How Digital Marketing Will Change In Post-COVID Era and Why SEO Can Help
One way or another, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted just about every industry over the past months. The stock market plummeted, the price of gold and oil fell dramatically during the initial weeks, and with people either losing their jobs or being forced to work remotely, the global economy has been scarred deeply.
Much like the grand majority of politicians worldwide were caught off-guard and (hopefully) stripped of their emperor-suit of false competence the very moment everything ground to a sudden halt, most companies and businesses across the globe were taken aback by the crisis as well. Some decided to wait it out, while others deployed the shoot-first-aim-later attitude, especially in terms of reducing costs (which probably wasn’t such a great idea).
However, this shouldn’t come as a huge surprise as most companies tend to outsource this aspect of their business mechanism, and cutting on marketing costs is surely an easier temporary solution than, for example, reducing personnel.
That said, we decided to – by carefully analyzing our clients’ behavior and the current market conditions – try and better understand how the digital marketing ecosystem might be altered in the post-COVID landscape.
How Will Corona Outbreak Influence the Digital Marketing industry?
Aside from the immediate and obvious repercussions that are already tangible – the decrease in workload, or brick and mortar shops focusing on e-commerce – the reverberation of the current pandemic is likely to forever alter certain aspects of our industry.
Here are several predictions on marketing trends that may come next.
CPG Companies to Move to Direct 1:1 Consumer Marketing
It’s no secret that Consumer Packaged Goods companies have been ripe for digitalization of their sales and marketing efforts for quite some time now. The legacy brick-and-mortar distribution model involves heavy dependence on retailers which deprived most of these companies of an opportunity to master and build direct relationships with their consumers. This is especially true for those who haven’t invested in e-commerce distribution.
Given that the COVID-19 outbreak resulted in almost all retail sales shutting down, and if we take into account that the society isn’t likely to fully return to normal even when the pandemic is localized (social distancing, consumer fear, etc), deploying the e-commerce model and direct 1:1 consumer marketing will become imperative. Niches like e-commerce have skyrocketed during the past months, while the CPG companies relying mainly on legacy marketing and sales models have found themselves in a heavy bind.
The natural shift from legacy marketing methods to digital marketing is expected to take place globally as the latter is slowly but surely taking center stage as the number one way to drive one’s consumer base to make purchase actions through websites and apps.
We can, accordingly, expect to see more investments in direct and personalized consumer-focused marketing, a trend that should enable businesses and brands that previously relied heavily on traditional marketing channels to redirect their investment toward digital marketing.
A Change in Approach to Content & Ad Creation
While the current advertising models and content/ad creation methods are still quite fruitful, it appears that disruption awaits these and other closely related niches, and has been for a while now. As cost-optimization efforts and strategies permeate all teams and departments in a typical modern company, the change in approach to how content and ads are created may be long overdue.
Most businesses and brands still rely on legacy models in terms of content and creative production, the model that was designed for soon-obsolete media like print or television wherein the entire process is done manually – from creating content to its editing and distribution.
It appears that the need for more affordable ways of creating content is what businesses are looking for.
But in order to outperform the direct competition, one must be able to create personalized, high-quality, substance-packed content/ads that have a substantial shelf life – for only then will a brand be capable of building strong and long-lasting credibility.
The catch 22, however, emerges when they realize that quality content and effective ads take time, effort and adequate experience to make – and these things cost money.
One way to partially solve this issue is the deployment of Dynamic Creative Optimization technology, or DCO, that can potentially remedy the inevitable budget cuts within the marketing department. This is especially true for the advertising niche wherein this type of ad creation approach can potentially help businesses save big on production costs.
This type of automated ad creation enables companies to come up with creatives that are:
- Easily personalized
- Easily versioned in multiple languages
- Susceptible to dynamic changes
- Instantly campaign-ready…
…without almost any manual labor.
However, when it comes to producing large-scale content like articles, white papers, case studies, and in-depth research pieces, the traditional content marketing approach is still quite hard to beat. If you seek quality and substance, that is.
Brands to Start Deploying Agile Marketing Strategies
The COVID-19 outbreak exposed the ubiquitous unreadiness across many companies to respond quickly and adequately to a sudden change in consumer behavior. According to a study conducted by Gartner, 55% of businesses worldwide weren’t prepared for the coronavirus outbreak and its impact.
Given that the niche a business operates in is quarantine-friendly (like e-commerce, for example), the opportunity that was immediately given to such companies was substantial and could’ve been easily leveraged to drive the sales up and to strike while the iron is hot.
However, it feels like not too many brands managed to do so, with their reaction to the newfound environment being a rather slow one. The creativity lacked as well. Take a look at this video that flawlessly portrays the fact that all COVID-19 based commercials ended up having identical narratives:
This proves that the shift in approach to marketing strategies and the rise of the readiness levels are very much due, which is where the Agile Marketing model comes into play.
Whether the change in the environment and/or consumer behavior is caused by the pandemic or some other similar factor, the agile marketing model makes for a crisis-ready strategy that is capable of using the situation to your advantage.
The definition of Agile Marketing is as follows: “an organizational effectiveness strategy that uses self-organizing, cross-functional teams doing work in frequent iterations. It aims to drive growth by focusing team efforts on those that deliver value to the end-customer. This emerging practice in marketing applies selected principles of agile software development. Proponents argue this increases speed, quality, flexibility, and effectiveness of a marketing department.
Most typically, agile marketing involves a team (or a group of teams) converging around and tackling the question “How can we best deliver value to our customer?” The team members then collaborate across planning and executing a set of high priority tasks over a recurring short period of time (anywhere from 1 to 4 weeks, depending on the alertness level) – adapting direction, objectives, and processes as needed.
This approach is able to mitigate the slow reaction of companies in terms of adapting their advertising, sales, and content strategies to the new environment, thus creating a more responsive, real-time, and data-driven marketing toolkit capable of quick and dynamic pivoting.
How Can SEO Help Businesses In The Post-Pandemic COVID Landscape?
Though digital marketing is currently facing a certain set of problems, which are likely to continue to reverberate for some time after the pandemic has been sufficiently confined, web-based businesses are likely to bounce back and regain traction fairly quickly.
Investing in SEO services is among the most effective ways of doing so. Here are some SEO tips to help your business lay the groundwork for what lies ahead:
→ Do a Competitor Audit to See How they’re Managing Websites During/After COVID-19
Before you start planning your next moves, it is always a good idea to catch a glimpse or two of what your successful competitors are doing right/wrong. Following conventional SEO best practices is a great base – like making sure your keywords and backlinks are on point – but implementing contextualized SEO strategies is what can make all the difference.
As one popular Chapelle-based meme states: modern problems require modern solutions.
This is why tailoring and tweaking your optimization strategy according to the new environment should be among your top priorities. The best way to do that is to perform thorough competitor research to find out what changes they’ve been making to their SEO approach, both on-site and off-site, that are helping them leverage the new landscape.
→ Refresh your Keyword Research and Approach to Link-Building Strategies
High-volume keywords, relevant value-packed content, and clean high-quality links are the very fulcrum of SEO done right. But these aspects tend to change according to context and altered consumer behavior.
The fact that the digital marketing landscape is changing isn’t necessarily a bad thing and you can use this time to perhaps start anew or update your SEO approach so your business ranks better and attracts more visitors once the consumer ecosystem starts to heal.
→ Invest in Clean Link Building
As link building is the holy grail of off-site SEO, we recommend implementing a powerful and clean link building strategy that will help your brand beat direct competitors and create an effective spoke-hub-like net of quality backlinks. This way, your business will automatically have more organic visitors that are likely to become paying customers.
→ Create a Dedicated COVID-19 Page
Businesses that are essential or have been directly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic should consider creating a dedicated COVID-19 page (that is effectively linked to crucial areas of their website) in order to capture their portion of the pandemic-induced traffic.
→ Invest More in High-Quality Content
Though the outbreak is subsiding, people’s behavior isn’t likely to go back to normal any time soon, especially in terms of spending more time at home consuming various types of content. This translates into potentially more views and visitors, which is why creating engaging and quality content is imperative.
Whether it is written, video-based, or simply creative ads, your content is a portal through which your potential clients can come to you and hopefully convert, should you play your cards right.
Again, creating such content can be a tall order for many, as there are numerous moving parts to take into thorough consideration, some of which include:
- Knowing who your target audience is
- What information they lack so you can provide them with tangible value
- Why they lack this information and how your content can help them
- Finding the content gap or knowing how to improve on an existing topic
- How to tackle the content creation process with SEO in mind right from the get-go
- Creating an overall content strategy by zooming out and approaching the content creation process with a bird’s-eye view…
Rarely can a content piece perform great unless most of the aforementioned aspects have been covered professionally, with attention to detail and with your overall goals in mind.
→ Revisit your FAQ Content and Overall Approach to Customer Service
As consumer behavior changes, you need to reevaluate your customer service and FAQ pages to make sure everything is in accordance with your customers’ needs. Some quick and actionable tips include:
- See if specific language and phrasing should be updated
- Add new FAQs related to novel coronavirus if necessary
- Be mindful of the new environment and altered consumer behavior when talking to your customers as certain language can be counterproductive in terms of COVID-19 guidelines
→ Pay Attention to Potential Changes in SERPs & Search Engine Algorithms
Being in the industry loop at all times is the only way to stay ahead of the curve and rank higher. Certain industry branches and niches are likely to experience significant changes in the SERPs and organic results, both during the pandemic and after it becomes localized. For example, Google just rolled out a brand new core algorithm update despite the predictions that no new updates are to take place during the pandemic.
This is why following trends and learning how to leverage these changes is critical for businesses that seek better ranking and higher traffic.
Wrapping Up: Be Patient
Investing in SEO is not a quick-fix, but that’s exactly the beauty of it.
Brands that want their online presence to be effective, substance- and value-packed, need to reframe their mindset towards this industry and learn how to appreciate the long-term benefits of investing in search engine optimization. Only then will their business have the groundwork necessary for the long-haul success.