The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone in some shape or form, from the way we go about daily life, to the economy and the way that businesses function. Indeed, many adjustments, compromises and adaptations have had to be made. At the same time, certain trends created as a by-product of the current situation have now become permanent. With this in mind, the marketing environment is not exempt from disruption and marketeers need to adapt accordingly.
The COVID Disrupted Economy
Understanding and recognising how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the economy, as well as key changes in consumer behaviour is important as it significantly affects how businesses and brands react.
For example, the COVID-19 pandemic saw 52% of consumers cutting down on leisure and social activities such as dining out and going to the cinema. Consumer purchasing behaviours also witnessed change, with alcohol consumption reducing by 30%. At the same time, purchasing activities for personal hygiene products saw an increase of 48%.
With government regulated closures and stay-home protocols, we witnessed a dramatic shift to online purchases and stay-home activities. The Asia region saw a 32% rise in e-commerce activities across a broad range of platforms. Online content streaming increased by 42%, while 9% of office spaces were given up, as working from home came into play.
Defining Tomorrow’s Audience
What it was Yesterday: A look into the audience at work
Pre-COVID audiences had fixed activities, including connecting to their preferred communication outlets such as WhatsApp, Outlook and Facebook first thing in the morning. As audiences reached their place of work, their attention shifted to emails and LinkedIn, with individuals returning to less formal communications platforms and messaging apps, such as WhatsApp after work. Online media streaming platforms were also highly utilised at the end of the day and evenings.
What it is Today: The Changes
Working from home, brought about significant behavioural changes. The early mornings saw audiences more connected with communication platforms, both social and professional, including WhatsApp, Facebook, Outlook and LinkedIn. As the workday began, more platforms came into play as the separation from the physical workplace demanded the use of conferencing calls and meetings over video. At the same time, audiences were managing family household commitments, resulting in less use of social networking and communications platforms during working hours. During rest or down periods, we saw some increase in consumption volume that varied based on stress levels and the intensity of the day.
How do you map the habits of your target audience?
Previously focused and singular, today’s activities are converging due to communications constraints with audiences transitioning from multi-tasking to multi-hatting. Today, audiences play different work roles, while also managing their household at the same time. With overlays in schedule and activities throughout the day, communications are now omni-present as opposed to singular.
Audience mapping begins by considering a possible conversation a consumer may have while trying to achieve a task. Approaching the spectrum of conversations as a process, overlaying them with their preferred channels and platforms assists in understanding our audiences.
Tactics to adopt
In today’s marketing environment, it’s the simple things that matter most. Growth hacking can help make all the difference for businesses facing new market challenges – and you don’t have to break the bank to get started.
LinkedIn – Sponsored Content
With increased time spent on channels such as LinkedIn, sponsored content is a good way to reach audiences. Relatively inexpensive while generating considerable leads, sponsored content such as direct ads, video ads or carousel ads are useful tools.
LinkedIn – Audience Network
The LinkedIn Audience Network placement option allows brands to reach their audience wherever they are, on a premium network of publisher websites and mobile apps beyond LinkedIn. It provides control over categories that you would want to reach out to.
LinkedIn – Lead Generation Forms
LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms are native to the platform and remove the main barrier to online conversion by automatically populating form fields based on member data.
These forms may be used to serve a number of different objectives that point towards the end goal of having a potential lead complete and submit a form. Once again simple and inexpensive.
SEM & SEO – Paid Search vs SEO
Paid search involves keyword bidding, securing paid ads in the search result of the search engine. SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) however is the process of positively influencing website rankings in natural search results. Both are different in process, as well as having different pros and cons concerning in relation to budget, flexibility of tactics and scale.
COVID also had an influence on the amount of time we spent on social media, especially platforms such as Facebook which are more popular with Gen X and Boomers, who today are manager level and above.
Steps to consider include creating conversations that can help support audience needs. While creating content it is important to reduce the friction gap between purchase and digital. Testing different ads formats and looking to expand into multiple platforms should also be considered.
- Adopting a Data-Driven Mindset
– Understanding situations and context provide the clarity to pull relevant data from it
- Building the brand on all stages
– By building audience profiles, you can then build your business profile at different stages accordingly
- Tackle branding and activation together
– It is important to remember social conversations help generate leads
- Test new creative ideas
– Ensure targeting is relevant and effective. Zone in on audiences with conversations and needs that you can support.