Performance Marketing Through Tough Times

The elements of a winning performance-focused strategy

During challenging times, marketers often refocus their time and budgets on measurable strategies that move consumers through the path to purchase.

With Covid-19 shutting down retail storefronts and other traditional channels, marketers across industries must zero in on strategies that embrace omnichannel marketing not as something that happens at discrete touchpoints, but as elements that come together to create a cohesive whole. A key part of creating a consistent experience that drives results is incorporating offline channels. This is important because, contrary to some marketing thinking, consumers don’t live exclusively online.

To make this work, you need to get inside your consumer’s head, think deeply about what the experience feels like for them and then create campaigns that trigger action. Here are three things to consider as you build out a performance-focused omnichannel strategy:

1. Make a plan and stick to it

Omnichannel experiences that drive results can’t be made up as you go. To move consumers along their journeys, you need to map out every step.

To start, consider the current model of the customer journey. There are 10 steps, with five in the pre-purchase stage and five in post-purchase. The pre-purchase phase covers awareness, interest, consideration, evaluation and justification. After the purchase customers progress from adoption to retention to expansion to loyalty and finally to advocacy.

Although this is the basic structure of the modern customer journey, remember that the nature of the digital world means that consumers can come in at any point. It’s also important to consider how the nuances of this journey might have changed in light of Covid-19. A consumer will still progress through these basic steps, but likely from home or at least within a different day-to-day routine.

Evaluate your past messaging and campaigns to see what has been most effective at pushing consumers toward a transaction. Once you have an idea of what your consumers respond to, you’ll be better positioned to build out your full content calendar.

Be sure this calendar includes digital and physical executions. If consumers are seriously considering a purchase, they are thinking about it online and off and you need to be able to secure mindshare wherever they are. Brainstorm with your team about ways you can boost the results of your digital campaigns with physical mail pieces. For example, if you’re running a paid ad campaign to boost brand awareness, could you move customers that click on the ads to the consideration phase by following up with a mail piece that has more in-depth details?

Challenge your team to get creative and really step into the consumers’ shoes. Part of this is making sure that all messaging is relevant to the current moment. While you don’t want to harp on the realities of quarantine, it’s important to at least acknowledge what your consumer might be going through.

2. Create a drop-off strategy

A performance-driven strategy needs a plan for when customers drop-off or go silent.

Too many brands make the mistake of bombarding prospects with identical email offers and discounts. Especially now, when consumers have the added stress of keeping up with critical world events, a barrage of messaging could easily turn them off of your brand. Plus, these do little to understand why the customer has stopped shopping or moved to a competitor. To stand out from the pack, create offline campaigns that speak directly to where consumers were in their path to purchase.

Imagine that you are an outdoor store that sells road bikes. You might have a consumer who is an avid rider and has been browsing your web content for information to upgrade their bike. But after a few days of interacting with your content and even adding a bike to their cart, the consumer goes silent. You need to remind the consumer about your product.

Go beyond a simple reminder email and consider digitally enhanced mail. These are physical mail pieces that integrate technologies like AR/VR, QR codes and near-field communication (NFC). Drill down on what content this prospect has already interacted with and then send a direct mail piece with a QR code that leads to a personalized URL or microsite. Ideally, this consumer will be blown away by the content and the level of personalization and be inspired to complete their purchase.

If you’re unsure where to start with digitally enhanced mail, speak with a vendor who can help get your content off the ground.

3. Focus on the post-purchase experience

A performance-focused strategy doesn’t stop with the purchase. The true goal is to create passionate brand fans that will advocate for you.

To do so, craft fun content that encourages the consumer to stay connected to your brand. Ask: What can you offer the consumer? Are there ways you can enhance their enjoyment of your product? Or additional products that pair well with what they bought?

Try sending mail with the Informed Delivery feature to encourage the consumer to sign up for your loyalty program. This feature provides the consumer with a preview of their mail via email before it arrives and allows them to access corresponding digital content. This is often referred to as ride-along content, and can be anything from a fun, explanatory video to an in-depth infographic about your supply chain.

Ideally, consumers will know the mail is coming and interact with your ride-along content before actually receiving the mail.

Once it gets to their residence, you can continue the experience using the Informed Visibility feature, which allows you to see when a mail piece has arrived. From there, you can push out perfectly timed email, digital or social campaigns to extend the moment and keep your brand top-of-mind.

The purpose of all of this content is to make loyalty the natural next step. The consumer should be so delighted by the content and messaging you are sending that they are extremely motivated to stay in or become part of your brand family.

As you probably already know, many consumers are tightening up their discretionary spending and cutting out brands that aren’t necessary for their current quarantined existence. Not creating a post-purchase experience could seriously hinder your ability to be one of the brands a consumer keeps in their life.

Bob Dixon helps develop products and services for the U.S. Postal Service that meet customers’ needs in the digital age. He leads a team that supports a variety of online tools, including Informed Delivery, which is changing the way people interact with their mail.