It has been a challenging year by any measure. Many businesses dealt with losses after what appeared to be a strong start. Consumer brands and retailers struggled with dips in sales or market share due to changes in shopping behavior. Brand loyalty shifted as consumers switched based on price, product availability, or convenience. Major brands now find themselves having to compete on both price and quality with increasingly aggressive private label brands as retailers join the fight for sales.
But the calendar is about to change. And with a new year comes a new opportunity to turn things around. Regardless of whether these declines were just short-term lapses or long-term losses, a deliberate and agile omnichannel marketing strategy can help. Combined with a strategic partner with deep experience and the right capabilities, 2021 presents an opportunity for a renewed focus and a strategic approach.
Winning Consumers Back After Short-Term Disruptions
While most brands devote some of their marketing efforts toward customer retention, circumstances can disrupt even the strongest relationships. The pandemic certainly set the stage for consumers to try new products. Early on, supply chain struggles led to items frequently running out of stock and forced loyalists to purchase alternative brands. For some brands, those previously loyal consumers have yet to return.
But this situation offers an opportunity to win back those shoppers while strengthening loyalty with short-term strategic marketing tactics. Our analysis shows that your focus should be on increased trade promotions for the next three to six months, supported by an omnichannel marketing strategy that includes coupons, discounts, and other types of consumer savings.
Here’s how you can get started:
- Let data highlight targeting opportunities.
Sales data provides a glimpse into past purchase behaviors and gives you a window into how your products perform relative to competitors, at specific retailers, and with certain audiences. As such, that same dataset can provide valuable insights into targeting opportunities for your win-back promotions, ensuring you showcase your brand to consumers who are ready to come back as loyal buyers.
- React to in-market signals from shoppers.
A consistent marketing message is critical, but it won’t resonate with consumers until you understand and respond to their exact and current needs. While product preference, interest over time, and store visits are all strong indicators, you need to know what your audience is in the market for at any given moment. Once you have a feel for the current interest and intent signals, you can be more agile and connect your promotions to when and where they are needed.
- Create the most effective consumer promotions.
Our recent analysis has shown that short-term promotions are a very effective way to bring buyers back to a brand. We have seen promotion-oriented campaigns garnering a 13% higher sales lift than brand equity messaging alone. Campaigns built around percentages off or buy-one-get-one offers are outperforming those focused on price point savings, experiencing sales lift improvements of more than 38%. Even something as seemingly simple as a “Save Now” button in your creative can provide a 27% higher sales lift.1
Returning to Growth After Longer Sales Declines
With brand loyalty becoming a question mark, it’s easy to be frustrated by declining sales and assume everything is out of your control. However, prolonged slowdowns are not usually the result of outside factors alone. When brands lose sight of what matters to consumers and miss opportunities to innovate or communicate, the inevitable consequence is losing loyal customers.
If that is your situation, I would love to tell you that a quick recovery scenario is possible. Instead, you’re better off planning for a long-term, coordinated omnichannel marketing strategy that combines digital media (e.g., dynamic mobile) with direct mail, free-standing inserts, and in-store displays. This allows you to engage consumers across multiple touchpoints with a consistency in marketing messaging necessary to drive both awareness and sales.
Here’s how this approach should be applied:
1. Plan for and execute a coordinated series of campaigns.
Over the course of nine to 12 months, connect consumers’ online and offline worlds with overlapping print and digital programs, targeted based on when and where predictive intelligence suggests your target audience will be. Adding in data from the brand, market, and store levels can optimize the targeting efficiency of the campaign. The key is planning for the long term while hitting your audience across multiple media.
2. Coordinate content for a seamless experience.
Coordinating content is not just about consistency in marketing messaging. It also provides a seamless experience that supports all other marketing efforts to drive sales. For example, amplifying an ad sent through the mail with a digital display presence can result in a 10.4% sales lift — much better than the 7.9% lift from running a free-standing insert on its own.2
You might also consider combining paid social or influencer marketing with an “always-on” digital ad program. The connection will enhance your messaging and quickly boost awareness, build trust, and reach consumers who may be otherwise unavailable to your brand.
3. Measure the short- and long-term impact.
A long-term marketing strategy’s real beauty is in the room it provides to adjust and adapt campaigns based on performance. Analysis, like the kind we provide our customers, provides insights into coupon performance, consumer redemption segments, and online interest (among a host of in-market signals) to offer recommendations to optimize future campaigns and enhance targeting capabilities. That enables each campaign to get smarter as the program runs, resulting in an overall successful effort.
Finding the Right Partner Is Critical
Challenges like these do not pop up overnight, so it only stands to reason that the solutions often take time to provide results. That requires a strategic partner that understands best practices for developing, executing, and balancing short- and long-term marketing strategies. When you address the root issues holistically and take on all opportunities in front of you, you can win back your shoppers and return to a growth trajectory.
Is the idea of tracking growth across multiple platforms a subject of interest to you? Click through to read up on what Valassis is doing with connected analytics for insights on how to build your approach.
John Chesak is a marketing analytics consultant and leads best practices for Valassis. With over 25 years of industry experience John looks across verticals, clients, and media to uncover insights that lead to better campaign performance.
1 Insights are based on analysis of 1,500+ CPG digital and print campaigns run by Valassis or Valassis-related companies from Q3 2015 – Q2 2020
2 Based on a subset of 21 CPG print and digital campaigns run by Valassis from 2018 – 2020