As any marketer knows, the keys to a successful customer experience are effectiveness and efficiency. Provide the user with the information they need to feel confident in taking action, and make it easy for them to take the action. Whether you are selling shoes, making people aware of new medications or driving users to engage with content, the experience you deliver from the initial touch point through the final engagement is paramount.
While user data is the centerpiece for creating these kinds of customized experiences, acquiring and using that data is becoming harder. Within a regulated industry such as healthcare or finance, marketers have long dealt with data restrictions due to privacy regulations. Now, with the phasing out of cookies and ever-changing privacy regulations, even marketers in nonregulated industries need to be ready to adapt. Experiences need to be more than just compliant. They also need to be positive so they drive consumers to your goal while also being respectful of your customers’ privacy.
As advertisers, we see data as one of our primary tools. So how do we continue to deliver an optimal user experience with limitations on that tool? Here are three strong tactics that have enabled us to help our clients reach and exceed their goals:
Achieve relevance through representation.
Influencer marketing often gets a bad rap, leading us to think of D-list celebrities hawking dubious weight-loss shakes. But in the world of regulated industries, patient advocates, financial gurus and others who provide their followers with valuable information can offer advertisers a trustworthy avenue that directly drives your message to potential customers. For example, a blogger with an autoimmune disease who has a large following of others with the same condition can provide measured, trustworthy information on behalf of a healthcare brand that is launching a new treatment.
When approached strategically, an influencer or advocate can introduce your product or service through a person your audience trusts. Relevance and context are key, as today's consumers are much more cynical and educated—they know the influencer is being paid by your brand, so both the influencer you choose and the messaging need to be on point. Consumers need to see the information as not only relevant to them but also trustworthy.
Adapt to a digital-first world.
We all have experienced change throughout the pandemic, arguably the biggest being the shift from in-person to digital in every industry. We have seen digital transform in more ways than ever thought possible. But for many regulated industries, the transformation occurred on the consumer side, while the business lagged behind. Being able to deliver an experience digitally to your end customers is now more important than ever. For the finance industry, people are no longer meeting with a mortgage broker in person when buying a home. They’re no longer meeting with their financial advisers in person. Last year, 22% of physicians used telehealth; during the pandemic, that number has shot up to 80%. Walmart saw e-commerce sales rise 97% in one quarter during the pandemic, and Target saw a 273% spike in same-day fulfillment. This has all changed where and when people see your brand’s messaging.
Consumers now expect to receive the same experience digitally that they would in person, whether it’s retail, a doctor’s visit or an event. Digital transformation over the past seven months has been accelerated and, while the end of the pandemic will lead many to go back to in-person activities, user expectations for a high-level digital experience won’t revert to pre-pandemic levels.
Customize experiences in a world of walled gardens.
Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple have a hold on the media industry that is unlike almost anything we have seen before. For many reasons, including political pressure over privacy and increasing competition, they are holding tight to their user data. Apple plans to allow users to block in-app tracking, keeping their user base’s personal data from being fed into popular apps. Amazon no longer lists the products purchased in buyers’ confirmation emails so Google can’t gather insights into purchase behavior for people who use Gmail.
So how do we, as advertisers, look at a consumer holistically to deliver a customized and unique experience in the age of privacy? By leveraging our own first-party data. Ensuring you create a federated data approach will be essential. For those who are unable to own their own data due to resource constrictions, maintaining consistency in the execution process against your audience profiles is key. Each platform provides advertisers with different economic, attitudinal and socioeconomic elements that can be used to define your target audience. Being able to create a consistent profile of your audience segments can help ensure you’re investing your dollars in reaching the right audiences.
The pandemic shifts combined with an increasingly privacy-centric industry means targeting your potential customers will continue to evolve significantly in the coming years. Ensuring you are laying the groundwork now to survive in a cookieless, walled garden future will be paramount in ensuring success through advertising.