There is no doubt that since the world came to a sudden stand-still in March 2020, our society and how it works, has changed dramatically. The start of the coronavirus pandemic will forever be marked in the history books as a turning point for the world in many ways. The question is, how did the pandemic affect the way businesses advertise their products and/or services?
One such change is the way in which products and services are consumed.
When the world was forced to stay at home and adhere to strict social distancing rules, many businesses were split into essential and non-essential services. This meant that businesses deemed “non-essential” were faced with a difficult situation whereby they could either adapt or be forced to close down.
Businesses selling products and services deemed “essential” were, for example, food, household goods, pharmaceuticals, and general merchandise.
On the other hand, businesses selling products such as luxury goods, cars, furniture, appliances, and hospitality services were considered “non-essential”.
Digital marketing also rose to become an essential tool to engage with a world that had suddenly changed in a matter of weeks, leaving very little time for many businesses to adapt.
But, exactly HOW has the way we buy and sell products and services really changed?
According to a recent article published by Deloitte, there are 4 ways the general shopping landscape has changed due to the Covid-19 pandemic:
1. Shoppers now use a mix of digital and physical touchpoints throughout their buying journey.
What this means is that before the pandemic, many relied on purchasing products in physical stores. Now, search engines, social media feeds, and influencers provide product inspiration and education outside of the brand’s planned properties and marketing campaigns. The way we buy and sell has become significantly more diverse.
2. The gap between customer expectation and reality has become wider.
Although customers have been introduced to a multitude of touchpoints along their purchasing journey, there is a significant disconnect within the business. According to Deloitte,
“75% of consumers expect consistent interactions across all departments”.
3. Digital sales are becoming more active than ever before.
Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, it has become extremely important that channels and customer services of non-essential businesses be unified due to the overnight shift from physical touchpoints to digital-only ones. It has been shown that digital sales from Q1 of 2019 had increased by 18% compared to Q1 of 2020.
4. Niche businesses experienced different orders of growth.
This means that the distribution of digital commerce was, and still is not even. Items such as home-related goods grew up to 70% in Q1 of 2020, and toys, learning, and active apparel grew over 35% in online orders in the same period. However, luxury goods and general apparel saw a minimal growth of about 10% in Q1 of 2020, a significantly lower growth than in Q1 of 2019.
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has shown clear changes in the buying patterns of people on a global scale.
What digital marketing strategies and trends should be considered now that consumer culture reflects the impact of the pandemic?
1. Market from home.
It is important that businesses organise marketing campaigns quickly from remote locations, that they are collaborative across departments and teams, and that they continue to engage with customers and utilise apps. For example, answering customer queries and comments on social media. An easy way to do this is to use social media scheduling programs, such as Hootsuite, Loomly, or Buffer, to assist with scheduling content and tracking customer engagement.
2. Engage customers with empathy.
Listening to one’s customers is vital considering their needs have changed. Using real-time data in order to better understand customers and their immediate situational needs is also a trend businesses need to adopt. There are many ways to analyse customer data which will usually be provided by features on your website. I know Wix offers analytics features but WordPress requires you to download Google analytics. Otherwise, most social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook provide live analytics.
3. Personalise digital communications. Boost digital channel adoptions to deliver the right messages to the right people, through the relevant channels, at the correct time. Again, I would highly recommend a scheduling program that notifies you when someone has commented on a post or has logged a query. Both ContentCal and Hootsuite have this as a feature.
4. Optimise budget spends.
Consider and understand combined marketing performances and make quick and real-time decisions to minimise any negative impact.
Whether you are a business owner or a future business owner, it is vital that you consider the way in which consumer culture has changed due to the global shutdown caused by the recent pandemic. The reality is that marketing and sales have transitioned into a new era, an era that relies heavily on the ever-changing digital world and evolution of social media.
Not only is it beneficial to educate yourself about the changes to marketing and sales in our current worldly environment, but it is also important to utilise this knowledge to bolster your brand and adapt it to the new digital world.
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