As the COVID-19 infection curves start to flatten, many governments are cautiously talking about their plans for re-opening their economies. Insurance and Wealth Management marketers are looking ahead to the new reality of what life might look like after the initial acute phase of this pandemic passes; the picture is far from certain.
Recovery and reopening:
According to a Dentsu Aegis survey conducted on April 24, attitudes to reopen the economy vary widely.
- 27% said ”let’s reopen the economy already!”
- 38% said ”let’s start to reopen, but take a cautious and slow approach”
- 34% said “I feel that we should continue to follow stay at home orders”
These findings underscore two things; opinions are changing very rapidly, and we as marketers may not always have the broadest perspective to understand what our customers want to do. These findings serve as a good reminder that we need to consult the data in order to serve timely and relevant content.
The picture is further obscured as attitudes about what we should do are influenced by political affiliation. As individual investors’ attitudes continue to evolve, age and income continue to prove to be important variables regarding confidence in the country’s economic recovery after COVID-19. However, one thing is certain: we are all collectively looking at the US stock market which is reflecting the emotions that are very dynamic and shifting from day-to-day.
Speaking to customers the right way is critical
More than ever speaking to customers the right way is critical which is at the heart of what we do as marketers. For example, a recent study shows that affluent customers are likely feeling more confident than the average customer. As such, affluent customers are planning to increase buying activity. These customers are also paying more attention to the media that is being put out in front of them which is a little bit counter intuitive given all the noise that’s going on in the space. Although they’re paying attention they’re thinking about different aspects (how are companies taking care of their employees, discounts etc.). Hence, delivering that 1:1 component/messaging is critical.
What is a marketer to do?
As analytic marketers, we want to build a strategy informed by data. However, as we consider how to start building a relaunch strategy and an approach to the longer-term impacts of the crisis there are multiple inputs to consider. We can look at state-level infection rates. We can look at location data that gives us some insight into customer mobility and willingness to engage physically. We can look at the official reopening phases state-by-state. We can track and react to our competitors’ actions and signals in the marketplace. We can measure consumer sentiment and what it implies about consumers’ willingness to reengage across various products and channels. And we can look at the financial impacts on customers and how different regions have been impacted by the economic devastation brought on by this pandemic.
While all of these measures provide some insight, the question remains about how to make sense of it all and to build a marketing strategy. One thing is for sure – the future is digital. Here are the three actions a marketer should take:
1. Use data to inform market understanding
The first is getting, and using, the right data to underpin your strategy. What sources can you tap into to understand where markets and customers are right now? How can you use data to get a fuller picture of how customer needs might evolve in order to anticipate what messages and offers you should be sending in the future? Utilizing an Economic Resilience Index, as well as a variety of rich Data Source variables overlaid with the current COVID-19 cases, Merkle built a set of dashboards to drive foundational insight into the impact of the crisis in the US.
2. Focus on the experience and make it digital
Second, we need to understand how customer behavior will change and evolve. It’s one thing for a state to reopen or to open shuttered branches, it’s another for a customer to feel comfortable and be ready to engage. Even within a market, different customer segments will respond differently.
While we’ve all been impacted by COVID-19 on some level, the financial impacts haven’t been even. Banks are in a unique situation to assess the customer impact…and more importantly, to help customers navigate their personal situations.
3. Develop and execute agile marketing programs
The third action we need to take is to build unique messaging approaches – what tone should I use for different markets and segments? What products should I be featuring … should I be featuring lending or deposit products? And, how should I deliver those messages across owned channels, paid media, email, direct mail, etc.? Agile Structure allows organizations to act faster and more dynamically, adapting to changes and opportunities in the market and technology. It’s no surprise that only the strongest, most resilient companies are leading the charge.
Want to learn more? Check out our case study on agile marketing here.