How to Navigate the Fast-Changing Digital-Marketing Landscape

Social shopping and the transformation of consumer behavior has made digital-marketing strategies more important than ever.

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Change is the only constant in life. Some changes occur naturally as things change. In some cases, extraordinary intervening factors radically alter, accelerate or even derail the status quo. Covid-19 proved to be such an intervening element, and the digital-marketing changes that have occurred since early 2020 are a testament. 

The digital-marketing landscape has changed in unexpected ways over the past year and a quarter. The directions of the trend didn’t change as much as accelerate, but the changes that did occur have left both businesses and digital-marketing experts scratching their heads as to why their previously genius strategies seem to leave much to be desired. 

The rapid abandonment of brick and mortar shops in favor of ecommerce platforms was the most significant effect of the pandemic. This probably didn’t take anyone by surprise when you consider the medical regulations that came along with the pandemic. Commerce had been trending this way for a decade or more. Covid-19 actually helped us get to a point where ecommerce can be comfortably called the norm.

Social-shopping has only grown in popularity 

Marketers have had to deal also with social shopping, which was another trend we were trying to master before the pandemic. In an era where one tweet can start a trend that ends a person’s career, social shopping is a phenomenon that marketers and businesses alike can only ignore at their own peril. 

The social-shopping phenomenon is only growing with the increase in ecommerce sales since late 2019, and the longer time social-media users have been able to be online due to lockdowns. In the last year, businesses have scrambled to establish stronger presences on social media in order to “contribute to the conversation about their brand.” Whatever people say about you in front of you can be said to be criticism or advice, but when it is said in your absence, it could devolve into back-biting, which is detrimental, more often than not. The same applies to conversations about brands. 

Related: Why You Should Bet On the Future of Ecommerce

From executing regular Twitter searches to finding mentions to conducting frequent Google searches of their brands with words like “review” and “scam,” brands have found innovative ways to locate every conversation about them online, which provides them an opportunity to offer relevant input. The core principle of social-media engagement is to keep your customers at the forefront. 

The changes in consumer behavior that we have witnessed over the past year have changed a lot of what seasoned marketers considered to have been proven knowledge. For instance, there were certain hours of the day that were considered peak times to publish social-media-marketing posts. There were also certain content tones, words and styles that were genius, direct or considered “real” before the pandemic that are now seen as insensitive and harsh in light of changing social attitudes; increased social-justice outcries and calls for stemming climate change have shifted the prevailing conversation. 

The consumer preferences and habits have changed.

Additionally, medical brands have had to steer away from using images and videos of sick people to drive home their marketing agenda and have had to pivot to showing the effects of their strategies: happy and healthy people. This is because people are exasperated by the virus and its toll on their psychology.

Marketers are still trying to understand how preferences and habits have changed. One thing is clear: We can no longer depend on data that we have relied on before. We must generate and use new data.

Related: How the Crisis Is Changing Consumer Behavior, and How Entrepreneurs Can Act on It

Companies need tools that help them adapt quicker 

The need for new data has been responsible for the rise of many digital-marketing agencies that adopted a data-based approach before the pandemic. Companies need tools to help them adapt quickly in a rapidly changing environment. This has also led companies to use machine-learning and automated marketing strategies.

The utilization of algorithms and scripts to test and analyze a campaign’s success with as little human intervention as possible and the ability to adjust or even create algorithms mid-campaign to reflect the needs of the campaign have risen to the fore. 

The abilities these new tools possess to tweak elements like color, words and targeted demographics based on the algorithm’s accumulated data are what businesses are hungry for in a post-Covid digital-marketing landscape. The tools are also shooting data-focused marketing companies to the top. 

Related: Robots Do It Better: Why Automation Is Good for Business

The marriage between new data and automation would create an ideal circumstance for startups to thrive in 2021, but it is yet to be seen how many will utilize the available tools and how many will stumble forward. The human genome is built with the ability for adapting to change. Covid-19 might have brought one too many changes, but it’s time to settle down and re-learn everything we knew. The future is brighter than any we have ever seen before.