The shutdown of non-essential brick and mortar stores, the stay-at-home orders, the layoffs and the furloughs due to COVID-19 have all impacted brands and their customers over the past few months. In addition to changing how consumers shop, it has also affected their decisions around where they spend their money.
Although the economy is likely to settle into some sense of normalcy once nations increasingly start to reopen their economies, the changes in consumer behavior are likely to have long-lasting effects.
Some brands have experienced customers who have stopped interacting with their brand during the coronavirus crisis. There are a variety of reasons for this, including some consumers facing the loss of an income and making the decision to restrict their spending only to items they deemed essential. Others were forced to make different spending decisions due to COVID-19-related government regulations.
As stimulus checks start arriving in bank accounts and mailboxes, and businesses begin to re-open, there are opportunities for brands to reconnect with dormant customers in ways that are cost-effective for their bottom line.
Here are a few partnership strategies our clients are implementing within their affiliate programs:
Member-based loyalty sites
Member-based loyalty partners are valuable in helping brands use members’/consumers’ shopping history to identify dormant customers or customers interacting with other brands in a specific category via their site. Once identified, the partner can leverage retargeting tactics that feature specific messaging and/or incentives.
It’s important to note that partners have varying capabilities when it comes to retargeting, so when a brand is ready to ramp their affiliate program back up, it’s essential to reach out to partners to understand what their options are and outline the parameters that would achieve their goals.
For example, one of our clients was looking to re-engage with customers that had not interacted with their offer—promoted via a loyalty partner—over the last 60 days (however, look back windows can range up to 6-months). The partner used internal data to identify the target audience and worked with the client to create the messaging and discount to execute a dedicated email that was sent to those users. This smart strategy helped the brand drill down into the performance of their offer and adjust for a specific segment of consumers.
With so many consumers at home and nowhere to go, content consumption increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Outbrain reported that media site visits spiked by up to 16.8% with time on site skyrocketing up to 22.1%.
These media consumption habits will be hard for people to break, giving brands a great opportunity to work with content partners to align messaging that resonates with their target audience.
For some, “treat yourself now that the economy is improving” messaging will be effective. For others, it will be content that provides customers with a sense of comfort by educating them about what’s being done to ensure their safety as they get back into familiar routines. For example, if your brand offered a service that requires consumers to get out of their house to access, how is your brand taking measures to protect their health and well-being?
Coupon and deal sites
With the financial hits that millions of people have taken, many consumers have refocused their shopping efforts to make their dollars stretch further. This has led many to increase their attention on brands who offered promotions and deals during this time, a spending habit that will also likely have long-lasting impacts.
In response to this, many brands either increased their partnerships with coupon and deal sites or tested out campaigns with these partners during the COVID-19 pandemic – and realized strong revenue production from doing so.
Whether a brand offers a coupon/discount could be the determining factor for consumers when deciding between brands—or even whether to go back to purchasing products or services. This is likely to be true long after the economic strains of the pandemic subsides.
As brands look ahead to their “new normal,” it will be even more essential for them to pay for marketing only after a desired action is delivered. Working with performance partners®, including the ones mentioned above, is the most effective and efficient way for brands to get the strongest return on investment (ROI) from their marketing dollars, maximize their budgets and invest more spend behind those incremental and positive ROI partnerships.
Amy Crider is an Associate Director at Acceleration Partners.