In life, change is the only constant thing. Some changes happen naturally as things evolve. In some cases, extraordinary intervening factors radically alter, accelerate or even derail the status quo. Covid-19 turned out to be such an intervening factor, and the changes that have unfolded in the digital-marketing space since early 2020 are a testament to that.
In the last year and a half, we have seen the digital-marketing landscape shift somewhat unexpectedly. The directions of the trend didn’t change as much as accelerate, but the changes that did occur have left both businesses and digital-marketing experts scratching their heads as to why their previously genius strategies seem to leave much to be desired.
The clearest effect of the pandemic on consumer behavior was the rapid abandonment of brick-and-mortar shops for ecommerce platforms. This probably didn’t take anyone by surprise when you consider the medical regulations that came along with the pandemic. Besides, commerce had already been trending that way for the last decade or more. If anything, Covid-19 only helped us get to a place where ecommerce can comfortably be referred to as the norm.
The social-shopping phenomenon has only grown stronger
The rapid shift towards ecommerce has not been the only trend that marketers have had to deal with; social shopping is another one that we were still trying to get the hang of before the pandemic hit. In an era where one tweet can start a trend that ends a person’s career, social shopping is a phenomenon that marketers and businesses alike can only ignore at their own peril.
With the rise in ecommerce purchases since late 2019 and the increased time that lockdowns afforded social-media users to be online, the social-shopping phenomenon has only grown stronger. In the last year, businesses have scrambled to establish stronger presences on social media in order to “contribute to the conversation about their brand.” Whatever people say about you in front of you can be said to be criticism or advice, but when it is said in your absence, it could devolve into back-biting, which is detrimental, more often than not. The same is true of conversations about a brand.
From executing regular Twitter searches to finding mentions to conducting frequent Google searches of their brands with words like “review” and “scam,” brands have found innovative ways to locate every conversation about them online, which provides them an opportunity to offer relevant input. The undergirding principle is to keep your customers as the focus of your social-media engagement.
The changes that we have seen in consumer behavior in the last year and a half have altered a lot of the things that seasoned marketers considered to be proven knowledge. For instance, there were certain hours of the day that were considered peak times to publish social-media-marketing posts. There were also certain content tones, words and styles that were genius, direct or considered “real” before the pandemic that are now seen as insensitive and harsh in light of changing social attitudes; increased social-justice outcries and calls for stemming climate change have shifted the prevailing conversation.
Consumer habits and preferences have transformed
Additionally, medical brands have had to steer away from using images and videos of sick people to drive home their marketing agenda and have had to pivot to showing the effects of their strategies: happy and healthy people. This is because people are exasperated by the virus and its toll on their psychology.
The fact is that a lot has changed, and marketers are still trying hard to figure out the extent to which habits and preferences have transformed. One thing is clear: We can no longer depend on data that we have relied on before. We need to generate and utilize new data.
Companies need tools to help them adapt faster
The need for new data has been responsible for the rise of many digital-marketing agencies that adopted a data-based approach before the pandemic. In a fast-changing landscape, companies need tools that help them adapt faster so they don’t have to learn from their failures. This has also led to an increased use of machine-learning and marketing-strategy automation.
The utilization of algorithms and scripts to test and analyze a campaign’s success with as little human intervention as possible and the ability to adjust or even create algorithms mid-campaign to reflect the needs of the campaign have risen to the fore.
The abilities these new tools possess to tweak elements like color, words and targeted demographics based on the algorithm’s accumulated data are what businesses are hungry for in a post-Covid digital-marketing landscape. The tools are also shooting data-focused marketing companies to the top.
The marriage between new data and automation would create an ideal circumstance for startups to thrive in 2021, but it is yet to be seen how many will utilize the available tools and how many will stumble forward. The ability to adapt to change is enshrined in the human DNA. Covid-19 might have brought one too many changes, but it’s time to settle down and re-learn everything we knew. Certainly, the future looks much brighter than anything we have ever experienced before.