What’s the link between Digital Transformation and Content Marketing?
The digital transformation was well under way before COVID-19 as social distancing changed Australians entire shopping experience. Just as COVID-19 landed on our shores in February 2019, 80.8% of Australians were shopping online, with one out of every ten items purchased online. Analysts were predicting that number would rise to 85.2% by 2021.
However, the Australia Post 2020 eCommerce Industry Report released in June, showed the COVID-19 pandemic had set a new baseline for e-commerce, due to shifts in consumer behaviour through social distancing, self-isolation and the closure of bricks and mortar stores. In fact, there were more people shopping online than ever before – up 31% in April to 5.2 million, when compared to the average in 2019. Now, online is predicted to hold a 15 per cent share of the total retail market by the end of 2020.
Online has become not just the preferred way to shop, but arguably the only way to shop, prompting unprecedented online growth as retailers and consumer behaviour adapt to a new normal. It will be interesting to see how the numbers stack up in the wake of COVID-19.
We’re now going to take a look at how consumer behaviour has been shifting in these unprecedented and uncertain times and importantly, how this affects every business marketing strategy in the short term.
How Has Consumer Behaviour Shifted Throughout 2020?
Quite frankly, we’ve never seen something like COVID-19 before. We’ve never had a widespread global pandemic in a highly civilised, technological world. There’s simply no way of knowing what things will be like when this is all over. We don’t even know when that might be. We can, however, use the latest research, marketing tools and resources to gauge how consumers and business owners are responding.
1. New Normal? Is this it?
In June, epidemiologist and senior lecturer on public health at LaTrobe University in Melbourne Hassan Vally, told the New York Times “Everything we’re doing is unknown territory. What we do know, is that as a society we can’t survive in complete lock down until we get a vaccine: We have to get back to normal.” This was in a piece entitled “Returning to A New Normal – Or Not?”
The reporter, Livia Albeck-Ripka, discusses anxieties that have emerged living in a quarantined society, talking about being at a rally and worrying someone might be too close, or mandatory mask wearing in public places. She talks about the anxieties and pressures of protesting and trying to go about day to day business in a time of global illness. The questions it also raises in the wake of the opening and closing of Australian borders and the public’s frustrations over inconsistent State Government policies and approaches to COVID-19 management.
Coping in a Time of High Anxiety
All of this is adding up to an environment of fear and mistrust. So, while it’s tempting to think about returning to a new normal, we simply wonder if there will ever be a new normal to return to or if this is it.
COVID-19 has ravaged the global economy in too many ways to mention. Calculating even its incidental impact would be a Herculean task, akin to counting the grains of sand on a beach. How can we contemplate an entire year with virtually no travel industry, for instance? What are the effects on consumer behaviour are those diminished, or vanished pay packets going to have on the wider Australian economy?
Consumers are understandably anxious and being wary as well, due to economic uncertainty. Virtually every industry has been thrown into chaos by this pandemic. For those lucky enough to still have a pay packet there’s no telling how long that will last.
It’s important to recognise and respond to these changing consumer behaviour factors and understand their implications when developing your content marketing strategy.
2. Aim for the Near Horizon
Business owners are notoriously resistant to improvisation. While there’s a time and a place for going with one’s instincts, conducting business isn’t it. After all, are you really wanting to put potentially large sums of money on the line based solely on a passing inspiration or gut instinct?
The world of business is slow, careful, and methodical. Consider one of the key goals of marketing – to be measurable and repeatable. That requires sound math and science, eliminating as many variables as possible. That kind of certainty doesn’t happen overnight.
Traditionally, businesses have set annual business strategies along with 5 or even 10-year plans. In the middle of COVID-19 however, long term planning strategies have gone completely out the window. Instead, smart business owners and marketers are now shifting towards ‘horizons,’ which are shorter and more realistic goals of 3 to 6-months.
The global consultant and management firm McKinsey and Co. has talked about the necessity of rapid forecasting during times of economic uncertainty. Companies that take firm, decisive action based on their current information are more likely to weather recessions and economic turmoil successfully.
When COVID-19 first hit in 2019, McKinsey started tracking consumer behaviour from this time last year. They found that sales for a number of categories of products have increased significantly.
• Household supplies – +76%
• Packaged food – +46%
• Non-food child products – +45%
• Deli meat – +42%
• Dairy – +39%
• Beverages – +36%
• Snacks – +35%
• Personal care products – +33%
• Alcohol – +32%
• Petcare – +28%
• Skincare and cosmetics – -4%
• School and office supplies – -6%
• Automotive oil – -7%
• Electronics – -36%
From these numbers, certain consumer behaviour patterns emerge. Australians are spending more money on household goods and essentials and less on non-essentials, such as electronics, or out of home entertainment. These figures are backed up by further statistics from Nielsen, which shows the startling growth of non-perishable grocery items.
Taking insights like these into consideration makes accurate business forecasting and planning possible. You could take these stats into consideration to cater to consumers’ current interests, like stay-at-home activities or non-perishable goods, for instance. Or you could use the declining categories, such as cosmetics, and offer incentives to help bolster sales in those flagging areas.
Rapid forecasting and frequent analysis will help you to keep stock of how your enterprise is faring. Improvisation is going to be called for either way, so best to get used to that now!
3. Content Marketing to Attract New Customers
Content marketing in Sydney, and even further afield, has been one of the hottest buzzwords of the industry for several years. It’s understandable, considering that there were over 4 billion internet users as of January 2018. That’s over half of the Earth’s population and is increasing all the time.
Content marketing is unprecedented as it allows customers to look for you. This seems simple but is really a profound sea change in the way we conduct business and undertake marketing. It also gives us some insights and leverage that we simply didn’t have using more traditional advertising methods.
Consider the example of a promotional mailer to help raise awareness of a business or attract some new customers. Before the internet, we’d simply create our promotion, have the mailers printed and mailed, and then wait and hope for the best. There’s simply no way of telling how successful that promotion is going to be, ahead of time.
Now consider a strategic content marketing campaign. There are all kinds of content marketing systems that can give you unparalleled insights into your customer’s behaviours. Even more, those insights can be elaborated upon to help tailor your offers to that particular customer.
Imagine, for instance, that a customer is just visiting your website for the first time. You know this because you built a first-time visitor funnel. This metric alone gives you all manner of insights that can be used to strengthen your relationship with your customer. It’s common knowledge that the buyer’s cycle has become longer and more complicated than ever. Consumers are spending longer in the research phase as people weigh their options while looking for the best deal. With money being so tight due to COVID-19, this tendency is going to be even more exacerbated meaning that businesses will need to invest more into their content marketing efforts.
So, trying to make sales or conversions during the research phase of the buyer’s cycle is a mistake – and potentially a fatal one. You simply don’t yet have that close a relationship with your customer. At this point, you should be focusing on bringing real value to your customer, whether that be information, a tool or even entertainment.
First-time visitors even have their own unique psychology. Like users prefer to earn an incentive rather than have it given to them, as it gives them a greater sense of achievement. You can then use that insight to further your relationship with your customer.
You can even use your incentives to further segment your audience, to get a sense of their particular needs. Consider making content lead magnets for different aspects of your business. If you deal with sales or marketing, maybe have one eBook focusing on how to increase sales for an online business. Anyone downloading that eBook is an indicator that they may be struggling to find qualified leads. This can help you put them into the right funnel, and it helps you to get qualified leads.
This is an example of how structured a content marketing strategy is very different to simply producing content. If you’re serious about using content marketing to really build your business, you might need to consider having a content marketing agency engaged. You’ve got to know what your business goals are so you can focus on developing the right kind of targeted content.
Things are not going to go back to the way things were. There’s simply no way of telling how the global economy is going to be affected by COVID-19 in the long-term. Considering how extensively the economic uncertainty of the 21st Century has altered the global market already, it’s safe to say that how we conduct business will be changed irrevocably. You can turn these changes to your advantage however, if you’re careful, smart and thorough.
Are You Looking for Content Marketing Agency in Sydney?
In every conceivable way, 2020 was cataclysmic for all businesses and finances. COVID-19 is here to stay, but it’s not the end of the world. We just need to adjust to a new way of doing things and be innovative in our thinking. We may also need to do things that we have never had to do before, in order to adapt to these monumental changes.
If you want to help stay ahead of shifting consumer behaviour, your content marketing efforts, and adapt to the new normal, whatever that may be, contact us today.