As we’ve seen over the last few weeks, when a major crisis occurs, it can have a significant negative impact on many industries. For evidence of this, look no further than what the travel and hospitality industry is experiencing during the current global crisis, with almost universally grim outlooks about the near-term implications for the industry and its stakeholders.
The consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry is a bit different, however. Many of the products made by CPG or fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) organizations are considered “staples” for most consumers, so short-term demand for these products may actually increase during times of crisis. Today’s news reports on shortages of toilet paper, cleaning and sanitizing supplies, and food and beverage products as people look to stock up on the essentials in anticipation of an extended quarantine period.
Beyond just their products, however, global CPG and FMCG organizations play an additional role in times of uncertainty. These companies are some of the largest and most recognized organizations in the world. As such, consumers look to them to provide leadership and communication about how they’re handling the crisis, as well as information about the steps they’re taking to minimize the impact and disruption to their products and supply chain.
For digital marketing and analytics professionals in these industries, this presents both a unique opportunity and responsibility. While these teams must continue monitoring the performance of their digital assets as they pertain to wider organizational KPIs for sales and customer loyalty, they also have to ensure that the messaging that the organization is creating and distributing about the crisis is impactful for their customers.
While it might seem difficult to maintain this dual-focus in an uncertain environment, there are luckily a number of focused analytics tactics that these professionals can employ in order to maintain visibility into the demand of their products, while also being sure that they’re communicating a strong and powerful leadership role during the crisis.
1. Comprehensive Tagging of Critical Site Events and Activities
First thing first: At InfoTrust, we strongly believe that comprehensive on-site event tracking is always important. However, in times like these, it’s more critical than ever for organizations to understand the information their users are looking for on their websites, and the specific activities that they’re engaging in. For an example of why this is so important, let’s look at a key technology that many global CPG organizations utilize: the “Where to Buy,” or “Buy Now,” module.
By implementing comprehensive tagging of the “Where to Buy” module on their websites, digital analytics professionals in CPG organizations can get the answers to key questions that could be helpful in times of crisis. Such answers could include:
- Which products are consumers trying to find the most?
- Which cities/locales are most in-need of specific products?
- Which product/size variants are the most needed or in-demand?
Utilizing this type of information can allow an organization to make quick decisions about near-term supply chain investments and strategies, allowing them to react with more agility than if they were relying on traditional sell-through data (which is not real-time) from retail outlets.
2. Configuration of Conversion Activities for Key Site Objectives
Obviously, every company wants to sell more product and generate more interest/loyalty from their customers. However, in times of crisis, large CPG organizations could also have additional goals—such as informing and reassuring their customers that they’re taking steps to minimize any crisis-related impacts/risks to the consumers and their product base. This information will probably be disseminated via the brand’s websites, and could cover topics such as:
- A formal company statement about how the company is handling the crisis
- Regular, ongoing updates about product shortages or supply-chain delays
- Contact resources for consumers to use to directly engage with the organization
By configuring the viewing and engagement with this type of content as “conversions” in your analytics tool (Google Analytics, for instance has the “Goals” functionality that allows this), analytics professionals in global CPG organizations can ensure that their organizational stakeholders are able to quickly/easily see the reach and impact of these key content pieces on their worldwide consumer base.
3. Optimization of On-Site Messaging and Offers
While a company’s on-site messaging may be more critical than ever during a time of crisis, the fact is that due to rapidly-changing circumstances, they may have less time than normal to tweak and test content prior to going “live.” This is where a good optimization tool (such as Google Optimize) can come in handy.
Using Google Optimize, digital teams can quickly deploy different variants of important corporate messaging, then split-test those different variants in real-time without any on-site code changes necessary. This allows the organization to see which variants of a message are resonating the most with their audience—ensuring that they can quickly pivot their content delivery strategy to have the most impact for their consumers.
Additionally, a tool like Google Optimize also allows for the personalization of website content based on the specific characteristics of a user who is visiting the site. For instance, if an organization knows that their products are currently in high demand in the state of New Mexico, then they can feature specific messaging on their site (through Google Optimize) that will ONLY show to New Mexico users, letting them know that the organization is aware of product shortages and working to remedy those shortages ASAP. Users from other states wouldn’t see that messaging, and would instead see other targeted, more personalized content.
4. Establishing Audiences to Re-Target Consumers with Important Messages
Most organizations are familiar with creating audience lists in order to remarket product or service offerings to consumers. Given that an organization’s goal is to make money, these types of audience-building should undoubtedly continue, even in times of crisis.
However, savvy CPG organizations can also utilize audience-building in a different way during difficult times in order to retarget concerned consumers with relevant messaging.
As an example of this, let’s look at our previous situation where there’s a hypothetical high-demand for a product in New Mexico, which is increasing supply shortages at retail outlets. As a result of this situation, many consumers in the state might visit an organization’s brand website(s) and read the on-site notices, which are targeted to those New Mexico users. Since these users are engaging with this personalized content, the organization can now assume that these users are impacted by these supply shortages and would also be interested in any further developments that the company is making to resolve the situation in the state.
By creating an audience of the users who are reading this content, the digital team is then able to retarget those users through traditional digital media platforms, and attempt to update them in real-time via targeted advertising as the situation with supply shortages changes. These New Mexico users can then be informed about product supply-chain updates via ads on other websites and social media platforms, rather than them having to continuously return to the site in order to figure out if the situation has changed.
This ongoing messaging strategy can greatly enhance the information that customers have about the availability of products and services, something that is critical to de-escalating their stress levels during an inherently stressful time.
5. Deploying Comprehensive Dashboards for Real-Time Impacts
During a crisis, things can change quickly. As a result, the typical monthly or quarterly reporting cycles that most organizations utilize have to fall by the wayside in favor of more real-time, agile reporting methods. This is especially true for global CPG or FMCG organizations with dozens of brands and hundreds (or thousands) of digital assets.
As a result, these organizations must strongly consider creating and utilizing comprehensive dashboards which will show real-time snapshots of their digital KPIs, rather than relying solely on “deep-dive” reports. A tool like Google Data Studio is perfect for a quick transition to the dashboarding-world. It’s completely free to use and has an easy-to-learn user interface which can quickly surface powerful insights about the key events, conversion goals, and optimization variants that an organization has deployed (as discussed above).
This dashboarding approach will allow the organization to get quicker insights about their organization’s KPIs during the crisis, which will help them be more agile with their response and strategy as the circumstances evolve in real-time.
Now is the Time to Act
Times of uncertainty—like the one we’re experiencing across the globe right now—cannot simply be approached as “business as usual.” As some of the most recognized brands in the world, large CPG organizations have a responsibility to continuously engage with concerned consumers, informing and reassuring in addition to providing their valuable products and services.
Digital analytics professionals can combine out-of-the-box tactics (like those above) with an overall comprehensive digital analytics strategy in order to help their company demonstrate their caring and commitment to their customers, even in the worst of times.