By Bryan Lim on Apr 8, 2020 1:30:00 PM
This year will likely go down in history as one of the most challenging times for people around the world.
The COVID-19 pandemic has not only severely impacted our health and well-being, but has also affected the behavioural patterns and daily routines. Social distancing is a norm around the world, with many countries going as far as a lockdown to stop the spread. Such measures have caused a major disruption for the entire global economy with some industries badly hit.
With this, many businesses are forced to work remotely. But crucially, this situation has acted as a catalyst for the transformation of work, with many companies going digital. While these changes may be temporary, it could be the beginning of something more significant.
However, working remotely does offer some benefits:
- It maintains business continuity when work premises cannot be accessed due to variety of reasons.
- It offers flexibility for employees who may need to be at home.
- It means employees who are down with an illness (not just COVID-19) can work in isolation from their colleagues and not pass their illness onto them.
- It brings environmental benefits from less travelling.
Not just for the workplace, some people are seeing benefits to their daily lives as a whole:
- More people are ordering online as an alternative to venturing outside and enduring long queues at busy supermarkets and food establishments.
- Non-essential goods and services can also be bought online. (This could be a busy time for eCommerce firms)
- The internet can provide a source of entertainment, while others are not available.
- The internet, and especially social media becomes an increasingly useful tool for individuals to stay in touch with friends and family with strict measures in place
What does it mean for marketers?
As we pray for this pandemic to pass, governments are finding solutions to avoid a collapse in the economy. Many businesses are also cutting budgets and seeking economic opportunities to continue providing services and product to the masses. With this, marketing budgets are often the first to be cut. While this decrease in marketing activity is a short-term solution to maintain survival, it could have serious consequences in the long run.
The focus instead should be, to improve and expand on the digital strategy to adapt to the current landscape. In fact, we are already experiencing a change in social attitudes, lifestyles, and how people work and shop.
Social Media Activity Explodes
With restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, exposure to traditional media has reduced significantly. Instead, time dedicated to digital media has exploded, and more people are spending time online, on social media.
Even users who have yet to engage in online activities are forced to break out of their comfort zone. They have to learn about different types of online services and to solve many of their buying needs remotely. Brands that are exposed consistently online will see the most success. In times like these, brands must achieve top of mind to achieve visibility.
Suddenly, investing in social media becomes a huge opportunity for marketers when others are pulling back their ad budgets. Not to mention, as online activity increases, so does ad inventory (clicks become much cheaper!). The could be a low-risk time to experiment on various social media platforms.
With an abundance of guides out there, marketers should take this chance to explore inexpensive techniques and tools to keep your brand visible to potential customers.
Google Search Activity Increases
Consequently, screen time is on the rise as a result of this self-isolation. This means an increase in search activity. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) becomes way more important than before. Ranking high for Google Search Engine Result Page allows your business to be found, bringing more organic traffic to your website. Businesses with a strong SEO and content strategy will hold an edge over their competitors because of this.
Email Activity Surges
Also, it is always cheaper to retain an existing customer database than to acquire new ones. Evermore so now, it is the best time to intensify the communication channels with active customers. And what better way to do that than to reengage through email marketing. As people continue to spend time remotely, they are checking their email ever frequently than usual. It's time to revisit your buyer personas and prioritise personalised and contextualised messages to existing customers who are likely eager and committed to receiving updates. It does not have only to be email, keep in touch with customers through social channels as well.
What Can We Expect?
What marketers need to do is to review and respond with updated strategies to deal with the current pandemic situation. That said, when these restrictions are lifted, the initial reaction of people will be to jump back offline to do things they could not before – visiting friends and family, going to restaurants and movie theatres, places of interests etc. However, some of the activities such as online streaming, online shopping, food delivery might become something of a habit. Expect some consumers to emerge from the post-pandemic era with different priorities, values and attitudes. Eventually, this pandemic could very well pave the way for the evolution of the digital market.