Marketing automation strategies for brands to restart post-pandemic HOW MARKETING AUTOMATION STRATEGY MIGHT RESPOND TO CUSTOMER EXPECTATIONS While there are still many important open questions about the Covid-19 pandemic, it is clear human behaviours have changed extraordinarily, primarily, due to sudden lockdowns and limitations imposed by almost all nations. In a time when some countries are trying to ease the restrictions, while being fully aware that new waves of the virus might occur, Brands are questioning how to re-establish interrupted relationships with customers in this perceived new normal. How have consumer behaviours changed? What and how do Brands need to communicate? How have consumer expectations changed? On which elements should Brands leverage and focus on? With the purpose of finding key points to address those questions, we can structure our response using two clear post-lockdown consumer categories: “I prefer to stay home” vs “I prefer to go out”. Government constraints and limitations on the individual liberty to move have affected all of us. Every generation has experienced new and unexpected ways to interact with both big Brands and brick and mortar stores. eCommerce has been the only way to buy (and deliver) a gift to someone, orders have been sent via WhatsApp to the greengrocer and hair dye kits have been promoted (and ordered) through Instagram, by the trusted hairdresser. Suddenly, online channels came to us as the only option, in a mass digital adaptation. Need and will, encouraged by increased free time, have pushed Late-majority and Laggards to use smartphones for new purposes. In recent years, how much money has been spent by Brands with the scope to increase the adoption of digital touch-points? This global adaptation is an asset on which Brands must leverage, especially towards audiences and targets historically considered unfamiliar with digital. The “I prefer to stay home” category proves to be more demanding towards Brands. They expect to be able to communicate, evaluate and buy in a fully-digital mode, without being forced to leave home. Attention to social distancing, the precautions to be taken and the rules to be followed is very high for this category. For Brands, this represents an opportunity for differentiation by communicating the methods of contact, evaluation, assistance, tutorials, returns and remote assistance. The "I prefer to go out" category is equally attentive towards social distancing and the rules of coexistence with the virus but at the same time they want to return to contact with traditional, physical points of sale. The desire for contact is accompanied by a fair amount of caution that pushes this category to go to the shop only if well informed about the rules and methods of entry. The opportunities for Brands are: • communicate the data of the less crowded time slots (e.g. by integrating Google My Business data into their campaign tools and sending it via text messages / push notifications); • communicate booking systems to ensure entry into the store "at a safe distance" (e.g. “choose the time and book your ticket”); • communicate the waiting times to enter into the shop (for example, retrieving the data by dovefila.it); • communicate the reopening of the stores following geographical-based rules (e.g. local and dynamic campaigns "We are about to reopen"); • communicate new forms of product evaluation (e.g. video calls with the shop assistant) plus pick-up-in-store in order to limit waiting time and physical proximity. This can be an opportunity to gradually recover contact with the store. A NEW SENSE OF COMMUNITY In general, the forced lockdown has ignited a stronger sense of community in all of us, especially in a local setting. The neighbourhood supermarket, the tobacco shop near the house, the greengrocer a few streets away, have become points of reference and small certainties. This sense of community is another element on which Brands have the opportunity to leverage, giving a voice in their communication to neighbourhood stores. This implies the development of campaigns from the brand to the consumer, passing through the store (e.g. centralized campaigns "How do we re-start" with images and contents of the store closest to the recipient). The forced separation from the brands that we love is a form of absence that can be exploited in favour of the Brand by promoting the creation of or pushing communications towards online communities (e.g. skiing products or tourist activities). This is more important for those Brands that have been worse affected by the closing requirements and for those which the season has been prematurely interrupted. The communication of these alternative channels of interaction can benefit from a greater impulse to support a brand that we miss: community membership campaigns which in turn lead to stronger profiling capabilities. RETAILERS ARE WORST AFFECTED BY SOCIAL DISTANCING Retailers will suffer from a shortage of traffic in the store; additionally, the business model of some Brands is even more sensitive than others to in-store traffic. Therefore, the retailer needs to address a key question (excluding eCommerce) namely, how to improve turnover without being able to increase in-store traffic? A starting point might be to conceptually break down the physical barriers of the store, in particular for sales assistance staff. It is as if the store were to set itself the goal of serving / advising / presenting products and services not only to those who physically enter into the store but, above all (in terms of potential), towards local customers, obviously through a more intense usage of digital tools. For example: on-site chats are directly addressed to the Sales assistance of the nearest store, or WhatsApp for business, a PoS tool used to interact with customers through video calls or AR applications. Google My Business cards can be created for Sales operators in order to get in touch with a potential customer through search results. This is valid both for complex products but also for products with a very short sales cycle (e.g. clothing, cosmetics). Therefore, the store will need to approach (or intensify) the use of digital, direct and media channels, to generate leads in emulation of the store experience, leaving only the end role of a physical point-of-sales to traditional outlets (pick-up and / or payment). OUR OFFER Like Reply supports large enterprises and medium companies in the design, implementation and execution of multi-channel digital campaigns through ad-hoc solutions and market leading products. Our data-driven approach increases performance and enables marketing automation strategies. 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