21st Sep, 2022
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- Covid-19 has altered customer behavior and there a sharp rise in online shopping volumes along with thrifty consumer spending
- Field marketing methods can be effectively utilized in a digitally oriented retail environment
- Read this blog to discover five specific field marketing strategies to drive sales given the context of the post-pandemic reality
Consumer behavior in the wake of COVID-19 has been unpredictable and volatile. The emergence of new variants and uncertainty about the future has impacted the global economy. Most businesses have revised their forecasts for 2022. However, if there’s one undeniable truth, it is that customers have significantly shifted to digital commerce and value-spending.
Where does that leave the future of on-ground shopping and crucial promotion tactics like field marketing? Although COVID has forced customers to adopt a digital-first approach to shopping, consumer trends suggest that most customers still look forward to the experience of in-store shopping after extensive lockdowns and social distancing. Given such a consumer climate, it is therefore essential that businesses tweak their field sales service strategy to fulfill new consumer demands and expectations.
How customer shopping has changed during the pandemic
Here are some ways in which the pandemic has impacted customer shopping trends during the past two years:
- Permanent shift to digital: The touchless reality of 2020 and 2021 has meant that consumers have gotten accustomed to the digital marketplace. The ease of placing orders, the convenience of returns and exchanges, and quick delivery times have ensured that digital retail is here to stay. According to some estimates, these shifts that took a few weeks or months would have taken years, as per the pace of growth of online shopping in 2019.
- Emphasis on value: With uncertainty and decreased job security, customers become more conscious of their spending. Many are postponing big-ticket expenses and looking for the best deals while shopping. Shopping trends indicate that even spending on essential items witnessed a muted growth, indicating increased caution in spending.
- Omnichannel e-commerce: Even though there is a strong preference for digital retail, customers are likely going to want an omnichannel approach to commerce. Alternative methods like order-online-buy-in-store and curbside pickup became popular as they gave a partial sense of the in-store shopping experience. As opposed to an either-or scenario with respect to in-store or digital retail, the future of shopping seems to be a mix of the two.
- Customer loyalty and reactivation: Many businesses saw an uptick in the number of passive or inactive members of their loyalty programs using offers and deals. This can be attributed to customers looking for the best discounts and purchasing more things online. In response, many leading brands and retailers offered attractive benefits to welcome back customers.
The dual forces of a sudden, unprecedented event combined with a decline in consumer income have created an overall paradigm of uncertainty and volatility. It has forced B2B businesses to deploy creative marketing and promotional methods to engage customers.
5 innovative field marketing methods and strategies
Here are five ways in which businesses can reimagine their field marketing campaigns and strategies:
Bridging the physical and the digital with contactless proximity marketing tools: The post-COVID reality presents the marketing world with a unique opportunity to leverage proximity marketing channels to the maximum. Technologies like QR Codes, NFC, and geofencing can be utilized to anchor unique digital experiences to the physical world. Whether for product information, behind-the-scenes explainers, or for promoting offers, discounts, and loyalty programs, physical-to-digital channels are scalable marketing tools that can yield a high return on investment.
They provide an efficient gateway to bring customers into digital experiences — which are naturally going to be the marketplaces of the future. Field marketers can take note of these trends to create engaging digital experiences, as they would with physical events and product sampling, in order to cater to the changing preferences of consumers.
In-store interactive virtual experiences like virtual hosts: Marketers can also make use of advancements in technology that facilitate quick and easy digital interactions for field sales service purposes. They can have a touchpoint within brick-and-mortar retail stores that provides access to a virtual host. The purpose of these experiences is to showcase the product, demonstrate different product features, and resolve customer queries that might come up.
This makes field force management easy as well. And customers also feel that they’re talking to a real person instead of chatbots or other automated solutions that stick to a predetermined script. It’s like a digital panel that functions almost like a remote field sales agency — catering a unique sales experience to end-consumers.
Learn more about our Events & Activations services to drive customer engagement in the new normal.
Virtual reality and augmented reality in trial rooms: Rapid strides in virtual and augmented reality now make it possible for marketers to give consumers a clear and complete understanding of what it’s like to use their product. Virtual reality wearables and augmented reality enhancements can help customers ‘try’ clothes, accessories, footwear without touching anything or even ‘see’ how furniture or wallpaper would look in their rooms.
Using VR and AR tools in virtual trial rooms on e-commerce sites gives end-consumers a more personalized and bespoke experience. Customers can see exactly whether a product is a right fit for them within a matter of seconds, and that too while following safety protocols and guidelines. In addition, customer support teams can leverage VR and AR to provide immersive walkthroughs, how-to guides, and set-up explanations.
Live streaming platforms and micro-influencers for field marketing campaigns: An essential characteristic of marketing in the future is that it is going to be community-based. Brands will facilitate or simply be a part of events and discussions that revolve around interest-based communities rather than driving the narrative. Given this trend, field sales service professionals can leverage live-streaming platforms to share content and engage with audiences that have an interest in their services and products. Conducting a live stream is also an opportunity to create anticipation, market the event and create a sense of urgency in the minds of the customer.
Influencer marketing is another medium that field marketers can use in order to drive brand awareness. Whether it is on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, video platforms like Youtube, or even streaming websites like Twitch, micro-influencers with a niche following can be an effective medium to reach out and build engagement within micro-communities. Businesses can also invite influencers to their store and organize a live streaming event to launch new products or features.
Leveraging user-generated content: Another field marketing strategy that can be extremely beneficial in improving customer engagement is to put brand content generated by users. This is due to the fact that reviews and other forms of user content are perceived to be more trustworthy and reliable. Consumers on digital platforms use this as social proof that others like them are adopting the product or solution and turn to comments and reviews for product feedback. Placing reviews and other social media brand content on users’ profiles is great for digital marketing purposes as well (from an SEO standpoint) in addition to building customer confidence.
Read our blog “ 3 Traditional Field Marketing Strategies Refreshed for 2022 “ to revisit the importance of traditional field sales strategies that can help businesses increase their market share in the new year.
The future of field marketing
The challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic have also given businesses an opportunity to redesign existing processes and norms. Using technology more effectively can help rejuvenate the in-store shopping experience and bolster field marketing campaigns. As customers seek more personalized brand experiences, it is the onus of the business to build one that is quick and seamless. The future is undoubtedly hybrid, and businesses, marketing, and sales needs to prepare for it.
Contact us to get detailed insights about our b2b field sales and marketing services.