Digital Must Come First During COVID-19

September 21, 2020

COVID-19 has disrupted our lives and most likely your marketing plans too. Experiential marketing is on pause, and even traditional marketing techniques, like out-of-home advertising, are reaching fewer people, leading to fewer impressions. With the world sheltering at home, it’s more difficult than ever to reach mass audiences through traditional mediums. We must instead reach them where they are: online.

The ongoing pandemic has led to a new kind of digital age. Our entire lives and communities are online – working, talking to our friends and family, and even visiting cultural sites around the world now takes place in the digital space. We’re using computers more than ever before, on video chats constantly and scrolling through social media platforms to catch a glimpse of the world beyond our neighborhood.

We’ve seen virtual fundraisers and galas, virtual team happy hours and even a virtual Video Music Awards. Governments around the world have even shifted to operate virtually. There is nothing normal about this time, so there must be nothing normal about how you’re reaching your audience. With an unclear end date to the pandemic, it’s likely we will continue to gather in the virtual world for a while longer, so it’s important to adjust your marketing campaigns accordingly and invest in digital.

First, reevaluate your messaging to make sure it’s appropriate for the current circumstances and for digital, generally. During this pandemic and the movement for racial justice, it’s critically important to be mindful and thoughtful in your tone and lead with how you can best serve and support your audience and community. Likely, your existing traditional media messages aren’t properly suited either to the current circumstances or the digital world.

Explore messaging – such as online shopping or delivery – that could best serve your audience right now and use that for a digital push. The beauty of digital marketing is that you can test out and hone different messages, getting feedback along the way, and target them to specific subsets of your audience.

Also take time to look into the many digital spaces through which you can reach your audience. Your audience is reading, browsing, scrolling and binge-watching online, so consider investing further in display, video pre-roll or social media campaigns. Targeting these digital spaces with community-first messaging will help keep your brand top-of-mind with your target audience.

For example, social media usage is up. Brands, on average, have seen an increase of 44 engagements per day across all networks and industries throughout the pandemic. This means your audience is not only spending more time online and on social platforms, they’re also looking for ways to engage in conversations with brands. This is a great opportunity to start meaningful conversations with your audience on social media through both organic and paid social media campaigns. Reaching them with messages of how your company is supporting your community can lead to lasting conversation and, eventually, conversions.

Finally, get creative. Ask yourself what you can contribute to your community and how and where you can tell that story. Consider webinars, live talks with experts on your social media channels or virtual events. Now is the time to explore all the avenues through which you can reach your audience, give back and find unique and authentic ways to engage your community at large.

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