Did the pandemic change digital marketing for good? – RetailWire – RetailWire

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of articles from MarketingCharts, which provides up-to-the-minute data and research to marketers.
report from Salesforce shows that nine in 10 marketing leaders believe that their digital engagement strategy has completely (48 percent) or somewhat (42 percent) changed since before the pandemic.
A vast majority are using social media (91 percent), digital ads (91 percent), digital content (88 percent), website and apps (86 percent), email (76 percent) and mobile (69 percent). Some nine in 10 also say they are using video, which topped the list of channels that have seen the biggest increase in value over the past year.
While 84 percent of respondents say they are using events and sponsorship, the shift towards virtual and hybrid events is apparent. By 2022, respondents believe that 40 percent of their events will be virtual, while hybrid events will account for 30 percent.
In order to engage with customers on these digital channels, marketers are enlisting a full toolbox of engagement tactics. Unsurprisingly, video plays a major role. Some 81 percent are using pre-produced video and 73 percent are using livestream video, while 13 percent and 19 percent, respectively, have plans to use these tactics.
Two-thirds of marketers are currently using influencer marketing, while more than one-quarter (27 percent) plan to use it. Additionally, 93 percent are either currently using (60 percent) or plan to use (33 percent) user-generated content and a similar share are currently using (61 percent) or plan to use (30 percent) interactive content.

Coordination across the channels being used has grown more dynamic since the pandemic. Only 31 percent of marketers described their cross-channel coordination as dynamic in 2018. Today, that share has more than doubled (68 percent) with 78 percent saying they engage customers in real-time across one or more marketing channels.
The role technology plays in this real-time engagement has not gone unnoticed, as a full 83 percent of respondents say their work will be more technology-driven after the pandemic than it was before.
The survey of more than 8,000 global marketing leaders from B2B, B2C and B2B2C companies was taken in May and June.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What lessons has the pandemic taught retailers and brands about digital engagement? Which digital marketing tools received the largest boost during the pandemic? 
9 Comments on “Did the pandemic change digital marketing for good?”
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From a B2B perspective, one of the biggest impacts the pandemic had on marketing is the lack of physical events. Marketers had to pivot to new ways of attracting the attention of customers and digital engagement was the key to success. Virtual events and webinars increased dramatically during the pandemic and will continue to be a strong marketing tool as some previously physical events may evolve to hybrid or virtual events for the foreseeable future.
The biggest lesson is to be fluid and change. Some did, some didn’t, some started late. The adoption shows in the earnings. With grocery and QSRs leading in digital innovation other soft-good retailers having a fairly defined road map. To ignore it is perilous. TikTok got the biggest boost and created the biggest shift away from influencer/celebrity to creator UGC.
Digital engagement is a three-way street: between the retailer and the customer, and between the customer and the world (via social media). The addition of influencer marketing to almost every retailer’s digital mix is no great surprise, as it’s essentially paid word of mouth. Still, email may always be king/queen of successful engagement. Yes, it’s less visible than social media, but the level of engagement and ability to drive traffic via email are yet to be challenged. What retailers shouldn’t lose sight of, despite the many benefits of digital, is the in-store customer experience.
The pandemic changed digital marketing and digital marketing during the pandemic definitely changed retail.
Before the pandemic some retailers dabbled in social media, in 2020 they got serious. Our indie retailer clients do not have social media teams to run things, they do it themselves. And they do it well. They have stepped up their marketing via email and social media. They have become broadcasters on Facebook Live, increased online ads, and tried new social media platforms. For many, selling via Facebook Live not only saved their businesses but increased it to the point that those sales beat previous in-store sales records. They are exhausted but the good news is that they are still going strong – the one good thing that came out of the pandemic.
We’ve done a lot of research and reporting on the marketing trends that shoppers have been responding to in the past 18 months, and one theme consistently rose to the top when it came to digital engagement: authenticity. It’s a topic that has long been simmering but, in this time of virtual overload, authenticity has now become critical to connecting with shoppers. Associate livestreams rose in popularity last year, likely because they embody many of the things shoppers are seeking: connections, interaction, and input and feedback from people who work with the products every single day. Squad shopping parties, while more limited in adoption, offer many of the same attributes, except the feedback comes from friends rather than associates.
Pre-produced videos will give the brand more autonomy over the message they want to convey to their audience. But with the pandemic taking many social interactions away, retailers might want to capitalize on platforms that will help reconnect to the customer through livestream, influencer/interactive content, and user-generated content. Fortifying those connections, even in a digital realm, can help foster brand loyalty and help bring people back into the physical space when marketing needs a new strategy again if they shift from hybrid to full in-person.
Visually-driven, relevant and frequently refreshed content delivered by credible sources on multiple digital platforms engages consumers. Marketing has permanently changed and marketers who are agile, informed by performance data and open to experimenting will continue to win.
The pandemic’s ultimate lesson is digital marketing is non-negotiable. As shoppers and rivals migrate online, retail companies need a digital presence to stay visible and competitive.
Digital ads already have impressive momentum – and they’re just getting started. More retailers and brands now rely on pricing tools to respond faster to market dynamics. Consumer reviews also help companies adjust their product offerings with greater agility.
Digital appeared to change, but we were headed that direction anyway. The pandemic accelerated all things digital by at least three to five years. The way we market, digital payments (cashless/touchless), the use of technology … nothing was invented, but its use was accelerated.
Content marketing, used the right way, is more powerful than ever. Video is stronger than ever.

Which of the following received the biggest boost as a digital marketing tool from the pandemic?

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