| 4 min
December 9th, 2021
The pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our personal and professional lives. From our lives inside and outside of work, Covid-19 has changed the way in which the world works. Much like the rest of the world, the marketing industry found itself in turmoil in March 2020. With product production reduced, buying habits changing and consumer priorities dramatically altered, the marketing playbook was ripped apart and strategies had to fall in line or by the wayside.
Throughout 2020, more campaigns were scrapped than ever. With the goalposts of the marketing world shifting, the platforms and audience habits required a different approach. We have seen that one year in, there’s no going back to the old normal. Marketers have learnt to go back to basics, get creative with their content marketing as well as prepare for the changes that the new Google update will bring.
From the accelerated shift to streaming video, online shopping, curbside pickup and casual clothes, the need to build genuine connections with buyers and to do more reaching out to audiences has never been more apparent.
So, what can the marketing world expect during the next twelve months? Has the Pandemic Changed Consumer Behavior Forever? We are looking at the biggest changes to marketing since the start of the pandemic.
The importance of flexibility
Content marketing is ideal for showcasing businesses as the industry thought leaders they are. Content marketing alongside the right ad campaigns ensures that these brands emerge as a reliable, authoritative resource. However, with all of the planning that content and ads require, it has taught many marketers to be flexible and agile with their strategies and schedules.
In the last year, there’s been a seismic shift in consumer behaviour and priorities, rendering many of the pre-covid strategies and plans irrelevant. While no one could have planned for the last 18 months, a plan B that can be adapted and revised is essential. This means implementing continuous consumer listening and demand research, not only for the benefit of marketing efforts but for the full company operations. Businesses need to invest in faster decision cycles and more flexibility across key areas like creativity, budgeting, and media.
It is in the nature of content marketers to keep their finger on the pulse of industry news and updates, we need to stay on top of events affecting the world and our audiences. This, naturally, results in no content strategy or plan being considered ‘final’. But the ability to quickly pivot existing content and reassess the relevance of planned campaigns in these times is crucial.
Brand values and experiences come first
The pandemic truly challenged brand loyalty more than anything else before. It can be argued that brand values have always been a big factor in a buyers decision-making process, the EY Future Consumer Index research found that while quality, convenience, and price still very much matter to consumers, factors like sustainability, trust, ethical sourcing, and social responsibility are increasingly important. That dynamic combined with growing consumer awareness and activism precipitated during 2020 and 2021 is motivating brands to focus on the values they express.
Expressing values and creating a safe experience for customers go hand in hand. They both are huge players in building brand loyalty and reinforcing a brand’s reputation. Creating these experiences requires marketers to place data and technology at the core of their strategies and re-evaluate their customer-facing platforms such as social media, PWA’s and websites.
“Maybe the changes brands make this year are not media investments, but investing in product, customer service and the customer experience.” Source: GroupM Global President of Business Intelligence Brian Wieser
This likely means building some degree of machine learning or artificial intelligence into the marketing departments. With the valuable data that AI can collect, it enables us to create more relevant experiences across:
- Content (improving experiences like emails or mobile apps)
- Commerce (offering dynamic retail, e-commerce, or hybrid experiences)
- Community (launching webinars, podcasts and platforms for customers to learn)
- Convenience ( offering consumers coupons or benefits from a loyalty program)
Building Trust With Marketing
It goes without saying that it is vital to building REAL relationships with customers founded on trust. It not only defines the brand’s reputation but can impact the actual bottom line of a business.
But Covid-19 has placed a new emphasis on relationships, particularly in B2B sales. Brands are under even more pressure to live up to the promises they make, be more flexible with their policies and have a real passion for customer service. While many businesses were able to survive with a virtual sales environment, many have found that prospecting for new customers has required an evolved set of skills focused on selling solutions, not products. With many budgets being heavily reduced and strategies being put on hold, trying to collect leads has been an uphill struggle.
In a B2C context, trust also plays a tremendous role. As companies rely increasingly on personal data that they obtain with consent from consumers and their customers’ buying habits, they must not only comply with the new GDPR regulations on consumer privacy and ensure that data is secure, but they also have the opportunity to consider building even more loyalty. This is done by designing more transparent interfaces for privacy controls so that their new and existing consumers can make better choices and the clarity will foster deeper trust.
In both cases, trust and integrity are fundamental to driving market momentum and seeing a positive ROI. Trust will be built by and rewarded to those that listen to customer needs and then craft solutions to meet those needs.