For the initial weeks of COVID-19, it felt like the world has come to an end. The stock market started falling, companies started laying off, people were asked to work from home, grocery shelves were emptied, and nearly in every country, the death numbers started rising. There seemed to be no end. Most of us who have been through other crisis earlier could not stop comparing COVID-19 pandemic with the past crisis- the dot com bust in 2000, the 9/11 terror attack in 2001, the financial crisis in 2008. However, even the most optimistic among us believed that it was something different- never earlier, in our lifetime, had we seen such a crisis with a devastating combination of the financial crisis and a humanitarian crisis happening all together simultaneously on a worldwide scale.
Therefore, COVID-19, at first felt like just another crisis that would devastate Digital Marketing for tech firms as budgets were reduced and it seemed like we would go into another time phase for tech purchases. Of course, COVID-19 is a crisis like many others earlier, but it was unlike others too- different as it seemed like it could be short-lived with many analysts predicting recoveries. As we saw consumables and groceries getting vanished off the shelves, another question that came to mind was whether the change in lifestyle with working from home was going to affect all businesses or few.
With the current situation in mind, businesses will not be the usual for marketers.
However, it feels like digital marketing has been in a state of growth for a while. What does the future of digital marketing look like and why it is more important than ever to have an online presence ? Especially now when COVID-19 is changing things.
The existing “normal” looks like:
- In-person events, which are regarded as a considerable part of the marketing budget for most of the brands, are lost as a method to drive demand generation
- Marketing costs are vulnerable and often the first thing to get decreased
- Salespeople are stuck with their phones
- Prospects are struggling to adjust
Now, there is more pressure on marketers to drive the purchaser’s journey and do it with few resources. However, for every bad thing, usually, there is something good. In the case of COVID-19 and the need to stay at home, people are improving their creative skills and they are getting connected more. And as people are finding out how to thrive in an online world, their expectations towards a company’s digital experience is also altering. It is not just about downloads, clicks, and impressions. Rather, it is about engagement. It is all about experiential marketing.
What is experiential marketing?
It does not matter which channel you use to reach your target customers. It could be webinars, content hubs, virtual environments, landing pages, and websites. It is all about the experience and how you engage with your customer actively.
There will be no longer one-off marketing channels; everything must lead to something else. There will be too many digital contents in one experience, where the customer can choose what they want and the path they want to move ahead.
Within a few weeks, it became clear that this time the crisis was different. While some industries like Hospitality, Retail, and Travel were hit hard and it may take some time to restart, several other industries could see an immense need for digital marketing technology. For others, because of the changing nature of their businesses, they would be forced to rethink about archaic marketing tools, processes, and strategies that they have been associating with. Here are a few examples of how digital marketing will evolve after COVID-19.
Webinars (From presentations to online programs)
Think of late-night talk shows, chats, and coffee breaks; the traditional “present an idea and show my application” webinar is finished. The next generation of Webinar series are the programs designed to engage and encourage interaction, and people will want to subscribe to receive them daily. We have already started to move in this direction with brands shows- videos and podcasts. And they are doing much better compared to the traditional webinar series. The shows might not be interactive, but they are a new way to share information. The education model is also shifting towards digital. The best example being digital marketing courses shifting to the online or virtual mode.
Physical events changed to digital
Digital events have been sort of boring- and most of them still are. But there is a lot of scopes available to enhance them. As brands are asked to cancel their physical events, there is a huge opportunity to create an online version that is equally interactive and engaging. Digital events are becoming multi-dimensional with things like keynotes, greeter videos, panel discussions, breakout sessions, and open questions and answers sessions.
These everyone talks about the Netflix model when it comes to creating a personalized content experience. In the future, we would see lots of mini-Netflix versions. These are small, more personalized, and focused on specific people. Often known as content hubs, you will see a lot of related content by the side of the featured content, all curated content on-demand, and some CTA’s to allow the audience to choose themselves what they want to watch.
If you are searching for a way to change nurture emails that do not seem to work, creating personalized landing pages might be the right option. These are not the typical landing pages with a single CTA and asset. Rather a personalized landing page consists of a lot of relevant and curated content and focuses on a specific industry, account, or use case. Every interaction can be tracked, and multiple CTA’s allow the audience to choose where they want to move next.
The COVID-19 crisis will cause a long-term psychological shift in how we do certain things. This makes it essential for marketers to take the lead with responsiveness and adapt to changes to win the trust of customers. Here are a few ways for marketers to change their approach post-COVID-19.
The shift in the narrative
Research shows that customers expect more mindfulness from brands in these difficult times by addressing the bigger issue than being opportunistic. They expect companies to communicate their values and purposes. It is expected that this trend will prevail post this pandemic too. One would expect that rather than resorting to product push categories, established and popular brands will gravitate to empathetic communication for connecting with customers on a deeper level. On the contrary, smaller brands and new startups will focus on the bottom of the funnel to achieve direct results. Irrespective of the age of brands, the age of “providing service with a smile” has arrived and that will define the accomplishment of brands.
Parallelly, one would guess that brands will adopt an “optimistic approach” that will define their growth. For instance, to reinforce normalcy, brands will launch a wave of “pick up where you left off” the campaigns. Make will be inspired by how we overcame setbacks like the oil crisis, The Great Depression, or even the economic recession to reassure customers that mankind is mentally capable of fighting any kind of challenges they face, including COVID-19 while restoring positivity.
Governments and brands across the world will come together to create and reinforce economies that require indulging. One of the huge bets would be brands leading in an age of partnerships like global pharma firms that are working together to find a vaccine against Coronavirus. Working solo would make it hard for small brands and the smart ones will tweak/ reinvent their business models in the coming days. Like Foodtech brands delivering grocery items during this time or SMB’s choosing digital payments to expand their base.
Agile Marketing becomes the Trend
The first thing that brands learned from COVID-19 is that during the time of crisis, or an opportunity whether driven by a virus, by consumer behavior or competition, changing content and messaging to respond fast is important. Many brands took some time like few weeks to change their advertising messaging as archaic creative and content teams worked at significant time and cost, re-creating everything manually from TV commercials to display advertisements to indicate crisis messaging just to be followed by another such costly cycle for recovery messaging.
The response required for COVID-19 was also rare in that messaging had to be distinct depending on where in this world the brands were promoting. This meant that the current one-size-fits-all messaging was dangerous as they were either discussing empathy in the areas where people had moved past the crisis or were trying to direct individuals to shops where stores were shut or the infections were rising.
While the fast response required to tackle COVID-19 has been highlighting these problems for marketers, the problems have existed all along. Travel companies have for long required to deal with different natural disasters or seasons and quickly altering their messaging or remove few destinations from their marketing. Retailers need to continuously come up with new offers to tackle the competition.
As competing brands attain more responsive and real-time marketing heaps where data-driven dynamic creative technology permits fast and instant changes to creative and content to be pushed out to different marketing channels, dealers will do well to embrace these technologies.
The right time to tighten your Online Marketing
Yes, this pandemic is frightening and terrible. However, like all the evolutionary events, it too will settle down at some point and things will be different from how they are at present. If you are an entrepreneur and want to forcefully embrace the forced evolution, you can achieve success right now and, in the future, too. If you are new in the business world and want to grow in the future, then learn digital marketing as it is the future. Opportunities are immense if you learn to adapt and respond to a fast-changing environment.
Online marketing during COVID-19 is not simply a safety net, it is the way towards a successful future. Are you planning to tighten up your digital marketing funnel or creating one for the first time? Learn digital marketing tricks so that you can start creating timely digital marketing funnels tailored to your business. No matter how you do it, try to learn online marketing and allow it to take you out of the COVID-19 crisis, and prepare you for any similar kind of global crisis.