Customer engagement 2021 – Marketing Advice for Gloucestershire/ South Midlands and Cotswold companies

Passing on research and pointers for customer engagement

Firstly a happy New Year to all of our readers.  Secondly, against the current background of a seriously threatening pandemic situation, which we of course recognise, and the problems many companies (and their customers) face in yet another lockdown, this, we believe, is also the time to prepare for the better future to come.  On line sales in food and drink sectors continue to rise – as reported by Nielsen in December 2020 – a total of 8.5m households, just over 30% of all UK households, shopped for their Christmas requirements on line, an increase from 5.7m households over the Christmas period in 2019. As we have previously noted, the learnt behaviour of increased confidence in on line ordering and on line searches will continue in 2021 – this strongly suggests that companies who have not already done so should review and improve all aspects of their web site operations and communications strategies, with a particular focus on revised customer expectations and needs.


Focus Group Research 

We wanted to know exactly what was happening in terms of recent customer experience of on line searches, ordering, and  responses to communications, e.g., digital promotions.  Accordingly we can report that although the ability to protect health by ordering on line has been appreciated, it is fairly apparent that people are becoming very ‘tired’ of on line and e.mail promotional content which is either too repetitious, general or unspecific to their needs – and of course there has been ‘too much of it’, leading people to ‘delete’ without opening. People still being treated as a homogenous ‘lump’ rather than individuals , with no attempt at personalisation.  Web sites which do not load quickly enough, have poor navigation, and do not link up quickly from an offer being made (e.g., one click) have been criticised. On the plus side Cook Shop was cited by several respondents as an example of a good web site – quick loading, responsive, well organised and reflective of differing customer groups, backed up with clear and useful promotional messages.



Being different – take a risk

As our focus group research confirms, it is increasingly difficult to get target markets to actually engage with  communications, such is the volume of ‘noise’. In an article last Autumn Matt Smith of the CIM advised ‘don’t be afraid to take a risk – try something new and different. Something that others in your market have not tried, or, even better wouldn’t dare to try’.


Being visible, being technically superior

We endorse the comments of Alastair Banks – ‘your ideal customers pre-covid may not be your ideal customers post covid – take time to analyse who you need to be targeting and how…digital should really be at the heart of your strategy while we are so limited in terms what we can do offline.  Your web site is your most important shop front so putting together something on a shoestring (or maintaining the status quo without reviewing changed customer needs and expectations and ensuring your platforms are the best they can be) is like renting a shop in the high street and pulling someone random off the street to kit it out’.  James Massey also adds a recommendation to ‘be more creative in how you bring your brands to life – there has been a tendency to becoming very conservative when it comes to creativity and this is something that needs to be re-discovered (as in point 1 above).


Personalised, well considered interactions

Chairman Brian Doidge gives good advice in communicating effectively – ‘remember this is a two way process – businesses will need to make sure that messages to consumers are thoughtful (and appropriate) and match the wider interests of the organisation. Messages that demonstrate an aligning of the needs of all stakeholders (or target markets and segments) are more likely to show the true value of marketing in delivering strong leadership’. We would add that as well as’ humanised’ communications, ‘humanising’ a brand and its values as far as possible, and inviting the personal views and involvement of consumers or potential consumers, is also advisable.


Our Associate expert’s view:

A challenging reminder from our Associate, Alan Hidden:

‘Customer engagement is marketers’ eternal challenge. You want to engage B2B brochure readers dulled by dry ’corp speak’? Or perhaps the ‘new novelty’ of an old-style mailing will sidestep prospects’ email resistance? Either way, traditional copywriting allies – Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action, plus social proof – still hold the key. Plus the personalisation, tone of voice and knockout headlines that unlock profitable engagement. A century ago, they made direct response pioneers rich. Now they engage online prospects. The principles don’t change; just the creativity of their use.‘

We hope these pointers will help you in the time we have now have in lockdown to stand back, review, reconsider and improve all means of engaging with customers and potential customers; we remain available to provide advice and guidance (we offer a free first consultation).


Brand e Marketing

January 2021

Twitter: @BrandeMktg

Alan: @gloscopywriter