At no point in human history was the populace so aware of the economic consequences of a pandemic. Initially, the reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak ranged from sheer panic to brands scurrying to make what they could before the apparent and inevitable shutdown.
India recorded a staggering 120 million regular online shoppers in 2018, and with a CAGR of 28 percent, the online shoppers are expected to reach over 200 million by 2025.
But while the COVID-19 situation has turned out to be an unmitigated disaster for many businesses, hundreds of others have taken the consequences in their stride. Industries were already establishing their presence online before the pandemic hit.
Now, with a nearly 100 percent increase in online sales in India, businesses and entrepreneurs realise that the shift might be more formidable and long-term than they ever thought.
The rise of a digital planet
The future is now, and it is digital. More and more people are shopping for everyday needs and luxury items online. From groceries to sanitisers and from clothes to washing machines, the need to physically visit a store to shop continues to fade.
And, as the behaviour of the consumer changes, with it, changes the traditional marketing trends. Considering that, here are the emerging trends that one can expect to see in digital marketing.
1. A more integrated approach
Digital marketing cannot work in isolation. Experts are suggesting the rise of integrated marketing where brands are aware of the changing needs and behaviour of the consumers.
Marketers would need to understand the customer at every step while making use of custom tools, data, and tech to stay ahead in the game.
Traditional brand models offer customers a generalised experience. But the keywords in the new models would be “personalised” and “relevant” instead of a wholesome experience designed to cater to everyone.
“Marketers in the post-COVID-19 era will have to rethink what technologies they really need, which ones can help them save money, and which ones can help them transform their businesses that have been altered by this crisis.
Marketing technology that helps with the above business needs will therefore be considered essential and the rest may end up in the garbage heap of tech-driven promises that never delivered true Marketing ROI”, says Diaz Nesamoney, who founded Jivox just before the financial crisis hit the world 12 years ago.
Consider the traditional brand funnel structure that has been used to trace the behaviour of a client. The structure begins tracking from the moment the consumer realises the need for a product and begins his search for it to the moment when he actually makes the purchase.
When it comes to a digital market, such trends become outdated. The consumer in this case might not even be aware of a product while surfing the internet.
Carefully placed ads on social media or related searches on e-commerce sites are then used to pique their interest. Online reviews and specifications are other vital aspects that drive customer interest and ultimate purchase.
In this scenario, following a traditional brand funnel that assumes unchanging behaviour in consumers would prove to be a bad idea. Thus, the need for new tools and trends in digital marketing is rising.
2. Focus on ROI
This massive shift in the market caused by the influx of online shoppers would obviously mean that brands would have to increase their investments in building their presence and marketing their products online.
All the high Return on Investment (ROI) generating tools and digital channels, including SEO, programmatic advertising, and conversational marketing, are going to witness an incredible increase in investments during and post-COVID-19.
3. Digital marketing as a profession
The demands of the current scenario have led market researchers and economists to comment on how the process of shopping itself might shift completely into the virtual arena while physical stores and restaurants turn into experiential and recreational joints.
In 2017, a study claimed that the need for digital marketers was at 56 percent. On the other hand, those able to meet the needs and demands of the market were a mere 24 percent.
By this time next year, the need for skilled digital marketers will have at least tripled. This will undoubtedly lead to the creation of a newer, savvier batch of digital marketing experts. Many entrepreneurs will see an opportunity in the changing needs of the digital market and move to take it up as a profession.
4. More work being outsourced to India
A huge part of this quickly transforming market is likely to shift to India in the near future. With the youthful Indian entrepreneurs displaying proficiency in digital optimisation and the country brimming with untapped talent, the display of cost-effective digital skills here cannot go unnoticed.
Indian entrepreneurs and digital marketers are likely to see an influx of requests from brands all over the world as they make their journey into the virtual terrains. It’s a moment of reckoning, one that digital marketers and developers in India are more than ready to embrace.
5. Related streams witnessing improvements
In ‘The Future of Retail Supply Chains’, Nitin Chaturvedi, Mirko Martich, Brian Nuwadi, and Nursen Ulker write, “many of today’s supply chains are simply not set up to handle this demand for speed and convenience in a cost-effective way, and are already creaking under the strain of the new multi-channel world.”
With digital transformation becoming the buzzword, marketers and brands alike will have to take into account related streams. Data analytics would see a huge improvement when tracking the changing and somewhat erratic behaviour of the “new” consumer in the transition from traditional brand funnels to trends and terrains that many brands are unfamiliar with.
The expertise of website developers would need to be enlisted to create smooth yet glorious experiences for “visitors” while setting the brands apart from their competitors.
6. Small and medium brands to group together
As brands transform digitally for a virtual future, many businesses would need to consider symbiotic partnerships where they group together with other brands.
This would lead to multiple advantages, especially for small and medium enterprises facing higher demands for needs they aren’t yet ready to cater to. When working together and sharing costs, a lot more money can be invested in marketing.
Building into a larger entity would also mean being able to access a broader consumer base with specialised needs that a small or medium brand might not be able to meet alone.
This also takes into account user familiarity. A consumer is far likelier to return to an online store which sells everything from a pin to a cupboard even if they are from different brands, because it means not having to visit multiple smaller websites for every needs.
The risk of physically going to the market during current times has made even the technologically unaware familiar with online shopping. And only now are they realising the sheer advantages of being able to order everything from a book to a water purifier from the safety of their homes.
This brings us to a situation which no amount of marketing research could have predicted. Earlier, where there was no customer footprint, there are now hordes of consumers frequenting with ever-growing demands. It is a shift we could not have anticipated so early. But it is a shift brands are ready for now.
While the plan was there before, the moment to deliver has arrived now. That is because marketing trends at the moment are not just calling for a transformation but a digital revolution.