COVID Puts Agility to the Test for Brands and Their Marketing Teams

In this article, Adromeda discuss the most essential digital marketing changes during the COVID and post-pandemic period, and share their view on managing advertising campaigns and challenges for marketing teams in 2022.

At the beginning of 2020, COVID became the most potent catalyst for digitizing and changing communication, shopping, customer service, and most importantly, marketing. Quarantine, self-isolation, and the shift to doing business online became a considerable challenge for millions of brands. The Deloitte research on marketing agility pointed out that 58% of responders named at least one brand that pivoted to the new realities very successfully. We used to identify digital marketing as an Agile practice, but only in 2020 did we have the chance to test everyone’s agility in effect.

Was it a good pivot for the marketing industry? To answer this question, we will discuss the biggest agility challenges for marketing teams under the new circumstances. We will outline the influence of the pandemic on digital marketing trends, brands pivoting to online communication, and advanced tech tools for marketing research. Let’s start reviewing the most significant pandemic challenges for marketing teams’ agility!

Challenge #1: Brands and Their Marketing Teams Put Customers in the Focus of Decision-Making

COVID became the driving force behind moving businesses online. This shift has brought new challenges to digital marketing teams, as now they must deal with the new customer behavior. Marketing agility assumes that the customer is the focus of decision-making. How has this principle changed with the pandemic?

First of all, there are many more online customers, which means that brands need to learn more about them. Who are these people? What expectations do they have? To answer such questions, marketing teams needed to launch new technical solutions for collecting and analyzing data. This could be a cloud-based data management tool or API integration software to learn as much about customer preferences as possible. Marketers could make a fast pivot in their campaigns and ensure better communication with clients based on that data.

How has the new data changed digital marketing campaigns?

First of all, digital marketing began to focus on personalized communication. Brands learned how to establish connections with each customer and understand them better. It means that they had to be aware of the current situation in each region, city, and even neighborhood. There was a considerable shift to supporting local businesses during the pandemic. At the same time, companies also learned how to pivot to more personalized communication. We call this the localization marketing strategy.

Also, marketing teams could build better campaigns by understanding what customers expect from brands. HBR researched what customers put first in brand communication after the start of the pandemic. They identified five groups of online customers:

  • Focusing on product functionality (36%)
  • Protecting their health (25%)
  • Ecology first (16%)
  • Focusing on society and buying from trusted and transparent brands (15%)
  • Open to new experiences (12%)

When brands know what their customers put first, it becomes easier to facilitate a marketing campaign.

Challenge #2: New Era of Online Shopping

Last year, Visa researched online purchasing during COVID, which was important for marketers. For example, they found that 13 million people in Latin America made their first online purchase in 2020. The pandemic accelerated the growth of e-commerce, and even after the reopening of physical shops, people continue to buy almost everything online. What does this mean for digital marketing?

  1. Brands and their marketing teams should rethink how to connect with customers.
    First of all, the role of direct-to-consumer communication channels has grown. You can see how successful D2C brands have become (for example, Glossier or Curology) after they established a new communication style with their clients. At the same time, building e-commerce platforms, even for small brands, is now easy and fast (in some cases, it takes as little as 12 weeks to create a functional shopping platform). People search for personalized items and communicate with brands 24/7 via all possible media. Marketing teams need to take into account the new era of online shopping.
  2. Brand loyalty demand.
    This point motivates marketers to change their strategy during a pandemic. Customers try new products and brands, which means that marketers need to know when their clients migrate to another brand. The best way to retain clients is to ensure efficient loyalty programs. Forrester Research has argued that B2B companies will increase their expenses on loyalty marketing by 15% in the next few years.

Challenge #3: Community Building Is a Top Priority

One of the most critical things in brand communication after the pandemic is being more human, empathetic, and understanding people’s needs. People have become home-bound and no longer travel or meet friends and family for long periods of time. This has motivated them to create groups and pages on social media to support each other. For example, groups of people who help older neighbors with shopping; information pages with the latest updates on the situation in the community; and various updates from local brands.

What does this mean for brands and their marketing teams?

First, brands needed to shift to community building in their communication strategy: help people with their needs (many brands launched their own delivery services), share information, and connect neighbors with the same requirements.

A lot of digital marketing strategies have focused on developing local communities. Nike launched a unique online training program for people quarantined at home. Airbnb launched several programs to support communities: Become a Local Leader, Explore Locals, and others.

The community-building approach in digital marketing aims to grow loyal customers (people who are connected with each other by interest or similar factors). COVID brought this approach to a new level as it made marketers accelerate the process of connecting people. At the same time, the focus on socially responsible business also increased. Customers want to support businesses, and responsible businesses in particular. This has definitely been a challenge for marketing teams.

Final Thoughts on Digital Marketing Agility

In 2020 the world changed, and almost every industry was forced to adapt to the new realities. Digital marketing was no exception. Brands should rethink their strategy, do more research on customer behavior, automate processes, build new loyalty programs, and learn how to communicate with clients who have never shopped online before. In some way, COVID accelerated the digitalization of various industries and helped marketers discover new technical tools for advanced campaigns. Businesses have changed how they operate and connect with customers.

Adromeda has expertise in creating and running digital marketing campaigns for various business purposes. We accumulate and adapt our experience to help companies adapt to the new post-pandemic realities. If you need to discuss your case or digital campaign, you are welcome to contact our specialists.

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