In 2020, for the first time in history, the US GDP declined for two consecutive quarters. According to Yelp.com, more than 97,966 small businesses have permanently closed their doors due to COVID.
The pandemic has been a loud wake-up call for many industries. For marketers, the old strategies of marketing to consumers are no longer working in the ‘new normal’. Faced with no other option, it has become a catalyst for businesses to shift their operations online, for sales, deliveries, and indeed online working. Many will have done so thinking that this was a temporary measure needed to ensure their survival, but the truth is somewhat different.
The new normal?
Amid a declining economy, COVID has led to an increase in e-commerce and accelerated digital transformation. As lockdowns became the new normal, millions of people have abandoned brick and mortar stores for online shopping – accounting for an increasingly large share of global retail trade from 14% in 2019 to 17% in 2020.
Many businesses, therefore, had to take a digital approach to their marketing strategy. As statistics prove, this is especially true for businesses that were in the following industries:
• Travel and Tourism: they have pivoted to offer virtual tours and experiences. For example, Airbnb offers virtual tours. Many Museums also offered virtual tours for free and had special paid experiences.
• Restaurants: They have pivoted to provide takeaway and delivery of meals due to restrictions on serving sit-down guests.
• Events: These businesses pivoted by incorporating ways of digitally hosting webinars and events in general. Many businesses have made great use of digital event tools like Zoom, GoToWebinar, Google Meet, and many other platforms to hold digital events.
Businesses with a strong presence online were instantly ahead of their competition. Additionally, in-home media usage went up in these areas, providing opportunities for businesses to pivot into:
• TV Viewership
• Streaming Services
Growth of remote worker opportunities
Another key online change that happened due to the pandemic was the rise of remote workers. With quarantines and lockdowns, employees were forced to work from home, and this has surprisingly been a silver lining in the slow economic effects of the pandemic, offering several advantages to both the business and worker.
The growth of online business and remote working is expected to increase exponentially. Marketers have realized the advantages of operating online and should get the necessary skills to make this a strong strategy for their success, however brands will also have to struggle with reduced marketing budgets. To succeed with smaller resources and a more challenging landscape will require real ingenuity and understanding the challenges faced by consumers is key.
Understanding changing consumer needs
The pandemic has greatly affected the incomes of many people negatively. This has also affected their purchasing power. Many consumers today are fearful of losing their jobs or are experiencing pay cuts at their workplaces. For a majority of people, their decision making on purchases is therefore limited to just the necessities. This is why restaurants have experienced low sales because people prefer to cook at home and save money.
Wise business owners have observed these expectations, and many have pivoted to offer different products that are perceived as essential for their customers.
Use of social media
As a result of encouraging social distancing, the majority of consumers on a global scale turned to socialize on various social media platforms like Facebook, Tik Tok, Instagram, and Twitter. During the pandemic, the growth of social media was at its highest at 3.6 billion users, with the average user having eight accounts on different social media accounts.
This was a great opportunity for businesses to build and engage with their potential clients. Many businesses took advantage of social media features like Instagram Shop to create and sell their products online. By regularly posting helpful information, businesses continue to grow their brand names and increase their following. It is important that they maintain strong relationships with their customers on social media because the viewership is reported to increase to 4.4 billion by 2025. A report revealed that in 2021, users in the United States spent 65 minutes daily on social media platforms which is an increase from 2018 when they spent was 54 minutes.
Use of video content and video marketing
An exciting report on video content consumption shows that 96% of consumers increased their online video consumption in 2020, with 9 out of 10 saying they would be open to watching video content from businesses. Additionally, digital marketing with a video increased in 2020 as compared to other advertising media like display ads (see graph ). Popular video-sharing website YouTube has seen an increased usage during the pandemic. In fact, during a survey in March 2020, 64 percent of social media users in the United States responded by stating if they became confined in their homes during the coronavirus pandemic, they would use YouTube more during the period. For example, under the category of Self-Care, in a sub-category titled Guided meditation, YouTube revealed that the average daily views related to videos in this category increased by over 40 percent after March 15th, 2020.
These video statistics confirm that video marketing remains a great opportunity for businesses to reach their customer’s post pandemic. As a business, you should not only take advantage of posting video content on your website and on social media but also invest in video advertising on these platforms.
It is clear that marketing pre-pandemic and post-pandemic will never be the same. Businesses that have pivoted have seen great successes. Those who have applied temporary online marketing measures hope that things will go back to normal need to bite the bullet and change their marketing strategies to those stated above. It is understandable that the online world may be a new challenging concept for traditional brick-and-mortar businesses to get started. However, with some education or, better yet, outsourcing of your digital marketing needs, you too can take part in these new opportunities to grow and thrive, despite the pandemic. The most important thing to remember is to be flexible and change with the needs of your customers.