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Written by Jordan Hildebrand on June 5, 2020

How COVID-19 Has Changed Digital Marketing

The COVID 19 pandemic has affected the whole world, forcing us to create a new normal and change the way we conduct our lives and business. 

A combination of working from home, a change in customer needs and customer behaviour has resulted in a drastic change in digital marketing that is shaping the way in which the industry operates. We as consumers are experiencing that both our brand discovery and our purchasing processes have changed as a result of our need to social distance and search for convenient and cost effective solutions to our normal purchasing problems, and this is an opportunity for digital marketing.

While most industries have seen some form of change to their context or operations during this pandemic, digital marketing has skyrocketed in popularity which has seen the industry as a whole grow.

What's Changed?

It’s easy to see how our lives have changed with COVID, but how exactly has it affected digital marketing?

1. Going Digital

An overall need for all businesses to go digital during this pandemic has become incredibly apparent. A combination of government enforced lockdown and a need for social distancing has resulted in more people going online to do their shopping instead of going to a store in person as was common before the pandemic.

Even the process of brand discovery has changed as the sole way people can find a business now is through various online platforms. This highlights the importance for brands ranging from micro to enterprise, to focus a significant portion of their marketing resources into building an online presence.

It has also become important for brands to make use of multiple digital touchpoints in order to capitalize on the increased traffic on each platform, and increase their chances of being discovered by a viewer.

Ultimately, in order to remain competitive and maintain a steady flow of business, brands have had to move online not only to conduct business, but also to grow brand awareness as it is no longer done in traditional brick and mortar retail, or by traditional marketing methods.

2. Budget Cuts

One of the major symptoms of this pandemic is the reduction in business that many industries have noticed during this time. This is a result of an inability for many brands to seamlessly transition themselves online, and a reduction in disposable income for customers who have received pay cuts or been retrenched.

What this means is that many brands have had to reduce the size of their digital marketing spend and explore smarter and more creative ways to maximise the efficiency of their reduced budgets.

Something that marketers are finding success in is PPC marketing which has seen a dramatic rise since the beginning of the pandemic, and become an effective way to maximise a marketing budget.

3. Visual Imagery

The content that marketers are using in their marketing efforts has changed and will remain different until people have mostly forgotten about COVID 19. To elaborate on this, no longer do we see advertisements that show a group of people in close proximity to each other, showing physical contact, or other scenarios that contradict what we are practising with social distancing.

The reason for this is because there is a new norm that has completely changed the way we interact socially, and therefore any advertisement should reflect this in order to correctly portray the brand in a way that is relevant and up to date with customer expectations and values.

We will see this current trend in visual imagery return fade and return to its normal state in the future, however it could be months or even years until we see a complete reversion to visual elements in digital marketing.

4. Social Media

Social media advertising has been growing rapidly during the pandemic as many brands have used the pandemic to be the push they needed to completely switch from traditional marketing methods to digital. 

There have been some growing pains for many companies that have made the shift to full time social media marketing, as many brands are not as adept at social media marketing as we as viewers have come to expect on the various platforms. 

This increase in social media marketing has also given rise to the use of micro influencers on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. Because the internet has become oversaturated with brands all competing for a sale, micro influencers have become very popular in allowing brands to win a customer’s trust through the use of an influencer who can aid in the product/service adoption process. 

The reason why micro influencers in particular have become so popular is because they are great value for money when compared to the investment and returns in a larger scale influencer. Micro influencers can often be persuaded to advertise a brand’s product/service to their relatively small following, either for free if they are given the brands offering, or for a small stipend. This contrasts the regular high level influencers who often only advertise to their audience at a large fee. 

The idea with micro influencers is to use as many as possible in order to maximise the reach of their combined recommendation of a brand's offering.

5. 1 on 1 Marketing

Maintaining customers has become crucial for brands during this time. No longer are companies making one sale and then forgetting about that customer, as now more than ever brands are realising the importance of a loyal customer base.

The change in customer behaviour and available income of the customer means that brands need to be flexible with their offering in order to remain appealing to their customers and prevent them from seeking cheaper or more convenient options.

In order to aid this shift, digital marketing efforts have become more directed at individual customers and communication between brands and customers has become easier, more common and more purposeful. 

This trend will outlive the pandemic as the online shift that the world is currently experiencing will not die down but will instead continue to grow. Therefore brands need do anything they can to remain competitive and replace the experiencing that customers would have in traditional brick and mortar retail where they could interact with a brand face to face.

It is therefore imperative that fast and reliable communication and specific and targeted marketing is sustained during this time and beyond the worldwide quarantines so that brands can hold onto their existing customers and increase their lead generation.

6. Agencies Are Growing

Since digital marketing is growing so rapidly during this pandemic, digital marketing agencies have noticed that this is their opportunity to attain quick success, and therefore we have seen an increase in the amount of business that they are conducting, and also a rise in the number of agencies in the market.

With so many brands shifting the majority of their marketing budget to digital marketing, the need for digital marketing agencies has skyrocketed to facilitate and meet this increased need for online promotional content and brand discovery.

One aspect that has resulted in the rapid increase in the number of digital marketing agencies in this industry is that it is a field that has zero barriers to entry, and therefore it is easy for anyone who has a basic knowledge on how to use Facebook Ads, or any other tool, to start an agency from their laptop while sitting in their living room.

Don't Get Left Behind

The world is changing by the day and it is unclear how long it will take for digital marketing to return to normal, if it will at all. 

While it is easy to highlight the negatives of COVID 19, it is important to highlight that this pandemic has seen this industry grow faster than it ever has before, and many of these changes have set the industry up for long term success.

So have you jumped onto the opportunity to start or grow your digital marketing business during this time? Take a look at our Facebook Community group and let us know what has worked for your business during quarantine.
Feel like you need more to scratch your digital marketing knowledge itch? Check out our other blogs to boost your knowledge.

Article written by Jordan Hildebrand
As part of the Customer Success Team, Jordan joined Oviond in early 2020 with the aim of learning more about the digital marketing industry. He enjoys working in a team environment that allows him to collaborate with others, and work together to achieve a shared goal. Excited by the idea of a challenge, Jordan enjoys exercising the relationship between analytics and creativity, and is always looking for ways where both of these aspects can be implemented together. He is a firm believer that we should always strive for improvement in everything we do, and embraces this mindset in both his working and personal life. Jordan loves spending time being active outdoors with his fiancée, and uses any free opportunity to grow his skill in photography.

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