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The COVID-19 Effect: How Online Marketing Has Changed

With the majority of the world residing at home due to social distancing measures, we’re seeing a phenomenal shift in online behaviour. Some of these changes may be temporary, but this ‘new normal’ is likely to signify the transformation of digital as we know it.

With this in mind, we’ve analysed the trends that are already impacting our clients’ strategies, and compiled our tips to not only thrive during lockdown, but future proof your approach for long-term survival post COVID-19.

 

So what does ‘new normal’ mean for brands?

Where it’s certainly possible to pivot and adapt to trends on-the-go, a strong plan needs to be in place to ensure consumers’ high expectations are met. Their lives may have been turned upside down, but they still want their online journey to be seamless, whilst reflecting the new world in which they’re living and the needs they have as a result.

 

What’s happening in the world of digital and what does this mean for businesses?

With the definition of ‘normal’ becoming looser by the day, the general public are literally being forced to try new things – all of which will undoubtedly shape the digital experience of the future.
For instance, social media has seen a huge increase in traffic with 45% of global consumers spending increased time across all platforms. Facebook’s messenger app has also reported a 50% increase in use, meaning a significant increase in traffic to put your ads in front of.

This creates a stronger opportunity for much larger audiences who are not only more active, but more engaged on these channels. And once the pandemic has ended, people will remember the companies who were the most visible and how helpful they have been, bringing short-term benefits along with long-term brand loyalty. Win win.

 

What do people want now and how is it impacting on paid and organic content?

Almost three quarters of Generation Z, Millennials and Generation X believe that social media companies should provide fact-checked content about the virus during the pandemic.

On Twitter, phrases related to unemployment (up 4,725%), social distancing (up 1,188%) and home-schooling (up 2,111%) have experienced rapid upturns as people share the impact of the virus on their daily lives.

Images and videos of people washing their hands and faces, as well as displaying water splashing, have increased six fold. On the other hand (if you’ll pardon the pun), content that displays human interaction, such as hugging or shaking hands, has dropped by 27%.

Consumer search trends are also affecting social media, specifically in relation to ads. People have more spare time than ever before, meaning they’re actively looking for ways to fill their time.

With the obvious limitations of being stuck within four walls, searches related to electronics (such as mobile phones and televisions) are now appearing in 39% of social ads. The sports and fitness industry has also seen a surge, with ads falling under this topic quadrupling from 5.7% to 21% as brands rush to support people who wish to stay fit and healthy, either in their homes or outdoors during their hour-long exercise allowance.

Last, but certainly not least, a third of all consumers expect companies to provide useful advice during this time. This may include anything from tips and advice on working from home, to staying in shape, or even sharing free resources.

All of these figures show that a strong demand for relevant content is higher than ever, and the companies that don’t position themselves correctly now may suffer further down the line. In short, if you haven’t revised your content strategy, then now is the time to do so.

 

What other opportunities are there?

People are at home with more time to do things that they wouldn’t usually do, or need to do, and online searches and subsequent traffic reflects that, whether that’s home-schooling children (online tutoring is up 400%), tackling the garden (up 200%) or digging out the board games to pass the time in lockdown (up 160%). Other areas are naturally taking less priority, from financial planning (down 69%), to low-cost travel (down 63%) and football (down 62%).

Another form of data that’s enjoying an increase in consumption is email content, particularly where the focus is put onto content-driven messaging rather than the standard transactional and promotional content that we’re used to. Email open rates are up by 25% week-on-week with daily open rates up by around 5-10%. In short, now is a great time for companies to get their messages into the inboxes of their customer databases, whilst being mindful to share useful information, such as tips and advice, to provide that magic combination of short-term value and strong, long-lasting relationships.

 

What do I need to do?

Cutting back and halting investment in your marketing to save money in the short term is not going to do you any favours in the longer terms. Your customers are online now more than ever before. What’s more, just 8% of consumers think that brand advertising should be suspended during this time as a large number believe it to be a distraction amongst the onslaught of daily news coverage.

In short, now is the perfect time to raise your brand awareness with an audience who, under normal circumstances, may not have seen or been interested in your content, providing you with an ideal opportunity to build a relationship with them and give them a reason to come back.

Here at Tailor-Made Media, we’re working in overdrive to ensure that our clients are meeting the ever changing demands of consumers worldwide. Because we specialise in digital marketing, we can put you in front of new audiences and help you to communicate with existing ones at a time when online presence is everything. If you need any advice on shaping or adapting your marketing strategy for the ‘new normal’ and beyond, contact us today for a free, no obligation discussion.