Consumer relevance is an always-on challenge for retailers and brands, and the ongoing uncertainty created by the Covid-19 pandemic has made predicting what will be relevant to customers even harder. What does a back to school message look like when we’re still questioning if kids will even go back to school this fall? Staying relevant is a tall order, but one worth meeting in order to maintain a competitive advantage in this environment.

Many brands and retailers are seeing an influx of new online shoppers, as consumers try new digital commerce channels due to their ongoing concerns about shopping in stores. Offering relevant messages, experiences, and products to these new customers can be a competitive advantage during this time of disruption (see: Survey Analysis: Take Advantage of Burgeoning Consumer Adoption of Digital Shopping Channels, Gartner subscription required).

Personalization engines are most often utilized to deliver relevant product recommendations and website pages, which can help to lift conversion rates and order value. Marketers investing in personalization engines shouldn’t neglect capabilities to deliver personalized offers, messages and experiences. These can all help ensure consumers have the kinds of positive brand interactions that make new customers stick and lead to improved customer lifetime value.

Of course, this is easier said than done when many marketers are working on skeleton teams and circumstances vary so widely by geography, even just within the U.S. Marketers should focus on the messages, content, and product recommendations most meaningful to target audiences. Knowing what’s meaningful requires some thought and customer understanding, as data from past seasons has little predictive value in this period. For consumers likely to try new fulfillment channels it might be highlighting curbside pickup options at a nearby store; for those spending summer vacations in their backyard, maybe it’s helping them find the coveted inflatable pool.

Regardless, personalization capabilities offer the opportunity to drive the relevant, meaningful experiences for customers that are more important now than ever before. For more on these capabilities and the vendors that support them, see the latest Magic Quadrant for Personalization Engines (Gartner subscription required).

*This article is reprinted from the Gartner Blog Network with permission. 
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