COVID-19 and its Impact on Marketing

What’s Working, What’s Not, and How to Adapt

COVID-19 has been impacting us all, and it’s true what they say — we’re all in this together.

To put it positively, it’s been “interesting” to see the impacts this has had on business and marketing.

COVID-19’s General Impact

First and foremost, COVID-19 has impacted the ways consumers purchase — for the time being, they’ve shifted to a recession mentality. On a macro level, this means consumers are temporarily passing on the premium brands in favor of brands offering greater value.

That’s not to say premium brands are doomed in a COVID-19 world.

Premium brands will get through this by aggressively defining their audience and adjusting the ways they engage that audience. As the average customer’s channel mix shifts, brands need to reach the “at home” individual — for the next few months, ditch your OOH efforts and focus on getting to the consumer at home.

Focus on direct mail, email and addressable geofenced digital ads as the primary players in your channel mix.

Making Direct Mail Work for You

There’s a reason direct mail is a marketing standby — it’s effective. It’s also what many brands will lean on in the months ahead. Let’s look at two scenarios in which COVID-19 impacts this high-value channel — B2C and B2B campaigns

In a B2C campaign, COVID-19’s impact on direct mail is actually a boost in visibility. With limited distractions and an audience spending more time at home than ever, direct mail is front and center.

In a B2B campaign, the way COVID-19 impacts direct mail is a bit more complicated — with no one at the office, a standard B2B campaign can fail. Fortunately, with a little extra data prep, they don’t have to. You can contact decision makers directly at home by working with a data source to match your business dataset against a consumer database and send business communications to personal addresses.

And if you’re worried about reaching people at home, don’t be. People want business to continue — in fact, in a recent survey that we conducted, 90% of consumers said that they’d be comfortable receiving B2B solicitations at home.

Finally, a parting thought on direct mail: use it as an anchor in line with other cost-effective strategies, like digital and email marketing. While effective as a standalone, the performance of direct mail is exponentially increased by including it in your omnichannel strategy.

Utilizing Digital Ads and Email Marketing

Speaking of omnichannel strategy, another place where advertising is thriving is within the digital realm. Things like ad space on social media, commercial spots with streaming services, etc. continue to burn hot. The reason for this is pretty obvious — more people are relying exclusively on screens for news and entertainment.

Digital advertisers are also looking at this crisis as an opportunity to assess effectiveness, clean house and reflect on their digital brands. In short, metrics are talking, underperforming strategies are going out the window, and most of the content smart businesses are putting out is routed in engagement and messaging, not new acquisition.

Email marketing, particularly in retail, is still a go despite COVID-19. In fact, some research points to negatives like unsubscribe rates going down while positives like click rates are going up or at least roughly maintaining pre-COVID levels. With that in mind, now is an excellent time to develop and execute your email marketing campaigns either in house of with a trusted vendor.

Tailoring Your Messaging

In the early days of the outbreak and subsequent lockdown, it seemed utterly bizarre to see the marketing world carrying on as usual, running commercials featuring large groups of friends out in public places, while viewers cringed at home, counting the times the actors touched their faces.

Then, almost all at once, there was a major shift.

Marketers began taking on tones similar to PSA’s, reminding people to wash their hands and stay at home while focusing on aspects of their products that aligned with sentiments like “togetherness” or “looking towards the future.” Messaging also began to focus on the ways that purchases helped support the economy and maintain jobs during a time of economic hardship.

At the end of the day, it’s important to recognize that people are bored, anxious and looking for comfort and your messaging, engagement and branding should align with that.

Let’s Face it, COVID-19 is Weird

A grocery store full of face masks is weird. Cleaning products being hoarded is weird. COVID-19 as a whole is weird.

It’s tough to navigate such a strange new landscape, particularly in the business world. Of course, we’ll make it through this — we always do — but it’s going to require adaptivity, confidence and reflection.

At Strata, we’re here to help you with that. If you’re looking for ways to put your brand’s best foot forward, whether that be with direct mail, digital outreach or anything in between, contact us to see what our solutions can do for you.

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