Today’s shopper behavior changes create an opportunity to quickly pivot and turn new recruits into tomorrow’s best customers. Chances are you and your family have made countless adjustments as a result of the pandemic. We all have. It’s true in our driving behavior, in how we communicate, how we eat, and how we shop.
Consumers are buying groceries in novel ways they may have never considered before that allow for safer shopping. Online ordering and pickup services are just so much more appealing nowadays compared to the idea of going into a store. Many people have tested these concepts during the pandemic. Gallup in May reported that curbside food pickup at stores rose 17% between late March and mid-May.
In fact, more people flocked to take-out and delivery from quick-serve or other restaurants through apps during the pandemic lockdown. The Gallup research showed restaurant takeout was up 18% in that period.
And, according to a recent NYU School of Business study, after COVID-19 lockdown, restaurants on Uber Eats received 43 percent more orders per day when compared to before the shutdown. For many restaurants reliant on dine-in business in non-pandemic times, moving fast to jump on delivery app platforms might have helped them stay afloat through this period.
There are lessons here for marketers who have seen an influx of new customers or an increase in sales from direct sales channels. Those who are poised to quickly pivot will take advantage of the new normal by turning new recruits into tomorrow’s best customers.
So how do the smartest marketers take advantage of change without wasting money chasing fleeting consumer attention? Following these four steps can make the difference between gaining new, loyal customers and losing out on an opportunity:
1. Identify New Customers
The first step to capturing longer-term value from new customers is figuring out who they are. New shoppers give off signals. They might provide an email address or mobile phone number in the app when they hadn’t before. Or maybe they join a loyalty program online or in the brand’s mobile app because there is a more prominent call-to-action and more convenient sign-up process.
This information can be compared to pre-existing identifiers to determine if these are indeed new customers. It can unlock demographic, psychographic, and behavioral data about these customers to paint a clearer picture. Marketers benefit from having strong offline-to-online identity connections because it helps them learn what new customers look like, how they shop, and what they purchase.
And this is key: strong identity links help determine whether those customers share traits with a brand’s most valuable existing customers.
2. Estimate Customer Value
As Dr. Peter Fader, professor of marketing at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania says, “Not all customers are created equal.”
This is why it is so important to forecast the potential value a new customer could bring over time. If, for instance, someone never shopped at Kroger then purchases a week’s worth of groceries there for his family, the retailer is likely to see that customer as worth investing marketing dollars in. A new customer who merely stopped in for a pack of gum and some hand sanitizer? Not so much.
During a recent Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) Great Debate series session, Fader said marketers can predict potential customer value by estimating how many purchases they will make, how much they’ll buy, and how much they’ll spend. Propensity modeling using basket size data, demographic, and historical purchase data helps determine just how incremental the purchases from these new shoppers really are.
“That’s going to give us the sense of overall projected future profitability for each and every customer,” said Fader. “Once we have that magic wand, that changes everything.”
3. Retarget for Retention
So, how can marketers turn someone who looks like she could become a loyal customer into someone who is an actual regular, high-value customer? Retargeting people who show a high propensity to convert is an obvious way. By gauging customer propensity to optimize offline and online targeting, marketers can reduce media spend, boost conversion rates, and improve campaign ROI.
Grocery retailers, for example, might provide coupons for items purchased by people with similar characteristics and behaviors. Or, restaurants can attract more share-of-wallet by sending emails or app notifications promoting offers for menu items that are similar to ones a new customer recently ordered.
4. Know What Works
Lastly, marketers need to be confident in knowing what works and what doesn’t. When they define and cultivate effective ways to measure, wrote Boston Consulting Group, companies “can expect to see a 20% to 40% improvement in spending efficiency and as much as a 10% increase in marketing effectiveness.”
Agile brands can respond more readily to changes in shopper behavior, plain and simple. And flexibility must go hand-in-hand with marketing mix modeling, multi-touch attribution, and unified measurement. Only by being able to create and see across the entire customer journey, online and offline, can marketers determine whether the changes they make are helping them reach the right new customers and achieve campaign goals.
With a willingness to make adjustments and measure for optimization, marketers can capitalize on the opportunities presented by today’s economic swings. They can turn new customers into loyal ones.
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