The Future of Digital Marketing After the Pandemic

Covid has changed a lot of things, including the way businesses are run. And it appears to be a clear and concise equation: more individuals spending time online plus businesses seeking to increase their online presence equals a hopeful post-Covid scenario for digital marketing agencies.

However, life isn’t as simple as a straightforward equation, especially when it comes to an ever-changing digital landscape with multiple (and new) variables. Post-pandemic, marketing organisations will need to adjust their practices and protocols to fit the reality of this new environment if they want their businesses to survive.

Let’s take a look at some of the most significant changes the industry has witnessed post-pandemic and what steps businesses need to take in order to stay afloat and relevant.

Reaching More Discerning Consumers

Consumer behaviour has been irreversibly altered as a result of the pandemic.

With individuals confined to their homes globally and for extended periods, 2020 saw a significant shift in the way people absorbed information. For example, the number of app downloads increased by 31.7% year-on-year in Q2.

This reflects a significant shift in consumer behaviour, and yet, it’s only a tiny sampling of how people have embraced the online world. The more frequently individuals interact with these technologies and like the experience, the more probable it is that this technology will become a regular part of their life, pandemic or not.

This shift brings with it another aspect: while customers once only hoped that you had what they desired, they now expect you to have exactly what they desire. This means businesses must aim for new customer experience standards in both the B2C and B2B scenarios. Consumers today want all interactions to be frictionless, anticipatory, relevant, and connected. In other words, having what they want, when they want it, is all that matters to them and “Customer is King” is the new mainstream motto.

To create these experiences, organisations must put data and technology at the centre of their operations. This most certainly entails incorporating machine learning and/or artificial intelligence into the mix. Why? Because data allows us to build more relevant experiences in one or more of the four Cs:

  • Content (which may be delivered through experiences such as emails or mobile applications); 
  • Commerce (which can be delivered through physical retail, e-commerce, or a hybrid system);
  • Community (for example, bringing together B2B buyers at a virtual trade exhibition or conducting a consumer-focused webinar on home maintenance);
  • Convenience (like offering customers coupons or benefits within a loyalty program).

For digital marketing organisations, this means new opportunities to contact customers but there’s a catch: as consumers get more acclimated to these digital venues and the seamless, tailored experiences they provide, they will become more discriminating towards marketing communications that don’t strike the correct tone.

Digital marketing may be able to reach more people in the future, but the problem will be to continue to convince them to act.

Businesses witnessed a significant decline in click-through rates (CTRs) on numerous platforms at the start of the pandemic, with the CTR for Google’s Search Engine Optimisation advertisements decreasing 41% year-over-year compared to Q1 of 2019. If these trends continue and individuals continue to grow less receptive to online marketing, agencies will need to continue innovating and investing in quality to succeed.

Whether that’s through investing in top-tier copywriters and graphic designers or using digital breakthroughs that prioritise user experience, agencies will need to go above and beyond to guarantee that their marketing efforts are effective in a post-Covid future.

Conveying ROI More Effectively

While the shift in consumer behaviour towards online activities provides a wonderful potential for businesses, customers will be very cautious with their spending. Now, it will be critical how digital marketing companies communicate the potential ROI of their services.

It will not just be about your services but also how your services address your clients’ problems and produce actual outcomes. Saying you’re a HubSpot specialist is one thing, but clients want to know how that translates into a return on investment and how it will help their business.

In a world where financials are a strong indicator of success, demonstrating the value of your services through precise data and insights will be important.

Businesses must keep in mind that marketing is usually only the beginning of a consumer relationship. In a B2C marketing scenario, for example, businesses go through a funnel of engaging customers, directly or indirectly converting them to make a transaction, and then keeping them doing so and turning them into advocates and perhaps receptive to upsells and cross-sells. Marketing must be considered in the context of the entire end-to-end experience, and when feasible, efforts should be made to connect the dots.

Marketers greatly rely on sponsored Search Engine Optimisation activity (also known as performance marketing) because it allows them to monitor their ROI easily and distinguish between campaigns that work and those that don’t. Brands may relate expenditure to an activity such as a lead, sale, or click via native advertising, social media advertising, sponsored advertising, or affiliate marketing.

Paid search marketing on platforms such as Google, Amazon, Pinterest and Facebook is quite popular. Because of the increase in Internet traffic during Covid-19, more companies chose online methods to communicate with customers. This created a competitive atmosphere, and drove many marketing teams to rethink how to maximise their funds. Statista predicts that worldwide advertising spending will reach $790 billion in 2022.

According to Deloitte’s Human Values Compass, a significant shift in consumer behaviour post-pandemic has been an increased desire for companies to display compassion and trust. Customers today want to know more about the company they buy from and what they stand for, which contributes to the demand for increased brand awareness. This is especially essential for social concerns as customers grow more conscious of supporting firms with a social conscience and a desire to make the world a better place.

Agility: A Key Competitive Advantage

During the pandemic, people worldwide had to adapt to remote working. The exciting element was that many businesses discovered they were reasonably effective at it. In fact, many of the world’s largest corporations have pledged to make working from home the new normal.

In general, digital marketing companies were well-prepared for this shift, but some fascinating tendencies emerged. The business took a slight blow in the early weeks and months of Covid-19, but one research found that 80% of the agencies who experienced a 30% or greater rise in income were outsourcing.

This shows that digital marketing agencies are becoming increasingly reliant on the freelance economy to produce great work for customers. And technology has made this a smooth process, allowing agencies to complete highly specialised work without the need for full-time workers. This allows them to be considerably more adaptable to meet the expectations of their clients.

Brand Positioning in an Increasingly Competitive Market

There has been a decades-long trend of the increasing value of having an online presence. Even for those who chose to join the Internet world prior to Covid-19, the pandemic brought everything into sharper focus.

Businesses were left rushing to improve their online presence, and digital marketing professionals reaped the benefits.

Businesses have traditionally valued content marketing. However, when Covid-19 struck and Internet usage skyrocketed, these digital touchpoints (including blogs, infographics, videos, and case studies) became even more important for attracting and retaining customers and earning their trust during a time of uncertainty.

Organisations must examine their content marketing strategy now more than ever to determine what no longer works and, more crucially, what works better in a fast-changing business world. The competition will only worsen as more firms realise the value of digital marketing. However, the power of brand awareness is one advantage that established digital marketing businesses have over newbies. 

The Acceleration of Social Commerce

Platforms for social media are becoming increasingly advanced, and they’re no longer only a place to meet up with friends and exchange images. Many social media platforms are increasingly being used by businesses to promote their products.

The social commerce industry is expected to reach $604.5 billion by 2027, indicating that social media marketing has a promising future. 97% of Gen Z use social media as their primary source of purchasing inspiration. Instagram introduced Shops and Shopping in Reels, and Facebook and TikTok are now hosting Livestream shopping events.

When it comes to social commerce, you can’t overlook the impact of influencers. Influencers have a lot of authority on social media, and many firms are now using influencer marketing to encourage individuals to make purchase decisions.

In a post-Covid world, the key to success for big and small businesses on social media is to place consumers at the centre of all activity. Combining a fantastic customer experience with a short sales funnel and language that humanises your business creates the ideal digital marketing cocktail for generating leads and nurturing consumers.

Website & Inbound Marketing Tips

In contrast to outbound marketing, which views the client as merely a means to a goal, inbound marketing places the consumer at the heart of the business plan. You can attract more leads, interact with them in more effective ways, and curate a great experience that transforms them into happy customers and active supporters of your brand with the correct content that delivers value.

Some website and inbound marketing tips include:

  • Understanding your customers’ problems, motivations, and preferences
  • Creating a powerful website that drives sales
  • Creating one-of-a-kind, value-added content for your niche
  • Automating your business processes
  • Always testing to see what works best for your business

Customer Relationships

It’s important to establish trust to connect with customers. Advertising, for example, offers a brand promise, which is subsequently fulfilled by the product, service, and customer experience.

But Covid-19 has placed a new emphasis on relationships, particularly in B2B marketing and sales. In the face of a virtual sales environment, businesses with previous contacts have retained revenue momentum by leveraging the strength of their earlier alliances. On the other hand, prospecting for new clients has necessitated the development of a new set of skills centred on selling solutions rather than items.

Trust and honesty are important in both B2B and B2C marketing for building market momentum. This has demanded a significant recasting of talent for B2B marketing and sales executives to find individuals most suited to connect with customers in this new world of online interactions – a world that depends less on the charm (and even an expense account) and more on insights and solutions. Those that listen to client demands and then design solutions to satisfy those needs will build trust and be rewarded.

In a B2C marketing context, trust is also quite fundamental for the value exchange between a business and a customer. And as businesses rely more on personal data obtained with consumer consent, they must comply with consumer privacy regulations and ensure data security. Still, they also have the opportunity to consider building even more loyalty and differentiation by designing more transparent interfaces for privacy controls.

Conclusion

Covid-19 may not fully alter the future of digital marketing companies, but it has accelerated current trends. Marketing firms successfully adapted to these changes during the pandemic, but they must continue to do so even after it has passed.

There may be more need for digital marketing in the future, but this will be offset by increased competition. You must create a strong brand and invest in flexibility that benefits both your clients and your business to stand out. Understanding how customers’ and clients’ behaviour has evolved and tailoring your offerings accordingly will be critical.

In a nutshell, the post-Covid world is bright for digital marketing companies, but only if they can adjust appropriately. Contact First Page today and our team of Digital Strategists can best advise you on how to navigate your business with post-pandemic Digital Marketing.