Economic uncertainty over the past year has caused businesses of all sizes to adjust their marketing strategies. Emerging trends, increased online consumption, and new consumer habits are shaping how businesses operate. With changing online behaviors, it’s important to reevaluate your media mix and how you define success for your digital strategy.
Keeping up with shifting behaviors requires a thorough analysis of your approach from start to finish, along with remaining agile as the market continues to experience ongoing fluctuations. The path to purchase, and what used to be deemed a success based on key performance indicators (KPIs), look different now. It’s critical to be aware of these changes, and adjust your digital efforts accordingly. Being more intentional with your marketing tactics can increase results and maximize budgets across digital platforms.
The fallout from COVID-19 was widespread. Fearing a serious economic downturn, consumers’ normal timeline to purchase experienced a radical shift across verticals. The universal impact on buying behaviors and its cascading effects on active digital ad campaigns was felt immediately. As time has passed and online activity has stabilized, shopping habits can be analyzed to assess how advertisers can gauge success in this new dynamic market.
During the past year, consumers adapted to pandemic safety measures and reevaluated priorities. In the process, brand loyalties were quickly disrupted. Many shoppers were more interested in finding products they needed over brand affiliation, while also considering more empathetic messaging. For advertisers, this presented the opportunity to adjust how they embrace the online customer experience, especially for those that have moved their efforts from an in-person, brick-and-mortar store to selling strictly online.
The whole decision process was altered in record time. Shoppers are now focused on delivery and curbside pickup, with emphasis on speed and accuracy. This has become a priority over brand, price, or promotions. Marketers must rethink what products are being highlighted, addressing concerns via messaging, and directing users to these key areas on a site to streamline navigation. Brands need to evaluate performance based on new habits and behaviors, and which platforms have the strongest impact.
It’s important to determine how to accommodate customers’ behaviors and measure campaign success against those benchmarks. For example, pre-pandemic retailers might have prioritized in-store traffic based on mobile tracking. However, with shopping being done predominantly online, the journey looks much different today. A stronger focus on users who viewed product pages, or those that added items to their cart, may be a more accurate representation of campaign effectiveness. While their timeline to purchase might look different, these can be indications they are interested, and a strong retargeting campaign could nudge them to convert.
The new landscape of e-commerce relies on flexible marketers being willing to curate their digital campaigns to a public still dealing with pandemic safety measures and procedures. One way that marketers are redefining success is by social listening. With people at home, they are drawing on the information they find on social media to understand and gauge consumer sentiment. They can join the conversation while gaining insight to inform digital marketing strategies. Some of the patterns that have emerged have the potential to be permanent, giving brands a roadmap for future digital efforts.
Changes in customer buying habits, average buying cycle lengths, and even brand preferences across nearly every industry have turned many previously well-performing campaigns into projects in need of serious recalibration. Rather than discounting performance, it’s wise to alter the measurement window of a campaign.
No one wants to waste precious ad dollars on tactics that don’t convert. Attribution is the clearest way of showing exactly where your marketing dollars are going and what affect they’re having on conversions. This not only helps accurately assign budgets, but also uses data to justify marketing spend.
As you assign campaign budgets and determine business priorities, attribution can help you fine-tune your marketing strategies to maximize impact. Attribution can vary between brands or even products from the same company. Each model has aspects that are better suited for different customer journeys. Evaluating these details closely can help you rethink performance goals and media mix moving forward.
When it comes to attribution, it’s important to take the time to analyze what you considered successful prior to the pandemic through tools such as Google Analytics, and compare that data against campaign performance and conversions over the past year. Once you have a baseline of where to start, you can dive deeper into each platform to optimize to improve performance.
Different platforms have their own models and default measurement windows, which can appear to cause data discrepancies across platforms. The accuracy and apparent success or failure of a campaign’s conversion metrics can change depending on which attribution window these platforms are set to utilize.
Lengthening the window for an upcoming top-of-funnel awareness campaign aimed at targeting new customers can give your business a clearer idea of the post-pandemic average time to purchase, and even the average number of touchpoints needed. If the pandemic altered your average consumer’s journey to conversion in any way last year, your old campaign’s default look-back window could be failing to report the majority of new customer activity. Adjusting measurement practices to fit your customers in a new market is key to getting an accurate reading on your campaigns.
The consumer journey may have changed, but for marketers, the shift to increased online shopping means more data is readily available. While this might alter your idea of success, it also offers opportunity to better understand what drives consumer decisions and how they can be influenced. The ability to continually refine processes with data-driven decision making greatly benefits consumer loyalty as well as the power of your ad dollars.
Maria Coleman is marketing content manager with Adtaxi.
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