Top 5 Post COVID-19 Digital Marketing Trends

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Call it a quarantine, lockdown, shelter-in-place, or a “safer at home” order, unprecedented public health measures forced by the global pandemic drove millions of people around the world into virtual seclusion. During this time, apps and platforms that were once used entirely for entertainment and personal connection have been hijacked for use by digital markers to reach consumers.

However, as the number and severity of COVID-19 cases begins to trend more positively, and some countries and US states are beginning to open back up, these same digital markers are wondering: how different will things look over the next year? Will things go back to normal? How has the novel coronavirus affected consumer behavior? And how will that affect digital marketing attempts to reach a society of consumers that have made significant changes in many areas of ordinary life?

Retailers are moving away from the on-demand inventory model. Extreme fluctuations in customer demand for everything from home gym equipment, to toilet paper, to hand sanitizer, to hair color, caused many retailers who were caught unaware and understocked to leave money on the table when supply could not meet the demand. Healthcare suppliers were unable to provide adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including disposable masks, isolation gowns, and gloves.

Even though ecommerce, which has exploded in recent years and skyrocketed during lockdown, will always be a fact of modern life, there will likely always be a demand for brick-and-mortar stores. Perhaps surprisingly, some had been trending towards online shopping long before the novel coronavirus locked us in our homes. Some retailers are moving away from ecommerce and building in what supply chain strategists are calling a “plan for uncertainty”.

Value is greater than low pricing, even in times of crisis. Consumers choose value over lower prices even where there is an uncertain supply. Product lines that sold at a premium price experienced higher demand than less alternatives during the early days of COVID-19, which continued even after things began to normalize. Multiple scams and faulty products peaked during the height of the pandemic, causing consumers to opt for purchasing higher priced items to ensure better quality.

People appear to value getting the product they need and can trust at an elevated price over getting stuck with inferior product they were able to purchase cheaply. Gearing marketing strategy towards improving brand awareness and developing trust is now more valuable than ever.

Consumers are more skeptical than in the past. Misleading claims and false information were so prevalent during the early days of the pandemic left many people concerned and confused. Conspiracy theories, half-truths, and politically motivated rumors abounded, made worse by the 24-hour news cycle and the additional hours of screen time that became routine for many adults.

Although distrust about “fake news” is now rampant, digital marketers can address these suspicions by using a strategy based on relatable customer experience, interactive content, and a focus on personalization.

Loss aversion psychology is a powerful marketing tool that is on the rise. Loss aversion describes the tendency of people to strongly prefer to avoid losses rather than acquire gains. Studies show that loss aversion is twice as powerful psychologically as the acquisition of something. The uncertainty that came with COVID-19 really ramped up fear and apprehension, which digital marketers used to drive sales. Expect marketing strategies based on loss aversion to move to the forefront as we move into a post-COVID marketplace.

Out-of-home ad spending is decreasing. Billboards, signage, and nearly every type of outdoor or non-digital advertisement has seen rapid decline, while all types of online marketing has increased significantly. This trend was accelerated pre-COVID, but has spiked due to increased screen time during quarantines.

Digital marketing has a significant advantage over traditional ads that require space, materials, and other resources. Digital ads allow marketers to leverage live video content– enhanced by AI if needed. Advertising in real-time with video marketing helps create a customer journey with digital touchpoints; content marketing excels because it focuses on the customer experience, interactive content and personalization.

Advertising Trends To Watch For in 2020

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There are basically two types of advertising. The first kind gloms onto the latest tricks and trends for novelty’s sake and looks dated in a matter of months. Type #2 relies on a select group of promising trends and manages to look fresh while remaining classic and timeless.

Which kind of advertising strategy do you want?

Let’s look at a few trends that are out in front for 2020 that are worth learning and adapting into your business’s advertising.

Voice Search

One of the most popular ads aired during Super Bowl LIV was “Before Alexa,” in which power couple Ellen DeGeneres and Portia DeRossi talk about life before the advent of the voice assistant. At least 25 percent of adults in the US could relate, as that’s the number believed to own a smart speaker like Alexa or Google Home. What implications does this have for your advertising? Make sure your site is voice-search enabled so that people can access it using their smart speaker.

Increased Artificial Intelligence

In 2011, tech researchers predicted that by 2020, 85 percent of customer relationships would be enabled by Artificial Intelligence (AI)— that is, managed without human interaction. Sound unlikely? Actually not. The latest data says we are on track to not only meet but exceed that benchmark before year’s end. In fact, the latest predictions indicate that number might hit 90 percent by New Year’s Day, 2021.
AI is not only available 24/7, it drives the customer experience in ways we could only have imagined. It allows us to get our questions answered more quickly online, and provides personalized content on YouTube, Netflix, and Spotify. Banks are linking with Alexa and Google Home to allow customers to schedule transfers and pay bills. Movie theaters use AI to allow customers to purchase tickets, select seats, and pre-order popcorn and Raisinets before they pull out of the garage.

So how does Artificial Intelligence impact advertising? Start with this: AI can offer you in-depth information about what your customers want. It can leverage apps to learn what an individual’s preferences are, and direct you to construct and place ads based on past purchases.

Bottom Line? If your company isn’t already exploring how AI can inform your advertising, what are you waiting for?

Personalized Advertising

Technology allows advertisers to tap into the generalized preferences of buyers and also to the specific needs of individuals. In fact, simple efforts to make a brand more personal causes the likelihood of a purchase to skyrocket. 80 percent of consumers report they are more likely to purchase when an app they access greets them by name, reminds them of past purchases, and offers suggestions for similar products based on these items.

Social Media

Social media is already a popular advertising platform, and that trend is not slowing down. The number of users currently using social media is estimated at nearly 3.2 billion, pretty much ensuring an audience for just about any type of business. As an added bonus, you can write, design, and create ads that target age, location, gender— even interests. The actual sites that are most popular might change, but social media is here to stay.

Large Format Printing

Large format printing in the form of billboards, ads on the sides of buildings, and oversized banners at conventions and trade shows are increasing in popularity. These large format options grab attention, making up for their lack of targeting through the sheer number of people who see them.

Shoppable Posts

Emerging technology will allow users to click directly on the image of a product to get a description, price, and clickable link to order. While a version of this is available now, the newer version will be more streamlined— and in a world where time is of the essence, that will translate into more users. The new version of the shoppable post experience will be more interactive for customers, allowing you to publish ads that don’t necessarily look like ads.

Immersive Experiences

Expect Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) to become increasingly popular. Start exploring ways to use these emerging technologies to provide your customers with more opportunities to interact with your products.

Open Composition

Another design trend that is impacting how advertising looks and feels is what’s called the “open composition” concept. The look is free of harsh edges, and elements don’t line up perfectly on a grid. Picture an image where the edges fade into smoke and recede into the background. Websites designed with the open composition look and feel seem more fluid, and adjust well to varying screen sizes. The look also works for billboards and magazine ads. Look for more open composition styles, especially online.

Advertising is a creative field that invites risk-taking. That’s one reason that advertising trends change quickly, making it impossible to predict what will stick around and what will disappear before it’s even noticed. Our best advice? Mentally bookmark a few brands whose advertising styles you admire, and whose customer base is similar to your company’s. Keep an eye on what they’re doing. What seems to be working for them? The answers to those questions will inform your own advertising mix, and help you develop an ad strategy that will work for your business.