How Social Distancing & Shelter-in-Place Regulations are Shifting Consumer Behavior


As we all try to navigate the latest COVID-19 developments, states and counties across the nation have ordered millions of Americans to socially distance themselves through shelter-in-place practices.

While more and more Americans are required to stay in isolation and avoid contact with people, non-essential businesses are also being forced to close their doors. This shift has lead to an increase in e-commerce activity as consumers are shopping their favorite brands in addition to essential products such as groceries and cleaning products. According to eMarketer, there have been surges in Amazon searches and digital shoppers are willing to convert on products that they need with longer delivery windows in order to avoid going to stores. More people are trying out grocery delivery services and there is a large rise in restaurant carryout orders and online retail purchases.

With an increase in online activity, now is a crucial and opportune time for brands to strengthen their first party data strategies and gain insight into millions of customer attributes. With the proper platform in place, marketers are able to capture these attributes and utilize them in real-time to structure and adjust marketing campaigns. This is especially important during unprecedented times like these, when new developments are occurring every minute.

Since the start of social distancing regulations in mid-March, we have seen some interesting trends across our platform, Axon, which gathers first party data in real time, making it available for audience segmentation and digital advertising. Let's take a look at a few different verticals below.

Furniture Retailer

When the idea of social distancing first broke and news outlets began reporting on the importance of food storage, a brand we work with experienced a spike in site traffic, more specifically to refrigeration and freezer product pages. Using Axon's event-level data collection, the brand was able to identify over 20% of these visits included an 'Add to Cart' event but less than 1% resulted in a purchase. This led the retailer to develop an 'Essential Appliances' sale that offered reduced pricing and free delivery on qualifying products. The offer was communicated through display and video ad units and content changes were made to the website. As a result of the offer, the brand was able to deliver advertising to previous 'Cart Abandoners' and increase the 'Appliance' page visit conversion rate to 3.2% within the first three days of the campaign.

National Bank

With the ability to tie consumer profiles to page-level events, Axon has allowed a national bank advertiser to differentiate between prospective customers and existing ones across various product lines including Checking, Savings, Mortgage and Credit Card. This has been crucial to the brand's digital advertising strategy as site traffic has increased by over 40% in the last month since social distancing measures have gone into effect.

Not only does this insight allow the brand to develop unique creative messaging for current customers (i.e. Chat with a Virtual Teller), they've also been able to drive a 45% increase in daily new account openings over the past seven days as acquisition budgets have been shifted from traditional mediums (Radio, Print, OOH) to digital (Display, Video, CTV).

Higher Education

Although many universities are currently closed, it does not mean prospective students have stopped their active search and evaluation of college options. This has become clear with one of our university clients as they've seen an increase in visits to 'Future Student' pages and 'Apply Now' form fills. In fact, the average daily audience size has jumped by 63% over the past week and form fills have increased by 2.7% over that same time period. Even with no defined timeline around when courses may resume, people are still going to the website, looking for more information and applying for future semesters. We are working with this advertiser to make creative and tactical shifts through these learnings from their first party data.

Universal AXON Trends

While none of us have a playbook for navigating the unknown, we are continuing to keep a close eye on trends and behaviors taking place in our Axon universe. After initial analysis, we've rounded up a few recommendations for brands who are looking to make the most of their own first party data.

  • Make sure your virtual storefront is user-friendly, up to date and supported by a customer data or marketing optimization platform. As brick and mortar locations close, we're seeing a large shift to e-commerce. This might require content changes to be made on your website. KPIs might also need to be adjusted from Foot Traffic to Online Revenue.
  • Utilize consumer attributes captured through your preferred marketing platform to construct custom first party audience segments.
  • Align unique creative messaging or specific media types with each first party segment to deliver personalized ads based on the user's previous exposure to your brand. One example is delivering a rich media ad unit to a user that has clicked on a pre-roll video ad unit and visited your website. Another example is serving an ad with a price discount to a user that has clicked on a paid search ad and visited the website but did not purchase a product.

With the appropriate first party data capture in place, brands have an opportunity to gather consumer behavior for analysis and activation. While the news is currently saturated with Coronavirus content, it does not mean advertisers need to pause all-together. For many, it just means making the appropriate adjustments based on learnings from first party data, thanks to platforms such as Axon.

Are you a marketer trying to transition quickly in the wake of COVID-19? Please reach out today as we are here to assist!


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