Author | Chatmeter TeamDate Posted | October 20, 2020

4 Lessons From PULSE 2020, Chatmeter’s First Virtual Event

PULSE 2020 provided a special opportunity for the Chatmeter team, industry leaders, and our partners to come together for four days of innovative insights and discussion. Through a series of 19 sessions, including roundtable discussions, keynote sessions, and product demos; our attendees were able to take away and implement strategic lessons from the event.

In a time more uncertain than ever, the right answers aren’t just wanted, they’re needed. For years, Chatmeter has continuously stated the importance in delivering accurate information swiftly, optimizing your online presence, preparing for omnichannel strategies, and leveraging voice search in order to get ahead. In March, these recommendations from Chatmeter turned into survival strategies for businesses around the world who faced no end in sight when it came to the pandemic.

That’s why we decided to create PULSE 2020 for our customers. It was only fitting to share our industry knowledge and gather with other leaders and help our partners redefine their customer experience to not just survive, but thrive. Take a look at some of the largest lessons we took away from PULSE 2020.

1. Strategize for Future Local SEO Success

Today, consumers expect to receive the answers they need within a matter of seconds during their search. Tools like voice assistants and mapping applications have paved the path for the search experience to meet consumer needs and intent much faster. As consumer habits and behaviors continue to shift, so should your brand’s overall local SEO strategy along with it.

We kicked off PULSE 2020 with in-depth answers to the question of “What lies in the future of local search?”, with CEO and Founder of Chatmeter, Collin Holmes and Founder of Tidings, David Mihm. COVID-19 drastically affected our day-to-day lives, environment, and consumer search habits as a result. Typical voice search queries prior to COVID-19 such as, “Hey Siri, where’s the nearest Mexican restaurant?” turned to questions like, “Hey Siri, which Mexican restaurant does no-contact delivery?”. New changes within Apple Maps, omnichannel experiences, and GMB features are among the most important hot topics that businesses need to focus on if they’re looking to succeed in the future.

Local SEO guide, Andrew Shotland, also pointed out in his keynote session “How to Supercharge Your Multi-Location SEO for 2021”, that localization is the biggest trend in search currently.

“We all need to focus on Google My Business (GMB) if we want to succeed in local search,” said Andrew Shotland. GMB is one of the most important tools businesses can use to rise to the top of the rankings and attract local consumers. In addition, Google has heavily invested in adding resources into GMB over time with features like Google Q&A, COVID-19 Posts, appointment links, and more.

2. Get More Out of Your Marketing Efforts with Less

This year, marketing budgets and priorities have been tested like never before. VP, Principal Analyst at Forrester,  Shar VonBoskirk, gave guidance to CMOs on how to make strategic marketing plans for the future based on evolving customer expectations during and post-pandemic in her session, “CMO Priorities in Light of The Pandemic”.

“The COVID-19 crisis will stun marketing,” – Shar Vanboskirk, VP, Principal Analyst

To help give clarity to the uncertain future brought on by COVID-19, the team at Forrester predicted two scenarios to forecast what’s in store for marketers when looking ahead. The best-case scenario expects marketing budgets nearly 30%, while the latter scenario (which is much more probable) expects for even larger budget cuts and a forecasted recovery by mid 2021.

Cynthia Sener, CRO of Chatmeter, echoed similar sentiments when discussing the future of marketing.

“The road to recovery in reopening is long. Just because businesses are open, doesn’t mean consumers are ready to return,” said Sener.

Research from Resonate showed that 60% of consumers won’t return to the store unless the staff is wearing a mask and gloves, while 86% of consumers are not ready to return to the store at all. So with these new consumer behaviors and expected forecasts in mind, how can marketers engage with consumers in this new normal, decide which areas of marketing to focus on, and which to pull back on?

It comes unsurprisingly that offline media spend will continue to decline due to less travel and commute. Marketers should also re-evaluate their tech and services resources to see if there’s any redundancy or need for all tools. With limited resources, brands should leverage marketing technologies that can automate tasks, give deeper insights into your customer base, and measure your brand’s performance.

3. Place Your Customer’s Needs at the Heart of Your Business

We are living in The Age of the Consumer, which means brands need to rethink their CX experience and customer relationships. Shar VonBoskirk outlined how brands can excel by being customer-obsessed:

  • Place your customer’s wants and needs at the forefront of all business decisions, from decisions about your physical store footprint to staff hires, operational decisions and more.
  • Prioritize CX improvements for customer acquisition and loyalty. Creating an optimized CX experience will provide the long-term value of building a larger base of repeat customers, word-of-mouth referrals, and revenue over time.

Delivering a seamless CX experience isn’t possible without data-driven decisions.

“Once your customer is in your restaurant or business, you have the opportunity to truly wow them. This all comes back to knowing who the customer is.” said Mike Vichich, Co-Founder and CEO of Wisely during our session on leveraging data insights to build a better customer experience.

Collecting customer feedback is an integral part of optimizing your CX experience, but it doesn’t just stop there. By leveraging an analytics tool that can monitor feedback through reviews, social media, and the web will help your business turn feedback into intelligent data-driven decisions faster.

4. Continue to Adapt & Take Action 

Chatmeter’s partners cover a wide range of industries with different needs, but one thing they all have in common when overcoming COVID-19 challenges is their ability to pivot and adapt. Chatmeter’s partners from Dog Haus, Express Oil, and Pet Paradise shared their lessons of how they’ve continued to adapt to COVID-19 with Chatmeter’s Senior Vice President of Business Development, Lee Auerbach.

How have you adopted any new technology because of the pandemic and how has it changed your business? 

At Dog Haus, technology was one of the first tools they looked at to pivot.

“We used technology to implement contactless payment and ordering done through facial recognition. The next thing we did was roll out technology for the kitchen and staff. We also implemented technology that performs temperature checks to make sure everyone was good to go. These were the most important tools for us,” said CJ Ramirez, EVP Marketing Director at Dog Haus.

 What ‘safe’ or ‘contactless’ experiences do you believe are here to stay post-pandemic? 

“When the pandemic hit, we rapidly took action. Although there’s nothing better than that personal contact between a vet and their customer, we believe that a lot of the preliminary virtual screenings are also here to stay for a smoother experience,” said Brenda Williams, Customer Experience Manager of Pet Paradise.

One of the largest learning lessons from this challenging situation for all three brands, and most likely many others, was the ability to react quickly to the changing circumstances.

“Things can literally change in the next hour and it makes a world of difference to be able to come together quickly to make a plan,” said Rod Black, Director of Digital Marketing at Express Oil.

No matter where your business is at in the stage of recovery, adapting and planning for the future is what will get your brand ahead. Chatmeter’s four-day virtual event created a space for our attendees to take away insightful lessons to plan for a successful future. More importantly, PULSE 2020 showed our partners, industry leaders, and attendees that sometimes the most challenging situations create the most inspiring ideas and solutions.

What we learned from our event is that four days is not enough to cover all of these lessons.