By Harriet Durnford-Smith, Adverity’s VP of Marketing
Marketing spends increased to make up 12.6% of US companies’ overall budgets in May 2020, highlighting the importance of maintaining a brand’s presence during the pandemic. Businesses are looking ahead, adapting to the changes in economic and customer behavior, and innovating their marketing strategies in the face of current challenges.
Now is the time for marketers to become more agile in their approach, by recognizing the merit of alternative channels and onboarding digitally-driven tools to drive success with new strategies. Through re-evaluating how they reach audiences, adapting their messaging, and re-orienting to focus on digital strategies, brands will be able to retain and grow their consumers and achieve success in a post-pandemic world.
Rebuild branding efforts to kick-start the recovery phase
Even in business, shock is a natural reaction. The industry was paralyzed at the outset of COVID-19 as marketing teams paused to consider the pandemic’s impact. The majority of brands, however, understand that it’s crucial to maintain a presence and to continue looking to grow. Market share, fresh leads and share of voice are essential for sustaining business, which means marketers must find new and agile ways of achieving results.
Even though budgets themselves aren’t necessarily in the hands of marketers, how they are used and what they are capable of achieving is. Research shows that programmatic advertising is continuing to grow, with mobile ad spend rising by $3.93 billion and video increasing by $2.83 billion. With 77% of consumers believing brands should use advertising to demonstrate current relevance, marketers need to ensure their brand-building efforts stay dynamic and responsive to ongoing developments in the marketing landscape. To meet consumer expectations, businesses should spend smarter, not harder, but they need to onboard tools that can facilitate this and justify their decision-making.
Innovate marketing strategy
To stay agile, marketers have been shaking things up by exploring different brand messaging, marketing channels and consumer behaviors. Messaging, in particular, became a focal point earlier in the year, with many brands expressing support, empathy, and stability in light of COVID-19. And it soon became apparent that these sentiments had to extend beyond a single statement. Examples of how brands have adapted their messaging include Coca Cola’s socially distanced logo in Times Square, and Kentucky Fried Chicken pausing the use of its “finger-lickin’ good” slogan. The more creative, original, and genuine these efforts, the better audiences respond to them.
Understanding that the pandemic has created the need for greater connections is also important for shaping marketing content to the current circumstances. Data from CouponFollow shows nearly half of boomers have increased digital spending since the pandemic – this being a group that typically lags in digital technology adoption compared with younger generations.
While reforming marketing strategies to suit online channels can often feel like a shot in the dark, it is clear social distancing and more people staying at home has disrupted the shopping habits of consumers across generations. The importance of brands keeping in touch with their audiences remains, but to do so requires a view of what is working and what isn’t. Through approaching new strategies with a test, learn and build on success mentality, marketers can optimize campaigns and make the most of limited marketing dollars.
Quantify the impact
With 52% of marketers saying their priorities have shifted dramatically in 2020, brands need the means to measure against new business goals and apply their learnings moving forward. Insight led by data-driven marketing is key to building these strong strategies. Not only does it validate the effectiveness of brand campaigns, but it also enables marketers to prove their value and reinforces job security at a time when businesses are looking to improve sustainability.
For brands to truly embrace more agile methods, marketers need to adopt tools and technologies that quantify ROI more effectively. It is crucial to set a benchmark for success and continually optimize strategies based on positive results. By demonstrating how agile practices deliver tangible outcomes, marketing teams can build a solid business case for ongoing investment.
Although the effect of COVID-19 will continue to shape the marketing industry, this period of change holds the potential to be a time of innovation. Marketing will continue to be the cornerstone for brand building, but it is in the hands of marketers to bring in revenue from newer channels and to optimize these for success. Equipped with the right measurement tools, advanced technologies, and an agile mindset, brands can continue to stay relevant in today’s climate.