18 / 02 / 21
12th October 2021
Whatever you want to call it, the ‘new normal’ we’ve been experiencing for near on two-years, isn’t necessarily the route to digital we should be focusing on at this stage of our marketing strategies.
For many ecommerce businesses, especially within the retail sector of food, necessities, and professional grooming tools (and skill) we wouldn’t have had access to for a considerable period of time, there’s been a significant increase in traffic, repeat custom and revenue.
Sure, that’s great and has seen many businesses (including independents) grow, thrive and keep afloat. Still, consumer behaviour is changeable, and we’re going through an interval in history where buying habits, pain points, expectations and demand, all shift day-to-day.
It’s not just ecommerce either—construction halted, tourism disappeared, subscription services like Netflix and Disney+ were splurged, and a lot of businesses (and their employees) paced on unstable ground. Will we have a business or a job at the end of it?
Still, the world keeps spinning, even if we weren’t so sure if that was the case. Now, as everything ‘opens up’ and people find themselves back in the real world, not scrolling through the digital one — how should we be comparing now to then? And how can we move forward successfully?
Throughout my years in marketing, I’ve heard a lot about ‘disruption’, and I’m thankful that’s a term that has seemingly been knocked on the head. Disruption, in my opinion, has been as alarmingly irritating as any bombardment of pop-ups on various ecommerce platforms and editorial websites.
‘But we’re disrupting the moment!’ Yeah, exactly. You’re disrupting the flow of your consumer’s journey, and there’s no need to if you’ve spent the time to understand their behaviour and the experience they seek online.
So, with that being said, consider the time that your consumers have now and not the extra time many of us found ourselves trying to fill. Many marketing teams I’ve spoken to are still pushing forward as if the audiences aren’t back to work or socialising or trying to ‘make up for lost time.’
Don’t pressure your business or team if traffic isn’t as standout as it once was. People aren’t searching for entertainment or goods or spending money they did or didn’t have like they were 12-months ago. We can’t move forward relying solely on search or advertisements and the results we saw in 2020. We should see 2020 as an anomaly: a reference point and a means of understanding our audiences better. For very few businesses and brands, is it a launchpad or a continued climb.
Get realistic—for as many or as few improvements that you made to your website, ecommerce or strategies in 2020, we should reflect on 2019 too. It’s a more reliable source for results and setting expectations as we readjust to the world and compare our achievements and growth in 2021 to forecast the future.
Behaviour is always going to change, and that’s the end of it.
Many of us aren’t at home anymore, and we’re not going to be able to capture higher percentages of people day-to-day, minute-to-minute. There are more users on social media, more and more consumers browsing online or sitting in mailing lists from a year of fierce competition and codes to save money—that doesn’t mean they’re still going to spend money with your business or squander hours to scrolling for surprise and delight.
Businesses shouldn’t be nervous about declining sales or traffic dropping off a cliff when compared to 2020. They should be concerned with loyalty, return custom, customer experience, convenience, and trust—that’s how we’ll see improvement and change as we move forward.
It was always important to understand our audiences and create personas to identify goals, motivations, concerns and frustrations so that we can make a difference in the lives of our customers—now and in the future, there’s going to be an expectation. People want more and will demand it too. Influence isn’t going to work as hard for brands as it did when people are becoming far savvier to #ad and #gifted.
Demand (alongside behaviour) was one of the most surprising attitudes throughout the pandemic in the UK. Stockpiling toilet paper, pasta, booking out delivery slots on supermarket ecommerce and instead, consumers going direct to brands. Demand has been at an all-time high, and some of that will remain, but that’s not to say loyalty will persist. That’s down to the business, the brand, and its authenticity—how well it continues to serve and meet and exceed expectations.
I for one was forced to look further afield for toilet paper and found who gives a crap, and have continued to support their ethos. 50% of profits are donated to ensuring everyone has access to clean water and a toilet within our lifetime. Subscription has become part of my life—Itch, Tails, Netflix and Beer52, to name but a few. We’re going to see less impulse but more demand for convenience, and businesses should be looking at ways they can improve their customer’s experience by saving time.
We need only look at the below screenshot from one of our ecommerce clients to show the disparity in demand when there's a need for a product and a desire to own it day-to-day. The pandemic peak settling back to a steady return of traffic.
This is good for gaining a better understanding of demand across product ranges and being more reasonable when setting new KPI's for the coming year, and the new budgets and strategies that come with it. There are a lot of businesses that are trying to strive to maintain or get back to levels of traffic they saw during (we hate to say it) unprecedented times last spring. We may never see that level of demand again and that's ok, but it's time to learn from it. How can we be better now, not as good as it was then.
We’ve had a lot of time to reflect on and decide what’s important to us, and we’re going to see consumers being more environmentally and socially aware about what they’re buying and who from. We’ll never chip away at the giants but when we look back at situations like the exploitation of workers during a global pandemic — remember the controversy over Boohoo failing to improve working conditions — it makes us all think twice about what brands are doing and who’re they doing it for.
We’ve seen (and will continue to see) an increased desire to shop independent and a more demanding consumer who expects (not just hopes for) more from brands—for them, their employees, socially and for the environment. Brands must become authentic to be heard, stay connected with and captivate their audiences.
Authenticity moves us onto the point of brand and how essential it will be for companies to realise they need a solid foundation of values. We’ve already noticed a rise in businesses looking to rebrand themselves in recent months. Both visually and verbally, it’s becoming more evident that companies need to attract advocates and that loyalty is everything when it comes to today’s consumers.
Brands need to be a strong, trusted reflection of what their customers stand for and without it, they’re going to find themselves left at the wayside if their proposition and values don’t stand up to expectations. It’s not cool to just be seen as cool anymore—it’s time to prove it.
One huge positive about the last year in the design space is the wealth of understanding and analytics that have come out of user behaviour online — how people land on a website and what pages, how they journey through the site, pages they don’t visit, difficulties with navigation, session times and bounce rates — there is so much to unpack, and that’s something that we need to be doing.
In that data, we can understand how we can support our users, save time, aid convenience, and give them an experience that will build upon trust and loyalty, which we know is key for future success.
Social media is a really interesting one—either people have entirely switched off, or they’ve turned up: listening, watching, scrolling more than they ever did before. It’s become something of an addiction (did you watch The Social Dilemma documentary last ?)
Apple has made an interesting (and I would argue profound) move with its recent iOS 14 updates, essentially blocking Facebook and Google from receiving analytical data from users if they choose not to be tracked.
“Previously, about 70% of app users shared their IDFA (the cookie that allows tracking) with app publishers, but after the IOS 14 update, this number has dropped down to 10-15%"
Liz Emery, Tinuiti.
We’ve also seen the rise of TikTok, which in its beginnings was an unknown entity with some questionable videos being shared; now, it’s taken social by storm, with 167 million videos watched every 1-minute of the day. It’s a platform that rewards content above all else, pushing meme culture to an all-time high and allows people to be authentically themselves. It’s massively appealed to people who, in the last year, have found themselves bored, with low attention spans, and a need for distraction.
If there’s one thing we can take from social media in the past year, it’s that video content is continuing to dominate and has risen sooner than expected with the likes of TikTok. It makes it easy for anyone to create content with a smartphone and share it with the world—informative, educational, fun or something trending, it allows people to connect universally.
That being said, it seems that less emphasis should be placed on the advertisement and more on organic and creative content that isn’t disrupting a moment but embracing and engaging with it.
Everything brings us around to strategy, which, of course, relates to growth, revenue and brand awareness. It’s evident that if you don’t have a digital presence as a business, you must get one and move forward with the changing digital landscape.
Everything should centre around and be reinforced by your customer personas and their expectation and the digital journey they undertake. You’re only as good as your customer’s last experience, so always make sure that yours is better and seek connection.
Relationships with your customers are everything; make a promise and persist. Customers have been let down too many times by brand messaging that doesn’t live up to its pledge to commitment.
Not sure if you need to rethink your brand or freshen up your website? Check out our services or get in touch with the team to discuss how we can support your business.
Interesting? There’s plenty more where that came from…