Where does Digital Marketing go Post-lockdown?

Trends that your digital marketing agency needs to know in 2021

So-called “Freedom Day” has come and gone. But are things actually any different now that Covid restrictions are being lifted?

Covid-19 has been described by some as a “black swan” event. An event which is outside our expectations and carries an extreme impact, but after the fact is explainable and predictable. 

Whether or not the pandemic is a black swan event is the subject of some considerable debate. But what is clear is that it has had a huge impact on the way we do business. 

So where does this leave digital marketing? What direction should your digital marketing strategy take post-lockdown?

Whether you are a corporate marketer or a digital marketing agency, we think that there are five key priorities for you to consider in our post-lockdown world.

  • Recognise that digital is everything
  • Operate in real time
  • Join the digital dots
  • Give your brand a voice
  • Make your messaging clear.

Recognise that digital is everything

According to McKinsey, the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the progress of ecommerce by 10 years in just 3 months. Businesses had to adapt to survive. 60% of companies confirmed new buying behaviours over this past year.

Post-lockdown, this digital transformation needs to be secured and utilised as the building block for future strategy. Businesses need to exploit digital tools to continuously improve every aspect of their operations and customer engagement. From innovative online platforms to new payment methods, effective supply chain management and responsive customer service; businesses need the agility and resilience to keep up with an increasingly digital world.

The pandemic has also had massive implications for the way we work. Many businesses intend to keep at least part of their workforce working remotely from now on. The pandemic forced us to overcome any previous technological and cultural barriers to remote working, and enabled many organisations to begin to work in a flatter and more collaborative way. Professional services such as digital marketing agencies are well geared up for successful remote working in the future.

So in every aspect of their activity – operations, customer service, and people management – businesses now need to plan for where they want to be in a post-Covid future rather than where they thought they were going before the pandemic hit.

Digital marketing is key in helping them do this.

Operate in real time

Hand in hand with this digital transformation is the need for everything to happen in real time. In the retail sector, customers now expect quick and easy online ordering, convenient click and collect and contactless delivery. That is now taken as read.

But this expectation of real time service has implications for real time operating in every aspect of business. Not just in terms of behind-the-scenes logistics, but also all the ways the business interacts and engages with customers.

During the pandemic, many businesses took advantage of new features on social media platforms enabling them to connect with audiences via ads directly linked to buying options. There is also now the option to add a shop to Facebook and Instagram pages. All of these developments helped to overcome barriers and delays to the journey from brand awareness to completed purchase.

Consumer search queries are also becoming more specific, and there is an expectation on the part of those consumers that the intent behind their search will also be understood. So businesses need to be increasingly responsive to the insights from search queries, and sufficiently agile to respond in personalised ways. 

This insight also needs to inform paid search, so that going forward there is a strong synergy between organic and paid search, maximising the opportunity of SEO. 

Join the digital dots

But it’s not just organic and paid search that need to be in harmony. Every aspect of your digital marketing strategy needs to be connected. You need to join the digital dots. Customers rightly expect that any interaction with your brand will be able to use data from all previous ones and will then feed into the next one. You need to work towards a truly seamless, data driven organisation.

This joining the dots also includes any AI support you may use. Customers expect the same level of customer information to be known when chatting with an AI support bot as with any other interaction. Significantly, they also expect the AI to be enabled and authorised to take relevant action in real-time, not just work frustratingly through a pre-programmed script. 

Interestingly, a recent study by Salesforce also found that 62% of customers are influenced by their experience with a business in one sector when interacting with another in a totally different sector. This means that sectors such as manufacturing and construction that have perhaps traditionally been slower off the mark in terms of digital are increasingly being expected to keep pace with other more agile sectors.

So for all your touchpoints – including social media presence, blog posts, emails and newsletters – you need to ensure not only that they are working in harmony but also building on valuable insights and feedback from each other. And that any customer data gathered is stored correctly for effective use by each platform as needed, so that all information gleaned from your combined marketing efforts can converge for the maximum benefit of your business.

So there needs to be cross-platform consistency, not just with customer data but also the voice of your brand and the messages you are giving out.

Let’s take a look at these two aspects in more detail.

Give your brand a voice

Just as customers expect businesses to operate in real time, they also expect clear and well-communicated values from those businesses. The pandemic enabled many brands to show these values and their human side during the crisis. And post-lockdown, around 80% of customers still prefer to interact with brands that are visibly making a contribution to economic recovery.

There is also a growing desire to support brands that are pledged to help the environment. Around 60% of consumers have begun making more environmentally friendly, sustainable and ethical buying decisions since the start of the pandemic, and most intend to continue to do so. Millennials in particular feel it important that the brands they use have values that mirror their own. 

So a key priority for digital marketing is to give your brand a voice. A voice that clearly communicates the brand’s values and that is loud enough to be heard above others. 

Your voice also needs to be authentic and to speak your mind. These characteristics will add integrity to your brand and enable you to attract new followers and engender brand loyalty. 

One of the best ways to develop and refine the voice of your brand is through content marketing. 

Make your messaging clear

We have already seen the importance of consistent messaging across all channels. But as well as consistency, there are two other important considerations regarding content management: frequency and quality.

Frequency of content

If you don’t post content frequently, you could be at a competitive disadvantage. You stand more chance of being discovered in search results and shared on social media if you post regularly. 

However, you also need to achieve a workable balance so that your content is consistently high quality. Pushing out a high volume of low quality content dilutes your brand’s voice and can end up being counter-productive.

Let’s take a quick look at what to do to raise the quality of your content.

Quality of content

Sometimes with content, less is more. Yes, you need to publish regularly, but you also need to publish the very best content possible. Not only that, but once you have achieved the quality you want you need to keep it at that level. This will gain you recognition and help you to stand out from the rest.

Always keep in mind Google’s E-A-T criteria for content. Expertise – Authority – Trust. Everything you publish on every channel needs to reflect these criteria.

For each and every post, check that it reflects your brand’s voice and values, as well as any specific keywords you want to rank for. Use data and sources correctly and respectfully. 

Constantly analyse the content that gains the most interest and engagement so that you can produce more like this, and also repurpose it across other channels and resources. Conversely, don’t spend time or money on content that isn’t helping to grow your business.

In this article we have looked at five priorities for digital marketing in our post-lockdown world:

  • Recognise that digital is everything
  • Operate in real time
  • Join the digital dots
  • Give your brand a voice
  • Make your messaging clear.

We hope that they help you to move your brand forward into the new normal, and to contribute to rebuilding our post-Covid world.