COVID-19 has significantly changed how marketers reach out to consumers. Most marketing strategies rely on persuasion—creating messages that people will find compelling enough so they will take action. That's ordinarily challenging enough, but if you add the effects of a pandemic, it becomes all the more so.
Consumer mindsets have shifted because of the pandemic, and building trust between consumers and businesses has become much more critical. It's a vital time for marketers to reconsider how they reach their target audience—here is a closer look at how winning sales and conversions have changed in the past couple of years.
How are Mindsets Changing Today?
Some key trends have emerged in the months following the worst of the pandemic. Let us look closely at five of them.
- A shift to digital platforms: More people are going online for their needs. They use digital platforms for everything from ordering food to paying their bills. As such, marketers must ensure that the company can provide a seamless digital experience.
- More people working from home: Many employees are still working from home. Consequently, fewer people are using public transport.
- Value-based shopping: More people are putting effort into finding and supporting companies that share their values. Ethical shopping and eco-consumerism have become more popular.
- More people are health-conscious: Fitness, healthy eating, and hygiene are at the forefront of people's minds. The pandemic has thrown everyone's wellness habits into high relief; they will be curious to try products and services which help them stay healthy.
- Changing relationships: On the one hand, more people are adopting pets and purchasing potted plants now that they are working from home. On the other hand, some countries report more divorce filings these days—in the U.S., for instance, interest in filing for divorce increased by as much as 34 percent in April 2020.
Some of these trends could be temporary—already, many business owners are encouraging workers to go back to the office, even if they still have flexible work arrangements. However, some changes could be permanent—the emphasis on ethical consumption and the digital-first buyer's journey are two examples of trends that look like they'll be here for a while.
History Provides Clues on Post-Pandemic Life
Although this is the first global pandemic for most people today, some regions have experience handling infectious disease outbreaks. Their post-epidemic trajectories offer insights into how things could play out for the rest of the world. For example, the SARS outbreaks in Asia at the start of the century changed hygiene practices in the hardest-hit countries. People started washing their hands more or using toothpicks and tissue paper to press buttons and turn levers in public places. Countries like South Korea, which suffered severe outbreaks of SARS, were also more prepared for COVID-19.
However, some significant events can carry only short-term impacts for affected industries. While air travel suffered a significant decline immediately following the 9/11 terrorist attack in 2001, airport usage recovered quickly due to tighter security measures. This shows that industries can effectively adapt to the shifting mindsets of consumers to offer comfort and security.
Change Your View of Brand Loyalty
Managers must rethink their notion of consumer loyalty and the behaviors they relate to it. The pandemic was a disruptive force for all industries, and it caused people to try many new things in how they shop. Our existing ideas of brand loyalty have to change. Supply chain interruptions have made people more open to trying new brands. Things like employee support and corporate social responsibility matter more to consumers as well.
Consider Overhauling Existing Content
Customers today want brands to reflect their values. Marketplaces are also moving at a faster pace since more people transact entirely online. Working from home has also opened plenty of opportunities for reaching out to customers.
Adapting your marketing funnel to new consumer mindsets is crucial. Value-adding content like long-form posts, how-to videos, comparison charts, and infographics will always be welcome, but reconsidering how you present your message will help you attract new customers.
A/B testing and multivariate testing let you determine which of your marketing materials work the best. The former is great for situations where you are choosing between two variables, while the latter is better if you have different widgets and functions to test.
Platforms like Unbounce, Optimizely, and VWO allow you to conduct multivariate testing and generate insights based on people's interactions with different pages.
Ramp Up Your Remarketing
According to Shopify, for every 100 customers, 70 will leave without making a single purchase. What's more, they say that shopping cart abandonment on a desktop computer is 69.75 percent. Meanwhile, on mobile devices, it is between 80 to 85 percent. If you are a pessimist, you'd think this is a bad thing. However, you can take this as an opportunity to remarket to customers.
Because the pandemic has brought higher volumes of browsing, remarketing to previous page visitors and cart abandoners might be the thing you need to net conversions. Get people back to your site by providing discounts, limited offers, and promotions like free or reduced shipping. If you have enough traffic, a combination of these should be enough to boost your sales.
You could also generate new leads and sales by differentiating your strategies for users at various levels of engagement. For example, you can create a campaign just for people who already know your brand but have yet to purchase anything. You can also create a separate campaign for people who have bought once, and so on.
Audience segmentation is crucial for ensuring the best results for your business. The pandemic has caused chaos, but it has also produced different consumer mindsets, which means opportunities for marketers to revise their strategies and generate new conversations about their products.
While some of the changes we're seeing in customer behavior are more long-term than others, businesses must work toward creating even more content that can satisfy more discerning consumers. This new market gives businesses the chance to win more consumers than before, gaining them opportunities to outpace competitors and win over inaccessible audiences.
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