Among many things, 2020 has been a year of many uncertainties and economic hardships, and the advertising industry has not been left unscathed. As the lives of everyone across the world turned upside down overnight, meticulously scheduled and strategically designed marketing plans have been forced to quickly pivot to accommodate a new culture of lockdowns, social distancing and unpredictability.
Connecting with existing and potential customers is more important now than ever to promote brand awareness and loyalty. With many consumers now shopping from home, advertisers have been forced refocus the majority of their marketing efforts towards digital mediums and away from traditional and out-of-home media.
Below are our top four recommendations for pivoting your brand’s marketing plans during this unprecedented time:
Optimize the Online Experience
With some consumers exclusively shopping from home and commercial stores placing restrictions on entry, brands must work even harder to make their websites more discoverable. Search engine optimization (organic or paid) will help potential customers find stores online. To keep customers coming back, brands must make sure that the online experience is quality and has user-friendly interface for checkout. According to a recent poll, 60.8% of businesses say they have allocated additional funds to building improved versions of these customer-facing digital interfaces.
Step Up Email Marketing
The needs of consumers are rapidly changing, and businesses are adjusting their offerings to better accommodate these needs. A robust email marketing schedule can be a very quick and impactful way to communicate updates regarding any new tools and promotions for customers, including free curbside pickup, free shipping, live online chat support and the like. Email marketing can also be great for sharing surveys with customers, to gain feedback on what other types of promotions may be helpful to them.
Connect on Social Media
While social media has always been an effective way for staying in front of mass audiences, increasing engagement with them may help with customer retention. Liking, sharing and commenting on customer posts and posting content based on audience feedback is a great way to not only stay top-of-mind, but to also show your audience that you are listening to them. In fact, “84.2% of marketers say they have used social media for brand building and 54.3% say they have used it for customer retention during the pandemic.” 
Switch to Virtual Events
Many businesses have been disappointed with having to cancel or postpone in-person events. A great alternative to promote networking is to flip the script and convert your event to a virtual version. While this may seem scary to those who are new to the idea, there can be many benefits (including saving money on printing/hotels/travel, lowering the barrier to entry since virtual events may fit busy schedules easier, recording presentations to repost to a large audience later). Many of the concepts from in-person events can still be applied in a different format, by creating chat rooms and lounges for interacting, hosting webinars/live demos/panels, and uploading conference handouts online. Cost-effective platforms like Zoom and GoToMeeting can be great for virtual events!
While much remains ‘to be determined’ regarding the future of consumer behavior, it is likely that an emphasis on digital advertising trends will remain, or at least a hybrid version, for the next few years. Therefore, it is critical that brands seriously consider stepping out of their comfort zones and continually re-evaluate their marketing plans on a routine basis for the foreseeable future to adapt to their customers’ changing needs.
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