After the, so far, hectic year of 2020, mostly due to the global pandemic, people are starting to return to “normal.” But are they? During the months of lock-down and quarantining, we have been writing the future for a “new normal”, and that has major implications to the marketing world and for businesses trying to build lasting relationships with customers. Marketers and businesses need to start thinking hard and differently about what the consumer in the “new normal” will think, feel, say, and do. Not only that, but how they will look for businesses and interact with them.
As the world has changed, so has consumer behavior. It should come as no surprise that people are living more and more online these days, and that will likely not change anytime soon, or anytime at all. Leaders in the marketing world believe that if organizations want to survive the “new normal” they will need to adapt fast and with a strong digital marketing plan.
Below we have highlighted, with the help of our friends at MarketingTech, six potentially important changes in consumer behavior in recent months. These trends should be at the forefront of your mind when creating and planning your digital marketing strategy in this era of the “new normal”.
Shopping: Digital Migration
Consumers are turning to digital and reduced contact ways of accessing products and services. This shift is likely to stay around, to a large extent because eCommerce is often more efficient, less expensive, and safer for customers than shopping in physical stores.
For businesses, this means rethinking how to manage today’s new wave of data and how to use it to their advantage, to better personalize offers and messages to extremely targeted customers. Analytics will play a core role in evaluating consumer preferences and behaviors at granular levels, and in creating speedy responses to opportunities and demands.
Online, Online, Online: For Consumers
People are not only increasingly buying online; they expect to be able to perform other tasks and access services online as well (i.e. telemedicine and education). They want to be able to ask a question and get a response in real time while they are browsing your website.
What does this mean for the marketing world? This increasing consumer confidence in the use of online services suggests a potential surge in demand and an opportunity to create new connections with people. It will be more important than ever for businesses to think through the role of their brand in interconnected service platforms and to have a strong online presence.
Home: The Command Center
The pandemic has made the home a multi-functional hub; a place where people live, work, learn, shop, and play. This will continue to be true as a growing number of organizations and employees attempt to sustain some of the advantages of working remotely that they have now experienced.
As a business you will need to engage with smart devices and other interfaces across the home. In addition, you will need to rethink your media mix across a larger set of channels, such as video and OTT advertising, chat functionality, and ensure your website is fully optimized. The key issue for businesses, in navigating this “homebody economy”, is in integrating your business and digital marketing strategy into services and products anchored in the home.
Community: Localizing Experiences
The near total shutdown of travel and other lock-down constraints have made local neighborhoods and businesses much more important to consumers. There has also been an increase in community based social conversations. Nearly 50% of the world’s population uses social media. That’s over 3 billion users worldwide (Statista). As we have talked about it before, businesses seeking to expand their connections with consumers, can benefit by localizing their marketing content.
Managing this hyper-local activity and engagement will require businesses to rewire their operating model to provide a more defined presence. You do not have to have the biggest marketing budget to be the most flourishing business, you just need to know where to spend your budget and how to effectively get in front of the right audience. We have outlined some tips for ensuring you have a successful local digital marketing strategy here.
Trust: Health and Convenience
Personal health and economic well-being are top-of-mind concerns for consumers and will likely continue to be. Foot traffic in stores will only return when people trust that spaces are safe and virus free. Businesses will therefore need to think through a much broader range of shopping experiences, which will require greater coordination within their marketing strategy and with teams across their organization.
If you don’t offer eCommerce solutions on your website, that it okay, you are still “selling” as potential customers view your website. 66% of Americans say they do their research online but buy in brick-and-mortar shops (Fortunly). Businesses should focus on ensuring their website is gathering those leads and creating a unique brand experience that customers will find memorable enough to return. You need to have a plan to get back in front of website viewers that left your website without a purchase.
Purpose: Building Brand Awareness
Socially conscious values have been in focus in recent years, and the current crisis will likely accelerate this trend. This means businesses must communicate a strong sense of their brands’ purpose; and have a strong social presence. Businesses should embrace “word of mouse” advertising now more than ever.
“Word of mouse”, catapults your business’s online presence and helps to build brand loyalty and brand trust. When people can read what other people are saying about your business, they are more likely to do business with you. 70% of consumers say they trust online reviews and believe other consumers opinions (even strangers) (HubSpot). Business reviews help to create a buzz about your business and get you known, helping you to build your customer base. In this “new normal” world, brand awareness is more important than ever.
It’s hard to tell what our “new normal” will look like, as it is continuously evolving; however, what we all should be able to agree upon, is that things will likely not go back to the old normal. To ensure your business survives and thrives in this new environment, changing consumer patterns and marketing trends should be at the forefront of your mind when creating and planning your digital marketing strategy.