Why Digital Marketing is becoming Increasingly Important during this COVID-19 Era

The arrival of COVID-19 may have led to the world retreating indoors and away from the office. But one thing the virus certainly doesn’t seem to have done is dampen our appetite for digital marketing. Quite the opposite.

In May of this year, when lockdown was in full swing and the global economy in meltdown, the multinational professional services company, Deloitte, arranged an extensive webinar exploring different topics around how the current coronavirus health crisis is changing consumer behaviour and, in particular, current approaches to marketing.

From this, Deloitte provided an extensive overview of various industries and marketing technologies, as well as their associated benefits and also the key challenges in their implementation.

They started by dividing companies into two groups. Firstly, those that were overwhelmed with orders – groceries, household goods, pet supplies, pharmacy and general merchandise; and secondly, those lacking in orders and interactions – automotive, furniture, luxury appliances and hospitality.

Deloitte concluded that shoppers are now increasingly using a mix of digital touchpoints before finalising their purchasing decisions.

At the discovery and evaluation stage – when the consumer is making his or her mind up about what to buy – search engines, social media feeds and influencers are popular ways for shoppers to find inspiration about the product.

At the buying stage, it appears that new types of purchase point are coming to the fore. As an example, mobile wallets now lag behind e-mail as a means of making  purchases. And 14% of shoppers are now using social media to buy products.

Deloitte’s evaluation also revealed, however, that whilst consumers access multiple touchpoints during the purchasing process, they don’t necessarily get the service they are expecting and there appears to be a significant disconnect within companies. The research revealed that:

  • 75% of consumers expect consistent interactions across all departments
  • 58% say they feel they are communicating with separate departments and not one company
  • 70% of customers expect all staff to have the same information but 64% had to re-explain issues

 

Facing up to a Digital-only reality

The research emphasised that, in today’s business environment, with non-essential businesses closing their doors to help slow the spread of COVID-19, currently it is now more important than ever to have unified channels and for staff to employ excellent customer service skills. As a result, this has meant that, literally overnight, retailers and shoppers are having to come to terms with a digital-only reality.

Deloitte reported the following observations:

  • Digital sales growth was up by 18% in Q1 2020 compared to Q1 2019
  • Website traffic increased by 13% in Q1 2020 compared to Q1 2019

In addition to a rise in digital commerce and traffic, they also noted:

  • Given people are reluctant to leave home, there has been a profound switch to desktop traffic and purchases. Whereas in Q1 2019, desktop traffic declined by 9%, it grew by 9% in Q1 2020.
  • Social media traffic is also on the up. In Q1 2019, the social traffic share stood at 6%. This rose to 8% for Q1 2020.

The findings also showed that the surge in digital commerce is not evenly distributed, citing:

  • DIY and home related goods achieved significant growth – up 70% in Q1 2020.
  • In the same Q1 2020 period, toys and learning, plus active apparel experienced a 35% increase in digital orders.
  • But the luxury and general apparel sector grew by just 10% in Q1 2020 – a fall on their Q1 2019 performances.

 

Marketing technologies can help increase the effectiveness of marketing activities

Deloitte reported that companies who are quick to adapt to the new digital reality will have a huge advantage in the market and could even become industry leaders. But for that to happen, marketing will be essential, they maintained. Nevertheless, for companies prepared to embrace digital marketing, this would bring the prospect of more business, new customers and the opportunity to create and strengthen brand loyalty amongst customers.

Their findings concluded that the following marketing trends and ideas need to be given immediate consideration:

  • Marketing from Home – Implement campaigns from home, ensure teams collaborate and keep marketers engaged with apps
  • Engaging Customers with Empathy – Listen to what customers are saying, by using real-time data to better understand their current situation and needs
  • Personalising Digital Communications– Speed up the adoption of digital channels and ensure the right message is being delivered to the right person, at the right time
  • Optimising Budget Spends –Keep a close check on overall marketing performance and implement real-time decisions to counter any negative impacts

And with no end in sight, as yet, to the global pandemic, Deloitte  recommended that organisations should take a three-stage response in the coming weeks and months to be best placed to operate within current national and international guidelines. These are: take measures to stabilise the business, a gradual reopening of the workplace and, thereafter, focussing on growth.