How Lockdown Has Changed Digital Marketing Forever

COVID-19 (Corona Virus) has entered all our lives in late 2019 and has significantly changed the way of living for every one of us. All the business & non-business industries have been severely hit & are trying to cope up & survive in these modern days. Similarly, our advertising industry also is starting to feel & work on the pressure & falling market. But many digital agencies might be less affected by this ongoing crisis as businesses are now trying to advertise their brands on digital platforms with a minimal budget. Many businesses worldwide and even in India are slashing down the marketing budgets and are trying to conserve their cash flows by being more cautious & not take many risks. Small & new businesses are already feeling the burn of the flaming market crisis.

Evolving Audience
As a result of this change of emphasis on all things digital, there has also been an increase in the number of online content consumption platforms continuously developing to keep up with new competition and customer demand. So far, so predictable, but 2020 has thrown us some curveballs that no one could have anticipated. The primary difference between what we see now and what was predicted in the latter part of 2019 seems to be consumer profile and demand.

It is not just the innovators and early adopters who are abandoning traditional media favoring various digital platforms. The lockdown & pandemic of 2020 has compelled even the most adamant traditionalists to embrace digital, just to stay linked to the outside world. Digital has evolved into a solution to meet basic needs such as food, communication with friends and family, entertainment, and the acquisition of knowledge, products, and services that were previously accessed physically and in person. Of course, there has always been a subset of the population that seeks to do more and more online. However, the introduction of lockdown has dramatically expanded the digital audience’s scale, availability, and profile, taking in users who were previously only accessible offline. Not only that, but it has altered their behaviors, preferences, content consumption, and how they expect to be communicated with as consumers.

During the lockdown, Kantar conducted a global survey of over 35,000 consumers. The results revealed that only 8% thought brands should stop advertising during the pandemic, and 74% thought brands should avoid exploiting the situation. On the other hand, 78% believed that brands had a duty to assist them in their everyday lives, and 75% wanted brands to express what they were doing. Surprisingly, only 30% thought brands could give discounts, and 19% thought more could handle customer queries.

Surprisingly, while 50% of those interviewed believe that companies should keep their brand communications light and carefree, only 41% believe that humors should be avoided in those communications. A little more than half of those respondents agreed that brands should continue to communicate with them in the same way they have in the past.

How Brands/Businesses are reacting to lockdown.

Although the available data relates to how customer behavior has shifted during the lockdown, there has also been a significant shift in how organizations responded, both in the B2C (business to consumer) & B2B (business to business) arenas. Businesses had to change rapidly after the lockdown in March, changing how they engaged with their audiences and how they serviced and pleased their clients, even when operating remotely. After all, good marketing no longer ends with the sale. Delighting consumers before, during, and after their purchase is now the holy grail for all marketers, as pleased customers return and thrilled customers spread the word about the goods and business to their networks.

This is a tough challenge for B2B businesses. After all, B2C businesses have always had some level of access to their customers at home, but for B2B, this is an entirely new challenge. Businesses wishing to target in the B2B sphere will have to concentrate online because their target customer will no longer be in the workplace in the same way; many will have made the transition to full-time home working. Google, Twitter, and Fresh Works are all large tech firms that have told their staff that they will not be returning to their offices in 2020. THEREFORE, those B2B prospects will not expect to attend physical gatherings, lectures, or exhibitions in the same way they did previously, at least not for the near future. For many businesses, this shift in audience behavior necessitates an entire rethinking of their marketing strategies and a digital shift. Digital marketing is no longer limited to the company website. It takes care of the whole funnel, from top to bottom and back again.

Despite this detail, the results of a survey conducted by Marketing Week and Consultancy show that 55 per cent of the 900 brands polled have postponed or placed on hold planned promotions, while 60 per cent are delaying or reviewing budget commitments. Moving to platforms such as SEO over paid ads could be a better strategic option for smart CMOs looking to get long-term benefits from declining budgets.

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