Is marketing now a digital-first approach?

Since the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, the way we conduct business has changed, and in some ways dramatically. Does this mean that marketing is now a digital-first approach?

Since the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, the way we conduct business has changed, and in some ways dramatically. Businesses of all sizes had to very quickly adapt their thinking and approach in the short term, and their marketing strategies in the long term.

The question for us marketers is, has it changed our roles too? And if so, what does the future of marketing look like in a post pandemic world?

Aren’t the goals the same though?

Yes, in a nutshell, the goals of a marketing strategy remain the same, be it brand awareness, lead generation or customer engagement. Likewise, business objectives remain the same too. But the behaviour of customers and consumers has changed, and that needs to be accounted for. For example, at the height of the pandemic, we got a lot more used to browsing and shopping online as physical shops were no longer open.

Many marketing departments may surreptitiously slip back into their old habits – but what worked before 2020 may not work now.

Consider SEO and paid search

SEO has always been important! But now it is even more of a priority. Lots of new ventures and businesses have and will pop up and customers will be in the habit of searching online first, whether for the online or physical store. SEO, local SEO and paid search will be critical to serve that website traffic.

And digital advertising too

It was no surprise that during the pandemic, selected media formats became redundant instantly (think out of home and cinema). And whilst we were in lockdown our home media usage skyrocketed! Our consumption of TV, streaming, gaming and social media were all on the increase, and haven’t gone back to pre-pandemic levels as consumers have adjusted their lives. Media formats now mean you can reach someone in their home via a variety of means and methods.

Events in your living room (or office or spare room)

Whatever you think of them, it looks pretty much definite that virtual events are here to stay! Not only are there a lot of vastly improving digital event tools out there, but do we need to travel as much as we did when we still managed to do our jobs in a pandemic lockdown? Yes the big events – best in sector – are returning given networking opportunities, but a whole plethora of small to medium events will remain online. And that gives the marketer a lot to think about when promoting it. Is it safe to assume the hybrid model is here to stay and adjust our thinking and marketing accordingly?

Let’s not forget social media!

Both paid and organic social media activity increased during the pandemic. As consumers used it more than before for socialising and entertainment, marketers wanted in on the action with effective and engaging communications with their key audiences. Overlay this with social responsibility and the sense of community, both of which play well on social media, and it is no longer enough just to post on social media sporadically.

Video, video, video

Here at Challenge, we have spoken frequently about the importance of video in your marketing strategy. Even before 2020, the majority of people were choosing video as their primary content format. What the coronavirus pandemic has done is accelerate this growth (and appetite) for video even more. High quality video content that engages the audience is now so crucial to a business’ marketing plans that there literally is no excuse anymore not to do it.

So, is digital-first more important now?

The digital-first approach has gone from being a vague consideration for future planning to the central driver of a marketing strategy – all of the above platforms and channels are digitally led. Also think of those industries really affected by the pandemic – for example, High St retail, travel – and how the brands and businesses working in those sectors now approach their planning with digital media as a priority.

However, there are some businesses that will hold more ‘traditional’ marketing activation at their core, and that is absolutely fine if they are still reaching their audience effectively.

Even though the marketing goals remain the same for a business, how we approach marketing has changed with digital being a much bigger part of the marketing plan than it ever was (and for some businesses, the only part). COVID-19 saw to it that our digital world and consumption was to increase.This means marketers need to really understand digital, or surround themselves with a team that does. 

And we can help on that! Contact us with your digital marketing challenges, or even just to ask for support on what you may need to do next.




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