A Digital Marketing Game Plan for Bouncing Back After COVID-19

The reality of the COVID-19 outbreak took everyone by surprise.  Across the globe, governments and political groups are urging customers to stay indoors to prevent the spread...

Fiona Gurtiza
Fiona Gurtiza May 29, 2020

The reality of the COVID-19 outbreak took everyone by surprise. 

Across the globe, governments and political groups are urging customers to stay indoors to prevent the spread of one of the world’s hardest hitting pandemics.

Even though digital marketing has been on the rise even before the spread of the coronavirus, it’s the first time that e-commerce has been the only way for brands to connect with customers. The abrupt change has paved the way to significant changes in consumer attitudes and purchasing habits, and data shows that these new trends will remain even after the pandemic blows over.

As people change the way they shop, supply chains have been put to the test. Retailers are closing doors and customers are seeing products with brand new eyes. 

Assessing the Impact of COVID-19

By understanding the “consumer in crisis,” brands can develop more personalized marketing strategies and get their message across.

Adapting to the new normal means that fear is running high. With more time spent in isolation, people are contemplating what the future holds and how the crisis will affect society at large.

Those feeling anxious and worried have gone on panic buying frenzies, hoarding essential items and hygiene products. Those on the other end of the spectrum choose to stay disaffected, ignoring recommendations from governments and health professionals.

Any brand who wants to make it through the COVID-19 crisis should have a clear grasp on how its target audience is reacting to the crisis. After all, a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing won’t cut it anymore. By understanding the “consumer in crisis,” brands can develop more personalized marketing strategies and get their message across.

In times like these, the need for basic necessities trumps the need for everything else. As consumers adopt new habits, three trends have quickly risen to the top:

But the coronavirus hasn’t just changed the way people view health and hygiene. More and more customers are embracing technology to stay up-to-date on COVID-19 and connect with the community at large.

Bridging the Gap

Brands that want to stay afloat during COVID-19 need to stay connected with their audience. And that starts with realigning their omnichannel strategy to adapt to the changing times. But how do you adjust your omnichannel marketing efforts for success?

A well-oiled omnichannel strategy provides a blueprint for consistent and seamless delivery for services across all points of contact. Organizations that take the time to define their omnichannel strategy have a higher chance of protecting their business from uncertainty than those who rely on short-term approaches to bridging the gap with customers.

If you think about it, even though current buying behavior defies traditional linear concepts of the customer journey before COVID-19, one thing will remain constant until after the pandemic is over is the need for personalized experiences.

With a holistic approach to omnichannel marketing, brands can deliver a seamless experience that reflects their customer’s tastes, habits, and purchasing patterns. And this is exactly the personal experience that every customer needs right now.

Opportunities in a Time of Crisis 

So even if COVID-19 pandemic is radically changing consumer behavior, bouncing back is possible. 

You’ll find no shortage of articles telling you how COVID-19 has upended business operations on a global scale, including a forewarning that organizations need to adapt faster to address ever-changing consumer behavior.

While these words ring true, another way to look at the changing landscape is that it’s created a unique playing field that businesses can use to provide a unified omnichannel experience.

If you think about it, customer journeys are no stranger to change. Over the last few decades, customer interaction checkpoints have increased significantly. The introduction of mobile phones, social media, store kiosks, and call centers have provided more ways for customers to interact with businesses. These touchpoints provide endless strategic opportunities to show off the best side of your brand.

So even if COVID-19 pandemic is radically changing consumer behavior, bouncing back is possible. 

If you want to rise from the ashes and achieve long-term success, you’ll need to adopt a holistic approach to your omnichannel strategy. And that means having a 360-degree view of your customers so you can keep up with their changing needs.

Refining Your Current Omnichannel Strategy

Your omnichannel strategy is your roadmap to success. With a clearly defined strategy, it’s easier to provide a consistent and seamless experience across all points of contact with your customer. 

Crafting a strategy that supports a seamless integration of current and future channels can secure your business from uncertainty. After all, it’s a more sustainable approach than addressing short-term needs based on a single customer transaction.

Considering the Impact of COVID-19

Even though you’re viewing your retail operations with fresh eyes, getting your head back in the game is no easy feat.

Change may seem like nothing new, but the current retail schematic pales in comparison to the 2008 recession. Retail businesses are grappling with mandated shutdowns and social distancing measures, resulting in significant supply chain disruptions. 

With the COVID-19 outbreak pushing consumers out of their normal routines, it has paved the way for new shopping habits. These include:

The Growing Popularity of Healthy Lifestyles

As customers obsess over health and fitness, brands should realign their branding by supporting healthy lifestyles for their target audience. As a result, you should prioritize products focused on maintaining well-being.

A Rise in Conscious Consumption

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted consumers to adopt more eco-friendly mindsets, making them more careful about their buying decisions. For instance, people are striving to limit their food waste and considering more sustainable options. So it pays to make sustainability a key part of your offerings to survive in the long-run.

An Overwhelming Desire to Shop Local

support local hashtag covid-19 trends

Since the coronavirus outbreak, more people are buying locally sourced, artisanal products and shopping at community stores. Tapping into the growing love for all things local entails customizing products for local needs or emphasizing local provenance.

Understanding the Consumer in Crisis

The current trends show that consumers in crisis are deeply concerned about the impact of COVID-19 from a health and economic perspective. In fact, consumers are more worried about the impact of the virus on the economy than their personal health. 

Based on a study by Accenture, 82% of the respondents were more fearful about the health of their peers, compared to the 64% concerned about their own health. On a similar vein, only 64% were worried about personal job security while 88% shared that they felt more troubled about the impact of COVID-19 on the economy.

It’s no surprise, then, that consumer priorities are focused on the most basic needs. In turn, it has led to a higher demand for hygiene and cleaning products. Customers have also migrated online for grocery shopping, and experts predict that the rise in digital commerce is a trend that will continue even after the outbreak. 

COVID-19 has also left a profound social impact, as well. People are embracing technology now more than ever as a result of isolation. Data from Accenture shows that 80% of customers feel more connected to their communities. And if this tells us anything, it’s that the crisis is building communities, rather than breaking them apart.

So what can retail brands do to make sure these trends are included in their omnichannel strategy moving forward?

Refining Your Omnichannel Strategy for Success

omnichannel digital marketing strategy for COVID-19

Even if you’re hard-pressed for finances, you can still get the ball rolling by making a few adjustments to your omnichannel strategy. The good news is that you won’t need a huge capital, just a sense of intuition to guide you through these changing times.

Adjust Product Offerings

Limited resources has put a new focus on buying essentials rather than luxuries. Align your strategy to focus on targeting essential products and come up with something that fits the bill.

This doesn’t entail making fundamental changes to your brand identity, though. For instance, if you’re a brand that deals with luxury furniture, consider focusing on promoting functional workstations that cater to the pros.

Promote Philanthropy

No act of kindness is small enough during testing times. The COVID-19 pandemic has robbed communities of their livelihood and senior citizens have been forced to cope with the crisis with m no one to take care of them. 

Now is the time for you to be more sensitive to the needs of the community. You can do this by organizing small fundraisers or offering special discounts with proceeds directed towards wage workers and old age homes.

After all, brands willing to go the extra mile to help those in need will gain customer trust and improve credibility in the long run

Stay Positive 

There’s a fine line between creating urgency and inciting panic. 

Your goal during the lockdown period is to highlight why customers should use your product. Promoting fear is never a good way to boost sales, especially if you’re concerned about your long-term brand visibility.

So be a visionary and highlight the features of your product and why customers need it during the post-lockdown era.

Offer Contactless Payment

Did you know that banknotes can help spread the coronavirus? Banknotes change hands every so often, and the WHO warns that they can pick up all sorts of bacteria and viruses. 

With that said, consider offering contactless payment options like e-wallets or QR pay. Apart from preventing the spread of the virus, more and more people are becoming less reliant on cash and prefer electronic methods of payment.

To improve your brand image further, promote your contactless payment options in light of COVID-19 on social media for more likes and shares.

Upgrade Your CRM Tool

If you’re looking to provide a unified omnichannel experience, you’ll need a reliable CRM tool to help you zero in on your customers. A good CRM platform lets you acquire analytics and actionable insights about customer lifecycles and marketing cohorts. 

Upgrading your CRM tool will make your life easier because it segments your target audience into groups. The built-in system of your CRM platform can tailor your messages, emails, and CTAs for these groups, streamlining your omnichannel marketing efforts.

So if you’re looking for a reliable branding tool, upgrading your CRM will surely pay off.

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