It is no secret that the Covid-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the world during 2020. On a personal level, it changes the way we communicate and socialize with each other, how people behave and shop.
At a professional level, companies of various sizes are finding ways to cut costs and refactor their existing strategies to meet the changing times and keep staff safe.
In the new circumstances, businesses are having to rethink their digital marketing strategies overnight to fit the needs of the "new normal" consumer. Continuing the build a brand is a considerable challenge when there are so many uncertainties in the market. Apps that were previously for connection and entertainment like WhatsApp, Snapchat, and TikTok are suddenly becoming crucial digital marketing tools.
What we still don't know is what digital marketing trends will look like when the world opens back up. According to a Gartner report, marketers believe it will be very likely that consumers will continue to use social media when engaging with brands, with an increasing expectation for businesses ro communicate proactively.
The Kantar Covid-19 Barometer shows that 77% of consumers expect brands to talk about how they can be helpful in the new every day, 75% want to be kept informed about how a brand is reacting to the unique situation, and 70% want a reassuring tone from brands.
In this post, we will explore some of the likely digital marketing trends in a post-Covid-19 environment.
Online content experiences are becoming vital in supporting brand awareness and generating leads. As consumers are reluctant to visit physical stores and events, putting safety first, e-commerce will become a business priority (if it isn't already). Brands that have always held a strong e-commerce presence will see new competitors emerging in the market, meaning they need something else to differentiate them.
Delivering a compelling experience through digital content will be a significant differentiator in 2020 and beyond. Brands that can provide a rich shopping experience online will likely engage customers and ensure they come back. Transparency, care, and credibility will win the day over smart marketing strategies at this time. Following various conspiracy stories around products that can cure Covid-19, people have become more skeptical than ever.
Digital marketing that is tailored towards a relatable customer experience will be the key to retention and acquisition during times of mistrust, with a focus on interactive, personalized content.
Loss aversion as a tactic
Loss aversion is not a new marketing tactic, but in a Covid-19 world, it is one that is proving to be successful. For example, Walmart makes it clear that there is limited stock, and consumers need to act quickly to buy their products.
According to research, loss aversion is twice as powerful psychologically as the acquisition of something. People would rather avoid losing out than gaining when making a purchase decision. At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, a delivery driver in Hong Kong was robbed of 600 toilet paper rolls at knifepoint when panic buying set it. However, this comes through no suggestion that supplies are running out, but rather a reaction to times of uncertainty and stress.
While it is fair to argue that playing on emotions in this way is not right ethically, marketers use the technique to leverage sales. The McDonalds "Return of the Mac" campaign plays on the sense of loss felt by restaurant closures during the lockdown. While it may appear fun, the brand does an excellent job of understanding the customer's emotion and uses that within the advertising.
With 85% of shoppers adjusting their shopping habits due to Covid-19 concerns, turning to online retailers over physical stores, brands are having to adapt communication channels. There is an increasing trend for brands reaching out to shoppers via social media, given that is a consistent point of contact during the time of the pandemic. With social media, brands can meet customers where they on (on the couch) and offer a mutually beneficial relationship.
In the UK, nearly 11 million shoppers will purchase in 2020 after seeing a product on social media. Traders cannot afford to be anti-social as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Google are all upping their e-commerce offerings. Facebook and Instagram are now offering commerce on their site pages, including checkouts that have not previously been available.
Instagram reported a 76% increase in engagement on #AD posts and a 22% increase in campaign impressions between Q4 2019 and Q12020. TikTok is the most downloaded app of 2020, and with the addition of e-commerce, will be a valuable business income stream, mapping content consumers want to see with revenue.
Focus on mobile content
During Covid-19, mobile usage has increased by one hour per day. Much of the time, this is for related issues such as finding educational information for children, work, and staying in touch with friends and family. However, the trend for mobile use is likely to stay, and optimizing website content for devices is more critical than ever before. Seeing as Google introduced mobile-first indexing back in 2018, businesses should already have it as a primary focus, but the new trend makes it a necessity.
Consumers are increasingly concerned about the number of times they touch their mobile device each day. Research suggests that a typical mobile user will touch their phone 2,617 times every day. Bearing in mind that is an average figure, there are plenty who do so considerably more often.
Through the Covid-19 warnings around handwashing and staying safe, voice search and non-contact marketing will increase post the pandemic. Voice search has a direct impact on SEO. Generally, a voice search will include question words like who, which, when, and where, that tend to be left out in a written search. Marketers need to ensure the content to deliver accurate answers to long-tail voice queries.
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)
While there has been much hype around AR and VR for the last decade, the technology is yet to get out of the novelty phase within retail. However, the scenario of a physical lockdown will play to the benefit of AR and VR developers.
For example, with classrooms closed around the world, educators moved to online learning. Medical students at Case Western Reserve University are using HoloLens and HoloAnatomy to learn from their own homes. The headset allows them to learn about the human body in a virtual environment that would have otherwise not been possible.
Facebook attracted nearly $300m in revenue during Q1 2020 from non-advertising income related to Oculus VR products.
AR can allow consumers to try products before they buy them, providing a physical experience within the digital world. Asos scaled up the use of AR technology during Covid-19 to provide a simulated view of more products than before. Customers have digitally map garments onto models in a realistic way to view the size, cut, and fit before making a purchase. Customers get a great experience and Asos reduces the cost of returns.
Speed to market, innovation, and agility
Digital marketing teams need to move to a culture of agility and innovation. If any lessons have been learned from the Covid-19 pandemic, it is that businesses need to be able to adapt quickly when faced with a challenge.
For example, IBM launched a new TV campaign within ten days, BirdsEye adapted its entire marketing strategy to keep up with the demand for frozen goods, and Unilever fast-tracked the launch of a new cleaning product in China.
The speed of delivery will start to become an expectation of digital marketing in the new world. Many are investing in AI solutions, such as predictive analytics, ensuring they can make rapid data-driven decisions that meet consumer expectations.
Covid-19 is a challenging time for consumers and businesses alike. If you are not sure where to start with digital marketing, these trends will point you in the right direction. Companies need to capitalize on emerging marketing methods such as mobile, video, and social media that are becoming ever more prevalent as the pandemic continues. It is time to realize that such trends are not only for the short-term but are here to stay.
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