The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic may be wreaking havoc through our healthcare systems, financial markets, social structures and daily lives. But it’s also leading to a massive and abrupt surge in digitalisation as consumers, families and communities take up digital services and form new habits to lead their lives and stay in touch online.

Although many brands are juggling with short-term survival and uncertainty, to thrive in the medium and longer term, marketers need to understand how to connect with increasingly digital consumers, who are also guarding their online data and privacy more than ever before.

What steps should the modern marketer take to find customers and turn them into brand loyalists?

1. Acquisition

The starting point is to recognise today’s ‘privacy paradox’. Digital natives demand increased privacy, complemented by true personalisation; the right to have data forgotten, as well as bespoke offers and services. Recent global research from Econsultancy in association with Cheetah Digital has revealed that the third-party cookie is finally crumbling, with only a third of consumers happy to have their online activity tracked to deliver offers and content.

So, brands must be respectful and transparent about their consumer data usage. Why is it being requested and how will it be used?

An introduction to the third-party cookie crackdown

In addition, marketers should buy into a ‘value exchange’ approach – delivering more personalised content and the improved experiences demanded by today’s consumers in exchange for being able to understand them better via data-sharing. The research carried out by Econsultancy and Cheetah Digital found that almost half of consumers will openly share data in return for services, offers and personalised content.

2. Discovery

Once consumers are sharing this ‘zero party’ data in return for a more personalised experience, marketers can combine it with first-party observations of their behaviour and preferences from the brand’s website and apps. Both sets of insights can be used to build highly refined customer segments for more targeted messaging.

When it comes to driving sales, targeted email beats banner ads, social media native apps and organic posts by up to 180%, according to the Econsultancy/Cheetah Digital research, with almost three quarters of U.S consumers reporting they’d purchased a product directly as a result of an email they received.

3. Loyalty

Today’s consumers won’t be satisfied with generic points-win-prizes incentives and money-off offers. Marketers instead need to base loyalty around making customers feel they are respected and understood by a brand that offers exceptional experiences.

The research by Econsultancy and Cheetah Digital has revealed that a full two thirds of consumers are prepared to pay more or wait longer to purchase from a preferred brand if they receive loyalty rewards, discounts and personalisation.

4. Advocacy

The ultimate goal is to turn emotional loyalty into a sales-driving advocacy. Marketers should encourage loyal customers to submit reviews and share their experiences on social media. A VIP club is a good idea to reward top customers with exclusive benefits and also encourages them to spend more to get access to perks and privileges.

For those senior marketers who rise to these new and challenging times, there is the very real prospect of making their mark among the C-suite by becoming the customer knowledge centre, using their insights to deliver delightful, personalised experiences that build brands and lead to business growth.

For more insights from the Econsultancy/Cheetah Digital consumer research exploring how decision-makers can build more meaningful and lasting relationships with their buyers, Econsultancy subscribers can attend an Is Your Marketing Strategy Out of Touch? webinar on March 31st, 3:30pm BST, 10:30am EDT.

Hosted by Stefan Tornquist, SVP Research and Online Learning at Econsultancy, the session will cover consumer privacy concerns, how a brand-consumer value exchange could work, more effective messaging and global consumer engagement stats across privacy, messaging, loyalty and ads.

Sign up here to ensure your strategy stays in touch.