Global market conditions impacted by the pandemic drastically changed consumer spending, buying habits and preferences. Businesses, in turn, had to change. We saw a surge of virtual offerings and experiences, media consumption and preferences shifted, and online products/services were favored over in-person engagement.

Six months into 2021, most brands are in a hybrid state with new and adapted forms of revenue. Now is the perfect time to reset and reaffirm what’s working. By gaining new insights from this year, we can establish new performance benchmarks for our marketing efforts and retool where necessary.

Below are three ways your marketing and communications teams can take immediate action to set new benchmarks.

Conduct an Audience Analysis

A deep dive into your core audience helps you understand who your consumers are, where they are coming from and potential areas for growth. Tools like PRIZM use your existing consumer data set (zip codes, emails, addresses) to create a holistic picture of your consumer. We like PRIZM for organizing our client’s audience into unique lifestyle segments and life-stage groups. For example, learning that a large percentage of your 2021 consumers are squarely in the mature year’s life stage group allows you to explore different tactics, creative and messaging, based on the preferences of most consumers in this stage of life.

Qualitative interviews focus groups or surveys are another way to analyze behaviors and sentiments.  Recently we conducted a national Ipsos survey for a client that wanted to confirm a hypothesis regarding the public’s adaptation to telehealth. Our client has a novel product offering for at-home wellness tests that can be ordered online – direct to the consumer. In our survey, we not only asked questions that gave us clues to new market potential on test types, but the platform allowed us to ask questions that provided insights into the public’s confidence in emerging telehealth and non-traditional testing.

Test Creative and Messaging

We all adapted our creative and messaging last year to reassure our consumers and build confidence in our brands. This year, with business activity on the rise, we may not want to revert back completely to pre-pandemic creative. Or maybe we do. Digital tactics like programmatic display, search engine marketing (SEM), social advertising, digital radio and email marketing are great tools to test strategies. A/B testing subject lines, comparing conversions for different calls to action (CTAs) or experimenting with new and different types of imagery are all ways to gain insight into what resonates with our consumers. In a recent B2B-focused digital campaign, we tested two CTAs and found one drove a much higher click-through rate and ultimately conversion. Now we are applying these learnings in future campaigns.

Evaluate Tactics

How and where your consumer interacts with your brand has likely changed. In-store transactions have moved to web and app-based sales. With that advertising tactics that used to drive revenue might now fall short. Review your current campaigns. How are they performing? Select two to three metrics to evaluate your campaign against at different points in time. This will give you a clear understanding of a campaign’s effectiveness and overall success.

Something to Watch

With the iOS 14 updates, keep a close eye on Facebook campaigns. If the ability for Facebook to track user behavior diminishes, its targeting and perhaps, more importantly, retargeting functions could lose efficacy.

Get inspired by the energy and activity of 2021 to improve your knowledge of your consumers – their wants, desires and interests. This is a good year to reset, dig into the data and pay attention to the emerging trends of your consumer’s media consumption, engagement and actions.

The goal is more than just getting eyeballs on your message, but also getting the right ones to notice your brand at the critical moment in their decision-making journey. Take the time to think wholistically across paid and earned media and across all offline and online channels. Then, measure, optimize and repeat what is working and try something new in place of what isn’t.