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04.07.20

How To Re-Envision Your Brand’s Online Presence Now For the Reckoning Ahead

by Chris Wooster

So this is what a hard reboot looks like. 

As recently as three weeks ago, it was easy to talk in abstract terms about your brand’s online profile. Your site, your social, your CRM… check, check, check. A little nip and tuck here and there, but nothing like a radical rebranding strategy. Steady on like it’s been for years, right?

Then, boom. Overnight—or close to it—thousands of brands face a reckoning with that soft approach. Slow building patterns of consumer behavior got a firehose infusion of jet fuel. 

Online presence became the primary interaction point for brands, or in many cases the only interaction point. You’ve probably seen the results firsthand, trying to order online. Or buy. Or do most anything. 

Dependencies on things like user experience, product design, digital analytics, and loyalty are no longer just a “good idea” but increasingly an existential dividing line between brands that make it and those that don’t. 

Your digital infrastructure should be top of mind today—or tonight if you’re sleepless trying to figure it out in a hurry. Immediately, it’s the critical connection point between your brand and consumers looking for answers in the midst of turbulence. 

The steps you take now can be a taxiway for deeper connections and loyalty on the other side of the crisis. 

Tomorrow’s brand affinities are being formed today.

Consumers right now are test-driving new ways of interacting with brands. The choices they’re making in these months will be imprinted on them a long time forward. Once favored brands may be quickly replaced with new brands who became invaluable during the crisis.

What are you doing now to rewire yourself for the future that’s now solidly on top of us? The answer is to DO, then say. Fix. Build value. Then—and only then—start spreading the word. 

Here’s three steps to reboot your digital brand’s experience and value. They’re the building blocks for what’s next; how you engage with consumers in the new reality on the other side: better product design, better CRM, and eventually, better engagement on the path out of this. 

1. Your experience is your brand. How’s yours?

Brand has always been a squishy word. This crisis has sharpened the squish; if your experience is lousy, your brand is irrelevant. All those spiffy TV spots don’t mean a thing if users can’t find, buy, use, or rely on the experience by which they access your product. Think about your own past week, navigating some dumb interface just to order takeout. Somewhere there’s a YOU trying to do the same with your brand. We’re going through a crash course in A/B testing: your presences either win or fail and the margin of error is slim.

Here’s what you can do now: 

  • Invest in testing your experiences with real users. It’s a humbling but productive lesson in exactly where your brand breaks (literally and figuratively) the bond with your consumers. 
  • Sweat the details. Those extra clicks, screens, errors, and mobile-unfriendly tools are hurdles for users—each ready to trip your brand on the path to conversion. Companies like Indeed.com, USAA, and others invest deeply in testing variants of their experience, optimizing them against data to find the most efficient experience for users. You should, too. 

2. Loyalty is value repaid with supercharged dividends. 

Prescient companies learned in recent years how to find higher ground from dangerous tides like we see today. Investment in modern loyalty programs—data-driven, personally resonant, and optimized for efficiency—are paying off in this moment and in the long haul. Think of the brands you instinctively grabbed for in the last two weeks. Likely, they’ve delivered—some quite literally with snacks—in providing value in the moment and the long haul. 

Your brand may be seeing a probing influx of new customers right now, many testing you online. These interactions give valuable data to retain those customers by providing tangible reasons to stick with your brand before falling back on old standbys. There are key steps you can take now to move toward a modern approach to loyalty and CRM.

  • Capture all the data you can now from new and current customers. Crisis buying patterns may be a blip. But they can also represent notable trends that may affect your segmentation, retargeting, campaign frequency, and messaging. Think of the data you collect from mid-March on a potential foundation for the new normal.
  • Pick a platform that doesn’t just promise data, but will constantly recalibrate itself around that data. We’re all awash in data and reports (and sometimes even insights), but modern loyalty platforms should use data to rewire themselves on the fly, real-time responsiveness. 
  • Make it easy to get rewarded for reliability. Consumers shouldn’t have to turn somersaults to get on board. Streamline your sign-ups. Reward them from interaction number one. 
  • Learn from what works, don’t repeat what doesn’t. Consumers expect you to know them and not forget them. If they always order roses, don’t offer carnations.  
  • Never quit on your customers. Remember, loyalty programs aren’t just people looking for deals. They’re looking to be recognized. Take their choices and value for granted at your peril. Every dollar invested in them will perform exponentially over time, and especially during the next crisis. 

3. Do the doing. Then get to the saying about the doing.

So you’ve sweated the details of your experience—user needs and the stories behind them forming into a streamlined and data-recalibrating machine. Then you’ve stood up a value-chocked loyalty platform and hypersmart CRM powering it. Only after you’ve completed these tasks should you go start talking to people about your brand. DO, then say. 

  • Move at the speed of a newsroom. Responsiveness to your customers today requires a fundamental shift in agility. Your partners and content creators need to show empathy and speed, living the day-to-day, but planning ahead for the rebound around the corner.
  • Substance, then style: Today on-brand means being in-the-moment and authentic. You can do more with an everyday iPhone, real people, and an at-home studio than with the typical campaign polish. In messaging, demand: empathy, information (“We are open with delivery and carryout.”), localization (“These stores in your ZIP code are open with shorter hours.”) deliver amazingly valuable small moments of normal.
  • Mass advertising is for suckers. The smart play is exactly that: smart. Invest in finding where your audience is living, not just where they’re buying. Find them in tangential, life-important passion points, not just in a conventional conversion funnel. 
  • Don’t think in personas, think in behaviors. Meet consumers where they are, making decisions with info at hand. Focusing less on who you think they are and more on what goals they’re trying to accomplish is smart and vital. 

How we can help

Today, in the midst of the whirlwind, we’re helping clients prepare for the future by identifying and delivering the digital experiences customers will expect. 

The goal? Making sure more people can put their services to use right now, and forward.

The LRW Group is collectively helping brands build their digital futures from the insight, out refine their data to retain and build loyalty with those customers, and adapt campaigns to the crisis. all while planning for what’s ahead

Some of this work is being turned around in hours. Because time matters in a paradigm where each day brings fresh realities. Today is different than yesterday, or even last week. Contact us to get started on tomorrow today.

Chris Wooster

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