Marketing is an essential channel to allow businesses to connect with their audience. Regardless of what you sell, whether it’s products or services, without customers your business will cease to exist. Marketing allows you to showcase your business, engage consumers, build thriving communities, and enhance your brand’s reputation.
Marketing helps you connect with your customers, wherever they may be online, to create an opportunity for them to learn from you and buy from you. It involves using a number of strategies, including social media, email marketing, webinars and free downloads, blogging, “Pay Per Click” advertising, and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).
COVID-19 has accelerated the consumer shift to digital channels. More and more people have been forced to make their purchasing decisions online, and when consumers were restricted to shopping from their computers instead of browsing their local shops, how a brand showed up online was what counted the most. There’s a lot that can be learnt about a brand from its online presence, website, and the overall tone and feel of their messaging. These first impressions count, so you must adapt your marketing to suit. Creating real connections to your audience through your brand’s communications should be at the heart of your marketing strategy, both now and in the future.
Consumer behaviour and attitudes have changed over the last few years, so here’s what we know about marketing moving forward.
Lesson 1: Use empathy and the correct language to connect with your audience
You might be reading this blog and wondering where to start. Marketing can be very complex, but leading with your audience in mind will help you to put your best foot forward.
This is an example of how to use empathy in your writing. What you say is just as important as how you say it, and your customer wants to know that you understand them, so it’s important to use their language. A common trend often seen in marketing is using fear-based language to entice a customer to buy from you. No one wants to be bullied into buying something, and they certainly don’t want you to highlight their pain or areas of concern in a way which leaves them questioning your level of care.
Consumers want to know that you both understand their problems, and can offer them a solution, and by using empathy and sharing personal experiences, you can connect on a more emotional level. The most important stakeholder in your business is the customer craving connection and trust. The question which should be framing your approach to your marketing and messaging now is “How can I support my customers in a meaningful, human, and relevant way?”
Thinking about the language that your customers would typically use, how they may be feeling, and how you can alleviate their pain will go a long way to creating content which speaks to them on a personal and individual level in a meaningful way.
Lesson 2: You must stand out in a crowded marketplace
The sheer volume of content and advertising thrown across people’s newsfeeds today has caused our attention to plummet. With businesses fighting for attention over every square inch of the online world, people are now experiencing information overload. This means you must stand out and grab the attention of your audience quickly, and establish a recognisable brand. An example of a brand who does this particularly well is Squarespace. While there are thousands of different website platforms available today, Squarespace markets themselves in a way which is consistent, unique, and highly emotional. They never market to sell their platform or its features. Instead, they focus on sharing the results and outcomes of using their platform.
Brand recognition allows you to stand out in an already saturated market. A positive brand gives people a sense of trust, understanding, and belonging. Research suggests that 50% of consumers become more loyal to a brand during their first purchase, so it’s important to create a great experience for your customer.
Every element of your brand, from the messaging, to the logo, to the colour selection, to the user experience, will capture the essence of your business and what you have to offer. Your brand should seek to reaffirm your credibility, build an emotional connection, generate goodwill and loyalty, and motivate your audience to buy from you. By becoming real and personable with your audience through your brand’s personality, you can cement long lasting relationships with your customers.
Building brand recognition takes time, and the best place to start is through tracking website traffic to understand where your customers are coming from. This information will provide you with the opportunity to focus your marketing efforts where it counts most, allowing you to drive more customers to your website, provide a positive consumer experience, and create advocates for your business.
Lesson 3: Your marketing must be flexible and adaptable
Businesses and communities have been turned on their heads as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses who can adapt to a digital world quickly while continuing to meet their customers’ needs are best placed to weather the storm. Restaurants and cafes have swapped in-house dining for takeaway and delivery, and many doctors clinics and hospitals have embraced telehealth and the benefits it can provide to the community.
Just as businesses and industries are evolving, so must your marketing. It’s not just about having the best price, product, or most memorable marketing campaign; being able to communicate with your customers in a caring, honest, empathetic way might give you the best advantage. As we continue to face down the pandemic, it’s important that your marketing resonates with people, even as our lives can change rapidly in a number of days. The way we speak with our customers, right through to details like the images we select on a blog, are now geared toward being considerate of the current landscape, and the changes to how we live our lives.
Goalposts continue to move, and while previously, long-term planning and forward strategising were essential elements used to form a marketing campaign, businesses must share the ability to turn on a dime and communicate messages that count in response to what is happening around them, at any point in time. This means finding new ways to connect with your target audience, and adopting out-of-the-box thinking.
Lesson 4: Offer social proof
Given that more people have been forced to shop online from the safety of their homes, the number of consumers conducting online research before settling on a purchasing decision has increased dramatically. Your customer wants to know they can trust you, and simply stating why you’re great just isn’t enough. Consumers are now looking to online reviews and recommendations to formulate their opinions of a brand. By sharing customer testimonials, and encouraging your previous customers to leave you a Google review, you can let others do the talking for you.
Sharing case studies is also an effective marketing tool which enhances the social proof of your brand. Creating content that showcases the very humans utilising your products or services allows consumers to connect on a deeper level. When they can see someone who is just like them using your brand, they can imagine using it, too.
Lesson 5: Listen, listen, and listen some more
If you aren’t listening to what consumers have to say, you’re leaving money on the table. While all businesses are passionate about what they do, their marketing can easily fall into the trap of sharing what they think their customer wants to hear, instead of sharing what is of actual value to consumers.
Social listening requires you to track online conversations, social media channels, competitor products, and keywording relevant to your business. You can also keep an eye on Facebook Groups, and even note down any questions your customers may be asking you directly. It is a crucial component of audience research, and allows you to understand what your customers truly need and want so that you can pivot or adapt your offerings where required. Social listening allows you to better engage with your audience, track competitors, understand where you fit in the marketplace, find the pain points of your audience, and discover new sales leads.
Ultimately, your marketing and communications must evolve and change with time. Marketing is a strategic, ongoing process that defines your relationship with your customers and how you are portrayed online. By improving your marketing strategy to suit new trends, your business will be best placed to thrive in the future.
- Korrin Bishop, July 29, 2020, “What COVID-19 has taught us about marketing”, Classy, https://www.classy.org/blog/covid-19-marketing-lessons/
- Nick Loggie, July 18, 2020, “COVID-19 marketing: How consumer behaviour turns digital in the 2020 pandemic”, Medium, https://medium.com/@logz05/covid-19-marketing-how-consumer-behaviour-turns-digital-in-the-2020-pandemic-6f9263ee9288
- Good Rebels, July 22, 2020, “Prepare your post COVID-19 performance marketing strategy”, Medium, https://medium.com/@goodrebels/prepare-your-post-covid-19-performance-marketing-strategy-2c9d7ab601d
- Nick Loggie, August 6, 2020, “Three ways COVID-19 will change marketing”, Medium, https://medium.com/@logz05/three-ways-covid-19-will-change-marketing-19fd8231601
- Tony Tran, March 3, 2020, “What is social listening, why it matters, and 10 tools to make it easier”, Hootsuite, https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-listening-business/#:~:text=Social%20listening%20is%20the%20process,crucial%20component%20of%20audience%20research.
- Allie Decker, Updated May 8, 2020, “The ultimate guide to brand awareness”, Hubspot, https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/brand-awareness
Arpit Sinha, May 14, 2018, “6 reasons branding is even more important than before”, Entrepreneur, https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/313369