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The global pandemic has had a massive impact on lives all around the world – and before we talk business, we should say that our hearts go out to everyone who has been affected.


In many countries, Covid-19 has significantly changed shopping behaviours. The number of online transactions worldwide increased by nearly 40% in January 2021 compared with January 2020, with China seeing 25% of all its retail sales being transacted online. Interestingly, conversion rates also increased by around 40%, showing that consumers are becoming more comfortable in making online purchases. This spending is concentrated around products such as groceries and essential household items, medicines, cosmetics and personal care items, electronics and of course due to widespread lockdowns, home entertainment. However, the average value of individual orders has generally decreased somewhat as consumers look to conserve their financial resources.

So what do these developments mean for digital strategies? At this time when so much seems unknown and difficult to predict, what’s changed in terms of achieving online business success, and what hasn’t? When is it important to pivot and be flexible, and when should a company stick with its original plans?

Many of the fundamentals haven’t changed. The essential approach of defining the company’s overall goals and target audiences, formulating strategies and tactics, and identifying appropriate metrics to measure performance still apply. In marketing, the usual digital channels (including search engines, social media, video, email and mobile) are still available. However, perhaps the business goals have shifted in light of different circumstances, and it’s important to consider whether the makeup of the target audience or the optimal mix of channels need to be revised, together with their associated strategies and tactics.

For example, there may be opportunities for creative marketing messages even in the midst of a crisis. Early on in the pandemic, Cottonelle (which is owned by Kimberly-Clark) recognised the problem of panic buying of toilet tissue and created a campaign called #ShareASquare which encouraged consumers to share their stocks with friends and neighbours who had run out. They donated $1million to the US charity United Way, together with one million rolls of toilet paper. And they added an additional dollar in donations whenever anyone used the campaign hashtag. Thousands of people shared videos of Covid-safe sharing techniques, resulting in a clear boost to consumer perceptions of the brand.

On the other hand, Covid-19 has accelerated the pace of digital transformation, requiring many companies to act more quickly and in a more agile manner than they might have been prepared for. Interactions with consumers are increasingly happening online, with those consumers expecting fast, seamless and omnichannel experiences. And they’re spending more time at home and wanting to engage with their favourite brands, creating further opportunities – L’Oréal has invested effort in a Facebook community of hairdressers which has grown considerably during the lockdown. The brand’s goal is to be a source of information, learning and entertainment – and of course, to keep their name top of mind for this group of professionals.

There’s clearly a lot to think about. Even at the best of times, it’s essential to formulate clear, well-thought-out strategies that optimise the use of resources across the company in support of the overall goals. Now, there are many more unexpected considerations and a rapid pace of change. Our latest set of lessons on Digital Marketing Strategy will guide you through the thought processes and some best practices for creating and implementing holistic digital strategies, as well as testing and measuring results so that you know what’s working, what’s not, and what you need to look at. Hopefully we’ll see the end of this pandemic soon, and your digital strategies will be stronger and more successful.

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