The Online Migration

All of our sales pipelines have not just taken a hit, they’ve been distorted. For most of us, this will be permanent.

But it’s not all doom and gloom.

The digitisation of the world has seen monumental progress in such a short space of time. What we’ve all been a part of is a leap in human development: speeding up a process that might have taken a decade, or longer, to occur.

The realisation that so many of us can work from home on a relatively permanent basis (and that effective meetings and communications can be done remotely) has been pivotal in this. Recent studies have found that over 83% of people are now enjoying working from home and over two-thirds of people actually feel more productive at home than at work.

Whilst there are already countless articles, studies and blogs talking about what this means for the workforce (and the now daily-used acronym ‘WFH’), what many have not noted is the shift in online user behaviour and the ways that this will impact marketing, sales, advertising and company communications…

 

How is online user behaviour changing?

What role will stores now play?

How are the big players adapting?

Most importantly: what are you going to do about it?

 

Preparation is key here. Make sure that you can answer these questions and are prepared to develop because the need to develop has already arrived. With this in mind, let’s answer these questions here, clearly and concisely:

 

How is online user behaviour changing?

Google Trends is your best friend. If you don’t use it, start now. Here’s the link:

https://trends.google.com/trends/

Below are three graphs showing the trends for Google searches for three key terms that will define how we move into 2021.

12 month UK data for the term ‘buy online’:

12 month UK data for the term ‘online delivery’:

12 month UK data for the term ‘virtual events’:

Users are realising the luxury of not even having to leave the house to do their shopping. That first search is literally the term ‘buy online’ – those users haven’t even specified what they’re buying! Looks like they’re willing to buy anything!

But the important take-away from this is that more users are going to flood the digital markets; so if your marketing activity uses digital as merely a complementary channel, that’s going to need to change. With more of your audience moving away from physical advertisements, such as Digital Out-Of Home (DOOH), and towards digital platforms, like Pay-Per-Click (PPC), online marketing will have to become a primary channel for almost everyone.

 

What role will stores now play?

Physical stores will still have a place. For some industries and markets, they may always be a necessity. But the nature of their role might well need to be repurposed moving forward.

For specialist retail items or custom services, in-store visits might become time-allocated and more in-depth and personalised than before. This is a chance to really improve on those high-end, high-return services where 80% of your business comes from.

Stores may remain as collection points for sales that occur online for click-and-collect style services. With this method, the purchasing activity all happens online still and the store is merely a holding point for the product and services – like a spruced-up warehouse.

But this could also work vice-versa, with specific, location-based sales and offers happening in specific stores and online activity supporting the marketing of these physical places. Locations of stores and maps could better publicise sales so that you end up with a far more targeted and location-based strategy, bringing the store to the customer, instead of the above strategy, where the customer comes to the store.

Finally, there’s the beauty of technology. Machine learning could identify the perfect store location for an individual’s needs. Or, if you wanted to give your customers the luxury of shopping from home, introduce customers to your store clerks via virtual calls and video chats to show off products and demo services. You could even add augmented reality plugins to this.

Stores still have a role but that role needs to be recognised as integrated with digital, not separate or in-competition-with digital.

 

How are the big players adapting?

Those paving the way have already had success with certain techniques. Don’t feel you’re getting left behind but, equally… don’t get left behind!

Big players have already tried and tested several approaches, so take their learnings into account and use them to bolster your sales and marketing. Get on it quickly though because, if you let those paving the way get too far ahead, you won’t be able to catch them up.

In the UK, several large food retailers are maintaining the same product but altering their services; i.e. their food is the same but the way they deliver it is improving. They have shifted from having both purchase and collection available physically to only collection being available physically and purchases occurring solely online – increasing transaction efficiency.

Others have altered their audiences. Whilst this seems like a more drastic change, all that they have done is move from B2B to B2C. What this could mean for you is new or increased competition in your target markets and, potentially, higher prices in production.

In the US, retailers are digitising their store displays, creating online showrooms and staff support. They have invested more in online tutorials to make this change seamless and as easy for customers as possible.

 

Most importantly: what are you going to do about it?

With so much developing so fast ,and no specifics on how to start practically on an online journey, we thought we’d include some quick tips on where to begin:

  • Start with what already exists. Don’t create new things until what you have works well for this new environment. Optimise your site with conversion rate optimisation (CRO) and make sure it’s mobile friendly.
  • Increase online purchasing space for your product. If you already have a website, look at apps for quick sales or integrations with other e-commerce sites, like Amazon or eBay, that already have a vast digital presence.
  • Invest more in digital marketing. Pay-per-click (PPC) and search engine optimisation (SEO) are the bread and butter of any online marketer. Put more budget behind them and design new strategies to keep customers in your ‘online funnel’ so that your ads keep showing to them over and over, increasing the touchpoints and making purchases more likely.
  • Target new platforms online. If you’ve only done PPC on search engines, and you’re a B2B business, then look at expanding into LinkedIn but make sure your targeting is on point and narrow.

 

With users migrating online faster than ever, you cannot grow if you don’t dominate that digital space. Digital marketing is going to continue to play an ever more vital role in the future of revenue and profitability, so make sure that you also follow the online migration or you could be facing a very cold winter indeed.

Category: Strategy
30 June 2020

By David Cooper

David Cooper

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