Whether we like it or not, COVID-19 has significantly changed how we purchase products and services. It has also changed people’s expectations of the brands they purchase. We have written in the past about people’s post-pandemic online behaviors and re-engaging with customers after a lockdown. In this article, we’ll look at how the marketing industry as a whole is changing because of the pandemic.
In some categories like clothing or automobiles, the customer journey has significantly changed. Today, people have different priorities, and you need a different approach if you want to reach, serve, and influence them. First of all, more and more companies are closing brick-and-mortar locations, and the need for digital marketing has risen. For most stores, especially smaller ones, acquiring shelf space isn’t a priority—their focus is securing online ad placements and winning bids. Companies are also recreating aspects of their customer journey digitally.
However, these changes aren’t only affecting B2C businesses. These shifts in the customer journey also have an impact on B2B marketing. The pandemic has caused many businesses—in diverse industries—to rush online and attempt to build a presence for their brand. While it means business is great for digital marketers, it also poses different challenges.
For example, if there are many brands in a particular niche, it becomes crowded—as such, it will be tougher to differentiate your business. If you want to stand out in a competitive field, you must provide a novel experience.
Differentiating your business involves standing out through your value proposition or your website UX. Now that everyone is online, you could set yourself apart through virtual recreations of offline strategies. Personalized brand building through digital experiences makes your business memorable.
For example, if you sell sportswear, you could have an online conversation with an athlete you sponsor. Meanwhile, a yoga studio could host a guided meditation session through Zoom. Other businesses, like restaurants, could even sponsor live streams or episodes of DIY or cook-with-me shows online.
Reaching customers at home will be crucial for business success in the coming months. Governments won’t be allowing outdoor activities like concerts and public entertainment centers like theme parks for a while. As a result, marketers need to maximize the channels available to them.
Marketing action plans used to take more than a year to execute. Whether it’s about launching new products or finding new ways to appeal to customers, business used to take months in the planning and development stages. These realities changed because of COVID-19; marketing departments suddenly had to bring plans from idea to implementation and measurement in weeks. Creativity is crucial, as is risk tolerance since we’re all essentially testing things and rewriting the book on what works.
The changing marketplace will need innovative thinkers and organizations. For some, this was a long-overdue transformation. Businesses needing to produce digital channels pushed them outside of their comfort zones, which raised the bar for online marketing. The success of a business to cut through the noise still relies on its ability to produce thought-provoking and relevant content—whether on Facebook, a blog, Instagram, or other platforms.
The pandemic has caused a profound amount of challenges for many. Besides being a public health and safety issue, it is also a driver of economic and social inequality. One of people’s core needs at the moment is stability and reassurance, and marketers must be sensitive about tapping into that. Consumers value authenticity and want to deal with products and businesses that care for their well-being.
People are also becoming more aware of how business activities affect communities and vice versa. More of them are looking actively for ways to support brands with social impact—they look at what companies believe in and support, beyond turning a profit.
Businesses need to re-examine their professed and held values to see if these align with what people are searching for today. Note, though, that having the right tone is not enough. You need to offer actions that support your message. Otherwise, your approach will backfire.
The pandemic has accelerated the trend towards localization and personalization in marketing. Campaigns geared toward local events, ads that adopt colloquialisms, and copy that highlights an area’s culture are all the more critical now since lockdowns and stay-at-home rules have kept people closer to home for most of the past two years.
Marketers must be both globalized and hyper-local, a tricky line to walk, but one which you will succeed in if you’re well-versed in internet culture. Because of COVID-19 variants, cities are reopening and rebounding at different rates. Customers in one area would have a completely different set of needs and wants as those only a few hours away. As such, your marketing messages need to differ according to locality.
More marketers are relying on data for their strategy and positioning. You’ll be successful if you capitalize on the trends mentioned above (like localized advertising, the need for recreating in-person experiences, and differentiation) if you have access to your brand’s online consumer profiles and analytics.
With real-time data, you can develop and deliver services and products much more effectively. Since you know who you’re targeting, you can make your offerings more relevant. For example, e-commerce store owners can use data to inform other aspects of their business like order management, inventory synchronization, and improving their website or app’s user interface. These investments will, in turn, produce conversion rates.
The world is still unsure about how the pandemic will end. Marketers and business leaders have learned to adapt to lockdowns, quarantine measures, and people having to stay at home, but these changes look like they’ll be around for a while. What’s more, brands need to keep their connection with consumers even during these unstable times, and knowing how to leverage marketing trends will allow businesses to thrive amid uncertainty.
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