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B2C Marketers: Follow These 4 Steps to Prepare for After COVID-19

The goings are tough, but these will pass, and when they do, you’ll want to be ready. Here are four strategic areas marketers should focus on, including segmentation and campaign ideas

When the Coronavirus outbreak started, we were all caught off-guard. Scrambling to catch up, we rushed into mass emailing our customers, quickly reducing budgets and continually feeling as if we are one step behind.

Now, after the initial “emergency mode” of operations, most companies have finally begun to find a rhythm and understanding of what is working. That is why now is the right time for marketers to start to plan ahead for the day after.

The below is a list of items marketers should be ready to tackle as the world returns to normal (sooner, rather than later).

Normalize Average Order Value

As purchases dropped, many rolled out an aggressive discounting strategy to entice customers to buy. Data shows that orders with discounts from shoe retailers have increased by 80% and that the average order value (AOV) of apparel and fashion brands has dropped by at least 15%. Although the measures are justified, they must be repaired once this is over. However, marketers would be wise to phase customers back to their original AOVs.

For example, consider creating a ratio of order discount value change by dividing the average discount values (ADV) of customers during COVID-19 to the ones they had beforehand.

Discount Value COVID-19 / Discount Value Pre-COVID-19

Marketers can then create tiers to target their customers with gradually lower discounts each time, as follows: For those with a low ratio, marketers can directly send offers that match their pre-COVID preferences. For those with mid to high ratios, marketers can send offers reducing discounts by 10-20% until the pre-COVID threshold is met.

Retain Newly Acquired Customers

Some industries have seen an influx of new customers during these times. Food delivery, groceries, and home goods retailers come to mind. For these, keeping these new customers coming back is a must, as they can provide a considerable boost in future recurring revenues.

Customers who purchased during COVID-19 only can be treated as one-timers regardless of how many times they purchased in that period. This is because, under normal circumstances, it isn’t a given that they would have become customers in the first place. With research showing that, on average, only 59% of first-time purchasers ever make an additional order, brands have their work cut out for them. But certain best practices can be leveraged.

For example, there is a strong correlation between basket variety and repeat purchases. As a result, marketers can segment customers based on their COVID-19 basket variety. Since low variety customers are more prone to become one-timers, while the opposite is true for high variety customers, those with a low variety can be targeted with more aggressive offers to diversify their cart.

Reactivate Churned Customers

Customers might have decided to stop purchasing from brands during this period for several reasons. Maybe they have been furloughed and thus have less available income, or it might be they just weren’t in the mood to buy new things. Furthermore, customers might not have churned at all. Customers purchase products at certain frequencies, and it might just be that a customer’s non-purchase frequency overlapped with COVID-19.

No matter the situation, marketers must be prepared to reach out and reactivate them once things return to normal. To do this, marketers can understand whether a customer has churned by using an individual criterion we call “Churn Factor.” Churn factor defines customer churn by dividing each customer’s time since last order by each one’s individual activity frequency (e.g., how often has the customer ordered). The higher the churn factor, the more likely that the customer has or will churn.

For example, let’s imagine that customers with a churn factor higher than two have a significantly higher probability to churn than the rest. Marketers can use this information, together with behavioral cues, to set up a post-COVID-19 reactivation flow as follows:

Create Communication Plans with a Gradual Rollout in Mind

Similar to how restrictions’ severity was set at different times for different locations, it is highly likely that they be lifted gradually and based on each region’s status. Marketers need to keep this in mind as they develop their post-COVID-19 communication strategies.

Once the pandemic is under control, marketers will want to communicate what they are doing to keep employees and customers safe, where customers can visit their stores and plenty of other information. Customers might be hesitant to return to normal, and businesses shouldn’t expect to be back to pre-COVID-19 normalcy within a short time.

Marketers should build scenarios to prepare for each rollout in three stages:

  • Before restrictions are lifted – communicate to customers what stores will be open and what hygiene strategy will be followed. Focus on garnering customer trust in your brand and employees.
  • As restrictions are lifted – remain agile with plans in place for potential secondary outbreaks. Arm employees, especially clienteling and customer service, with proactive and reactive communications.
  • After “all clear” is given – communicate gratefulness and build brand loyalty. For example, create multichannel campaigns using lists of customers that include only those who purchased during the outbreak to thank them for their support.

To successfully roll such a plan out, marketers will need to create pre-launch checklists to make sure they are only communicating with the relevant customers each time.

A Post COVID-19 World

Do not be caught off-guard again. As the world prepares for what comes after, marketers need to have a succinct plan in place to get their brands back on their feet as fast as possible.

Customers might have been in a more forgiving mood to accept email blasts when the crisis strated. Assume they will be hyper-vigilant to brands once again spamming them with non-personalized, generic messages as the ones seen during the beginning of the outbreak. Avoid following that pattern by leveraging the above four tips.

Stay tuned for future analysis, and in the meantime, check out our vast Marketing Amid Corona coverage:

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Rony Vexelman

Rony Vexelman is Optimove’s VP of Marketing. Rony leads Optimove’s marketing strategy across regions and industries. Previously, Rony was Optimove's Director of Product Marketing leading product releases, customer marketing efforts and analyst relations. Rony holds a BA in Business Administration and Sociology from Tel Aviv University and an MBA from UCLA Anderson School of Management.