No one will ever forget the years 2020 and 2021 because they have reconstructed our very lives and forced us into a new way of living. The ‘old normal’ has passed away to open the door to new and unprecedented life experiences. And with these changes in a post-pandemic world, today’s savvy marketers have had to roll with the punches and approach digital marketing in the new 21st-century era.
So, what did we learn about digital marketing from the pandemic?
WE MUST “THINK DIFFERENTLY!” In 2020, we published an article about online marketing in the new age of Coronavirus, and I realize we’re still seeing some of those effects today. However, having now come out of the pandemic, we’ve found even more “takeaways” from which we can grow and build.
The primary takeaway we’ve gained is that we must “think differently” about how we apply digital marketing. By asking ourselves a few pertinent questions about our customers’ needs and our business priorities, we can begin to find the critical solutions that will help breed today’s successes.
Through exploring all that I’ve learned in my nearly 20 years of digital marketing, I’ve come to realize that, over a short two-year span, the epic change of the pandemic challenged the essence of digital marketing fundamentals. However, out of all the changes, I believe SIX factors have ultimately caused marketers to “think differently.” And these factors have also provided us with a new set of digital marketing rules to follow as we move forward.
Jump-Start: Six Post-Pandemic Ways of Thinking Differently About Digital Marketing
- Old Thought = Know your customers.
- Former Thought = Develop a customer-centered marketing strategy.
- Old Thought = Customers are patient and hope you have what they need.
- Old Thought = Digital responsiveness is a process tool option.
- Former Thought = Your brand should represent great products.
- The thought that should never be numbered!
1. Yes, know your customer. But even more so, know your customer segments!
If anything, the COVID pandemic reconfirmed what we already knew about how customers respond to brands. Company brands must convey messages in local and precise terms while targeting specific audiences based on their situations, purchasing behaviors, and the things most important to them. This insight helps businesses genuinely understand their customers in different markets. In addition, knowing customer segments and categorizing their needs also allow businesses to tailor their online messaging and connect with customers from wherever they are on their buying journey.
Also, the pandemic has taught us the importance of ensuring our marketing messages remain personally relevant. For example, communications should align to each customer’s circumstances and values rather than broader categories like gender or age. When developing a deep human connection through online messaging, businesses must define the various segments of their targeted audience based on purchasing behaviors.
Since the pandemic began, the EY Future Consumer Index conducted a study and identified five unique cohorts of online customers.
- 32% are ‘Affordability First’ customers: They live within their means and budgets. In addition, they focus more on product functionality and value rather than brand names.
- 25% are ‘Health First’ consumers: These customers concentrate on protecting their overall family health and wellness. They’re also particular about choosing trusted or certified products/services deemed by authoritative industry-leading organizations to be safe.
- The ‘Planet First’ consumers made up 16%: Their goal during the pandemic was to consistently minimize their impact on the environment. So, they steadily purchased brands that reflected their values and beliefs.
- 15% are ‘Society First’ customers: This group’s aim is to consistently work together for the greater good. Therefore, their buying behaviors included purchasing from organizations they believe were transparent and honest.
- Lastly, there was the ‘Experience First’ group of 12%. They lived ‘in the moment,’ intending to make the most of life through every experience. So, their behaviors consisted of being open to testing new products and brand experiences.
2. In “Thinking Differently,” today’s second new thought consists of developing strategies based on the customer’s buying journey.
Before the pandemic, marketers placed heavy emphasis on creating digital marketing strategies that were more customer-centered and based solely on popular purchasing trends.
Today, however, businesses must consider their consumer’s buying journey and/or their search intents. People are online for various reasons, and savvy marketers will understand who is visiting their website and why.
In addition, companies need to remember that the digital marketing campaign tools they use to attract customers or clients are just initial starts to establishing a relationship with them. After we’ve segmented our targeted audiences, we begin nurturing and engaging them through the lead generation sales cycle. Yet, the only way to receive actual results is to:
- Understand your customer’s journey.
- Create strategies that cater to them instead of what’s popular.
- Set up and maintain online strategy tools that ensure and promote a happy business/consumer relationship.
3. People today don’t just hope you have what they need online; they expect you to have it.
And prayerfully, for your sake, they should find what they’re looking for on the first page they click when hitting your website! Customers are even less patient and forgiving today regarding online searches, so they expect to find their needs within three clicks or less. So, when we advertise through digital marketing or send out emails, we must ensure each page conveniently guides them straight to the solutions they’re searching for.
Likewise, as we continue to innovate with our digital marketing efforts, we should also aspire to new values around customer and client experiences. For instance, people expect their online experiences1 to be smooth and straightforward, not frustrating or confusing. Instead, they want to shuffle through information quickly to find what they need and preferably under the most convenient circumstances.
So, with all the information that hits them as soon as they click on a site, businesses must not make their online journey any more complicated for them. Instead, we must cater to them by having easy-to-find CTAs and messages that connect with their need for solutions on each page.
4. Website responsiveness is required in the post-pandemic world of digital marketing. Therefore, businesses must view it as a modern strategy instead of an optional process.
Due to the last 24 months of social distancing, quarantining, and working from home, not everyone had access to PCs. Thus, the need for websites to be responsive on every platform became a vital part of company growth and sustainability. To survive today, businesses must provide opportunities for potential customers and clients to fully access website information, knowledge, products, and service solutions on any digital platform.
Fortunately, mobile responsiveness remains the most vital feature of a web design. These days, we’re nearing 90% of smartphone owners consistently using their phones to access information and product/service solutions. Phones make life incredibly convenient, and the faster people can access what they need from their smartphones, the more likely they are to make purchases. That’s why we also utilize a mobile-first approach to website design, whether clients are B2B or B2C.
5. Today’s brands must do more than simply represent wonderful products or service ideals; they must represent wonderful values.
Since the pandemic, we’ve seen unprecedented shifts in brand loyalty. For example, another EY Future Consumer Index study found that over sixty percent of people were willing to purchase from white-label products and services. They were also willing to switch brands if there was value behind them. This dynamic, combined with a rise in consumer awareness and activism triggered during 2020’s social unrest, made many brands consider the values they express to customers.
For instance, factors like trust, sustainability, ethical sourcing, and corporate social responsibility came to the forefront during the pandemic. And still today, brands that represent great values remain increasingly important to how customers choose and purchase products and services.
6. Relationships don’t just matter; they mean EVERYTHING when it comes to digital marketing success!
Indeed, building a solid relationship with clients and customers, founded on trust, remains critical to business growth and sustainability. And in the process, you keep your customers extremely happy! However, with all that’s changed in digital marketing since the pandemic, keeping up and making proper adjustments can be challenging. As a result, many businesses will eventually need additional assistance with learning to “Think Differently.”
The pandemic placed a new emphasis on relationships built on trust and product/service integrity. Yet today’s digital marketing advancement tools help us deliver quality assurance to every client and customer we serve. Thus, relationships mean everything for overall business success and happy, loyal customers!
And if you’re like most successful businesses, you want to meet the demands of your targeted audiences efficiently and effectively. Thankfully, BUILDINGBLOCKS is here to help you do just that! As each of your marketing campaigns makes a brand promise, the responsibility to deliver results on that promise falls onto the product solutions, services, and customer experiences.
- Client online experience. Photo concept by Kaleidico.