The sudden appearance of the COVID — 19 pandemic blindsided most of the world, a world where in person communication was a regular part of everyday life. Suddenly and without warning, that all changed. Businesses that previously relied on in person accessibility through things such as trade shows, in person meetings, foot traffic for brick and mortar restaurants/retail locations, etc. were faced with a new challenge; adapt or close.
With previous lines of communications now either completely cut off, or vastly changed, many businesses found themselves looking for new, COVID-safe ways to reach their audiences. Almost overnight, many businesses that had never considered entering the digital marketing sphere, now found themselves scrambling to launch e-commerce channels, create social media campaigns and build comprehensive websites.
Quarantine and social distancing measures due to COVID — 19 caused a massive shift in from in-store shopping to online shopping, resulting in a drastic shift in spending trends towards ecommerce. Between Q1 and Q2 this year, ecommerce spending rose 31.8%, or $211.5 billion, according to the US Department of Commerce. Additionally, a recent study shows that 40% of households recently increased or significantly increased their online spending, the growth is expected to continue.
With the flood of new consumers, as well as businesses, in the digital space, brands are competing heavily for consumer attention, even if a direct sale isn’t offered. In order to cut through all the chatter and stand out from competitors, a multifaceted digital marketing strategy is key. Despite the rise in spending, since March 2020, there are over 31 million Americans out of work and receiving unemployment benefits. Their dollars need to go further than they have in the past and they are thinking more critically about their purchases. Demonstrating value in the digital space is now more important than ever.
Consumers will typically only respond to and engage with your brand if they feel they are getting something in return, especially with the influx in brand presence via digital. This is where providing value comes in. Regardless of industry, there are plenty of ways to provide value across your brand’s digital marketing initiatives. For example, a health insurance company might provide value to their audiences during COVID by providing helpful tips, insightful educational materials, Q & A webinars or offering limited time promotions to help with the unexpected financial strains of COVID — 19. Making the shift from simply providing a service to becoming a helpful resource during a crisis will provide the added benefit of showcasing social responsibility for your business, thereby increasing trust, transparency and helping to solidify audience connections.
Audience connections can be further solidified via digital conversations. Be sure to involve your audience in the brand conversation. Don’t just communicate to the audience, but with them, consistently. A common mistake many brands make is simply dumping information on their audiences. The conversation must always be two-way, otherwise it isn’t a conversation at all and will easily be bypassed for brands with stronger marketing strategies.
Finally, one of the most important tools for cultivating business success during the COVID– 19 crisis is to listen. Be sure to monitor and report what digital marketing initiatives are received well and which aren’t, then modify your digital strategy accordingly. Many digital marketing platforms have automated measurement tools included in their software, available for use free of charge.
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