Executing Your ABM Strategy

Welcome to the exciting conclusion of our six-part Account-Based Marketing (ABM) series!

To recap the series thus far, we’ve touched on the basics of ABM like aligning your sales and marketing teams, identifying target accounts, doing thorough research, and creating great content.

In part six, it’s finally time to put it all together and execute your strategy. Here’s how to do it in four easy to follow steps.

Let’s get started.

1. Identify Online Habits for Ideal Engagement

The first step is to identify where your stakeholders spend the bulk of their time online and the ways they like to view content. To illustrate this, we’ll base our example around an ABM approach to social media.

Once you have their habits and preferences identified — for instance, a preference for Facebook vs. Instagram — it’s time to carefully coordinate your messaging across key touchpoints. This means a multi-faceted approach.

For example, you might get the ball rolling by demonstrating value through social media engagement. In this scenario, you’d find groups and conversations decision makers from your target accounts are participating in. You’d then join the conversation, ideally with some relevant content your team has created.

Hopefully this would lead to a more direct dialogue — after you’ve established yourself, you can further the conversation via direct messages on social media. This is a great strategy, particularly when supplemented by more traditional means of approach, like personalized email outreach.

2. Build Out Customized Channels for Engagement

Having an attractive and convenient means for deeper engagement is crucial to building your relationship with those in control of target accounts.

This “means for deeper engagement” most effectively takes the form of a multi-channel approach to promotion such as:

  • Building custom landing pages tailored to the needs, questions, and concerns of accounts
  • Offering gifts for engagement and interaction (e.g. prizes, swag, and discount codes) while utilizing dimensional mail and PURLs
  • Distribute content such as blog articles across channels that are relevant to each account (e.g. website, social media, and emails)
  • Creating ad campaigns and social ads to target different factors such as location, skill, and job title
  • Inviting contacts to (physical or digital) events and asking attendees to invite their colleagues

3. Forge Strong Relationships with Buying Committees

Here’s an obvious statement: swaying the buyer is the most important part of making the sale.

So how do we do that? Buyers rarely fall for glitz and superficial offerings, which means you need to take the right approach.

The right approach is basically comprised of the following:

  • A focus on educational, value-add pieces
  • Hyper-personalized content
  • One-to-one (not one-to-many) communications
  • Hosting events and webinars that speak to your target buyers

4. Measure Success and Plan for Your Next ABM Campaign

Once you’ve launched, the execution isn’t complete. You’ll need to look back on your efforts and evaluate their success. Remember, ABM is a long-term strategy, not a quick one-off.

You’ll want to turn to easily interpreted metrics for our evaluation separated into three categories: awareness, engagement and relationships.

The best ways to measure awareness is by evaluating things like website visits, social media mentions, and social shares.

To measure engagement, you’ll assess website behaviors like page visits, number of return visits, time spent on site, content downloads, product demos, and email sign-ups/response rate.

Finally, you’ll want to look at your relationships. To put numbers on what appears to be an intangible, take a look at things like the number of decision-makers reached, meetings set, proposals submitted, trial sign-ups, etc.

A Final Note On ABM

Over the course of our six-part series, we hope one thing has stood out above all others: the importance of relationships.

That’s really what ABM is all about — relationships founded on providing opportunity. Above all, ABM is about meaningful connection to create mutual success.

We hope you’re enjoyed this series. For more information on Strata and launching your own ABM strategy, contact us to see what we can do for you.

Why We Decided to Refresh Our Brand

Over the last three decades, we’ve done a lot of amazing things for a lot of amazing clients. We’ve pioneered automated direct mailing processes, built custom correspondence management portals supplementing complex workflows, and we’ve moved mountains to ensure our customers could stay focused on what they do best. In Strata lingo: we’ve Made Smart Happen.

In fact, our services and solutions have evolved to the point where we felt they were being constrained by the visuals of our existing brand. As experts in removing roadblocks and bottlenecks, we recognized that this meant we needed to make a change. Think of it as a makeover, if you will. And yes, we know they say, “it’s what’s on the inside that matters,” but first impressions are lasting impressions and it never hurts to have a pretty, shiny exterior to match the high-caliber engine on the interior. 

So, we saw a huge opportunity to show the world (not just our clients) our true colors. We’re marketing enthusiasts dedicated to innovation, collaboration, and top-notch service – we just needed our branding to confirm that. 

To Rebrand or Refresh – That is the Question

If you’ve ever worked on a branding project before, then you know the first question that needs to be answered is, “do we rebrand or refresh?” A complete rebrand requires scrapping your current identify and starting with a fresh slate, where a refresh allows you to keep your main identity and strategy intact.

The answer for us wasn’t hard to find – our brand was strong with our current clients and we had a great reputation as problem solvers and solutions experts – so a refresh it was! I mean, just like you wouldn’t build a new house to change the color of a room, we didn’t need to start from the ground up to create a brand that mirrored our vision, our team, and our solutions.

Ready, Set, Go!

Fast forward to January 2020 and we’re in go mode. Ideas were flying, brainstorming was brewing, and I’ll be honest, it was a good couple week of chaos. Even as a group of marketing professionals, I don’t think any of us truly recognized the complexity and number of brains it would take to refresh our brand. In the end however, the initial chaos was beautifully orchestrated and the seeds of our new brand began to sprout.

True to the saying, the first step (the discovery phase) was definitely the hardest. It made us take a deep look at who we were so we could identify each conflicting detail between who we were at our core vs. who we were on paper. It involved a lot of long, honest conversations – but they’re conversations that needed to happen. 

Then came the fun stuff. After breaking down our brand into a million essential pieces, we finally started to put it all back together and our new brand started to emerge. Our voice, values, mission, logo and brand standards all began to meld together and tell a single, cohesive story that was both accurate and elegant. 

To Infinity, and Beyond

As you can tell, we’re pretty pumped about this new brand and it’s hard for us to picture ourselves any other way – it finally feels like were walking in the perfect pair of shoes.

The best part is, our new brand doesn’t really feel new to any of us. In fact, it’s exactly who we’ve always been – sleek, bold, and always moving forward. Although we don’t know exactly know where the future will take us, we know that we have the vision, mindset, solutions, and *now* the brand to mirror it all. 

So, I pose this question to you – what do you think of our new brand? We hope you feel the same as us and that you’re ready to Make Smart Happen and #StrideWithStrata.

A Deep Dive into Data Discovery

Welcome to part 4 of our Account Based Marketing (ABM) series.

So far, we’ve taken a look at the basics of ABM, how to align your sales and marketing teams ahead of your ABM campaign, and how to choose your target accounts.

In this installment, we’ll be taking a deep dive into data discovery — the importance of data to your ABM strategy, how to collect it, and why data hygiene is so crucial.

Let’s get started.

Why Good Data Is So Important

Good data is arguably the most important part of developing your ABM strategy, specifically when choosing your target accounts — it’s a B2B marketer’s best tool to identify the decision-makers ready to buy now.

In the next few paragraphs, we’re going to be discussing how to collect and utilize data from outside sources, but it’s important to note that plenty of data can be gathered internally from team members and existing data in your CRM.

3 Steps to Using Data For Choosing Targets

Step 1: Use Internet Data

One of the best ways to identify a target account is by gathering internet data. By using IP addresses and third-party cookies, we can look into online behaviors, such as search engine queries, repeat website visits and content downloads.

Step 2: Identify Net-New Prospects Through Audience Mirroring

As you begin to research and discover potential target accounts, you’ll begin to notice similarities in the types of businesses that come onto your radar. This can be a valuable research tool in helping you identify trends and patterns to build criteria for likely target accounts, ultimately speeding up your identification process and boosting your results.

Some places you’ll likely notice similarities include:

  • Revenue
  • Location
  • Departments
  • Employee Responsibilities
  • Employee Roles
  • Budgets

Step 3: Researching the Individual

By now, you’ve narrowed down a pool of prospects into a group of true target accounts. Now let’s not blow all your hard work with a sloppy ending — it’s time to bring it home with by researching your point of contact.

Figure out who you need to reach out to. Once you have it ball parked (department, level of seniority, etc.) start looking at who the ideal point of contact might be. Some of the specific details you’re after are:

  • Job title
  • Tenure
  • Decision-making hierarchy
  • Account affiliation
  • Activity/engagement history
  • Skills and proficiencies
  • Experience with your category
  • Personal information (hobbies, family, likes dislikes)

Identifying Weaknesses and Maintaining Data Hygiene

It’s important to recognize areas where you may have insufficient data. This is a good opportunity to partner with other companies who have access to quality data and work together.

It’s also crucially important not to be cavalier in your choices when it comes to third-party data acquisition — choose your third-party vendors wisely to ensure that data is well-informed and accurate

Moving onto hygiene: once you have data, you need to maintain it. While we all know that good data is important, accudata.com offers these statistics to put the true cost of bad data into perspective:

  • Corrupted and inaccurate data costs US businesses approximately 3.1 trillion dollars each year.
  • Nearly 40% of all sales/donor leads include some form of corrupted data, making them either difficult to use or simply useless.
  • There is a 25% rate of consumer data decay annually, requiring consistent vetting.

The bottom line here: make sure you acquire good data and maintain its integrity through best practices.

ABM is all about specificity, whether that’s in delegating roles, establishing goals, or doing research. An ABM strategy can be intimidating, but the rewards are worth it. Make it easy on yourself by starting with great data.

Looking to broaden your knowledge on Account Based Marketing? Check back next Thursday for our final ABM blog focusing on how to execute your campaign.

Think you’re ready to start your ABM program now? Contact us to see what Strata can do for you.

Finding the Needle in the Haystack

Welcome to part 3 of our Account Based Marketing (ABM) series.

To quickly review, in part 1 and part 2, you saw us introduce ABM as a strategy and dive into the steps you can take to align sales and marketing.

In this blog, we’ll go over arguably the most important step in an ABM campaign — identifying target accounts. Let’s do it.

What Are Target Accounts?

To put it simply, target accounts are the companies you want to turn into customers.

We’re sure you could’ve guessed that.

Why Target Accounts Are So Important

Selecting your target accounts isn’t as simple as “I’d really like our business to handle the collateral needs for Coca Cola.” It’s about identifying exactly which accounts fit best in your business model, help build your brand, and effectively grow your company. Basically, if you’re spending the bulk of your energy and resources identifying these accounts, then you’re doing it right.

The right target accounts are critical to the success of your ABM campaign. If you choose wisely, you’ll see better account engagement, quicker deal velocity, and larger deals. The wrong choice, however, often leads to difficulty defining clear goals, aligning your sales and marketing teams, and ultimately a poor ROI.

How to Identify Target Accounts

The first step to identifying a target account is to look at the goals your team has established for your campaign and create essential criteria.

Then, step two uses that criteria to establish a persona, creating an ideal customer profile for your target account. The process is a lot like creating personas for B2C business, except you’re creating a persona for an entire company. Things like annual revenue, reputation, philanthropic efforts, etc., all go into this profile.

Next, step three will put this persona to use. Start scouting prospects that fulfill your criteria and resemble the persona you’ve created.

Finally, step four is all about getting the data. Once you have a pool of potential target accounts, utilize any metrics you can get your hands on to delve into them and find which ones are truly the best fit for you. This is a good time to consider not only the potential financial payoff, but how doing business with this account will build your brand and provide value in the future.

Know Your Point of Contact

By now, you’ve narrowed down a pool of prospects into a group of true target accounts. Let’s not blow all your hard work with a sloppy ending — it’s time to bring it home with a little more research.

Figure out who you need to reach out to. Once you have it ball parked (department, level of seniority, etc.) start looking at who the ideal point of contact might be. The specific details you’re after are:

  • Job title
  • Tenure
  • Decision-making hierarchy
  • Account affiliation
  • Activity/engagement history
  • Skills and proficiencies
  • Experience with your category

Once you have this information, use it to identify your ideal point of contact.

Double Check

Double check everything, always…. that’s all.

Allocate Your Efforts

While all target accounts are important — that’s what makes them target accounts — they’re not all equally important. We can visualize this as a tier-based system:

Tier 1 accounts are perfect fits, similar to your highest value customers.

Tier 2 accounts are strong fits but have a lower lifetime value.

Tier 3 accounts fit most, but not all criteria. They’re worth pursuing but typically not worth investing significant resources to win their business.

The point of breaking up target accounts into these groups is energy allocation. You should allocate more resources to accounts that have the potential to drive the most revenue and/or strategic value for your business.

Worth the Work

It’s a pretty hefty work load up front, but ultimately, that research pays dividends — if you choose your targets wisely, your business could very well see growth like it’s never seen before.

That promise of success, however, does come with an important word of caution — if you rush the process and make the wrong move, you’re likely setting your ABM strategy up for failure.

The point is this: if you take your time, do your research and make smart moves, an ABM strategy can truly open new doors for you and your business.

Looking to broaden your knowledge on Account Based Marketing? Check back every Thursday for more ABM topics including tips for how to map individuals to accounts and collect data, best practices for defining and creating targeted campaigns, how to execute your campaign, and more.

Or, if you’re ready to start your ABM program and would like to see how we can help, Contact us today.

Smarketing – How to Align Sales and Marketing

In our last article, we discussed the rise of Account-Based Marketing (ABM) as perhaps the premiere strategy for modern business. With its unique ability to increase efficiency and bolster ROI, more and more businesses have begun to gravitate to ABM as their preferred outbound marketing strategy.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the ways in which sales and marketing teams must interface in order for an ABM strategy to be a success. We’ll also touch on how to align those teams for maximum impact.

Let’s go.

Locking In On a Target

Traditional Strategy: In the past, sales teams targeted specific accounts and marketing focused on leads. That meant two fairly autonomous entities working on the same general goal, rather than focused collaborative efforts on a specific, defined target.

ABM Strategy: With an ABM strategy, sales and marketing teams work together from the jump. They do this by identifying a list of target accounts and centering their efforts around those targets.

Standards of Success

Traditional Strategy: We’ve been defining our success in the wrong ways. Marketing teams have traditionally relied on vanity metrics to prove their worth while sales teams have pointed mostly to closed revenue. While sales numbers and engagements are certainly indicative of activity, they can often fail to reflect big pictures realities.

ABM Strategy: ABM identifies this problem — vanity metrics and sales as the “end all, be all” barometer of success — and allows your team to address it. Rather than judging a campaign by these traditional benchmarks, an ABM approach encourages your team to come together and define their own goals. While sales numbers and engagements may be included in these goals, an ABM campaign tends to have a broader vision of success, for instance securing a set of small accounts that may provide crucial references to secure a big account in the future.

Campaign Management

Traditional Strategy: The traditional approach to campaigns has always been pretty simple — marketing conceptualizes and launches a campaign, sales gets a list of contacts to follow up with, and the beat goes on — two separate entities independently chipping away at the same general goal, interacting only in the handoff of leads.

ABM Strategy: In the same way an ABM strategy sees sales and marketing working together to identify goals and target accounts, ABM also sees a collaborative approach to campaign development to create multi-touch, hyper-targeted campaigns.

How To Align Your Team

If we haven’t already made it obvious, the success of an ABM marketing strategy is rooted firmly in the alignment and collaboration of sales and marketing teams. With such intense focus on a relatively small pool of prospects, any slip in messaging/communication/strategy could result in the loss of a large percentage of projected sales.

The first step to aligning your team is the initial set of discussions. Start by clearly defining the responsibilities of each team and team member. By identifying these roles for the get-go, it’s easier to ensure accountability, as well as identify priorities and assign tasks.

The next step is to spark a collaborative environment. It’s important to ensure that everyone understands their role as a part of one unit working in harmony, rather than as independent entities doing their job and handing it off to the next person. Think of it as an engine, rather than an assembly line. Have open conversations, encourage constant communication and foster that culture of collaboration.

The final step is to share the results of ABM campaigns openly — including failures — and encouraging constructive dialogue around them. Find out what worked and what didn’t. Examine both successes and shortcomings against the metrics your team has come up with. You may find that the problem is not with your strategy, but rather your goals. This is the type of information that will grow campaigns in the future.

At the end of the day, this is the golden rule: Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate. Align, align, align.

If nothing else, we hope you leave this article with those two words as the primary focus of your ABM strategy.

Remember: getting the ball rolling is only half the battle. Once you’ve developed a collaborative environment and aligned your teams, you must sustain it. Encourage constant conversation, communication and dialogue between your sales and marketing teams. Once this level of cooperation becomes a habit, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes the foundation your teams rely on to get results.

Looking to become an ABM master? Check back every week for more ABM topics, including how to identify high-value accounts, tips for how to map individuals to accounts, info on collecting better data, best practices for defining targets, creating targeted campaigns, executing those campaigns, and much more.

Ready to start your ABM program? Contact us to see what we can do for you.

The ABCs of ABM

One of the best things about our modern MarTech is its ability to fine-tune our marketing strategies to achieve our goals in business.

But where does all this fine-tuning lead to? We’d say the development of Account Based Marketing (ABM) strategies.

Let’s talk about our ability to target new accounts through ABM and why it’s the way of the future.

What is ABM?

In short, ABM is essentially a 1-1 marketing/sales strategy for B2B businesses — where traditional marketing is more generalized with who it targets, ABM targets specific businesses via team members.

For instance, where more traditional B2B marketing might target MarTech companies doing $20,000,000+ in sales annually, ABM would find a specific business that met that criteria and market to them, targeting key team members/decision makers.

To put it as simply as possible, ABM is about focusing your marketing and sales teams on specific accounts you wish to do business with, not general demographics.

Remember: As a multichannel approach to marketing, employing ABM as a successful strategy requires a continual, focused effort from all members of your team. This is not a “set it and forget it” methodology. Rather, this is a concerted effort to increase ROI and make the most of your marketing budget.

Why Use ABM

ABM is a more efficient use of your marketing budget. Despite the additional effort required to custom tailor marketing strategies to unique targets, a recent TOPO study suggests that an ABM strategy improves customer lifetime value by 80% and increases win rates by 86% over a more traditional approach.

Additionally, with a better understanding of target accounts, the customer experience is generally better, translating to higher retention rates.

There’s also the added benefit of shorter sales cycles — since this approach to marketing starts you further down the sales cycle, you spend less time testing the waters and waiting for responses.

How to Use ABM

ABM can be broken down into five essential steps: identification, profiling, creation, execution and reflection.

Identification

The most crucial point behind an ABM strategy is identifying specific accounts instead of casting a wide net at a generalized demographic. Target account selection is critical, so set your sights on high-value targets who may have a genuine need for your product.

Profiling

Pull information from wherever you can get it, whether it’s LinkedIn, a company’s blog or even their Twitter feed. Create a profile of who you believe the company to be on a brand level.

This is also the time to find out who the decision makers are. These are the people your team will be reaching out to.

Creation

Now that your team has identified and profiled your target accounts, create content that speaks to those target accounts as unique businesses while aligning your marketing materials with what you believe to be their core brand. Be sure to emphasize solutions to what you see as potential pinch points in their business.

Execution

This is why it’s so important to have your marketing and sales team on the same page. When you launch your campaign, it’s crucially important that your multichannel approach includes appropriate outreach by the right parties at the right times. Your marketing and sales teams need to be on the same page. Develop agreed upon timelines coinciding with your content and goals.

Reflect

Once your campaign is over and the dust settles, look back at your goals and see where you landed. What can you learn from the successes and shortcomings when employing an ABM strategy to your campaign? Use these insights to inform your campaign in the future.

How We’ve Used It

At Strata, ABM has been crucial to our marketing approach. We’ve successfully employed this strategy for the last several years, but have had notable recent success using ABM and other adaptive marketing approaches to contact decision makers for large accounts at home during COVID-19.

You can read more about our recent efforts here.

Looking to the Future

ABM is the way of the future, and why wouldn’t it be? As an exceedingly efficient strategy with higher ROI and a shorter sales cycles that leads to more valuable long-term relationships with clients, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes the industry standard.

Want to see how we can help you transition to an ABM strategy? Contact us to find out what tools we have available for you to get the ball rolling.

How We Helped a Client Think Outside of the Box to Reach their Perfect Prospects at Home

COVID-19 has thrown businesses for a loop, but there are still jobs to be done and innovations to be made.

Let’s talk about the spectrum of what we’ve been seeing.

At Strata, we’ve seen the success of certain marketing campaigns ebb as some business temporarily halt marketing operations. The explanation for that one is pretty obvious — if you’re not marketing, you get no return.

We’ve also seen some business remain stable for other customers, like those primarily marketing through digital channels. As we touched on here, email and digital marketing are remaining relatively consistent and in some cases, experiencing positive trends.

And then we’ve also seen some increase during the COVID crisis, like a recent B2B direct mail campaign, which might surprise you. With a B2C direct mail campaign, people are home and opening their mail, so it would make sense to experience an uptick in return in a B2C direct mail campaign response rate.

But with people out of office, could a B2B direct mail campaign really be experiencing success?

The answer is yes. Thanks to our adaptive strategies at Strata, that’s exactly what happened. In fact, one campaign that’s expected to performed better than both industry and personal benchmarks.

Here’s how.

An Idea and a Survey

Our team realized that with decision makers working remotely, B2B direct mail campaigns would fall short, likely reaching their intended recipients too late — or not at all.

To get around this, we pulled data from our B2B data base, identified the decision makers, then matched it against a mailing list used by B2C businesses. This matching revealed the personal addresses of the decision makers, allowing us to send them B2B communications as if it were a B2C direct mail interaction.

This presented an obvious question: if we were to send decision makers B2B marketing materials directly to their homes, would they take this initiative as an invasion of privacy?

We sent a survey to IT professionals and executives focused around that exact question. We found that the overwhelming majority would not mind business materials being sent to their home given the current crisis.

Implementation

Once we had this information, the next step was to implement the strategy.

Our campaign consisted of highly-personalized dimensional mail boxes sent via mail directly to the homes of top B2B decision makers. Of those that received the campaign mailer, we’ve seen very promising clickthrough rates and an upwards tick in scheduled appointments.

We plan to update this post once final results for this campaign are available.

The Takeaway

In the worst of times, successful businesses find ways to adapt and overcome.

Let the above serve as a real-life demonstration. It’s a reality we’ve been harping on since the beginning of this blog program (and certainly since the beginning of the COVID crisis) — the absolute importance of adaptive marketing.

Want to put Strata’s adaptive marketing solutions to work for you? Contact us to see how we can do to help your business thrive as we get through these difficult times.

Four Strategies for B2B Marketers to Consider

In our last post, we visited some of the ways COVID-19 has impacted marketing and which advertising channels are producing results in our strange new world (and which aren’t). 

We touched on some pretty simple concepts — customers are looking for greater value in their purchase, marketers need to lean into digital and direct mail in their omnichannel strategy, and COVID-19 is weird, but not the end of the world.

So how do we continue to get through it?

Here are four specific strategies B2B businesses can use to adapt in the current COVID climate.

1: Don’t Fade Away

Knee-jerk reactions are never good, particularly in the business world, and completely halting the presses may damage your brand visibility down the line.

If you need to take a break from promotional materials that simply don’t make sense during times of social distancing, by all means do so. Now might not be the time to buy a billboard or ad space at the airport.

That said, reinvesting some of those savings into techniques proven to be successful during the COVID crisis — like direct outreach via mailers, email campaigns or digital advertising — is paramount to coming out of this thing in a position of strength. 

2: Double Down on Customer Engagement

In times of crisis, your customers are looking for comfort and reassurance — on some level, we’re all looking for that right now.

Look at this as an opportunity to confirm what your customers already knew about your brand. Show them when the chips are down, your business values its customers above all else by engaging them via social media interactions, email or whichever way they reach out.

3: Approach Uncertainty with Confidence in Your Messaging

There are effective and ineffective approaches to crisis management. An ineffective way to manage a crisis is to project a specific outcome and bank on it, leaving you open to catastrophe if things don’t go as planned.

Kind of how we ended up here in the first place.

An effective approach is to focus less on specific outcomes, and more on the range of outcomes. This doesn’t mean giving doomsday predictions equal credence at more optimistic projections. Instead, it means acknowledging uncertainty in your messaging and reassuring customers that your business is prepared for both the good and the difficult.

4: Get Smarter with B2B Outreach

For B2B business, this strategy might be the most important.

You can’t just send your outreach to the office — with many employees working remotely, it could very easily be a waste of a direct mail campaign.

So how do you make sure your outreach lands where it needs to?

It’s been simple: we’ve been comparing our account information against available customer databases, finding where we have overlaps and sending B2B marketing materials to the homes of decision makers.

So, there you have it, four strategies for B2B businesses to consider going forward. These times are tough, but with a strong focus on adaptive marketing — particularly in messaging and outreach strategies — we’ll make it through.

For more on how Strata can help your business stay strong through COVID-19, contact us today.

What’s Working, What’s Not, and How to Adapt

COVID-19 has been impacting us all, and it’s true what they say — we’re all in this together.

To put it positively, it’s been “interesting” to see the impacts this has had on business and marketing.

COVID-19’s General Impact

First and foremost, COVID-19 has impacted the ways consumers purchase — for the time being, they’ve shifted to a recession mentality. On a macro level, this means consumers are temporarily passing on the premium brands in favor of brands offering greater value.

That’s not to say premium brands are doomed in a COVID-19 world.

Premium brands will get through this by aggressively defining their audience and adjusting the ways they engage that audience. As the average customer’s channel mix shifts, brands need to reach the “at home” individual — for the next few months, ditch your OOH efforts and focus on getting to the consumer at home.

Focus on direct mail, email and addressable geofenced digital ads as the primary players in your channel mix.

Making Direct Mail Work for You

There’s a reason direct mail is a marketing standby — it’s effective. It’s also what many brands will lean on in the months ahead. Let’s look at two scenarios in which COVID-19 impacts this high-value channel — B2C and B2B campaigns

In a B2C campaign, COVID-19’s impact on direct mail is actually a boost in visibility. With limited distractions and an audience spending more time at home than ever, direct mail is front and center.

In a B2B campaign, the way COVID-19 impacts direct mail is a bit more complicated — with no one at the office, a standard B2B campaign can fail. Fortunately, with a little extra data prep, they don’t have to. You can contact decision makers directly at home by working with a data source to match your business dataset against a consumer database and send business communications to personal addresses.

And if you’re worried about reaching people at home, don’t be. People want business to continue — in fact, in a recent survey that we conducted, 90% of consumers said that they’d be comfortable receiving B2B solicitations at home.

Finally, a parting thought on direct mail: use it as an anchor in line with other cost-effective strategies, like digital and email marketing. While effective as a standalone, the performance of direct mail is exponentially increased by including it in your omnichannel strategy.

Utilizing Digital Ads and Email Marketing

Speaking of omnichannel strategy, another place where advertising is thriving is within the digital realm. Things like ad space on social media, commercial spots with streaming services, etc. continue to burn hot. The reason for this is pretty obvious — more people are relying exclusively on screens for news and entertainment.

Digital advertisers are also looking at this crisis as an opportunity to assess effectiveness, clean house and reflect on their digital brands. In short, metrics are talking, underperforming strategies are going out the window, and most of the content smart businesses are putting out is routed in engagement and messaging, not new acquisition.

Email marketing, particularly in retail, is still a go despite COVID-19. In fact, some research points to negatives like unsubscribe rates going down while positives like click rates are going up or at least roughly maintaining pre-COVID levels. With that in mind, now is an excellent time to develop and execute your email marketing campaigns either in house of with a trusted vendor.

Tailoring Your Messaging

In the early days of the outbreak and subsequent lockdown, it seemed utterly bizarre to see the marketing world carrying on as usual, running commercials featuring large groups of friends out in public places, while viewers cringed at home, counting the times the actors touched their faces.

Then, almost all at once, there was a major shift.

Marketers began taking on tones similar to PSA’s, reminding people to wash their hands and stay at home while focusing on aspects of their products that aligned with sentiments like “togetherness” or “looking towards the future.” Messaging also began to focus on the ways that purchases helped support the economy and maintain jobs during a time of economic hardship.

At the end of the day, it’s important to recognize that people are bored, anxious and looking for comfort and your messaging, engagement and branding should align with that.

Let’s Face it, COVID-19 is Weird

A grocery store full of face masks is weird. Cleaning products being hoarded is weird. COVID-19 as a whole is weird.

It’s tough to navigate such a strange new landscape, particularly in the business world. Of course, we’ll make it through this — we always do — but it’s going to require adaptivity, confidence and reflection.

At Strata, we’re here to help you with that. If you’re looking for ways to put your brand’s best foot forward, whether that be with direct mail, digital outreach or anything in between, contact us to see what our solutions can do for you.