6 Trends That Show How the Pandemic Changed Marketing

6 Trends That Show How the Pandemic Changed Marketing


Last year, we looked out how the pandemic changed the marketing landscape for businesses throughout 2020.

Related Post: Marketing During the Pandemic: 20 Stats You Should Know

At the time, the short-term effects of COVID, especially with regard to state lockdowns and the downturn of the economy, were so widespread, pronounced, and disruptive that it was impossible to ignore how marketing was changing in front of us.

Now, in 2021, we’re back to take a look at the longer-term implications of the pandemic for businesses in terms of how they market themselves.

In this blog post, you will learn which marketing trends have emerged since the pandemic and what initiatives businesses should be focusing on moving forward.

Consumer Habits Have Changed

It will come as no surprise to anyone that consumer behavior shifted dramatically in the wake of worldwide lockdowns—brick and mortar store shut their doors or operated under heavy restrictions and shoppers opted for the Internet for their needs.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that this is a very reversible shift—with stores reopening and people returning to their offices and normal daily lives.

The reality, however, is quite different, and the behaviors that fueled massive growth in ecommerce during 2020 look set to continue to a large degree.

Businesses last year were forced to adopt ecommerce, and many of them—particularly SMBs—had never had a sophisticated platform for online sales before, often only using it as a secondary tool for their business.

This expansion into ecommerce opened doors for many and allowed them to not just offset losses from the slower parts of their organization, but also to reinvest their online gains into their ecommerce capabilities.

This includes technology implementations like analytics software, which has allowed businesses to streamline their supply chains in a way they hadn’t done before, allowing more opportunity to cut waste and invest in growth through technology.

Related Post: The State of Data Analytics Adoption 

What to consider: Have you adopted technology for your marketing that allows you to take advantage of how consumer habits have changed with regard to their increased use of the Internet? Have you invested in your tech stack and site to reflect the renewed importance of your website as a marketing and sales tool?

Consumers Are More Discerning

Speaking of consumer behavior, understanding what consumers want from the organizations they do business was crucial for pandemic marketing, and became an increasingly important aspect of marketing for companies over the last year.

One of the more curious developments to come out of the pandemic in terms of marketing was the increased desire from consumers to have a business relationship predominantly based on trust, as opposed to price or performance.

87% of consumers appreciated brands that went out of their way to deliver timely and relevant information during the coronavirus pandemic.

In order to build this trust, many businesses opted for content strategies that informed, educated, or reassured their customers.

More than half (51%) of shoppers now say trust is their primary motivator for selecting who to shop with, topping price (45%).

Trust is also, crucially, garnered through providing customers a good experience purchasing products or services online.

If they lose trust in an organization because the website isn’t capable of providing them a shopping experience on par with the best, they will opt for a business that can provide this.

What to consider: How are you engaging with customers? Are you reaching out to them via email, social media, or through your own website to provide relevant information? Do you have a strategy for your online activity and communication that helps build trust with them? Is your website effective in serving as a way to build trust, or is it of poor quality and a turn-off for prospects?

Customers Expect to Be Offered the Experience They Want

Customers expect more from businesses than ever. Their expectations are formed from experiences with the best in the business—think of the service Amazon provides; that’s what organizations are competing with when it comes to providing an experience.

In a survey by Dimension Data, 81% of companies said that providing a positive CX for prospects and customers was the primary differentiator between retaining someone’s custom and not.

Simply put, improving customer experience is crucial and the best way to do this is through technology.

Customers themselves have the biggest demands when it comes to expectations over their experiences.

Websites are an excellent example of these expectations—57% of customers won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed website on mobile.

It’s not good enough for a business to not have a site that’s presentable, and those who neglect their websites risk losing customers simply on that basis alone.

Businesses should think about the effects of a customer’s adverse experience on their site—customers tell an average of nine people about a positive experience with a brand, but they will tell nearly double that number (16) about a negative experience.

In a time when customer retention is so important, it’s not too surprising that businesses are investing heavily on improving CX through technology adoption.

What to consider: What kind of experience are customers getting through your website? Is it slow or ineffective? Is it constructed properly with a quality sitemap that moves customers effectively through the funnel? Are they satisfied with their experience? 

Digital In, Traditional Out

Over the last decade, digital marketing has come a long way, and is now crucial for business outreach.

The pandemic turbo-charged digital marketing, with organizations having to rely on digital more than ever.

36% of marketers are actively trying to integrate their digital and traditional marketing activities. 25% say they have limited integration while 13% say the approach to digital is ad hoc. Just 15% say they’re fully integrated.

Outreach is more dependent today on digital than it’s ever been—SEO and other forms of organic online growth through content creation are now central to the plans of marketing teams everywhere.

56% of marketers think their companies can’t keep up with marketing technology evolution.

Whether companies can keep up is another question, and businesses find themselves scrambling to adopt the technologies they need to succeed in their digital marketing plans.

Related Post: Infographic: Traditional Marketing vs. Digital Marketing

What to consider: What’s your approach to digital marketing? Do you have a comprehensive plan in place for online outreach?

Search Ad Spending Significantly Increasing

If there’s any greater indication of the supremacy of digital marketing versus traditional marketing, it’s where the ad spend is going.

Back in 2019, digital ad spend surpassed traditional marketing for the first time, and since then has gone from strength to strength.

Since 2012, traditional advertising in the US has seen a net increase in spend during any six-month period just once (+0.6%, Feb, 2017).

Digital ad spend, meanwhile, has consistently been growing year-over-year anywhere between 8.2% and 15.1%.

Over the course of the last year despite initial hesitancy in investment after the onset of the pandemic, digital ad spend increased by 14.3% between June 2020 and February 2021, one of the highest six-month increases yet.

What does this tell us? It effectively confirms what we already know—digital advertisements will be the primary means of marketing for businesses of all sizes going forward, with traditional ads, while still having a place, declining in relevance.

What to consider: What’s your digital ad strategy? Are you increasing investment in it or still relying on traditional methods? What do you think your future strategy should be? 

Data Maturity Is Key to Competitiveness

Big data today plays a large role in business, not just for complex automation and analysis functions in large corporations, but also for thousands of SMBs thanks to the affordability of modern tech solutions—for them this brings both opportunity and challenges.

For challenges, SMBs have to play close attention to how customer data is being handled and protected to avoid catastrophe should they become the victim of a cyberattack.

For opportunities, large data sets mean more information about customers and prospects—their pain points, needs, and more.

This means that organizations who have adopted a good marketing technology stack can wield this data by aggregating and analyzing it, allowing them to put it into actionable use by directly addressing the things that matter most to your customers—ultimately improving your CX, lead gen, and sales.

42.8% of marketers reported investing in automation technology to improve customer communications in February 2021, up 25% since June of last year, and 42.5% of marketers now report investments in data integration, up a whopping 71% since June 2020.

New cloud MarTech solutions are often compatible with solutions in other departments—even better if paired with a cloud ERP—helping businesses unify and access information across the whole company, improving productivity and collaboration between departments.

Moving forward, we can expect to see more organizations invest in their marketing technology stacks to take more advantage of the data sets at their disposal—data maturity is key.

What to consider: How sophisticated is your marketing tech stack? Do you have the strategy and working processes that allow you to take full advantage of your customer and business data?

Bottom Line

Pandemic marketing and the changes brought because of it are here to stay—especially as it concerns this new period of digital dominance that only seems to be increasing in significance and influence.

Traditional brick and mortar stores have had to adapt to this shift—which was taking place already, but nevertheless has taken ahold more than ever.

It’s more important than ever for organizations to invest properly in their digital marketing efforts, and—pandemic or not—this will remain a critical objective for companies moving forward.

Ensure that your digital marketing efforts are in a good place. If you’re unsure about how to do this, consider utilizing the services of a managed marketing provider, which has the tools, experience, and expertise to get your digital marketing plans in great shape for the future.

To learn more about managed marketing services, visit our solution page and discover how Impact can help you.

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