In the last 30 years, nothing has challenged marketers more to think outside the box than the COVID-19 pandemic. The existing marketing rulebook had to be scrapped off to adjust to the unprecedented climate of this global crisis. It truly forced everyone in the marketing department to unlearn and learn.
Managing customer relationships and building brands were toppled up since lockdown hit. Companies had to rely on unconventional methods to grow and expand their business.
But how exactly and to what degree has marketing redefined itself during the pandemic? What has been the evolution of digital marketing strategy during and post-pandemic? How can brands come to terms with this new normal?
We uncover these answers and much more as we figure out the most impactful changes in the marketing world led by the COVID-19 pandemic.
5 Ways Marketing Has Evolved During and Post-Pandemic
Regardless of what timeline you take into consideration, the one pillar that is given paramount importance in marketing is the management of customer relationships. That is true with the post-pandemic trends as well. And the evolution that marketing went through in the past two years reflects that.
In what has been described by many as one of the biggest upheavals the global economy has experienced so far, here are some of the key marketing changes that brands had to adapt towards.
Expansion of the Digital Shopping Borders
The pandemic compelled digital adoption by businesses and consumers to fast forward to five years in a span of just eight weeks. Over 13 million people in Latin America alone engaged in their first-ever digital transaction. Amazon witnessed a 26 percent rise in its sales in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same in the previous year.
In short, the world went digital. In a world where physical touches were feared, reduced contact in the form of digital procurement of goods and services was the way to go.
As such, marketers had to look for ways to manage their data and customize offers to the different customer segments. This led to giving analytics a pivotal role in marketing to help track down the behaviors and preferences of customers at a granular level.
Localization of Marketing
With the lockdown forcing people to restrain themselves in the four walls of their house, the importance of localization was realized. Smart brand owners quickly created social media groups, pages, and forums to help their consumers connect with mutual-aid groups and local volunteers.
Localizing marketing helped in strengthening the connection of the brands with the consumers, eventually leading to the expansion of the businesses. Sponsoring community centres, supporting local businesses, hosting virtual community events became popular post-pandemic trends.
This led to rewiring the marketing strategy. Prominence to trigger-based automated messaging through a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system rose. With marketers struggling to have a better value of return on investment during the pandemic, localization is a worthy tool to have beside you.
A Reprisal of the Role of CMO (Again)
The past few years saw a gradual undermining of the role of CMO (Chief Marketing Officer). The senior marketers of some of the biggest global brands faced challenges in procuring funds for marketing activities from the C-suite (the most important senior executives in a corporation).
But digital marketing strategy spiked during the pandemic as marketing was realized to be the central nervous system of a brand. Whether it is brand positioning or handling crisis communication, e-commerce to figuring the insights of consumers, the c-suite reverted to giving marketers the due respect that it deserves.
Brands like Telstra, NatWest, and McDonald's which had taken down the role of CMOs in the past have reinstated it during the pandemic and will continue to give emphasis to it in the future.
Inclusivity of Health and Safety in Brand Experience
Marketing during the pandemic saw the increased inclusion of health and safety as a marketing feature in brand experience. With the customers being hypersensitive and cautious in this uncertain and unsafe time, this could be a deal-breaker as well as a lure for them.
Whether it is at-home sterilized salon services or bookable shopping times, sanitized restaurants, and hotels to no-contact delivery of products, brands went all the way to provide assurances to their customers that their health care been taken care of.
Therefore, even the industries that usually don’t market themselves in the health and safety threshold such as rental cars or retail are including health and safety protocols and messages in the marketing strategies. This is nowhere going to cease in the next few months.
Condensing the Marketing Apparels
Diego Scotti, the CMO of American wireless network operator while highlighting one of the most prevalent pandemic marketing ideas said that only those brands will adapt well to a volatile business environment like the COVID-19 pandemic that has a sturdy ‘north star’ strategy.
Marketers quickly realized that for an unpredictable business climate, brands need to vision a marathon, not a sprint. Figuring out which trends will be here for the long haul, how to create dashboards for real-time data, understanding how to slash internal red tape, or thinking evolved brand strategies, brands need to condense different marketing processes to survive.
Never has been the importance of mastering the skill of reacting in real-time to opportunities and threats alike has been felt more than during the pandemic. This is only possible when different marketing powers are unified in a single long-term direction, and that is what high-end brands are focusing on.
Much of the world is now out of the lockdown stages, but marketing is certainly not reverting to the way we knew it existed pre-pandemic. Somehow in the chaos of the past several months, these emergency plans have been accepted as the new normal and they are here to stay.
The lockdown has essentially given marketing experts time to write a new future, a new blueprint, a new normal. These adaptations are not only required to thrive but to survive in the industry. And this just goes on to reinforce the one true notion – the only thing permanent is change.