How to build better connections with consumers amid uncertainty
During periods of economic unpredictability, many brands will rightfully strive to optimise their investments, however it is important for them to be mindful of putting the customer experience first.
Right now, many consumers are being particularly intentional about how, when and where they spend their money to get the most value. Priorities and preferences are in a state of flux, with 80% of UK consumers increasingly re-evaluating their needs to shop more effectively.
The same is true for businesses serving these customers. Marketers are under greater pressure to prove the commercial impact of campaigns, with three quarters (77%) of CMOs globally saying they feel under pressure to prove their campaigns are providing enhanced short-term return on investment, according to 2022 research from LinkedIn.
Against this backdrop, ensuring the right audiences are being reached with the right message when it matters most can help.
This can be a challenge for marketing teams, of course. Working back from the customer experience requires brands to have a good understanding of their audiences, and to be able to anticipate constantly evolving needs to engage in ways that are relevant, valuable and build trust.
As audience engagement across digital channels continues to surge, these interactions create a cumulative impact, further increasing the number of signals for marketers to try and piece together. For example, according to eMarketer, nearly three-quarters of the UK population consumed digital video in 2022, up 10% since 2019 and forecast to reach 80% by 2026. So how can brands make sense of all these signals to be more adaptable, agile, and responsive to insights?
The first step is to look beyond top-level analytics, such as demographics, advises Frazer Locke, Amazon Ads’ director of EU adtech sales. “Demographics provide a certain view,” he says, “but used alone, they can’t highlight the complex purchase pathways we see today, or help brands keep a pulse on evolving consumer interests during uncertainty to tailor messages in real time.” To deliver meaningful messages that resonate with consumers, marketers need to look to more holistic signals to help build a better picture of their audiences, such as behavioural insights.
By paying close attention to the insights available to them, marketers can ensure they are developing campaigns sensitive to their customers’ experiences right now.
Frazer Locke, Amazon Ads
With Amazon Ads, for instance, scaled first-party insights based on billions of proprietary shopping, browsing and streaming signals can help brands to uncover relevant opportunities to engage their audiences. These insights can provide a clearer indication of certain life stages and events, product and category shopping patterns, or potential for interest in brands and brand campaigns.
And once brands are equipped with these insights, they can leverage increasingly sophisticated planning tools and capabilities to start translating them into action. “It can take much of the guesswork out of the equation,” points out Locke, “so marketers can understand what’s working, and where they can tweak to help deliver maximum value from their investments.”
Such is the level of sophistication now available, in fact, that many brands make use of data clean rooms such as Amazon Marketing Cloud (AMC), a privacy-safe and cloud-based clean room solution in which advertisers can easily perform analytics across pseudonymised signals, including Amazon Ads signals as well as their own inputs. As a result of these advanced analytics capabilities, “campaigns can be scrutinised at scale on a weekly basis”, Locke says.
“What’s working and what’s not? How do we pivot to focus on reaching audiences that are engaging more? How can we build out lookalike audiences to reach more of those we see better engagement with?” Whilst this is something that can be done in real time via Amazon DSP on a campaign level basis, AMC enhances the ability to incorporate a deeper level of analysis and step-change future planning capabilities.
Crucially, this provides marketers with the agility to identify changes that need to be made to improve the performance of campaigns, and do so quickly and simply. For example, brands that both advertise and sell their product through Amazon “can use these insights to shape a year-out view,” explains Locke. Where a product launch is planned for the end of Q1, for example, marketers may kick off broad awareness campaign activity at the start of the year, observe the types of audiences that are engaging with these early ads, and then use this to build out lookalike audiences using Amazon Ads’ custom audience capability tool. “Test, learn, understand and then scale more rapidly,” he adds.
When global consumer goods company L’Oréal was looking to increase the efficiency of its marketing spend and reach new customers ahead of Mother’s Day, the brand used Amazon Ads’ audience insights to develop six clear Mother’s Day shopper personas aligned to its audience base. L’Oréal used these personas to create tailored content for each group ahead of the annual celebration, based on past shopping behaviours and brand engagements on Amazon. It first deployed a lead-up phase to ensure relevancy with the audiences, making daily adjustments to optimise content, before rolling out the messaging at scale. The benefits were clear, with 71% lower production costs associated with the campaign and a 54% increase on ROI compared to similar campaigns.
When consumer goods company Danone wanted to better understand the audiences most interested in their products, they used Amazon Marketing Cloud to merge insights that had previously only existed in siloes. This allowed them to build up a far more in-depth picture of their customers and adjust marketing campaigns accordingly to create the most compelling message, while also understanding what types of media channels worked most effectively.
While the world around us remains dynamic, and every business’s circumstances are unique, one thing that stays constant is the importance of insight and measurement. “By paying close attention to the insights available to them, marketers can ensure they are developing campaigns sensitive to their customers’ experiences right now,” sums up Locke. “That’s invaluable when it comes to cultivating brand loyalty in a time of uncertainty.”