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We are undoubtedly living in unprecedented times, one that the vast majority of existing businesses have never had to deal with before. As many countries throughout the world are battling the second wave of COVID-19, there is great need for businesses to be aware of post-pandemic digital marketing trends that can help them survive and then thrive in these trying times, and then, the post-pandemic world.

The State of Businesses After COVID-19

While the second wave appears to be less lethal than the first, a long list of countries that includes France, Germany, Austria, Israel, Japan, South Korea, China, Lebanon, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, El Salvador, and Pakistan have reinstated quarantines or lockdowns.

Between the lockdowns, economic recession, and people’s high anxiety levels, it’s not surprising that an overwhelming number of businesses have suffered from this pandemic.

In fact, the American Bankruptcy Institute noted a significant spike in the number of businesses that filed for bankruptcy as early as April, a 26 percent jump from 2019. Large brands like Neiman Marcus, Gold’s Gym, J.Crew, Ultra Petroleum, and Whiting Petroleum are just some of the huge names that were severely hit by the effects of COVID-19.

As early as March, thousands of businesses have begun suffering from disrupted supply chains and restricted access to the large and lucrative Chinese market. While they did not file for bankruptcy, the operations and earnings of Under Armour, Disney, IMAX, Nintendo, Apple, Qualcomm, Hyundai, Nike, Estée Lauder, McDonald’s, Starbucks, and many others are all negatively affected.

The effects on small businesses are equally (if not more) devastating. As early as March, 75 percent of small-business owners voiced out concerns about the effects of COVID-19 to their operations. By October, a Yelp analysis showed that around 100,000 small businesses have permanently closed their doors – and this is in the United States alone.

What This Article is About

It’s been barely a year since COVID-19 – the term that the World Health Organization coined for the illness caused by SARS-CoV-2 (or coronavirus disease 2019) – gripped the whole world. In this relatively short amount of time, COVID-19 has already caused tremendous upheavals in the way we work, socialize, shop, travel, and do practically every other activity in our life.

The effects on businesses and how they operate (or if they exist at all) are likewise manifold. Virtual, remote, and contactless solutions have transformed consumer behavior, revenue structures, and marketing tactics.

Naturally, the way businesses perform online marketing is also influenced by this pandemic. Many businesses have been forced to rapidly transform themselves in record time in order to stay afloat, and further transformation is still expected for them to succeed in the post-pandemic global market.

In this blog article, we will explore the most powerful digital marketing trends after COVID-19. We hope that by using what you learn from this article, your business can succeed in this exceedingly challenging market, no matter what industry or where in the world you operate.

Digital Marketing Trend After COVID-19 #1: Online Marketing as The Norm

If before 2020, most businesses already do digital marketing or are actively planning to do so, this year has undoubtedly forced the rest that still haven’t to finally jump on the bandwagon. After all, with the dramatic plunge in the number of people going to physical or brick-and-mortar stores, online shops became the only way for most businesses to survive.

In fact, a report by global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company stated that consumers leapfrogged over five years by adopting digital in merely eight weeks. A large number of them actually went digital for the very first time because of this pandemic.

source: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/mckinsey-digital/our-insights/the-covid-19-recovery-will-be-digital-a-plan-for-the-first-90-days

Among consumers in Latin America, a staggering 13 million people performed their first-ever e-commerce transaction during this pandemic. Meanwhile, as of March 2020, 5 percent of surveyed U.S. consumers past the age of 64 purchased something online for the very first time because of quarantines and social distancing. One in three of those people said they plan to buy more from online stores in the coming months.

Across all of the countries examined in McKinsey & Company’s global consumer sentiment surveys, people are shifting to digital and minimized-contact means to access various products and services.

In the early months of 2020, the Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA) projected online sales in 2020 to exceed $49 billion (a massive increase from $33 billion back in 2017). However, Amazon alone witnessed a 26 percent boost in sales (i.e., worth $75 billion) just in the first quarter of 2020 versus the same period in the previous year. In the second quarter, Amazon’s total net sales exceeded $88.9 billion, the highest amount ever recorded – which is equivalent to a year-on-year increase of 40.2 percent, the second-quickest growth rate ever.

McKinsey & Company also reported that the net intent to shop in physical stores after this pandemic has dropped by 8 percent in Spain and 7 percent in both the UK and Italy. We can expect this trend to stay even after COVID-19 is managed. This is simply because online shopping is safer, cheaper, and more efficient for people to do compared to shopping in physical stores.

Businesses that are still standing today can be roughly classified into two: those that are facing overwhelming demand (this includes groceries, household goods, pharmacy, pet supplies, and general merchandise) and those that are in serious need of orders and interactions in order to remain profitable (luxury, appliances, hospitality, automotive, and furniture fall under this).

A Deloitte report provides more specific information: in Q1 2020, DIY and home related goods witnessed an astonishing growth rate of 70 percent. Meanwhile, toys, learning, and active apparel experienced over 35 percent growth in digital orders.

On the flip side, the luxury and general apparel categories grew by only around 10 percent in Q1 2020, which is lower than their Q1 numbers in 2019.

Whether your business is fortunate enough to be in the first category, or need substantial help if belonging in the second category, the unstoppable shift to digital marketing and e-commerce requires that you seriously examine how you connect with your existing consumers and target market.

Exceptional speed to market may be your key to surviving this and the post-pandemic market. Consider the example of how a European retailer built a working e-commerce platform in merely 13 weeks.

In addition to building or revving up your existing e-commerce and online channels, it’s recommended that you build and/or strengthen your direct-to-consumer (D2C) e-commerce channels.

Digital Marketing Trend After COVID-19 #2: Holistic Transformation

We’ve discussed the rapid acceleration of digital transformation because of COVID-19. Besides digital, holistic transformation is also required for businesses to survive and thrive in the post-pandemic marketplace.

Your business needs to start building and/or streamlining your online shopping, ordering, experience, as well as delivery services. This means you need to keep improving your digital infrastructure as a key differentiator for satisfying and delighting consumers. You can also generate demand by providing more choices for payment, delivery, and pick up.

Various digital technologies are key to performing these tasks. For example, mobile apps are particularly useful in connecting people to your business and providing quick access to your products and services. Using AI, automation, and the Cloud in various parts of your business can increase efficiency and streamline data so that you can focus on delivering your business offerings in a faster and cheaper manner.

On another note, it’s also crucial for businesses to redesign the customer journey: with most people stuck at home, consumers of today and the future are basking in comfort.

source: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/mckinsey-digital/our-insights/the-covid-19-recovery-will-be-digital-a-plan-for-the-first-90-days

What does this mean? If you’re in the apparel industry, make sure your online store displays loungewear options among the recommended products. Consumers are more likely to take their time looking at add-ons, so make sure you have those as well.

Most consumers today and in the near future also have plenty of time (or at least, much more than they did before the pandemic), and they would like to “add to cart” now and then return at a later time to add more.

Consider, too, that they are likely shopping at different times compared to before (for instance, during breaks in their remote work shift). In addition, they are more likely to be shopping now across different product categories for their entire household since they are all together at home.

Last but definitely not the least, it’s important for your business to remain dedicated to providing superior customer experience, both offline and online. It’s imperative that you continuously address people’s concerns for health and safety. This means taking all the necessary measures to keep your people and products COVID-19-free: meticulously sanitizing hotel rooms, providing make-up experiences at home, enabling people to schedule their shopping time, and so on.

However, it should not end there. You need to clearly communicate these stringent health and safety measures to your customers and target market using various online platforms and channels. Doing this can help maintain trust and faith in your brand – two crucial ingredients for any business to succeed, pandemic or not.

Digital Marketing Trend After COVID-19 #3: Multiple Touchpoints

Although the Digital Marketing Revolution has been in place long before 2020 began, its growth and reach accelerated dramatically in present circumstances. While traditional marketing channels such as the television, radio, newspaper, and billboards still affect buying behavior, their effectiveness and reach have come to pale in comparison to those of digital channels. After all, people are spending far more hours online now than ever before.

These days, everyone spends most of their time at home. They are not only surfing the Internet, but also actively researching brands, shopping for nearly anything, clicking on ads, interacting on social media channels, and so on. People now connect to the Web not only for entertainment, but also to perform their job, maintain their health through teleconsultations or virtual workout sessions, reconnect (virtually) with family and friends, improve their skill sets, learn new skills, and many more.

It’s important to remember that unlike traditional media that talks to consumers, effective digital marketing needs to engage them. This entails building a two-way relationship that requires more resources… but also brings more powerful results.

Due to the greater number of people going online, longer amount of time they spend online, and wider variety of virtual activities they engage in, engaging them across multiple touchpoints has become extremely important. This means you need to exert extra effort in content marketing, paid advertising, e-mail campaigns, social media marketing, and other online marketing strategies.

Even Deloitte emphasized that consumers now use a number of digital touchpoints along their buying journey. For instance, in the discovery and evaluation stages, they rely on search engines, social media feeds, and influencers. Also referred to as omnichannel marketing, this marketing approach helps businesses maximize returns on their marketing efforts by leveraging a variety of online platforms to expand their reach. For your business to adopt an omnichannel approach, you need to invest not only in direct marketing but also social media marketing, PR, podcasts, and many more.

Keep in mind that 70 percent of consumers use at least three channels, so the more places you promote your business in, the better results you can expect. Here’s a tip: You can repurpose content from your blog articles and case studies to create short videos, social media posts, and content for digital ads.

Digital Marketing Trend After COVID-19 #3.1: Videos

Speaking of videos, research shows that people are more likely to watch a 30-minute video than they are to read an entire blog post. A recent survey also discovered that 1 in every 2 people watch at least five videos every day.

Consider how YouTube now has more than 2 billion active monthly users who watch at least a billion hours of video and generate billions of views every day.

Four out of five marketers report that video has directly increased their sales. There’s no doubt that video marketing is an integral part of an effective digital marketing strategy, so make sure you also use it for your business.

According to Wyzowl’s State of Video Marketing Survey, 88 percent of video marketers attest that video brought them a positive return on investment (ROI), nearly three times compared to the number in 2015.

source: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/state-of-video-marketing-new-data

It should come as no surprise that among people who don’t currently use video, 59 percent said they planned to start doing so this year (2020).

source: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/state-of-video-marketing-new-data

If you don’t currently use video marketing for your business, now is the time – and make sure to keep using it even when this COVID-19 pandemic is over.

Digital Marketing Trend After COVID-19 #3.2: Social Media

Social media is equally (if not more) important. In April, social media engagement with brands jumped by 44 engagements per day despite an overall decrease in company posts.

Deloitte observed a huge jump in the share of traffic coming from social media during this pandemic: from 6 percent in Q1 2019 to 8 percent in Q1 2020. It also reported that 14 percent of shoppers are now purchasing through social media.

Digital Marketing Trend After COVID-19 #3.3: Influencers

McKinsey & Company reported that 34 percent of people bought something on Instagram based on an influencer’s recommendation. A simple tweet or post about your brand on social media from a credible celebrity can boost traffic to your website and increase your sales.

As an example, a founder of the mattress brand Casper said that Kylie Jenner broke their website when she posted about her Casper mattress. Motorola, Sony, Pepsi, Dunkin' Donuts, and M&M’s are other large companies that have successfully used influencer marketing to promote their brand. BMW, Mercedes Benz, Nike, and Ralph Lauren likewise have great influencer marketing strategies that you can read about for inspiration.

Digital Marketing Trend After COVID-19 #3.4: Virtual Events

Zen Media reported that virtual events have skyrocketed by a whopping 1000 percent since the COVID-19 pandemic began… and for good reason. After all, companies still need online conferences, Zoom meetings, and webinars to show their latest products, promote their services, and engage in collaborative experiences with colleagues and consumers alike.

Hosting a virtual event can help your business gain exposure, convert leads, and grow your business. You may opt to use Facebook live sessions, online classes or demos, webinars featuring respected speakers, or video series on specific topics that are relevant to your market.

The beauty of such virtual events is that they are not only much more cost-effective to hold compared to live events; they are also convenient to join and safe for consumers since they eliminate exposure to other participants. You can expect them to draw (virtual) crowds even when this pandemic is over.

Digital Marketing Trend After COVID-19 #3.5: Integration

In addition to bolstering your digital touchpoints, here’s an important but unknown discovery that you need to avoid: there is significant disconnect within companies. Three out of four consumers want consistent interactions across all departments, but 58 percent say that they feel like they’re talking with separate departments instead of a single, unified company.

Moreover, seven out of 10 consumers expect customer support representatives to have their information, but 64 percent complain that they need to re-explain their issues, proving that there’s a disconnect in companies’ systems. Using a good CRM and actively maintaining your database are just two of the ways you can manage this.

Digital Marketing Trend After COVID-19 #4: Refocus on Desktop

Less radical and complicated than other post-COVID-19 online marketing trends is the renewed importance of desktop traffic. With people cooped up at home, the growth of mobile traffic – which have been touted as an important digital marketing trend in previous years – actually declined this year. Many people returned to using their larger computers since they are just at home, thus increasing the ratio of desktop users from 47 to 52 percent.

In line with this trend, it’s important that you maintain a delicate balance of functional desktop as well as mobile websites for your business.

Digital Marketing Trend After COVID-19 #5: Preserving Purpose

The final trend in post-COVID-19 digital marketing is the emphasis on purpose. Faced with multiple crises, consumers of today and the future are revitalized with the desire to act for humanity. They also expect due actions from governments, fellow citizens, and even companies they buy from.

A recent research in Australia revealed a ‘growing culture of doing the right things, looking after society, and “being all in this together.”’ As many as 61 percent of respondents said that the way a brand responds during this crisis will have a huge impact on whether they will continue supporting that company after this pandemic.

Specifically, research shows that many consumers expect brands to support the Black Lives Matter movement. Inaction with regard to this matter is expected to result to both moral as well as financial consequences.

The CMO Growth Council, which consists of dozens of Chief Marketing Officers from the world’s largest brands, have already committed to boost racial diversity in their advertising efforts. Meanwhile, grocery brands have become more active in community service. Some other popular initiatives among companies are climate change awareness, election registration programs, and removal of harmful content on social media platforms.

What does this mean for digital marketing? According to McKinsey & Company, we need to clearly communicate our brand’s purpose — a cause that we support, or an area where we hope to make a real difference. We can achieve this by getting involved in relevant social projects, carefully selecting partners, fairly and humanely treating workers, and communicating the right messages to our audience primarily using digital platforms.

Adapting to Digital Marketing Trends After COVID-19

Knowing and utilizing these five post-pandemic trends in online marketing can help your business in these tumultuous times. However, keep in mind that while we face the same pandemic, every business is unique. Therefore, adoption of some of these trends may need to be adapted to better suit your business and achieve your post-pandemic objectives.

Marketing Ignite can be your partner in this mission. We’ve been delivering world-class digital marketing services since 1998. If you want to discuss how we can use these online marketing trends after COVID-19 to help your business, please call us at +66 (0)118-0427 for a free consultation or click here to contact us.

Now tell us: Which of these digital marketing trends are you planning to use after COVID-19? Just comment below!

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