Pandemic Impact on Digital Marketing
Marketing Landscape Changes Overview
2021 Holiday Impact
How to Stay Competitive
-mobile shopping mindset
Need for Partnership
The last few years have been quite a rollercoaster ride for digital marketing agencies. The industry has seen dramatic shifts in how we do business and is now more competitive than ever, but it’s also never been easier to reach customers. Because shoppers flock to online shopping sites and the digital marketplace, your competitors are already ramping up their digital spending. So it would be best if you were too, or you risk your business falling woefully behind. Companies spent millions of dollars over the last year ramping up eCommerce programs since Covid hit, and they’re ready for that ROI this year – especially during the holidays.
You might be wondering what’s going on with your budget allocation and how you can best spend your money when it comes to digital marketing in a post-pandemic digital marketing campaign. With these changes in mind, let’s look at post-Covid-19 digital ad spend to discover how to stay competitive and execute a strategy that will maximize RIO. By adopting new techniques and best practices for eCommerce, digital marketing strategy, SEO, and creating a competitive edge through a “customer-first” mindset, you can begin to see actual results in customer acquisition, engagement, loyalty, and spend.
Impact of Pandemic on Digital Sales and Marketing
There is no doubt that Covid-19 policies to curb the spread of the disease and stop the global pandemic have morphed the way we live: eat [the rise of curbside, carry-out, and delivery], shop [major shift to online purchasing], enjoy entertainment [cardboard cutout fans, virtual concerts, box office movies released to streaming platforms and theaters on the same day], work [work-from-home], school [virtual classrooms], and so much more. As social distancing policies ease up in many parts of the world, their impact will be that some of these changes become the new normal.
Because of this shift to digital shopping and stay-at-home orders, entertainment brands and many other advertisers spent the last year scrambling to build eCommerce platforms. As a result, they were forced to ramp up or beef up their online presence. All these companies and more will need to continue working to grow their digital footprint while setting themselves apart if they want to rise and thrive in an ever-increasingly crowded space.
Marketers are expected to spend 15% more on advertising this year compared with last year. As a result, digital ad spend will reach $389B in 2021, approximately 15% more than 2020. Already these pandemic-induced changes have seen digital campaigns overtake two-thirds of the US ad market share. Digital marketing is essential to the recovery of our businesses after the global shutdowns and reordering of almost every aspect of the human experience. Our physical world has changed dramatically but so has the digital landscape.
Marketing Landscape Challenges
- According to Google, 70% of consumers’ shopping journey involve online touchpoints
- Digital plays a role in the buying journey, even if they check out at stores
- Companies are ready to cash in on their digital investments over the last year
- Shift in consumer priorities pre and intra
- Availability became top priority
- Focus on quality and brand dropped
- With lockdown restrictions etc., businesses without a strong eCommerce presence had trouble reaching their customers
- Even more, consumers have become less concerned with a specific brand or even the quality of their purchase
- This is likely because less-recognized brands have used online to target previously unreachable customers
- Growth in eCommerce also means growth in competition – because that’s where users are.
- Wholesalers, retails giants, and even smaller businesses are driving up consumer acquisition costs.
- Retailers for products not usually sold online before have been inundated with online demand.
- Marketing has shifted from more TV aimed advertising to digital platforms. These changes have made it more expensive to advertise on specific platforms, including Facebook – with prices higher than pre-pandemic.
Impact on Holidays 2021
Don’t be left Home Alone this holiday season! Online shopping for the holidays is trending ever upward. In 2021, US retail eCommerce purchases are expected to see Amazon grasp 41.4% of transactions. From 2019 to 2021, Amazon accounted for more than 50% of all online sales growth in the US. Estimates for Amazon’s eCommerce revenue during that span are expected to rise by $168.53 billion. Meaning total revenue will likely be a staggering $386.40 billion at the end of 2021.
Walmart as Amazon’s closest US competitor, is only at 7.2% of the online market share. However, Walmart recently launched the app and online platform as a direct retail competitor to Amazon and quickly grew to 60 million members. Walmart’s eCommerce revenue grows at a clip of 6% year over year. However, with the covid-induced shift to digital orders, curbside pick-up, and online shopping Walmart’s online sales rose 103% in the past two years. Walmart projects its global e-commerce sales to reach $75 billion by the end of 2021’s Q4.
While Amazon is a tech behemoth and Walmart is a retail giant, all this points to the ever-increasing popularity of online shopping. The projected growth means there is room at the table for any and every kind of eCommerce store imaginable. As a result, there is a slice of the pie for your business as well. You have to develop a quality strategy based on proven marketing expertise and data analysis to determine how big a slice you will be able to attain.
Digital shoppers will be more omnichannel than ever before [meaning only 14% of shoppers say they will only shop online post-pandemic.] Instead, many choose to browse online, research products, and then shop in-store or, when available, buy online but pick up at a local retailer or return online purchases to a brick-and-mortar location if possible. One survey reported that 70% of shoppers’ journeys involved online touchpoints.
eHoliday stats you can take to the bank:
- According to a report by eMarketer, eCommerce will account for 18.9% of total holiday sales in 2021 – up from 17.5% in 2020
- Total eCommerce sales will rise 11.3% to $206.88 billion.
- 41% of Holiday shoppers will use eCommerce [if you factor in curbside, that number is realistically 53% because the order was placed online.]
How to Stay Competitive in the Global Digital Shopping Environment
In terms of eCommerce, you need to provide a shopping experience that is an extension of your brand. Of course, price points need to reflect the product’s value, but it’s not enough to be competitive in pricing. A customer needs to want this item they’re buying from your company which means they believe in why you do what you do, and therefore by purchasing from your brand, they are supporting what you stand for. An excellent social media strategy can supplement a business’ online presence.
One key to thriving in an eCommerce world is catering to customers eager to spend money on experiences. Customer service doesn’t just mean direct contact with the customer at the back end; it also means interacting with them when they’re shopping, providing regular updates about their order status, offering discounts and loyalty incentives – everything that supports a relationship.
It’s incumbent on all online sellers to provide an outstanding customer experience that extends into their business model and marketing efforts. You might be competing against other retailers for lucrative items like furniture or apparel. Still, suppose you think of yourself as competing for the customer’s attention across categories. In that case, you’ll find more ways to create a competitive advantage – which will lead to increased sales online and offline. Customers can tell when they’re shopping with a store that cares about them versus only being interested in their money.
Online sales require a responsive, easy-to-use website that downloads quickly on any device or platform from which your customers are browsing. A well-thought-out website is especially vital in an eCommerce store because it needs to have all essential features available for offline shopping, too, so people can buy without being prompted by pop-up ads over and over again.
Mobile Shopping Mindset
Why adopt a “Mobile First” mindset? Mobile traffic is where the growth is at, so offer an optimized experience for prospective purchasers who are mobile shoppers. Mobile shopping is experiencing tremendous growth right now. Thus being mobile-friendly will put you at the forefront of web commerce. In addition, consumer behavior has changed dramatically with the emergence of mobile devices. So it’s vital to get your eCommerce site up to date with what people want from their phones these days – quicker checkout, easy browsing on a smaller device using touch gestures, and making sure that your product pages load quickly. Responding to these needs will keep customers happy and loyal!
Consider implementing “Conversational Commerce” on your platform or webstore. Try utilizing tools that support more conversational interactions, making it easier to find out about products. And ask questions. There are AI-enabled tools, chatbots, and live chat to help with this.
Increase Interactivity: offer visualizations of your products, letting customers see how clothing would look on them before they buy, visualization tools show what an item of furniture or decor would look like in their home, or 360º views of your products.
Gamification: offer loyalty programs or gamified shopping experiences where users can collect “points” or other rewards for purchases.
Finally, strengthen your customer service experiences! Improve how you answer questions, including adding FAQs with videos where appropriate. Integrate chatbots into your site. Focus on the overall customer experience — a poor customer service experience in the digital age can be a huge nightmare. Every customer has Google reviews, Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and a host of video options to air their grievances if they do not feel as though they were cared for and their situation handled adequately.
Collect Data, Analyze, Optimize
If you want to surmount your competitors in the eCommerce space, first collect data. What are your competitors doing? How many sales do they make? You’ll find opportunities for improvement once the data is analyzed. Optimize to increase sales, and you should see an improvement!
Putting together a strategy may be the most crucial business decision a budding eCommerce entrepreneur can make. The keys to a successful marketing campaign are research, planning, and preparation. The more you know about your target audience before you launch a marketing campaign, the better prepared you will be should any contingencies arise down the line.
Data collection is essential in understanding customer behavior, researching competitors, and identifying new marketing channels for growth. Once collected, it needs to be analyzed carefully to determine optimal channels for promotion. In order to outsmart the competition, ongoing company analysis coupled with continual testing of content is vital in optimizing conversion rates and generating higher levels of potential revenue than competitors. It’s not always how big the competition is that determines who will win, but it has much more to do with who understands their customers better and can deliver something new to them at just the right time.
Increase Ad Spend
How do you increase ad spend while ensuring the best possible ROI? Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not something you can find in a book. Instead, it requires strategizing, planning, and adapting your tactics to stay ahead of the curve. However, there are four essential things companies should always be mindful of when exploring marketing opportunities.
- Make sure that you analyze your customer data [demographics, needs, browsing habits, buying patterns]
- Test your channels [A/B ad testing; keywords]
- Devise appropriate messaging (such as key value propositions) [content strategy/SEO]
- Do not forget to analyze your game plan for what’s already working [don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater, as they say]
These will ensure that you get results!
To Sum Up
Most, if not all, of your competitors, are already doing these things and more. They will continue to do so. As they run these campaigns and spend ad revenue, they collect massive amounts of data and hone their strategies to the point of excellence. If you are on the sidelines, you are falling further and further behind. You may think you aren’t changing, but you are; there is no stasis. Today’s status quo is tomorrow’s forgotten relic.
To surpass your competitors in the eCommerce space, you need always to be one step ahead by adopting new practices that they aren’t willing or able to adopt yet. For example, you could adopt a mobile-first strategy because more people are now browsing the internet through their mobile phones than through desktop computers, so if you don’t have a mobile version of your site by now, you’ll lose out on this demographic. The other way to surpass your competition is by focusing on customer service and support since customers’ expectations for these services have gone up as access through digital platforms has exploded.
In order to implement a sound and successful digital marketing strategy that builds on data analysis and professional best practices in the online world, the vast majority of companies need a marketing partner. Factor in the fact that money is at stake when it comes to digital ad spend, be it Facebook or LinkedIn ads, SEO and Keyword research, and Google Adwords. The stakes are very high. You want to see a real tangible, and measurable return on your investment sooner rather than later. You do not JUST need a marketing partner; you need a PROVEN partner with a portfolio of evidence that shows they can innovate and execute sound strategies for small businesses all the way up to global corporations. Enilon is such a partner. Give Enilon a call today to discover what we can do to transform your digital marketing presence that leaves your competitors in the dust.