As much of society gains increasing control over the spread of COVID-19, digital marketers are seeking to understand more about the lasting impact that the pandemic has on advertising.
Businesses across all industries witnessed shifts in demand, consumer behavior and revenue throughout the course of 2020, and well into 2021. Depending on the nature of the business, some saw changes that were more monumental than others.
Regardless of how the peak of COVID-19 impacted your business, chances are you are still navigating unprecedented waters. As a state of normalcy is slowly restored, your marketing strategy will likely demand adjustments.
eAccountable’s diverse portfolio of clients have provided unique insights into how COVID-19 has impacted, and will continue to impact, various industries. Many of the business we supported throughout the pandemic fall into the following categories:
- Health & Wellness
- Food & Beverage
- Home Furnishings & Decor
Since the vaccine became widely accessible and the spread of the virus calmed, eAccountable has been focused on fine-tuning the digital marketing strategies of our clients to keep up with society’s revitalization.
In this process, we have detected some truths, trends and tribulations that speak to how the digital marketing ecosystem will continue to evolve in a post-COVID world.
Here are some of our learnings:
1. Reduction in demand.
COVID-19 brought upon various, noticeable negative shifts in demand for businesses across all industries. And new shifts are being detected daily as life returns to normal. With this in mind, every industry should be investing every angle in which their demand could change.
For example, one eAccountable client sold face masks throughout the pandemic. They saw demand drop to nearly 0 the day after the CDC lifted mask mandates for those vaccinated. This change happened in the matter of a day — that is how fast shifts in demand can unfold.
Furthermore, brick and mortars and back in business, meaning many products that consumers once flocked to online are now easily accessible again in-store.
Data shows that online purchasing is still at a high. One study found that “Online sales increased 39% year over year in Q1 2021, nearly triple the 14% increase in Q1 2020, and faster than Q3 2020 and Q4 2020.” This can be explained by increased familiarity with and ease of technology-backed consumer experiences. For example, many people may be more inclined to continue online grocery shopping as opposed to taking a weekend trip to the store.
Lastly, another source of reduced demand in a post-covid world is inflation across multiple sectors. While the FED hopes this particular economic shift is temporary, it is unknown when inflation will subside. However, until factories get production back to pre-pandemic levels, it is likely this will impact consumer spending habits.
2. Skewed Comparative Data
Whether your business experienced increased or decreased sales during the pandemic, understand that 2020 is a unique data point in your analytics dashboard. For many digital marketers, mixed performance results during the pandemic have led to a false-baseline.
As an agency, we’ve seen numerous clients expect a drop in revenue compared to 2020 with consumers heading back to stores. However, many are still experiencing YoY growth, just at a much slower pace than in 2020. As a guiding light, many clients and our team are comparing results not just to 2020, but to a more normal baseline year like 2019.
3. Understanding the post-COVID consumer.
The COVID-19 pandemic reinforced various existing consumer behaviours, and brought to light new purchasing trends across multiple industries.
At a high level, technology emerged as the most secure and accessible avenue for consumers everywhere to make their purchases during the pandemic. In a post-COVID world, it can be expected that online traffic and sales will continue to air on the higher side.
It is important to understand how your specific consumer base has evolved since the beginning of COVID-19. How have these behaviors shifted since the vaccine was made available? Or since in-store shopping came back into the picture?
Once you can pinpoint the particular behavioral shifts, you can tailor your digital marketing strategy to these purchasing trends.
Maybe this means you reallocate ad spend. Or that you leverage marketing channels that previously didn’t make sense for your consumer base.
4. Recreating value
Once you gauge the evolution of your consumers’ behaviors, you may find a gap or two in your digital marketing strategy.
It is critical you work to better understand the gap at hand and how your strategy should be adapted to best resolve it.
In the case of one of our clients in the wellness industry, COVID-19 provoked massive increases in traffic and sales. As people started to leave their homes and restore their day to day, traffic decreased drastically.
So, the question was asked — how can we recreate value for our consumers to maintain traffic to the site?
This is when content marketing entered the conversation.
By shifting their focus to optimized organic content, this client is able to recreate value for their consumers in a new way, allowing them to maintain site traffic as COVID-19 is removed from the spotlight.
5. Improved Affiliate Commission Structures
COVID-19 caused the affiliate industry to take an even deeper look at how publishers are compensated. It also forced many businesses to better understand which affiliates were high-value drivers.
When the pandemic first hit, advertisers had to make tough decisions to cut costs in order to deal with the unknown impact to their revenue. This involved looking at each of their publisher partners, determining the impact they had on each part of the marketing funnel, and paying them commensurately.
While some commissions were cut drastically, other publishers received increased pay to drive brand awareness and new customers. Post-pandemic, it is expected that this more personalized, value-driven commission structure will continue.
6. Leveraging & Adapting Pandemic Wins
While the pandemic was detrimental to many industries, many businesses witnessed various positive shifts during COVID-19.
Raw Generation is an Accountable client that delivers clean juice right to your front door. During COVID-19, low CPC’s allowed them to get more traffic at a lower cost. This led to an explosion of online sales, and therefore an increase in customer profiles.
Since normalcy has been reinstated, the cost of advertising has also normalized. So while Raw Generation does not have the same ease of driving traffic to their site, they are sitting on an email list far larger than what they had prior to the pandemic.
Raw Generation’s game plan for a post-covid world is to leverage their larger customer list to drive sales through email marketing efforts.
While this “win” is not apparent for all industries, it is important to evaluate how COVID-19 has impacted your business on a granular level. You should detect any areas of unique growth that you experienced throughout the pandemic and reinvigorate your current marketing strategies with those learnings and successes in mind.
7. The unknowns are still unfolding.
Despite the learnings shared above, it is important to understand that the unknowns around digital marketing post-covid are still unfolding.
The impact that the pandemic will continue to have on online traffic and sales will be unique to each business. To best counter the negative shifts that occur, it is critical you take the time to understand greater industry trends and the evolution of consumer behaviours.
As digital marketing experts, eAccountable is here to provide you with the support you need as life returns to normal. If you have any questions or would like a free digital audit completed, you can contact us as email@example.com.