Marketers make ‘radical’ changes to customer journeys amid pandemic
The Covid-19 pandemic is radically changing customer journeys across the marketing spectrum, exposing gaps in the process and suggesting ways to improve post-outbreak.
Aside from sparking major changes to daily life in the UK, the coronavirus crisis is having a significant impact on customer journeys.
Over half of marketers (53%) say the Covid-19 pandemic has caused ‘radical’ or ‘significant’ changes to the customer journey, according to an exclusive survey of 477 UK brand marketers conducted by Marketing Week and its sister title Econsultancy. Just 19% of marketers have seen no change at all.
The same picture is true across businesses regardless of size. Some 53% of UK marketers in larger businesses (revenues of more than £50m) have seen ‘radical’ or ‘significant’ changes to the customer journey, as have 52% of marketers in smaller organisations (revenues under £50m).
However, B2C marketers are experiencing bigger changes to customer journeys than their B2B counterparts.
Analysis of more than 850 marketers at global brands, also conducted by Marketing Week and Econsultancy, finds 62% of B2C marketers say Covid-19 has caused ‘radical’ or ‘significant’ changes to the customer journey, compared to 51% of those working in B2B.
Gaps being exposed
Issues within the customer experience are being highlighted by the current circumstances.
Some 55% of marketers questioned say the consumer shift to online during the UK lockdown has exposed gaps in the customer experience, although 77% say they have sufficient staff to cope with the new customer journeys emerging as a result of the pandemic.
In fact, 82% say they have learnt things about the customer journey that they will use after the outbreak and 58% of marketers say they have enough information about the emerging customer journeys to make informed decisions.
Some 64% of B2C marketers say the shift to online has exposed gaps in the customer experience, compared to 58% of B2B marketers. However, 84% of consumer-facing marketers and 89% of B2B marketers say they have learnt things about the customer journey that they will use after the outbreak.
A further 53% of B2B marketers and 51% of B2C marketers say they have enough information about the new customer journeys to make informed choices.
Covid-19 furloughs compromise marketers’ effectiveness
Smaller businesses appear slightly more likely to have been left exposed by the consumer shift to digital during the pandemic. Some 57% of marketers at smaller organisations say the current circumstances have exposed gaps in their customer experience, while 54% of those working in larger companies agree.
However, 83% of marketers in smaller organisations say they have learnt things about the customer experience that they will apply after the outbreak, as do 79% of those working in large businesses. In addition, 79% of marketers working in smaller companies say they have enough staff to deal with the new customer journeys, compared to 75% working in larger organisations.
With customer journeys adapting to cope with life in lockdown, marketers are seeing wider changes taking place in their businesses to help deal with coronavirus outbreak.
Almost half (48%) of marketers say their companies have shifted messaging to emphasise digital products and services since the onset of Covid-19, while 47% say their brands have shifted people between teams to meet new demands. A further 45% are changing advertising and content to make the message more relevant to the current situation.
Some 29% of marketers have seen their companies invest in projects or initiatives that support their brand values, such as charity donations, while a further 29% say their business has reallocated budget and attention from acquisition to retention.
Just 19% say their teams are shifting every service they can from third-parties in-house.
A further 44% of marketers say their companies are reallocating marketing staff to ‘high demand’ areas of the business and 39% are retraining marketers to deal with new issues and different opportunities arising as a result of the crisis.
Almost a third (32%) say their companies are implementing new on-demand training to support marketers working remotely.
The data shows that changes are taking place in businesses regardless of size and sector. Over half (57%) of marketers in large businesses, and 41% in smaller companies, say their brand is shifting people to meet new demands. The reallocation of marketers to ‘high demand areas’ is slightly more common in larger businesses (49%) than in smaller companies (40%).
Larger businesses are also more likely to be implementing on-demand training to marketers working remotely (43%), compared to smaller organisations (22%). Some 35% of marketers in large companies, and 40% working in smaller brands, say their business is retraining marketers to adapt to new issues and opportunities.
Marketers in smaller businesses (49%) are slightly more likely to be shifting messaging to emphasise digital products and services than in larger companies (46%). Over half of marketers in larger businesses (51%) are adapting ads and content to make them more relevant to the current times, compared to 41% of marketers in smaller companies.
Just 7% of brands ‘seize the opportunity’ to invest more in marketing during Covid-19
Some 29% of marketers in smaller organisations have seen their business reallocate budget and attention from acquisition to retention, as have 27% of marketers in larger companies.
The biggest difference in approach comes in terms of investments in activities that support brand values. Some 43% of large businesses are making these kinds of investments, compared to 23% of smaller companies.
When it comes to B2C specifically, decisions to shift people between teams to meet new demands is more likely to happen (45%) than in the B2B sector (33%).
Some 56% of B2B marketers say their business is shifting messaging to emphasise digital products and services, as do 54% of consumer-facing marketers. Close to half (49%) of B2C marketers and 47% of B2B marketers have adapted advertising and content to make the messaging relevant.
However, B2B marketers are more likely to reallocate budget from acquisition to retention (35%), compared to consumer-facing marketers (22%).
The Covid-19 pandemic is having a significant effect on companies large and small, consumer-facing and focused on the business market.
Whether it is radical changes to the customer experience, brands shifting their messaging to digital, focusing on retention or reallocating marketers to different departments, business as we know it is evolving due to the coronavirus.