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COVID Killed Your Buyer Personas and Customer Journey MapSeptember - 2020

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Understanding your buyer personas and customer journey is a strategic advantage to growing sales and improving customer experience.

In a pre-COVID world, it was important to keep up with evolving consumer needs and habits in order to refine your buyer personas over time.

Today, however, your pre-COVID buyer personas are dead.

Similar to a brand’s culture, buyer personas are living things that constantly evolve. If you created a customer journey map pre-COVID, it is now obsolete. 

In an Accenture survey, 76% of business leaders agreed that current business models will be unrecognizable in the next five years.

The COVID-19 pandemic has radically shifted typical buying behaviors, showing marketers that buyer personas and customer journey maps must be re-evaluated in order to stay relevant to today’s consumers. As the months go on and the economy shifts, consumers’ new priorities, and habits will become established patterns and these patterns will define your new buyer personas. 

We have outlined five patterns that brands should be aware of as they look to redefine their customer journey maps and buyer personas. 

 

Changing Definitions of Success

Whether your company is a B2B or B2C organization, your customers are battling uncertainty about the future. As a result, many consumers are being more mindful of their spending habits.

As buying/spending habits change, consumers’ goals are changing and success is being redefined. A key component of understanding your buyer personas is knowing what success looks like for them. Understanding this allows you to better communicate and position the value of your products/services. Each consumers’ definition of success will vary based on industry, individual goals/motivations, role/title (in B2B space), etc. 

Your current/prospective customers’ definition of success is valuable because it informs their motivations to buy.

“When COVID hit, our management and marketing teams came together to focus on emerging challenges that our customers and prospects were facing,” said John Evarts, President of Mediafly. “As selling shifted from in-person to virtual we needed to communicate how our technology solved these new pain points. As a result of our agile marketing and buyer relevance, Mediafly experienced its best quarter ever – even during a pandemic.”

 

E-Commerce Explosion

According to Forrester, there has been a monumental shift in how buyers acquire products/services and how companies are reacting with their go-to-market strategies.

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In 2020, E-commerce has experienced 10 years worth of growth in just three months.

Let that sink in.  Consider how much online shopping has changed since 2010. Now imagine that growth eclipsed in mere months.

Today, many consumers are making buying decisions based upon the easiest products/services to purchase and receive online and unfortunately, companies like Amazon have set consumers’ expectations incredibly high for e-commerce brands.

Organizations are now developing the capability to sell and fulfill directly to consumers, and this will continue to extend to B2B buyers as well. This massive shift requires all organizations to operate as an e-commerce brand in order to meet consumer’s changing buying habits.

 

Increased Media Consumption

Media consumption has exploded amidst COVID-19. Time spent watching streaming video content across Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon during the afternoon has surged over 40%. Cable news channels, particularly Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC, have reported record viewership. And Facebook activity spiked 20-70%. 

While media consumption is increasing, it is important to re-evaluate when, where, and how your buyer personas are now consuming media.

Without regular commute times, conventional live sports, work travel, etc., media behavior across demos has been entirely altered. If you are attempting to communicate with your buyer personas across legacy channels during historically popular times, you may be completely missing your target audience.

 

Digital-First Vendor Selection

In our new virtual world, your brand needs a digital presence that gets in front of customers early and often in order to acquire new business.

Buyers are spending 68% of their journeys digitally before speaking with a salesperson and 71% of buyers reach vendor selection after a digital-only journey. 

While consumers used to rely on a brand’s digital presence for reviews, discounts, specials, etc., they are now looking for COVID-19 procedures, contact-free options, and more. 

If consumers don’t see these updates front and center online, they may assume your company is not open or doesn’t have proper procedures in place. While this may not be the case, consumers won’t call and ask you. They will decide for themselves based on the information they see on your website and social media pages, so it is vital that you make this information easily accessible. 

 

Need for Vendor Reassurance

COVID-19 has forced organizations to maintain and build relationships in a new world without business travel or in-person gatherings. The uncertainty of the last six months, coupled with customers’ shifting priorities and needs, requires your organization to prioritize CX now more than ever. 

Consumers consider the brands they use to be trusted partners. During times of crisis, consumers look to these brands for information and reassurance about how COVID-19 is affecting their company, employees, and the products and services they provide.

According to Harvard Business Review, the keys to weathering crises and preserving bonds with consumers are humanizing your brand, educating consumers about change, assuring stability, revolutionizing your offerings, and tackling the future. 

At AE Marketing Group, we practice what we preach. Over the last six months, we have conducted market research and extensive customer/prospect outreach to ensure we fully understand our buyer personas and their changing needs, habits, preferences, and priorities. 

If COVID-19 killed your buyer personas, we are here to help you

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