The COVID-19 lockdowns around the world are causing major economic impacts, but one key benefit that we have in modern society, that hasn't been available in pandemics of the past, is the internet, and increased connectivity, which has enabled many businesses to continue operation despite not being able to open their physical stores. While nobody can predict what a post-coronavirus reality would look like, one thing is certain for marketers: digital channels are more important than ever. Online channels now play an increasingly crucial role, as people continue to self-isolate and spend more time online. In the coming months, businesses are going to become more reliant than ever on their digital strategy. Without wanting to sound too alarmist, in many cases, it will be the deciding factor in whether they make it through the tough times ahead.
Today, we are seeing similar trends occur globally. In these sensitive times, what digital marketing strategies should marketers consider as they strive to communicate appropriately with consumers? To help with this, we have put together a listing of key digital marketing trends worth focusing on amid the COVID-19 lockdowns, which could help to maximize response, and subsequent sales performance.
1. Interactive Content
Consumers increasingly are becoming more sophisticated. It is no longer enough just to create a message and share it with anyone you can. Consumers want to interact with and experience your message. They don’t want to read or hear your message. They want to share with you and your brand.
Give them content that will allow them to be social. Surveys show that 85-90% of consumers want more visual and interactive content. Consumers are increasingly turning to the Internet for socializing and meeting others with similar interests. Depending on what products or services you sell, being there to interact and “socialize” with prospective clients can help build your brand and nurture virtual, digital relationships with prospective clients.
Another likely reason consumers seek interaction with brands is because the digital marketing space has become so crowded. Over 70% of marketers are creating more content than they did just one year ago. Consumers are being bombarded with messages from all directions when they’re online. The messages most likely to get through the noise are those that are relevant, visual, interesting, and interactive.
Examples of interactive content include:
• Interactive infographics — The brain processes visual data 60,000 times faster than text.
• Polls and surveys
• Assessments and personality tests
• 360-degree video tours
• Photo Galleries
2. Reworking SEOs
Search algorithms constantly change and affect the user’s search result. SEO hacks that may have landed your pages on the first page of Google Search last year may not just be outdated but could jeopardize your website rankings or worse, even end up in a Google penalty. Our prediction is that the search engine industry will tirelessly work on these algorithms more now to improve the quality of search results.
3. Social Commerce
Smart marketers have managed to club two flourishing avenues (eCommerce and Social Media) together and made Social Commerce the norm. Brands are now selling their products directly on their social media platforms via:
4. Analyze and measure everything
During this pandemic, new search trends will emerge almost daily. That’s why data analysis and reporting are crucial. Learning what pages consumers visit and what searches they perform can help fine-tune marketing messages on the go and deliver relevant content.
Ask questions like Who are my most valuable offline customers? How can I nudge them towards online conversion? Which messages create the most engagement now, and can I create more? Do I have relevant information for consumers living in a specific area? Can I identify key workers and offer a token of gratitude?
5. Smart Bidding in Google Ads
It is certainly true that the coming weeks, or months – or however long this situation lasts – will be a challenging time for any company that isn’t ready to think about how they will replace the opportunities that have been lost.
As long as businesses approach the shift to digital marketing strategically, there's no reason why it should just serve as an emergency fill-in but could carry on providing long-term value when the world eventually gets back to normal. And of course, it would make companies more resilient to deal with any future pandemics.
By Ishaan Khunger ( MBA - IMI New Delhi 2018-20 | CRISIL | Mahindra Aerospace | DRDO )