How Covid-19 Has Impacted Digital Marketing– and How You Can Adapt

By Taryn Anderson Oct 30, 2020

Not surprisingly, COVID-19 has affected almost every aspect of our lives. From the way we work and attend school, to the way we shop and socialize, the pandemic has thrown everyday routine on its head. By now, most people have known someone who has been infected by COVID-19, had a family member or friend who’s immunocompromised and sheltered from the virus, or, unfortunately, even lost someone due to the pandemic. That means that not only are we living differently, but we’re feeling differently too.

So when it comes to targeting your niche markets and getting in touch with your customer base, shouldn’t COVID-19 be shifting your brand’s voice and message as well? The answer is, unequivocally, yes. To keep you in tune with the trends, we’ve compiled an in-depth guide to just how digital marketing strategies are adapting to the new post-COVID world. Plus, we’ve included tips to better include empathy in your brand’s communications to help you grow alongside your customers and their unique needs and feelings.  

How Digital Marketing Is Adapting to COVID-19

First thing’s first ― digital marketing is booming in the midst of COVID-19. With more businesses and workers adapting to “at-home” and “out-of-the-office” formats, online advertising, social media presence and e-commerce are growing more rapidly than ever before. In fact, in just the first quarter of 2020, all digital sales were up 18% from the previous year.

One reason for this may be the lack of the thriving “event” circuit for marketing tactics. Prior to COVID-19, many companies and brands, especially B2B, directed the majority of their marketing budget toward attending or sponsoring events. As COVID-19 has limited the ability for these large in-person gatherings to occur, funds have been shifted to online avenues. Of course, those long-standing industry events haven’t all just thrown in the towel. Event planners and managers are shifting to digital as well, with the emergence of large-scale “virtual” conferences that offer similar opportunities.  

Companies have also had to take a hard look at their language, images and portrayals to ensure they’re now “COVID-compliant.” More and more, you’re seeing healthy practices like washing your hands, sanitizing, wearing a mask and staying six feet apart in marketing campaigns to remain current and in-step with the new normal. Be sure to consider every potential consumer’s health, well-being and thoughts on COVID-19 as you craft messages and designs.

Tips to Incorporate Empathy in Digital Marketing Strategies

On the other hand, even though sales are growing digitally due to limitations on physical sales and interactions, marketers still have to consider the shift in income and stability that COVID-19 has caused for so many consumers. Let’s keep in mind that unemployment is still high and many businesses like bars and restaurants are still closed, leaving owners or employees without their main source of income, and other employees are working less as they adapt to cut hours or are even teaching their kids from home.  

These factors are causing more of a focus on empathy as a tactic in digital marketing strategies. In a study conducted in June 2020, 4,500 global digital marketing professionals were surveyed on their response to COVID-19. When asked what strategies they incorporated to adapt to the shift in customers, the top answers were:

  • 23% began offering discounts.
  • 19% produced anti-crisis deals.
  • 18% made certain products or services free.
  • 8% shifted costs to adapt to local markets.

Beyond connecting with consumers directly by offering discounts, good faith actions like giving back to the community or dedicating a percentage of profits to a social cause are great ways to show your audience that you care and are trying to make a positive impact. Using your business’s time, influence and additional marketing dollars to partake in community initiatives is increasingly proving that “giving back” = “good word of mouth.” Many companies have increased empathy with this strategy by donating masks and hand sanitizer, assisting local charities, giving back to front-line health care workers and participating in other types of community service.

 A Whole New World of Marketing, Post-COVID-19

Let’s face it ― as much as we’d love for the pandemic to end tomorrow and for our lives to resume as normal, it appears our post-COVID-19 reality is here to stay. If you’re a brand attempting to stay ahead of the trends and have yet to incorporate empathy or new digital strategies into your marketing mix, it’s definitely time to do so. Experts now predict what we consider to be “normalcy” may not return until at least 2022. While this may seem like a world away, staying realistic will ultimately give your brand a leg up on the competition when preparing your 2021 strategies and budgets to keep current with post-pandemic life.

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