Consumer Trends: COVID-19 Accelerates Digital-First Mindset

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What Mid-Size Companies Should Invest In to Ensure Their Future

There is no doubt that life as we know it has changed for all of us. As the coronavirus pandemic spreads like wildfire around the world, governments, companies, and consumers alike are scrambling to protect the safety and well being of their citizens, employees, and families. 

When the brick and mortar world shut down due to shelter-in-place orders mandated by most state governments in the U.S. - and around the world - it became abundantly clear that brands need to lean into their digital strategies to survive, and in some cases, thrive. Let’s face it, consumers we’re already thinking digital-first before the coronavirus pandemic, but now they have no other choice. 

Side Note: Surveys suggest that only 50% of companies actually have a documented digital strategy.  

Digital giants like Walmart (yes the world's largest brick and mortar retail is also a digital giant) have been investing in their digital experience platform for years now. Since the coronavirus pandemic began,  the Walmart grocery shopping app has become the number one download among all shopping apps (including, Amazon!) When the physical world shut down, Walmart was well positioned to thrive because they had invested time and money to  build infrastractures to meet customers where they were at. Many mid-size companies, on the other hand, have been slow to adapt to digital, and as a result, have been left scrambling. They currently lack the competitive edge needed to attract today's consumer.   

Many mid-size business leaders are hoping that as states start to re-open their economies, business will boom back to normal. Unfortunately hope is not a strategy, and consumer trends have likely changed for the foreseeable future. Now is the time to invest in your digital infrastructure. 

Consumer Trends in Response to Coronavirus

As the world changes in response to COVID-19, consumer behavior is evolving and changing with it. We’ve highlighted some of the top consumer trends that have emerged and how your mid-size business should respond to meet the needs of your customers now and in the future.

1) Almost 50% of consumers don’t plan to return to shops “for some time” or “for a long time”. While over 40% say they will shop online more frequently after the outbreak. (GWI)

How should your company react ?

 COVID-19 has forced consumers to shop online and those who may have been skeptical in the past are discovering how simple and convenient it can be. As economies open up, we can expect consumers to continue shopping online for two reasons: first, they are apprehensive about going back to normal life, and second, they found out that shopping online can be easy and save time. There are two digital marketing channels mid-size businesses should focus on here to make digital your competitive edge: website and SEO

Optimize your website for conversion and consider e-commerce 

Your website is the most important part of your company's online presence. Yet most mid-size businesses are under-investing. B2C and B2B customers expect more and will leave your site if it doesn’t meet expectations. If your site does not offer an e-commerce experience, we strongly recommend setting one up. Consumers are looking for a touch-free and frictionless experience. Enabling your website for e-commerce can help you fulfill both of those needs.

If your brand is B2B (Business to Business) you may not be ready to implement an e-commerce strategy. In that case, we recommend taking a similar approach to Service Partners, a B2B distributor and manufacturer of construction products. 

The Fratzke Media team helped Service Partners implement a low friction quoting process that enables B2B customers to find the products and services they need and get the conversation started with a local sales representative.  


Fratzke helped Service Partners Implement a low friction quoting process
Service Partners implements a low friction quoting process with the help of Fratzke Media

Investing in SEO is critical for acquiring new customers

SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization” and is the primary driver of organic traffic to your site. Dominating page-one of search engine results is critical. If your brand is not ranking in position 1-3 for relevant keywords, you are missing out.  Search engine optimization is all about helping Google understand why they should be sending traffic to your website, and consumers are turning to Google first when looking for products and services. With more people searching online, SEO can be your best bet for acquiring new customers.

2) 84% of consumers either strongly approve, approve or are impartial to “advertising as normal”. This rises to 96% in favor of advertising that provides “practical information” around the pandemic. (GWI

How should your company react ?

This could be the right time to explore the power of digital advertising or pay per click (PPC).

Create digital advertising that puts your customer’s health and safety first

We are seeing data that suggests that brands are pulling back on their digital ad spend. This makes sense when you consider that companies, including large enterprises, are trying to cut costs wherever possible and reducing ad spend is a quick way to free up capital. If your balance sheet is healthy enough to support a digital advertising spend, we’d strongly recommend it. With the bigger players out of the race, it can be more cost effective to bid on traditionally expensive keywords and gain market share. 

To be successful, your ad copy should  put  customer safety top-of-mind. We recommend highlighting your COVID-19 response policies or community support initiatives your team has launched to help in the fight against the virus.  

3) The number of consumers who say they are delaying a purchase has risen higher as the outbreak continues.(GWI

How should your company react? 

Email marketing and social media are the channels you want to focus on to stay top-of-mind with your customers - whether or not they are making a purchasing decision now or later. 

Stay connected to consumers and past customers with email marketing

Email is one of the most longstanding and relevant digital marketing channels today. Now, more than ever, consumers expect their favorite brands to engage via email. The data suggests that consumers are pushing back their purchases, especially for luxury goods, but that does not mean a brand should lose contact with their perspective and past customers.

A regular email marketing cadence featuring your companies COVID-19 response or creative ways to use your products while the world is shut down could build loyalty to your brand that will pay off in the long run, when consumer spending gets back to normal. The Walt Disney Company has done a great job of staying connected via email during this global crisis. The example here shows how they are leveraging old content and creating new content to keep families connected with the brand while at home. 

Disney stays connected with customers with email marketing

Get creative and engage with customers via social media

For obvious reasons, there has been a spike in the already high daily usage of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. For companies that rely on the brick and mortar experience like coffee shops it can be a huge challenge to engage with customers. Philz Coffee CEO Jacob Jaber shared in a recent sitdown with Fratzke Media Co-Founder James Fratzke, that part of their competitive advantage is the customer service their baristas provide while crafting your perfect cup of coffee. So, how do you keep that going when customers are not leaving their homes? Philz Coffee found the answer with their #philzathome campaign on Instagram. In this Instagram stories collection, the company highlights how to use Philz beans at home so that customers can make their own home brew. They leverage their baristas and customers to share personal recommendations in quik videos shot on phone cameras.

Philz Coffee continues to deliver consumer experience with Instagram stories

The Big Picture

Even before the coronavirus pandemic began, consumers were moving to a digital-first mindset. COVID-19 has only accelerated the inevitable. Digital giants like Walmart have been investing in digital for years, which perfectly positioned them to service consumers through online channels. 

Mid-size companies that have held off on digital investment are now struggling to keep their operations going while the physical world is shut down. Even after governments open back up for business, consumers will remain cautious and lean towards digital. 

If you are a mid-sized business owner or the individual responsible for your company's sales and marketing, now is the time to invest in your digital future.

If you have any questions about the consumer trends or digital strategies I’ve highlighted here, we’d love to connect. Please reach out to our team at Fratzke Media via email (help@fratzkemedia.com), over the phone (714.614.2881), or on our website (contact).

Stay Healthy!

Ryan Fratzke

Head of Sales & Marketing

5.3.2020

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