Consumer behavior has changed for good, but the good news is that your new customers don’t intend to drop their online habits. Recent survey found that 83% of consumers intend to do as much (if not more) online shopping than they did during the pandemic, even when it’s safe to shop in-person again. While stuck at home, Covid-fueled curiosity had consumers trying new things, with 26% reporting they have tried a new brand.

Acquisition often involves paying to “fish where the fish are,” which usually is within the GAFA gang (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple). But once you’ve acquired a customer, why keep paying to reach them through re-targeting? Leverage your hard-won first-party data by strengthening relationships with a more sophisticated customer engagement strategy.

1. Humanize your brand

If you establish human communication with your customers, it’s nearly twice as likely they will be satisfied with your brand. Better yet, they’ll be nearly twice as likely to purchase from you, and to recommend your brand to friends and family.

Consumers want your brand to speak like a regular person would, and to show that you understand what matters to them in the moment—in short, to feel that your brand “gets” them. That’s why receiving messages from the most successful brands often feels more like a conversation between friends: helpful, relevant and valuable. Contrast that with the self-serving promotional pushes, and you know which camp you want your brand to be in.

2. Cross-channel engagement is more effective

Your customers today are all engaging with multiple devices (e.g., smartphones, PCs, smart speakers) and channels (e.g., email, SMS, push notifications). Has your marketing organization kept up? Modern marketing technology makes it possible to shape customer journeys so that messaging is synchronized across the channels each person responds to best. Building a strategy that leverages cross-channel tactics pays off tremendously.

3. Leveraging data is key to driving loyalty

Remember that your customer’s context tomorrow may be different from his context today. Last year’s repeat cruise vacationer may be looking for local campgrounds this year. A frequent burger buyer may become vegan. Your brand’s ability to personalize messaging so that it’s relevant in the moment will show that you get what matters to your customers—and keep them coming back.

Listen to what customer behavior is telling you to understand what’s important, and only then take action with the right message in the right channel, based on their preference data. To boost engagement, anchor campaigns in customer data—personalizing send times for early birds vs. night owls or offers based on shopper profiles, for example—rather than arbitrary brand objectives.

Be mindful of these guidelines as you set next year’s strategy and move retention further up the list of priorities.  Keep the customer’s experience squarely in your sights. When the next year-end review rolls around, you’ll be glad you did.

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