A Shot in the Arm: How the COVID-19 Pandemic is Changing Digital Marketing
By: Leamon Crooms
Chat with a few business owners and you’ll find that the phrase “once things get back to normal” is a very common one for future digital marketing plans. However, as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic stretch on, that philosophy may lead to store closings instead of sales growth. Here’s why you can’t afford to wait, and why the “new normal” is coming fast:
Pandemic Shopping is Brisk
While it’s true that nationwide quarantines are keeping virtually everyone inside, that also means they’re eager to embrace digital services, goods, and experiences. UPS and other large shipping companies have reported “Christmas-like volumes” of packages zipping to doorsteps across the country as buyers eagerly click away.
So what does this mean for your business? Where buyers used to experience your store in person, they’re now experiencing everything online – and that’s a double-edged sword. On one hand, it means that standardizing your messaging, customer experience, and product presentation is easy. On the other hand, it means that a mistake could alienate hundreds of buyers at once, rather than a single disgruntled store visitor.
Pre-publication editing – for both grammar and cultural sensitivity – is more crucial than ever before in marketing. Tempers are high regarding certain concepts that might otherwise be seasonal norms for digital marketing: colds/flus/allergies, (not so) back to school, and physical closeness around the holidays, to name a few. Messaging needs to tread carefully. Businesses need to acknowledge the proverbial elephant in the room – there’s no getting around the fact that COVID-19 has changed virtually everything. At the same time, they also need to bear in mind that the same elephant may have trampled the reader’s loved one(s) or family member(s).
Email Marketing is Back in the Spotlight
Social media remains a daily constant, pandemic or no, and digital marketing should absolutely still incorporate it. However, the slew of depressing COVID-19 news and pre-election politics on those platforms have coined a unique term: doomscrolling. The feeling of being unable to look away from social media (think train wreck) yet needing to for one’s mental health has redirected attention to the inbox. What that means is that now’s the time to dust off your email subscription lists. Start committing to a regular newsletter – your audience can’t possibly get more captive. Email is also a great way to communicate how your business is continuing to operate mid-pandemic: curbside pickups, reservations, cleaning routines, and so on.
Shipping is Expanding Marketing Reach
Local content marketing is still important, but with more eyes than ever on e-commerce, smart businesses are cashing in across the country. While some businesses leaned on capturing neighborhood interest pre-COVID – say, through specific Tucson marketing for a local boutique – others are learning that if their product can be shipped, it’s open season.
If you’re hoping to jump in on this trend with your own products, be sure your content and messaging strategy is aligned. Working with a digital agency to create content will ensure that new potential customers – wherever they call home – have something of value to browse when they find your brand. How-to articles, comparison shopping guides, 101-style posts, and other value-added content will draw them in and keep them comfortably close to your checkout page, even post-pandemic.
Digital marketing has evolved in response to the pandemic, and in order to stay successful, so must the businesses that use it. Careful messaging, innovative approaches to customer attraction and consistent communication will help you weather the storm – as will a trusted marketing agency for your business.