If you’re reading this you’re probably sitting at home right now trying to figure out the best way to increase your brand visibility to the millions of other people sitting at home and online. In the current pandemic climate, marketing is relying heavily on creating digital experiences rather than traditional ways of marketing such as at events or in-store promotions. Brands must leverage digital marketing strategies to stay top of mind with consumers and engage them with experiences that create a bond and sense of community. Let’s take a look at why you should be shifting your focus to digital marketing and boosting social media engagement tactics more than ever before. 

Getting social while distancing 

As states maintain their shelter-in-place orders and people continue to distance themselves from others, it’s no surprise that consumers are spending more time scrolling through social media, listening to podcasts, or watching videos and TV. Overall, consumers are spending 20% more time on apps compared to last year. Facebook reported that in countries where the virus has hit the hardest they’ve seen a 50% increase in total messaging and 70% more time spent on their apps. That includes Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp. In the United States alone, on average, 50% of people are using their phones, 42% are watching TV, and 35% their laptops. So now you know where consumers will be… on social media. How will you leverage this knowledge to market your brand and products? 

Leveraging digital marketing tactics

Digital marketing is a huge umbrella of different marketing tactics. It encompasses all marketing efforts that use an electronic device or the Internet. Businesses can leverage digital channels such as search engines, social media, email, and other websites to connect with current and prospective customers. Some different types of digital marketing include:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Content Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Native Advertising
  • Email Marketing
  • Online PR
  • Sponsored Content

Since early March, digital marketing advertisements have increased due to the pandemic. At Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc, first quarter total revenue grew 13% from the previous year to $41.2 billion, while Facebook Inc’s ad sales rose 17% to $17.44 billion. Digital ads help brands get the most for their money by encouraging immediate responses from their target audiences and these ads are easier to measure since brands can see how many people clicked on a link or took an action, such as a purchase, after viewing the ad. Facebook executives mentioned that they expect these sales for ads on their sites to steadily increase and it only proves how important digital marketing efforts are, pandemic or not. And given that trade shows have been canceled until further notice, perhaps it’s time to use those monetary resources to invest in some digital ads. Here are some online advertising channels to look into: 

Investing in experiential marketing

Now is the time for brands to start connecting with their customers and creating engaging content for their existing and potential customers. It’s important to not lose sight of the support you can offer consumers. There is an opportunity to be creative and helpful with the type of content you create during this time as consumers are stuck at home, bored, and hungry for new content to keep them busy. This could be in the form of videos, virtual events, Instagram Live, or Facebook stories, the options are endless on how you choose to showcase your products (for example in beauty tutorials or cooking lessons). 

“Do not be exploitive around what you are doing,” shares Mark Evans from the Sasha Group in a recent ECRM blog post. “Take this time to understand your community and really listen to them, and create new products or solutions that truly make a consumer’s life a little easier in a time that is uneasy. This is a time when you can be really creative in your marketing and bring some joy, some usefulness, and some utility.” 

As humans, we crave social interaction, and while that cannot be replaced, we can try to fill the gap with experiential marketing virtual events. Experiential marketing events that are only connected to purchasing and consumer spending do not create loyalty or true brand affinity. Consumers seek brands that offer education, shared equity, and opportunities to influence others. Some things to consider when planning an experiential marketing event: 

  • The trifecta – right people, right place, right time. When planning to host a virtual event it’s important to select a host who will attract desirable attendees (so someone your customers are familiar with, or would resonate with them), choose a setting that will set the tone for personalization, and remember this time is to create brand awareness and provide education not push your products onto consumers.
  • Virtual setting – Virtual settings need to offer consumers something better than a static video conference call with a host, videos, and background. Brands should offer branded backdrops and personal expressions while being mindful to engage audiences in virtual settings that feature environments, products, and activities with the user experience in mind. 
  • More than just a “cool” concept – Compelling experiential marketing should deliver on the emotional impact that connects us to experience, people, and place. Some questions to consider include: What is the story you’re trying to tell? What’s the emotional takeaway of an event like this? How does it add value to our customers and brand? Try starting with the story and mapping it to different customer journeys, this step is just as critical as creating a thoughtful introduction of a product.

Our new normal is here and it is time to evaluate how you can be leveraging digital marketing tactics to not only keep your business afloat but to help keep your customers feel supported during these times. 

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