Four ways Covid-19 has changed digital marketing:
- Digital advertising budgets have increased
- Virtual events are successful
- Voice-enabled technology has grown in popularity
- Retailers now offer virtual reality shopping experiences
Before we discuss how the digital marketing game has changed, it is worth noting how consumer behaviors have shifted during the pandemic:
- There is an increased use of social media for entertainment and keeping in touch with friends and family.
- There is a shift to a “work-from-home” economy. In June, at the height of the pandemic, 42 percent of the U.S. labor force was working from home.
- Many schools are currently being attended virtually, prompting an increase in the usage of virtual meeting platforms like Zoom, Skype, Slack, Google Hangouts.
- More people shop online than ever before.
These consumer behavior trends will continue into the unforeseeable future. After reading this article, you will be able to see how the digital marketing landscape has changed during the pandemic, as well as gain additional tips on how to take your digital marketing game to the next level.
1. Digital Advertising Budgets Have Increased
People are spending more time online than ever before. Ecommerce sales grew 27.6% in 2020, as brands have increased their paid ad budgets in order to capitalize on consumer internet usage. Consequently, pay-per-click advertising has paid off for several industries, including apparel, healthcare, beauty and personal care, as well as on-demand media. Some sectors that have taken the biggest hits are travel and tourism, sports and fitness, bars and restaurants, and live entertainment.
Moreover, companies have allowed room in their digital marketing budgets to partner with influencers to promote products and services. Nike, for example, teamed up with star athletes, like LeBron James and Sara Hughes, to launch the “Play For The World” campaign to encourage people to work out at home in order to combat Covid-19. Social media challenges have been well received by consumers.
With digital marketing advertising spending projected to reach $389 billion in 2021, many companies are investing heavily in mobile internet advertising.
2. Virtual Events Are Successful
Virtual event platforms experienced substantial demand in response to the Covid-19 lockdown. As companies adapted to social distancing measures, they began to offer virtual events in order to retain some of their revenue. Virtual events can include conference calls, broadcasting, live streaming, summits, and webinars.
Gyms now offer virtual classes, so their customers won’t have to cancel their memberships. Virtual interviews are now the norm for those who are looking for employment. The entertainment industry is one that experienced substantial loss of revenue. With all concert halls, fairgrounds, stadiums, and bars shut down due to Covid-19, many entertainers have adopted live stream concerts and events.
Virtual events are cost effective and succeed at engaging users. Its popularity will only grow in the near future, with a forecasted annual compounded growth rate of 23.2% from 2020 to 2027.
3. Voice-enabled Technology Has Grown In Popularity
Covid-19 has accelerated the use of voice technology. There are approximately 1 billion users of Google Assistance, and by the end of 2020, it was predicted that 50% of internet searches will come from voice-based assistance.
The convenience of voice-enabled technology allows users to create grocery lists, confirm meetings, compare prices, etc. However, its use will only grow as many people prefer contactless ways to shop and conduct business outside the home, from ordering off a menu, dictating memos, voice-operated elevators, and using voice chat to direct phone calls.
Companies are looking for ways to incorporate voice search tech into their digital marketing plan. This will change the way SEO is done (i.e. focusing your content on long-tail keywords) and improve the way customers experience brands. Companies will need to optimize their websites for voice searches, location-based voice searches, as well as written headlines using natural, easy-to-read language so search engines can direct web users towards their site.
4. Retailers Now Offer Virtual Reality Shopping Experiences
With numerous retail stores shut down during the pandemic, many people were missing the shopping experience. In response, many retailers have redefined the shopper experience by adopting virtual or augmented reality technologies.
This VR or AR technology allows a person to “try on” the items virtually before they buy, even without a headset. All a person needs is their smartphone, tablet, or pc. On the retailer’s website, customers can browse the store, “try on” merchandise, click on any item to read more info about it, and make purchases. The possibilities are endless with VR shopping:
- Ulta’s GLAMlab allows a person to try on different shades of makeup
- Amazon allows you to measure space in your home and choose the appropriate furniture for their space
- Virtual try-on mirrors allow customers to see what the merchandise will look like on their bodies
- Gamified versions allow customers to interact with each other
What does the future look like for VR and AR technology? Expect many retailers to invest in VR or AR technology. In fact, Shopify recently released new data that interactions with products having AR content showed a 94% higher conversion rate than products without AR. It might be awhile yet before Covid-19 is eradicated, so the future of VR/AR is bright, as people continue to shop online.
How can a business develop a better digital marketing strategy?
Brand transparency builds trust. Amongst all the chaos and uncertainty of the pandemic, consumers want to know how companies are responding. Transparency leads to trust, respect, and loyalty which will mean more revenue for companies in the long run.
Many companies like Apple, Alibaba, and Cisco Systems, to name a few, have pledged millions of dollars in aid and the donation of essential items including masks, hand sanitizer, and Covid testing kits. Geico is just one of the companies that have given its customers a 15% credit per policy, a benefit of about $2.5 billion.
The goal isn’t just to sell products; it’s to show the world that, even in isolation, the consumers are not forgotten, the frontline workers are saluted for their bravery, and that companies are willing to be transparent in their social responsibility efforts. The image of brands in the consumer’s eyes will be influenced profoundly by how the companies respond to these uncertain times. Including and communicating your company’s transparency as part of your digital marketing strategy will increase the chances of you being the first company customers think about when making online purchases.
Are you a brick-and-mortar business looking to put your mark on the digital landscape?
Transitioning brick-and-mortar stores into the digital arena can be quite daunting, especially if they have relied mostly on foot traffic and word of mouth to get and retain customers. But in this Covid-19 era, if businesses do not transition, they can become obsolete and will have a hard time surviving. This is where digital marketing agencies come in.
TomKin Consulting can help you create a fully customized website for only $299. Being a full-service digital marketing agency, they can also help you with other digital marketing needs: copywriting, logo and graphic design, online branding, and social media marketing.
Sources: Stanford, UNCTAD, Geico, Grandview Research, Harvard Business Review, Aumcore