When COVID-19 struck, it caused countries around the globe to go into lockdown. In an instant, the way that millions of businesses all over had to operate, dramatically changed.
Almost overnight, a considerable number of companies had to re-examine their offering, undergoing a digital transformation. Those previously reliant on the majority of their sales taking place in-store had to quickly ensure that they could operate effectively in a world where no customers could walk through their doors.
Those who weren't able, or chose not to, experienced huge losses almost immediately. Retail giants such as Primark went from sales of 650 million to 0 as soon as lockdown measures came into play – all because they had no digital presence.
Understandably, many businesses chose to hunker down and weather the storm. They took the financial hit, furloughed staff, reduced any outgoings, and slowed operations to save money. In many instances, they cut their marketing budgets down to nothing – considering it a ‘nice to have' addition rather than something necessary to the success of a business.
Smart business owners, however, turned their attention to their marketing efforts. Instead of cutting budgets, they saw this as an opportunity to adapt and chose to rethink how they could use advertising to their advantage, get the best ROI, and tailor their digital marketing strategies to ensure they worked for them in a locked-down world.
How has COVID-19 affected buying behavior?
For the consumer, lockdown meant that shopping for anything other than essential items must take place online. This has proven more favorable in some industries than others. Many customers needed time to convert to online shopping. However, as the numbers revealed, lockdown brought a massive spike in the volume of goods and services being sought online. Many companies altered their offering, and suddenly, the need to be competitive in an online marketplace became increasingly urgent.
It is likely that the effects of COVID-19 could instigate a considerable demand for digital marketers' services. With more people now turning to their laptops to provide them with the items they need or desire, a strong online presence is massively important. Businesses who could previously rely on customers through the door, now have been forced to look to digital marketing strategies to ensure that they stay relevant, visible, and competitive.
Businesses have started to heavily promote their online offering, even rewarding customers who choose to do business with them digitally. Setting up channels to communicate with customers online will also continue to become increasingly important. Offering products and services on more than one platform will also help boost a business's digital presence and ensure that they are not missing cohorts of customers looking elsewhere.
What does the future look like in a post-COVID world?
It is likely that post COVID; we will see technical barriers that can cause problems for both businesses and customers continue to be ironed out and overcome – due primarily to continued investment from companies to solve them. We will also see an increase in demand for those who supply cross-channel systems to help businesses transition to a multi-channel sales approach with ease.
Digital marketers will be in demand to ensure that companies are offering the best user experience. They will seek to provide value, positive branding, problem-solving, excellent online customer service, a seamless buying process, flawless websites, consistent messaging, and impactful digital macerating campaigns.
Even reluctant consumers who have been forced into carrying out the majority of their shopping, browsing, and socializing online thanks to lockdown cannot help but notice the numerous benefits of doing so. This could see a massive wave of people becoming online converts. Beginning to interact with their favorite brands in the digital world is a strong possibility – and businesses need to be ready for this and meet their needs before the competition does.
A post-COVID-19 world will see the majority of businesses invest more time, money, and effort into SEO, content marketing, social media marketing, and impactful campaigns. Doing so will boost their online presence and present their offering to eager customers in the most effective way. There is no doubt that this pandemic has massively influenced the way companies and consumers operate, and the knock-on effect for digital marketing agencies is not to be ignored.
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