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Digital Marketing Is Now More Important Than Ever Because Of COVID-19
The unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has not only changed the social scenario by making social distancing becoming the new norm but has also impacted the business world unbelievably. Several organizations are ceasing their regular business activities owing to social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders.
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Policy Responses to Coronavirus, 69 percent of SMEs in the United Kingdom face severe cash flow issues. 35 percent fear they will not be able to reopen again (Source). This is certainly not something anyone expected from the year 2020.
But the pandemic has created a new lifestyle for consumers—online buying. Between March and June, 57 percent of consumers in the UK purchased from an online marketplace. They are either ordering many essential items (pet supplies, household items, groceries, medicines, and general merchandise) or not ordering any luxury items (furniture, automobiles, appliances, and hospitality services).
This behavioural change of consumers has either caused companies to be overwhelmed with a lot of orders or lacking them completely. Given that the pandemic has pushed shoppers to use various digital touchpoints along their purchase journey, digital marketing has become all the more important for companies. That's the only way they can continue creating an impact on consumers during these tough times.
Why go digital more than ever now?
Here are some reasons why the pandemic has increased the emphasis on digital marketing:
1. Increased content consumption: The United Kingdom has seen a tremendous rise in the amount of digital content watched by people. The most significant hike was observed in the age group of 18-to-24, which saw a significant 53-minute rise from January to complete lockdown in April (Source). Not to forget, the increase in content consumption is taking place across multiple devices.
2. Increased online searches for critical information: 42 percent of consumers in the UK want advertisements to be around Covid-19. Also, the pandemic has made people embrace online delivery models of retailers. They are increasingly searching for specific and accurate information about how, where, and when to fulfil their essential needs. Search terms like "grocery delivery" and "online grocery shopping" rose significantly during this time.
3. Forging virtual relationships: Video has become the go-to medium for people to connect with others as social distancing becomes the new normal. The amount of adults in the UK making video calls has also doubled during the lockdown. More than 7 in 10 are doing so at least weekly to stay in touch with family and friends-- a 35-percent jump since before the lockdown (Source).
4. Increased emphasis on "internet-first" and self-care routines: Schedules and daily routines are no longer the same for the global population, so aren't their online habits. People are now changing their daily activities, for example, workout routines, to something that can be carried out from their homes. Bannatyne's, a health club chain in the UK, reported that only two-thirds of its patrons were confident of returning in July this year, provided enough safety measures were in place.
However, Google and YouTube have made it possible for people to meet their fitness and healthcare needs effectively from home itself. People have shown an increased interest in self-care activities to cope with the stress and anxiety from these challenging times. Here are some numbers from the UK (Source):
· 47 percent of people have tried new fitness and wellness practices since the lockdown.
· 61 percent of them value wellness activities more than before.
· 77 percent of them are reconsidering what's essential to them in life.
So, online searches for games, meditation videos, puzzles, and other self-care content have increased more than ever during the pandemic.
The way ahead
As the pandemic has impacted businesses worldwide, they need to now focus their digital marketing efforts on the shifts in consumer behaviour. It's a wake-up call for those businesses that haven't been focusing on maintaining an active presence in the online space. In-store footfalls have reduced tremendously, and so businesses have to make the transition to digital media. It has become all the more critical for them to leverage social media networks and Google My Business listing.
As always, consumer engagement continues to hold the key to success. So, informational videos, social media campaigns, SEO, cross-device promotions, and live-streams will assume a more significant share in the digital marketing strategies of businesses. These are the only ways by which companies—irrespective of their size and target audience—will be able to sail through these uncertain times and connect with their consumers on a deeper level.