Digital marketing has always captured the essence of progression, and today digital marketing is emerging as the face of the future. COVID-19’s altercations have infiltrated every facet of the economy, and we’ll be experiencing ripple effects for years to come.
Old business models have been torn down, nearly overnight, and they’ve been replaced by virtual, remote, and contactless solutions that are changing consumer behavior, revenue structure, and marketing tactics.
The Digital Marketing Revolution
Traditional marketing tactics such as billboards, radio, and newspaper ads, while still effective, no longer provide the same reach as people are (and have been) spending increasing amounts of time online. Not only are consumers “surfing the web” but they’re actively researching, shopping, interacting on social media, clicking on ads, checking their email, and so much more.
Reaching the connected consumer where they are—online, has revolutionized traditional marketing and media tactics because it’s shifted the entire framework—digital marketers don’t just talk to consumers, they engage them.
Any marketing effort that takes place online is digital marketing. Paid advertising, leveraging and curating content across a multitude of platforms, email campaigns, social media, and a myriad of other strategies have all taken marketing by storm, and they will only continue to accelerate and evolve.
Digital Marketing Pre-COVID-19
Before COVID-19 hit, measurable and prominent digital marketing trends were emerging, such as the rise of video marketing, influencer marketing, micro-moments, and engagement-based email marketing.
It’s clear that digital marketing is evolving to keep pace with new technological innovations (for example, AI is now being integrated into digital marketing) and changing consumer preferences, such as the expectation for ads and content to be increasingly personalized and relevant to the individual.
As a result of COVD-19, consumer behavior and preferences have shifted, if only as an acceleration of the inevitable. Knowing how to reach and convert customers online has never been so important, and living at the forefront of innovation requires understanding how digital marketing is changing.
The Big Shift: Online Engagement
While internet usage has been steadily increasing for years, people have suddenly found themselves spending an uncharacteristic amount of time at home, which also means they’re spending more time online. Not only are people looking to the web for entertainment, but they’re seeking information, virtual solutions, and tools to enhance their skill sets in times of uncertainty.
Companies are recognizing this shift in consumer behavior, so they’re pivoting their tactics and budgets to creatively solve new problems (such as limited in-person experiences, technological knowledge gaps hindering productivity, new work environments, and unprecedented safety guidelines).
Digital marketing is changing because people are changing. Expectations are changing. A new normal is being established, and new behaviors (such as curbside pickup, and taking classes online) are being established.
Digital marketing is a dynamic and evolving creature, but its progression has certainly been impacted by COVID-19, and here’s how.
Social Media Accelerates
Even though the #1 reason people use social media is to showcase their own identity, with everyone in social isolation, people are also craving connection online. With everyone at home, social media usage has peaked. This means that businesses have an extraordinary opportunity to expand their reach, and establish themselves as an authority.
Brands with an established social media presence reaped the rewards when the world was ordered to stay home. Leveraging their captive audience, they doubled down on content, broadcasted relevant messages that resonated with a panicked world, and drove conversion.
Research shows that social media engagement with brands increased by 44 engagements per day in April, and that’s even with an overall decrease in company postings. If you’ve been waiting for the motivation to finally establish yourself on social media, it’s here.
Brands that chose not to invest in a social media presence prior to COVID-19 were either forced to adapt, or suffered the consequences. Continued communication with your audience is key to remaining top of mind.
If you do have an established or growing social media presence and you don’t know whether or not to continue posting at the same rate—the answer is not to decrease your postings. In fact, if you can, invest more heavily in content, and post more frequently.
Social Media Influencer Marketing
Influencers that have access to a large segment of a target audience can significantly and quickly boost reach. Just one tweet or post about your brand on social media from a celebrity, whether local or national, can drastically increase traffic to your website and drive sales. One founder of the mattress brand Casper said that Kylie Jenner “broke our website” when she posted about her Casper mattress.
Since COVID-19, virtual events are up 1000%, and you can probably guess why. From webinars to online conferences to Zoom meetings, people still have a need to showcase new products, market their services, and participate in valuable and collaborative experiences with other professionals.
More than ever before, hosting a virtual event is a fantastic way to gain exposure, convert customers, and grow your business. Depending on the audience you’re trying to reach, this could be in the form of a Facebook live session, an online class, a video series, or simply a webinar with a valued speaker.
Virtual events can be tuned into at the consumers convenience, and enable people to safely remain in their homes. While people won’t be sheltered in place forever, this digital marketing trend isn’t going anywhere. Many companies will come to prefer hosting virtual events for a number of reasons such as cost-effectiveness, and many people will come to prefer attending them since they can more easily be worked into a busy schedule.
Transparency & Personalization
Consumers are increasingly demanding transparency from brands, and that’s especially true in times of uncertainty. People want to know how your brand is responding to this pandemic, what solutions you’re offering, and how you’re going to ensure the safety and health of customers and employees.
People don’t expect your brand to be perfect. In fact, they prefer to see a human side to your brand. They like companies that take the time to personalize their presence online. They admire brands that share stories about their employees, admit to their mistakes immediately and openly, and proactively communicate their struggles.
Anything you can do to add a personal touch to your online presence, such as posting photos of employee zoom meetings, or sharing some fun facts, can go a long way in gaining customer loyalty.
Omnichannel marketing isn’t just a buzzword, it’s a viable and highly effective marketing approach that enables you to maximize returns on your marketing efforts by leveraging multiple platforms to expand your reach.
By taking an omnichannel approach, you invest in a variety of platforms and strategies, such as direct marketing, PR, social media marketing, and podcasts. 70% of consumers use three channels or more, so it’s wise to place your eggs in more than one basket.
Investing in multiple channels doesn’t necessarily have to result in highly laborious efforts; you can pull content from blogs or case studies to create videos, postings, and content for ads.
Research shows that people are more likely to finish watching a 30-minute video than they are to finish reading a blog. Video marketing is a key component of an effective digital marketing strategy, and with the advent of COVID-19, it’s become even more integral to growth in the digital age.
For companies who want to create their own video content, a myriad of templates and platforms are now available to make professional looking videos. For companies who don’t have the time to create video content, consider outsourcing to a digital marketing agency that can craft viral-worthy content and generate a great ROI.
Ideally, you should have an ad strategy behind the videos that you create. Give yourself room to experiment and test out different ideas. Pay attention to views, engagement, and sales.
Brands no longer have the luxury of considering whether or not they need to invest in digital marketing. The question now is: what type of digital marketing should be invested in? Every business can benefit from stepping back to consider what digital marketing solutions are best for reaching their audience, and taking strategic action to grow with the digital age.