands had to learn to adapt and cater to their newly online consumer audiences.

This is where personalization started to take off, with the pandemic forcing many retail marketers to humanize their approach at a time when many online shoppers wanted to feel connected to something, including the companies they chose to purchase from. However, as many consumers switched to the online market, the competition increased and the big only got bigger. The booming e-commerce market made it harder for D2C businesses to acquire new customers. Retailers needed to establish meaningful relationships with their consumers to stay afloat; in many cases, this determined whether a brand flourished or floundered.

Why Customer Intelligence Became Critical, and How Marketers Can Leverage It Effectively

2020 saw systemic racism, safety threats from COVID-19, and other factors cause consumer sentiments to directly impact online shopping behaviors. This idea of newly emerging pandemic personas is a trend continuing to this day, which is why it is now absolutely imperative for a brand marketer to be monitoring, gathering, and analyzing owned consumer insights. It is also the time for agility. Gone are the days of planning out a marketing strategy months, even weeks, in advance. Marketers today need to constantly be on the pulse of changing consumer sentiment through the utilization of smart market research, and they need to be agile enough in planning and budgeting to be able to alter course on a dime.

Be Sure to Target High-Value Shoppers With the Most Relevant Content

When focusing on personalization tactics, it is crucial that marketers spend most of their time and energy targeting high-value shoppers. According to NetElixir data, high-value shoppers account for more than 60 percent of online purchases across a variety of categories. This information is important because if retailers are not catering to this segment, they will be forfeiting substantial revenue. Retailers who invest in understanding the purchasing behavior of their high-value customers and are nimble enough to tweak their product and promotion strategies have found remarkable success in recent times.

The online shopping market continues to grow every day. At the beginning of the pandemic, we saw a surge of shoppers new to the online scene. Some online consumers reportedly made their first online purchase ever during the first few weeks into the pandemic. The time to act quickly is now. Brand marketers must identify their high-value shoppers, understand their purchase journey, and then target them across all channels to achieve customer growth.

As we’ve passed the one-year mark of an emotional and challenging time for many, let's continue to think forward and advance in our marketing strategies to better embrace the customer. We now know that the pandemic single-handedly forced retailers into personalization efforts; but it should not have taken a pandemic for marketers to understand that putting the customer first is key. Implementing personalization efforts in combination with mastering customer intelligence analytics in a first-party data-driven future can, and will, push retailers ahead of the competition.

Tauseef Syed has built his career helping retailers achieve e-commerce success and is a veteran in strategic consulting for online retailers. As a director of digital marketing at NetElixir, he spearheads cross-functional teams in helping retailers achieve success across search marketing, social advertising, organic search, and tech development.

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