In-person events went virtual, customer loyalty and engagement became more important than ever, and online shopping reached new heights in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Statista, during the pandemic, consumers increased shopping online for:
Over-the-counter medicine by 10%
Household supplies by 13%
Food takeout and delivery by 10%
Groceries by 11%
Fitness and wellness by 9%
The CMO Survey from June 2020 found that 85% of marketers surveyed observed an openness among customers to new digital offerings during the pandemic, and 84% placed an increased value on digital experiences.
Digital has accelerated, and while it might be challenging for B2C marketing teams to adapt, taking a more digital-first approach also offers new opportunities.
In 2021, while the world continues to struggle with COVID-19, B2C marketers should pay attention to these five trends to win over and retain customers.
1) Empathy marketing and making human connections
In the same CMO Survey mentioned above, 79% of the marketers surveyed observed that a greater acknowledge on customers’ behalf of organizations trying to do good and make a difference.
During the pandemic, many B2C marketers shifted to showing how they could provide helpful information, products, and services to customers during a trying period. In short, they were showing how they could help. It’s a time of everyone pulling together, and customers want to see that in the brands they do business with.
Moreover, they want brands to show that they are acting for the greater good and doing what they can to help us all through this. Empathy marketing has come to the forefront, with marketers making human connections by putting themselves in their customers’ place and asking themselves what they can do to help.
2) Customer loyalty and retention marketing
2020 saw B2C marketers emphasize customer loyalty and engagement. Retention marketing means engaging and keeping up with the customers you already have and seeing how you can help them.
When in-person and in-store shopping and events aren’t available, B2C marketers can rely on omnichannel loyalty programs and making the most of the digital channels at their disposal to engage their already existing customer base.
Social media marketing can provide information on products and services, give news updates, and keep with customers and what they’re interested in at the moment. Email marketing can send them product and service updates, deals, and coupons. Text messages can provide updates and deals as well.
A website acts as a brand’s front door and should tell someone all they need to know about you. The site (and your emails, landing pages, etc.) should be optimized for mobile and a consumer’s convenience.
Cross-channel marketing offers a variety of digital options for B2C marketers to take advantage of when meeting customers on the channel they prefer.
3) AI, chatbots, gaming, and other martech innovations
Chatbots can play a large role in making a website more informative, easier to navigate, and better able to address customer queries. AI and marketing automation tools are helping marketing teams optimize their campaigns by expanding their reach, providing more data-driven customer insights, and even helping generate content. Even teams struggling with budget reductions and shortened staffs can still be productive with the help of the right marketing technology.
One also can’t discount the growing potential of gaming and virtual reality marketing. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality can immerse customers in an experience when they can’t be there in person. Real estate agents can use them to showcase homes, and people can take virtual trips when they can’t travel in person.
In addition, B2C marketers are allowing in-game (or in-ebook or in-movie) purchases and gamifying their apps to offer a more interactive and pleasing experience.
4) Voice assistants
Statista has projected that 2021 will see 132 million people using voice assistants at least once a month in the US. This gives B2C marketers the chance to reach more audiences (maybe even more than one person in a household) than they could with just the web and mobile, and generate more personalized conversations with customers.
You might find voice assistants at home, in a car, on smart TVs, appliances, and more. Optimizing for voice can pay off in dividends and let B2C marketers get ahead of the curve.
5) Customization and personalization
A “one-size-fit- all” approach no longer applies. People have different needs and interests, especially during COVID-19. With the help of customer data, B2C marketers can tailor and personalize an experience as much as possible, but they might also see if they can customize a service or product.
Personalization, in fact, has become cheaper and easier to build and scale. As a result, more marketers are delivering more versions, and utilizing modular templates to accomplish it.
What’s a good example of where personalization will come in handy?
Many online shoppers want to try before they buy to see if their purchase is what they’re really looking for. B2C marketers should look at the data and see what personalization works best for them and their customers.
The future of B2C marketing
While eventually, the COVID-19 pandemic will end, the trends it accelerated will likely play a large role in B2C marketing going forward. Digital and making use of an omnichannel approach can continue to reach and satisfy customers who aren’t able to go into a store or prefer online shopping and online interaction. AI and martech innovation will propel marketers forward and give customers more options to interact with brands in more varied ways.
As always, success lies in B2C marketing’s ability to become more agile, flexible, and flexible in their outreach to customers.
For more information about B2C marketing, customer loyalty, and the trends affecting them, take a look at:
- Oracle B2C Marketing
- Oracle Personalized B2C Marketing Resource Hub