In the span of a few months, COVID-19 has brought years of unprecedented change in the way companies operate their businesses and consumers live their lives. Marketers and businesses are racing to meet target audiences’ needs as we’re entering the “new normal” of this pandemic.
Most businesses are slowly getting back on their feet and we expect limited in-person opportunities to continue. We don’t know exactly what our post-pandemic world will look like, but it’s safe to say that online presence and social media are here to stay. With a competitive environment to grab consumer attention, it’s essential that businesses adapt to today’s marketing environment and are not left behind.
Relationship marketing works
Today, people are hesitant to set foot in a brick and mortar shop – and crave a break from the plethora of news and targeted ads they receive while hunkered down at home. Instead, they seek a more personalized and authentic connection with the brands they are interested in.
One tool I recommend implementing is relationship marketing – an effective technique that fosters a human connection between a brand and its customers in a “non-salesy” way. This approach can take several forms: customer loyalty programs, authentic and transparent storytelling, or campaigns that speak to a brand’s purpose and values.
Brands who responded well to the pandemic have leveraged a relationship marketing strategy and led with their brand values. Local Seattle distilleries pivoted to create accessible hand sanitizers while other companies took advantage of the shortage by increasing their prices. Another example of a brand leading with values is Pike Place Market’s jewelry shop, Silver + Salt, opened its doors to free mentorship programs for women of color interested in jewelry smithing.
Relationship marketing is an excellent way to humanize your brand while increasing a customer’s brand affinity for the long haul.
Influencers reach socially-distant customers
While customers are at home, influencer partnerships and brand collaborations can significantly expand your reach, and even help break into new markets. However, identifying the right partnerships goes beyond the number of followers – so make sure to check out their engagement rates, brand values, messaging, and target audience.
While checking for the right partnership criteria, make sure not to overlook local and micro-influencers. Sometimes an influencer with a tight-knit reach can provide a more effective impact for your campaign. In fact, a recent study showed that 82 percent of consumers said they’re more likely to follow a micro-influencer’s recommendation.
Similarly, influencers are an excellent way to bridge a communication gap with your audience. This summer, Nordstrom deployed a campaign with influencers to announce their reopening and reassure shoppers of their precautions for safe shopping.
Influencers can be incredibly effective in engaging customers and complement the “relationship marketing” approach to forming deeper brand connections with your target audience.
When in doubt, test it out
People’s values, priorities, and sentiments have changed since COVID-19, and it’s imperative marketers understand what’s resonating the most with target audiences.
To ensure a digital advertising plan connects with the correct customer base, consider implementing A/B testing before a campaign launch. This tactic determines the best messaging to deploy throughout the campaign and validates adjustments in real-time. A/B testing helps ensure your marketing strategy isn’t simply a shot in the dark. One A/B testing platform I recommend trying is Google Optimize – a free tool that integrates well with Google Analytics and provides insight into how users engage with messaging or website alterations.
Don’t blink! Today’s digital marketing world is continually evolving. Every year there are new apps shaking up the internet. Tik Tok is a perfect example. The app quickly accumulated over 800 million monthly users, outpacing Snapchat and Twitter. Marketers are watching to see how security concerns surrounding the app unfold before using the platform for advertising.
As marketers, it’s crucial we stay on top of the latest trends by setting up Google Alerts and subscribing to marketing newsletters. My go-to marketing trend blogs are HubSpot, Marketing Dive, and Moz.