How to succeed in a post-COVID world


COVID-19 has made organizations aware of their limits and forced them to learn quickly and respond to a highly volatile environment. As we have experienced on a global scale, days of hesitation in decision making can result in escalated business – and societal disruption. 

As my colleague, Jil Maassen mentions in her recent blog post about hidden winners of the pandemic, industries have seen drastic changes in the competitive landscape. Organizations that were able to rapidly pivot in response to a changing market have managed to secure significant portions of market share, while others unable to respond in a timely manner, have largely lost their stakes in the game. 

According to BCG, “Lasting shifts in social attitudes, policy, work and consumption will likely also emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.” (source: BCG). We will continue to deal with changes in consumption patterns and user behavior, and will face new disruptive businesses entering the markets in which we operate. In a world where change seems to be the only constant, how can we set ourselves up for success and be winners in a post-COVID world?

Create advantage through increased agility 

Throughout the pandemic, we have seen businesses that are able to learn and respond quickly to changing conditions, come out on top. As we continue to face shifts in consumer behavior post-pandemic, increased business agility is essential to thrive amid the new challenges presented by the atypical experience the world just endured.  

  • Experiment, Experiment, Experiment. Run experiments across all of your (digital) touchpoints all the time by using Optimizely Web or Full Stack. Use real-time data to inform business decisions. Learn more about your users and their needs with every experiment you run. Use your experiment data, in combination with qualitative and quantitative customer insights to continuously optimize your user journeys. An additional benefit of running experiments continuously is the ability to pick up on any sudden changes in consumer behavior on your site or app, and anticipate accordingly.   
  • Foster a culture of experimentation. By integrating a culture of experimentation within your teams’ and business’ processes, employees are encouraged to stay curious and work in a truly data-driven manner. Letting the data speak for itself will allow organizations to learn quickly about changing consumer needs, and anticipate how to adapt to those rapid changes. As experimentation cultures aren’t built overnight, start by setting up small initiatives that help drive awareness for experimentation on your digital platforms. Set up an experimentation Slack or Teams channel, send out a weekly experimentation newsletter or host an annual ‘experimentathon’ to take your first steps in building out a culture of experimentation. 

Leverage your loyalty 

Recent studies have shown that 78% of U.S. customers have changed the way they shop and switched brands or stores they frequently purchased with pre-pandemic (source: McKinsey). A reported 17% of customers have shifted away from their primary store. (source: McKinsey) This ‘switching’ behavior has been detrimental to customer loyalty. Organizations that double down on customer loyalty will be able to keep their existing customers from switching, and turn one-time shoppers into regular customers (source: Forbes).

  • Provide Tailored Experiences. Use Optimizely’s Personalization functionalities to provide tailored experiences to specific user groups, e.g., based on geo-location, preferred shopping category or current loyalty tier. Make your customers feel connected to your business by customizing their shopping experience to their needs. If currently working with a loyalty program, for example, you could personalize the customer experience based on loyalty tier and display exclusive deals or offerings to this user group. 
  • Experiment with your Loyalty Program. Use data analytics and qualitative insights to evaluate how attractive your existing Loyalty Program is to your regular customers. Create hypotheses to experiment on the benefits you currently offer, but also on the way your Loyalty Program is presented across your digital channels. Use Optimizely Web or Full Stack to test placement, copy and design of your Loyalty Program Content and to evaluate which Loyalty Benefits resonate most with your customers. 
  • Optimize your Sign-up Flow. Turn more one-time shoppers into regular customers by optimizing your Loyalty Program’s sign-up form. Understand which parts of your sign-up funnel cause friction and focus your efforts on removing those pain points. Use experimentation to assess which version of a page, form or element works best for your customers.

Tap into new user groups and win them over 

As brand loyalty has been decreasing across industries, now is the time to tap into new markets and user groups. Use this current momentum – lack of brand loyalty across industries – to win over new customers with attractive offerings and a frictionless digital experience. Once you’ve won over new customers, your tailored Loyalty Experience will convert your customers into brand ambassadors for life. 

  • Optimize your landing pages. Send your (paid) marketing traffic to different versions of your landing page by using Optimizely’s Web or Full Stack capabilities. Evaluate which messaging, visuals, offerings and/or educational content have the highest success rate of turning new users into paying customers.
  • Provide an efficient online experience. Optimize the end-to-end digital experience for your new users. Use data analytics and additional customer insights to understand which touchpoints new users initiate with your brand, and how they navigate the site or app. Use these insights to build hypotheses on how to remove points of friction. Experiment with different solutions across the new user’s journey. Implement the variations that perform best.    

Conclusion

Experimentation is the key to winning not just in an immediate post-COVID world, but for the long haul. Experimentation reveals all about what your customers expect of you and is the key to being one step ahead of their expectations and meeting them halfway, creating the path of least resistance to satisfying their needs and helping their lives improve upon discovering your business, which will compel them to return again and send referrals your way.