Many organisations are now pondering on how and when they will reopen their doors to both customers and staff. Clearly things are now beginning to pick up but it will be a significant amount of time before we can resume to any sort of normality. The future shape of society and how digital marketing is intertwined within it is up for debate amongst our marketing community and everyone’s looking for the positives amongst it all (which there certainly are!)
With more information on that, here’s Part 2 of our ‘Digital Marketing through 2020 into 2021’ which offers more insight into what some of the region’s stakeholders think it will play out in the coming months with some tips for businesses looking to make the most of it.
‘Those businesses that continue to trade and push on will emerge from this …stronger and certainly more innovative than before.’
Jessica McEwen, Creative Director at NextGen360 Ltd one of the largest e-liquid manufacturers predicts changes in how consumers see products and brands which will potentially expose some elements of consumerism. ‘Uncertainty regarding the recovery of the economy is vast, and I naturally question the strength and resilience of the sector I have worked in for the past 10 years - ecommerce. Quite honestly, I think some areas will fare better than others - consumerism has been exposed like never before, as it showcases the unnecessary nature of purchasing, particularly in fields such as fashion and luxury – in which ideal windows for IPO’s have probably come – and gone.’ However in identifying positives from the uncertainty, Jess explains that ‘Those businesses that continue to trade and push on will emerge from this more established, with a loyal consumer base ready to trade in a new post-COVID market, stronger and certainly more innovative than before, thus identifying clear opportunities.’
Vicky Dobson is Marketing Director at The Outcomes First Group, a specialist provider for vulnerable children, young people and adults. For her it’s the acceptance of technology like video conferencing that’s she sees is a massive change at the moment, ‘I am loving how businesses are adapting quickly and remote working is being adopted and accepted. I've worked for international businesses where I've built strong working relationships and friendships with people I have not physically met, yet many UK centric organisations were previously adverse to introducing video conference facilities for fear of alienating colleagues. Now we are in a world where even gran is facetiming us (ok, we mostly only see her forehead but you get the point) so colleagues previously nervous about video conferencing are now much more comfortable. Not to mention the positive impact to both P&L expense lines and planet earth!’
‘Advertisers need better marketing analytics data, faster than ever before.’
Mark Kuhillow, Founder of Singleview from R.O.EYE, a leading marketing attribution software, has seen all the signs pointing towards continued change in buying behaviour, ‘In this instance, COVID has supercharged a couple of historic trends – adoption of digital services and the decline of the High Street. Whilst none of us wanted to see these accelerate in such a way, it has happened. E-commerce is currently the only shop which is open for business. As we move beyond the acute lockdown and into a period of chronic social distancing, it is currently estimated that up to 50% of shoppers will avoid physical stores (varying by sector). This period will cement the changes we have seen and accelerate digital integration more than ever before. Expect more Direct to Consumer brands, Click and Collect will become the norm and hyper-local delivery networks will be established (think of where Uber meets DHL).’
He continues to say that with the vast amounts of data available, significant newly formed behaviours are being observed and will undoubtedly evolve, ‘All of these trends mean that consumer spending has proportionally shifted from offline to online and a significant element of it will stay there post-crisis. At the same time, there is more online inventory than ever before which has increased media supply at the same time as a decrease in media investment. Furthermore, the challenge has been complicated by the fact that user behaviour has changed due to the vast amounts of time people are spending online. Advertisers need better marketing analytics data, faster than ever before. Advertisers must now embrace integrated online & offline media planning models as they look to re-enter the market in our new normal.’
‘Some business will flourish whilst others will suffer... so I would split this into the following 2 areas: Business Growing & Business Suffering’
Marketing Consultant Andrew Haines, who works and advises a number of businesses and brand, gave us his thoughts and tips for businesses after 7 weeks of lockdown, ‘My first reaction is, it really depends on the industry you are working in. As always when there is a crisis, some business will flourish whilst others will suffer and this crisis is no different, so I would split this into the following 2 areas:
- Businesses Growing: So if your business operates within the home fitness, logistics, healthcare (hand sanitiser, face masks etc...), homeworking (video conference software, IT equipment etc...) and many many more, it will be about trying to sustain that customer base and building on the success you have gained in the past few weeks and months. A few of these businesses will have spun up digital marketing workflows and processes to cater for the current environment and they will need to establish and refine those processes so they are more efficient or work working smarter to maximise ROI.
- Businesses suffering: Those businesses that haven't done so well during this period, you could take a number of actions...
- 1st - the proactive approach - during this time when you have cut back on marketing activity, is a great time to reflect on your marketing practices and look at efficiencies or new product developments. This could include implementing marketing automation processes, looking at marketing communications (or set them up if you don't have them), so you can ensure your through funnel activity is as efficient as possible. This will set you up to maximise business when it finally returns.
- 2nd - Opportunist - There are opportunities around at the moment, businesses have pulled out of advertising across Facebook, google etc so does this create an opportunity to test out these channels or drive more business at cheaper CPL's due to reduced competition? Is this something your business could take advantage of? Or can you adapt your product to work in this new world to help serve a new customer base.
- 3rd - Sit tight - what quite a few businesses are doing are sitting tight and waiting for things to get back to normal (what ever that might be) this is my least favourite, as being the marketer I am, I always think there is an opportunity to do something, its just about being smart.’
In summary Andrew explains, ‘Being realistic I think it will take some time to fully get back to normal (whatever the new normal will be), until a vaccine has been found, tested and rolled out across the UK, which is likely near to the turn of the year, so as marketers we need to be proactive, think smart and look at alternative ways to communicate with our customers & prospects to drive leads and sales, or if that can't be done, potentially look at new routes to market that work within the current guidelines, so creativity will definitely be the key.’
Finally, Emma Martindale, Account Manager at Guardian Labs for Guardian News & Media gives us the media perspective on the current situation, ‘It doesn't feel like working from home, at least to some extent, will really disappear any time soon. So we're placing a real importance on staying in touch - both internally and with agencies and clients. We understand that a lot of clients are in limbo at the moment and retracting media spend, but our hope is if we've been a helpful, empathetic and interested partner throughout, it'll only help to strengthen our relationships when things are rosier.’
‘The time at home is a great opportunity to upskill and we're using spare moments to take up some training.’
Thinking of her team, she has concerns over developing her skills, ‘Being away from teammates and the support of others is hard and it can feel like my skills gaps are widening when you can't just lean across the desk and ask! But the time at home is a great opportunity to upskill and we're using spare moments to take up some training. I think we will all be more resilient and self-resourceful after this.’
Looking to the positives from the lockdown, Emma explains, ‘I like to think that news brands will benefit long-term from this. We're seeing our biggest ever audiences online as people turn to trusted newsbrands for the facts. There's a big hurdle to overcome with Coronavirus blocklists affecting our revenues (check out Newsworks' #BackdontBlock initiative), but we hope that advertisers will recognise the value of premium publishers and being in trusted environments by continue to support our industry.’
Thanks again for all our contributors for this part of the series. If you’re interested in sharing your thoughts, ideas or tips with the marketing and tech communities of the North West then please do get in touch. In the meantime keep safe and good luck for the future.
Read part one, here!
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