If there’s anything the COVID crisis has taught communicators, it’s that the days of bland, generic messaging are officially done—personalization is now essential for brand marketers and PR across the customer journey, influencing brand awareness, brand loyalty, and lead generation.
“The current outlook for digital marketing now looks very different from what we all expected last year. This is understandable, though. There’s no way we could have predicted any of what’s transpired this year,” said Daniel Page, director of business development at SEO-focused web host ASEOHosting, in a recent blog post.
Changes that have been developing over time have arrived with a bang in the COVID age. Prior to social media and the Internet, brands communicated with their audience in ways that were largely static and passive. “The advent of personalization has been gradual,” added Page, in a news release. “It’s occurred in small increments across multiple channels and mediums. It’s now become ubiquitous, almost without any of us noticing.”
More than anything else in this new communications age, brand messaging needs to catch up
Old-world television, radio, and print ads offered little in the way of interaction, and as a result, required a specific kind of messaging. With the rise to prominence of platforms such as Facebook, consumers have begun to demand an approach to marketing, branding, and service that focuses more on their journey than it does a brand itself.
“Today’s brands are expected to do more than shout sales pitches at their audience,” Page explained. “They’re expected to forge a personal connection. To remember who the customer is, what they like, what they think, what they want, and adjust their approach based on that.”
As a result of these expectations, consumers will also put a great deal more thought and deliberation into their purchase decisions. “In many ways, this is simply a ramping up of a trend we’ve already seen in the marketing space for quite some time. COVID-19 has simply supercharged it,” said Page in the blog post. “For years, we’ve seen growing evidence that social responsibility and authenticity are critical cornerstones of effective branding. In the wake of the pandemic, their importance is now indisputable.”
Brands must achieve a personalized, unified experience across all channels and at all stages of the customer journey
To do so, Page recommends businesses look into specialized customer relationship management platforms. Backed by machine learning, these platforms are capable of gathering, parsing, and analyzing audience information in real time. This, in turn, makes it easier for brands to curate product recommendations, content, and marketing messages to each individual lead.
“This is no easy task,” Page continued. “It’s one thing to divide your audience into demographics and personas based on shared traits, something which businesses should already be doing. The level of personalization required in the modern business landscape requires something deeper, an experience unique to each customer based on information they provide you.”
Campaigns focused around self-love and body positivity will become more important as well
“Consumers were already growing tired of constant societal pressure to look flawless, to think, feel, and act a particular way. By the time 2021 rolls around, it seems likely that these expectations and pressures will be a thing of the past. Last, but not least, we’re going to see a greater focus on accuracy where marketing metrics are concerned, coupled with an emphasis on greater flexibility and foresight,” Page said in his post.
Personalization will drive marketing forward
“Especially now, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, people are tired of traditional sales tactics,” said Page. “They now seek brands that convey empathy and understanding. Businesses that transform their entire ecosystem into a seamless journey for audiences, adjusting content based on everything from location to previous purchases to interests to the time of day.
“This is something we’re already seeing from major brands like Amazon and Coca-Cola,” Page concluded. “Moving forward, more and more businesses will begin to shift from user demographics to individually-personalized experiences. Those that do so now will be ahead of the curve, and those that ignore this trend will inevitably be left behind.”