Over the past year, the digital marketing world changed drastically. COVID-19 altered the way people consume digital content and how they expect brands to communicate with them. The pandemic impacted nearly every industry and changed the way companies sell products. Looking back on how COVID-19 impacted digital marketing can help brands prepare for what’s to come in the future.
Changes in Consumer Spending
Consumer spending changed significantly over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic—what people spend their money on and how they spend it shifted. For example, many consumers avoided shopping in-store for anything they could get online due to safety concerns.
People also reevaluated what they needed to spend money on as priorities shifted. Cleaning supplies and personal protection equipment skyrocketed in importance while things such as events and experiences fell out of favor.
Civis conducted a survey that shows up to a 30 percent increase in online spending in grocery and non-grocery purchases. It also found notable decreases in spending on furniture, major household items, restaurants, and electronics.
Push to Online
In 2020, there was a push for businesses to move to an online-first model of selling. Governments and regulating bodies advised consumers to avoid leaving their homes unless it was essential, increasing consumers’ demand for online items.
Companies that previously focused on brick-and-mortar sales began offering their products online. This led to a steep increase in digital marketing demands. This made the online marketing competition fierce, as many markets started to saturate.
Companies moving to an eCommerce model aligns with what many marketers expect is the new normal for consumers.
Seleba Ouattara, a social media manager at Demonstrate—an independently owned, award-winning marketing agency out of San Francisco—said, “The past year has only confirmed what many creators — particularly, creators of color — have been saying for years: Content with substance, approachability, and longevity reigns supreme. The forced pivot from carefully curated media to authentic moments in time has required many digital marketers to be more mindful about the stories they tell… and it will be interesting to see if this approach to creation holds for the future.”
This change is truly reflected in how quickly businesses rushed to be online. Content must shift to hold the attention and appeal to consumers in a mindful and more holistic way.
With the saturation of online marketing happening fast, consumers began looking for niche content and items that precisely fit their needs. Digital marketing turned to a hyper-segmentation approach that divided up audiences into smaller chunks of like individuals. The marketing efforts became more targeted and individualized. Consumers found this appealing, and the trend continues into 2021.
Moving forward, the trends dominating the industry are automated and AI-based marketing campaigns and keeping up with current events. Companies can no longer turn a blind eye to what is happening in the world. The COVID-19 pandemic brought consumers and companies together in a way where customers now expect their favorite brands to stay in the know.
Addressing current events and understanding how to interact with consumers surrounding these events is essential to building a brand identity and developing trust and loyalty with customers. As digital marketers continue to move forward into 2021, it’s crucial to take the lessons learned in consumer behavior and expectations with them.