As lockdowns have slowly lifted across the world, a changed customer has emerged. From social media to search engine marketing (SEM), TV and print, marketing has seen an unprecedented shift – one that will likely be felt for years to come.
Be it the FOMO-induced rush that gripped the world, to building community and meaning while locked down, customers and their habits have changed immeasurably.
Here are six lessons to take away from this shift.
1. Relevance is key.
Relevance has always been key to keeping up with customer standards, but this has never been more important than during and after COVID-19 lockdowns.
It’s been a time of rapid change and, as customers have been taking to social media to keep up with the news, entertainment and friends, real-time updates are more important than ever.
A research report by Integral Ad Science (IAS) exploring ‘The Impact of Stay-at-Home Behaviours on CTV’ found that ‘almost 6 out of 10 Australian respondents said they prefer high-quality ads (ads appearing in a high-quality environment) and almost half indicated that the ads must be relevant to the content they are watching.’
Regardless of the medium, it’s critical to be aware of what’s happening in your community and ensure your messaging is relevant to your audience.
2. Focus on where your consumer is.
Lockdowns and changed environments have seen a marked shift in how consumers shop and interact with brands. With most sectors having to close their physical doors, online and digital have become a key medium to interact with your customers.
The Integral Ad Science (IAS) research report further found that ‘78% of consumers say they have increased their consumption of streaming content during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.’
Changing the way you advertise and the platforms you advertise on could be necessary to expand your reach and resonance in line with changing consumer behaviours.
3. Embrace positivity.
Over the past 18 months, some of the most effective marketing strategies have been those that brought positivity to challenging times.
A good example of this is the Starbucks ‘Thank You For Wearing A Mask In Store’ campaign that came out of the United Kingdom. It mixed humour and digital platforms to deliver a campaign that positioned mask-wearing as an ‘altruistic, community-focused act’ and played on their frequent misspelling of customers’ names.
The ads were posted across their Instagram and Facebook platforms and aimed to help encourage mask-wearing and bring a smile during the tough times.
4. Create a curated experience.
Consumers’ habits have profoundly shifted in the last year, and as a result, meaningful experiences with brands have become more important than ever.
A Dutch online ticketing platform Tiqets did just that through their series of online, cultural experiences. They had virtual tours that took people through various attractions from around the world, including The Met and Windsor Castle, and focused on history, art and much more with each of their sessions.
By building out a truly meaningful experience for consumers across the world, they expanded their reach and built their online community.
5. Remember, community is critical.
Online communities have grown and evolved exponentially since the start of the pandemic. McKinsey reports that the shutdown of travel and almost everything except vital services drove people to begin building and interacting with online groups like never before.
What this means for marketers is that communities are a place to connect with potential customers. Localisation and personalisation through various communities and groups can help build trust and loyalty.
6. Be human.
The pandemic and lockdowns taught the world that connection and empathy are crucial, both as people and as brands. In tough times, be flexible with your strategy, be helpful and supportive at every opportunity, and most importantly, don’t forget to be human.
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