Recent Trends and Developments in The Digital Marketing World
The digital marketing world is in turmoil. COVID 19 has become a major disruption for brands and marketing professionals. While everyone is dealing with the “new normal” as best as they can, consumer behaviour is drastically changing. What are the implications of these developments for the advertising industry? And how are major brands navigating these rough waters?
Social distancing rules are keeping people in the safety of their homes and out of offices, schools, gyms and shopping centres. Unable to go about their usual activities and looking for comfort and distraction, consumers are turning towards the digital world. As a result, we see digital transformation become a driving force across industries.
With customers being unable to visit physical stores or branches, e-commerce and online representation are crucial to communicating with customers, keeping sales up and creating a sense of community. Any company that puts resources into establishing their business on the web, is going to be in a much better position in the long run.
In a recent article, we’ve discussed how COVID 19 may affect your marketing strategy and how you should address the current situation. Read about communicating with empathy during times of crisis to learn how to support your customers and keep your marketing efforts relevant.
But first, let’s have a look at how big brands are tackling these challenges and identify major developments we’re seeing in the marketing industry during COVID 19. There are a few silver-linings to this pandemic and you should take to adapting your marketing strategy accordingly.
The Marketing Industry’s Response to COVID 19
Content Increasingly Focussed on Staying Safe And Healthy
Trusted brands are leading the way, delivering content that shows true consideration for the consumer. We currently see a lot of content centred around keeping healthy and staying safe, that will naturally be of interest to the community. At the same time, positive messaging that is authentic and true to purpose, helps brands enhance their image. Feel-good content is aimed at alleviating fears and anxieties.
The new social distancing recommendations are oftentimes at the focus of communications.
Coca Cola, for example, takes the message of social distancing to the heart and tweaks its logo to underline the importance of “staying apart”. In New York City the brand shares its message on Times Square.
Source: Campaign US
Audi, the German car manufacturer, joined in and temporarily separated the circles in its logo to show solidarity. The company is also hosting live concerts via Facebook and Youtube and changed its social profile headers to “Stay at home, keep your distance and support each other – we are in this together” with the hashtag #AudiTogether.
— Audiofficial (@AudiOfficial) March 31, 2020
It’s People First, Not Profits
During times of crisis, companies shouldn’t focus solely on short-term profits. Instead, the long-term value of their customers needs to move into the spotlight of attention. Brands like the Australian company Thank You, are recognising that these are unprecedented times and that it’s impossible to have all the answers (see image below). By communicating with more empathy, more regularly and with honesty, brands can prove to their customers that they truly care about them.
Source: Instagram @thankyouaus
At Anchor Digital, we’re embracing the idea of working remotely during the pandemic. We see it as an opportunity to build trust with our clients and grow as a team. Here are a few lessons we’ve learned on managing team productivity and client communication during the quarantine.
Brands Are Associating Themselves With Good Causes
Twitter recently updated its Twitter COVID-19 advertising policy and shared new research on people’s perception of the marketing industry during COVID 19. According to Twitter, 77 per cent of people feel more positively about brands that make an effort to support society during this pandemic. Providing support to those most affected appears to be a key way to promote your brand and build meaningful and long-lasting connections with your audience.
Consequently, brands have to be mindful of how to position announcements or promotional offers and even consider to shelve product launches and campaigns. As Anheuser-Busch Inbev U.S. CMO Marcel Marcondes put it “We’re not in advertising mode right now. We’re acting on a relevance and action kind of mode.” His company AB Inbev temporarily converted its breweries to make hand sanitizer for health care workers. It also teamed up with the Red Cross to convert 20 stadiums across the US into blood drive donation centres.
Others lead by example: Ford, GE, and 3M were amongst the many brands that partnered up to repurpose their manufacturing capacity to make respirators and ventilators. Bill Ford, the automaker’s CEO said in a recent interview on NBC’s Today Show: “Nobody’s talked about the financial implications of this because this is a national emergency and we’ll sort all that out later.” This put their employees back to work and the companies in the spotlight of media attention.
Source: Twitter @Chipotle
And American fast-food giants are joining in, too: Chipotle expanded its free delivery services with Uber. The company was also one of the first to offer free burritos for healthcare workers and first responders. Other brands such as Starbucks and Nando’s quickly started similar initiatives.
COVID 19 is Driving E-commerce Sales
The embrace of online shopping is a clear indicator for another behavioural shift we’re seeing now. The COVID-19 crisis has created a lot more online shoppers. Major marketplaces like Amazon and smaller online retailers, specifically grocery stores, online pharmacies and health shops, are recording massive increases in online orders as people avoid the inevitable person-to-person contact that comes with in-store retail.
But people are not only shopping for toilet paper and disinfectant. They’re ordering all sorts of goods and services, including fitness equipment like kettlebells and treadmills. Since inventory for more essential items is limited, consumers show flexibility and a greater willingness to switch brands. This is where investing in SEO and Paid Search comes in handy. For a brand’s products to be visible on Google Search results, ranking higher than the competition is a must.
Source: Visual Capitalist
Google Promises Free Ad Space
Google has recently announced an $800 million aid for small to medium-size businesses, health organisations and governments in their crisis response, including $340 million in free ad space.
The $340 million in ad credits will appear in the accounts of active advertisers.
Facebook too, has put together $100 million in grants to support 30.000 small businesses on its platform, in a hope to alleviate some of the cost of staying in touch with their customers during this global crisis.
Not sure how to approach Paid Search advertising during COVID 19? According to the previously mentioned Twitter research, 52 per cent of people agree that seeing ads gives them “a sense of normality”, even in an uncertain situation.
While users are social distancing, they’ll be spending more time browsing the web and consuming more content. Showing presence and communicating your value proposition without being salesy will get brands through to the other side.
If you need a little help to kick off or adjust campaigns accordingly, get in touch with our team of SEM experts here at Anchor Digital.
Ikea Israel worked with McCann Tel Aviv to make an Ikea-style instructional sheet on how to successfully self-isolate: Stay home, lock the door, have enough toilet paper and do not open the door.
Source: The Drum
Mobile and Social Opportunities are Increasing
The majority of people are now working and studying from home. Consequently, they’re more active on different social media platforms. Activity on Facebook’s apps has already increased by more than 50 per cent in hard-hit countries like Germany, Spain and Italy.
Recent research undertaken by Global Web Index found that there is a huge increase in people checking their social media accounts daily, across all age demographics. 27 per cent of Gen Z, 30 per cent of Millennials, 29 per cent of Gen X and 15 per cent of Boomers check their socials at least once a day.
This comes at no surprise, considering that Facebook, Twitter and Instagram not only help to stay in touch with friends and family in times of isolation. They’re also useful sources of information and entertainment. Social media helps to fight boredom, offering something to occupy our time with. And, in many cases it also makes us feel less lonely.
And companies are taking notice. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, we’re witnessing how more brands harness the power of social media to engage with their audience.
Chiquita Banana showing empathy with their community.
Source: Instagram @chiquitabanana
Gaming and Live-Streaming are Booming
Marketers are unlocking the next evolution of advertising: In-game advertising is now hotter than ever. Verizon, an American internet provider, reported a 75 per cent increase in video game activities during the first week of quarantine in March.
Similarly, live streaming platforms like YouTube Gaming and Twitch saw a 10 per cent increase in viewership. The PC gaming platform Steam attracted a record number of 20.3 million global users online at any one time in March – the highest number seen in Steam’s 16-year history.
While these mediums have been around for a while, they are only now moving into many marketers’ centre of attention, offering the opportunity to engage with new audiences and experiment with new marketing strategies.
Key Takeaways on Keeping Marketing Efforts Relevant During COVID 19
Now that we’ve taken a look at the developments in the marketing industry during COVID 19, what can you take away from these trends?
- Communicate with more empathy, more regularly and with honesty. Acknowledge the reality your community is facing. Adjust your marketing activities and communication to suit this uncertain situation. Be mindful and empathetic.
- Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Try to understand the customer perspective. Focus on providing content that is relevant to your customers at this point in time, even if that means putting campaigns on hold.
- Don’t be afraid to take a break. Put campaigns scheduled before COVID 19 under the microscope to make sure they are still relevant. If they are not appropriate, put them on hold. What matters most is showing true consideration for the customer.
- Do good where you can. People will remember brands that went above and beyond to offer help and relief without own financial gain.
- Stay agile and track trends. Take a close look at how digital marketing can connect you with your customers during the pandemic. Social media and online advertising opportunities are increasing, so make sure to learn to adapt to these new developments. – And learn to do so faster: You must be able to quickly pivot your marketing strategy as circumstances change.
During this time of crisis, marketing is becoming increasingly personal and focusing on providing more value than ever. Consequently, we have to find new and meaningful ways to connect with our audiences and adapt our marketing strategies accordingly.
We truly hope that our summary of the latest trends and developments will help you forge lasting relationships with your customers. If you would like assistance in finding new ways to communicate with your audience, don’t hesitate to contact us!