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Marketing Strategies

How COVID Has Shifted the Advertising World



Accelerated trends that brands and retailers must adopt in the age of COVID

Consumer behavior trends have shifted advertising models and caused advertisers of all sizes to rethink the type of campaigns they should run. As we continue to ride the compulsory state of isolation with varying “shelter-at-home” orders across the country, the channels, messaging, and KPI’s that advertisers rely on must continue to remain fluid.

The impact of COVID-19 will continue to ripple across the world long after the pandemic has slowed and many of the advertising adjustments that are being made now are likely to stick long into the future.

We have entered a new age, but by remaining nimble, brands will be able to meet the ever-changing needs of their audiences post-lockdown and beyond. Read on to learn more about the trends taking place and how advertising models are being transformed.

Flexible Supply & Fulfillment

COVID-19 presents many roadblocks concerning fulfillment. In response to the pandemic, many businesses have continued to deliver goods to their customers with innovative, community-driven solutions, including contactless delivery and curbside pickup.

A study from Marketing Week shows that pre-pandemic, the average consumer’s main shopping priorities were quality (48%), price (47%), and brand (24%). At present, people are mostly concerned with availability (49%), price (36%), and quality (34%).1

The crisis has tipped consumer priorities on their head. As lockdown eases, and the world slowly regains “normal function,” it’s likely that consumers will still value availability. Brands that continue to provide a mix of flexible supply and fulfillment options to meet the needs of consumers will win on the commercial battlefield.

Led by insightful location-based data, retailers will be able to offer customers a range of efficient fulfillment options tailored to their audience. Curbside “on the go” delivery and seamless buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS) experiences offer consumers a perfect storm of convenience and flexibility.


One of the silver linings of COVID-19 is that communities are rallying together in the face of adversity. From face mask manufacturing and contactless care package delivery to frontline worker support, businesses are placing their focus on serving the people in their respective locales.

77% of consumers expect brands to be useful during the COVID-19 pandemic.2 And, while there has been a huge shift towards brand values and transparency in recent years, it’s likely that there will be even greater emphasis on community outreach post-pandemic.

As a new chapter dawns, it’s vital that brands focus not only on the wider world but also on their local communities by leveraging location-based audiences to their advantage. By developing community-based campaigns and working with location-driven data to deliver personalized messaging at opportune times with the likes of push marketing and location-based ads, brands will boost awareness and loyalty as COVID-19 slows down.

The bottom line: Invest in being a pillar of the community and you will remain aligned with fresh consumer values post-pandemic. Consumer values have changed and by offering value and transparency, the likes of building up customer loyalty will be on your side.

Advertising Migration and Measurement

As a general rule of thumb, when consumer habits shift en masse, ad spend and mediums do too. Since the start of the pandemic, ad spend in the US has dropped 10% amid economic concerns.3 But, as online media consumption has risen in recent months, there is real value in online advertising.

“The current trend of online shopping will continue in the medium- to long-term, with e-commerce becoming an increasingly important channel within the marketing mix.”3Conny Braams, Chief Digital and Marketing Officer, Unilever

Even as the world begins to open up, the engrained desire for convenience and value spurred by COVID-19 will remain. This means that by utilizing digital advertising channels and delivering content at a time when consumers are likely to be most engaged, advertisers can encourage direct conversions or engagement, almost on the spot. In turn, this will offer an excellent return on ad spend (ROAS) – one of the most meaningful metrics for advertisers as shown below.4

Take online viewing, for instance. Pay-TV is now dwindling and CTV / OTT streaming services are seeing a rise in viewership. This shift towards online entertainment offers valuable opportunities for brands looking for reactive ways to drive sales while boosting brand awareness. If ad content runs right before an episode of a show relevant to a niche audience (one that appeals to an advertiser’s target demographic), it stands an excellent chance of driving website traffic and increasing overall conversion rate in the process.

By understanding the audience and their viewership patterns, marketers can then retarget those audiences across other devices and channels and drive them further down the purchase funnel.

As consumerism becomes increasingly remote, placing a focus on direct response marketing campaigns will yield sustainable results. For Gimbal, performance-based campaigns have been one of the biggest success drivers for clients over the last quarter with online conversions even exceeding goals.

Niche or industry aside, as the world migrates further towards an online existence, aligning strategies, messaging, and the appropriate KPI’s will be key to measuring success.

An omnichannel marketing spotlight

Before the pandemic struck, many considered the U.S. to be overcrowded by brick-and-mortar stores, with more retail space per capita than any other nation on the planet.

Last year alone, 9,300 stores closed across the U.S.5—crushed by the rise in ecommerce adoption and competitors that embraced the possibilities of the digital age early. And, the economic uncertainty of the pandemic will force droves of other businesses to shut up shop.

But, by bridging the gap between the digital and physical world and marketing goods and services across a range of touchpoints, retailers stand a chance to thrive in the post-pandemic world.

The pandemic has even served to highlight and accelerate new omnichannel trends. Data shows that US click-and-collect ecommerce sales will leap 60.4% to $58.52 billion this year.6 The demand for convenient, frictionless commerce is greater than ever—a clear indication for the necessity of an omnichannel approach.

For example, offering a mobile app populated with engaging content that also offers the opportunity to purchase items and arrange delivery to a designated pickup point can help brands win on tomorrow’s commercial battlefield.

Taking a data-driven marketing approach and creating a cohesive marketing strategy across a network of channels and touchpoints will help brands connect with a wider and more engaged audience.

A new age of consumerism

In addition to getting to grips with the strategies and initiatives that are likely to shape the consumer world both during and after the pandemic, in order to truly connect with customers, understanding emerging shopping habits and priorities is crucial.

Here are some of the behaviors and priorities that are worth exploring:

  • The uncertain nature of the pandemic has made many consumers more thoughtful and conscious about the products they buy. As such, placing focus on the essential value of your products or services will work in your favor.
  • Research from Accenture shows that 88% of consumers are concerned about the pandemic’s impact on the economy.7 If your messaging is centered on your commitment to your customers and how you can help them – leaning on your sense of community – you’re likely to encourage better brand loyalty.
  • COVID-19 has served to highlight the hyper-connective capabilities of the digital world. As consumers become more value-driven (both in terms of cost and what brands can do for them), emphasizing virtual shopping assistants and more extensive personal customer service offerings will prove essential to success.
  • As consumers become more conscious and community-focused, local shopping will increase. Invest in your locale as well as your local marketing efforts, and you’re likely to see an excellent return on investment.

By leveraging the digital ad space with timely messaging across touchpoints marketers will stand a greater chance of connecting with valuable segments of their target audience.

“You can’t solve a problem on the same level that it was created. You have to rise above it to the next level.”-Albert Einstein

Things may never be the same again—and that isn’t all bad. While it may be “survival” for now, by changing the commercial outlook and staying in tune with the needs of consumers, marketers will prevail tomorrow and long into the future.

1 How Covid-19 Has Changed Shopper Behaviour. MarketingWeek. May 7, 2020
2 Communities Are Coming Together (at a Distance), and Brands Should Support That. AdWeek. April 3, 2020
3This is How COVID-19 is Affecting the Advertising Industry. World Economic Forum. June 8, 2020
4The State of Programmatic Advertising. Perfect Audience. May 2020
5Is Omnichannel Retail Brick-and-Mortar’s Saving Grace? eMarketerJune 29, 2020
6Frictionless Commerce 2020: How Coronavirus Is Accelerating Seamless Omnichannel Retail eMarketer. May 21, 2020
7COVID-19 will permanently change consumer behaviorAccenture. April 28, 2020

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Marketing Strategies

Generating The Spark For Memorable Virtual Experiences




/Now more than ever, marketers are competing for customers’ attention. With many professionals working from home, not only are you up against the internet, but you are angling for time in the midst of your customers’ workloads, emails, children, pets, laundry and whatever else is going on in their lives.

 The potential for distraction is everywhere. So the primary goal needs to be getting and keeping your customer engaged, with limited time to achieve that.

I call this sustained engagement goal as “generating the spark” — creating an experience for a user that will ignite a lasting memory. But how do we transform traditional sales models into truly engaging, digital, interactive experiences that create a spark? Here are a few tips.

Brevity Is Your Friend

Traditionally, B2B companies focus on lots of details. In a first engagement, especially a digital one, the visitor needs to be able to connect very quickly to the value you provide. It’s critical to start with the digestibility of the message — an easy-to-understand story that shows logical progression. Don’t get caught up in the particulars at first. Remember that the minutia, which you may find important, probably doesn’t apply in your first interaction. Your goal is to get customers to return, so they can ask more detailed questions during the second engagement in their buyer journey. 

Find Your Inner B2C

When we think of a virtual “connection,” we think of connecting with other people, not with content. But we make emotional connections with content, as well. The key ingredient to establishing a connection with content is creativity. 

Traditionally, B2B marketers are on the conservative side when it comes to their content and customer engagement strategies. B2B buyers want to be entertained in the same way they are by consumer-focused marketing. B2B organizations can set themselves apart from the competition by embracing bold expression over the same old, conservative methods.

Bring Your Customer Into Virtual Environments 

If you want your product to be remembered, you need to bring your buyer somewhere that will evoke emotion and feelings of connection. I like to categorize a virtual experience into three scenarios:

  1. Real, but impossible: Take your audience somewhere that exists in the real world but is not accessible because of physics. For example, if you are talking to the power of a processor or technical product specifications, you could drop your guest onto a motherboard or the working mechanism of a complicated device. This change of perspective transforms their perception of the products you sell, demonstrating unique value to the customer.  
  2. The real world: You can recreate any place, but you have to know why you’re recreating it. The sky’s the limit in the virtual world and you can create a space that is widely inaccessible to the average person like an oil rig or medical laboratory.
  3. It’s OK to be abstract: Sometimes the value of a product or service can be conceptual, and that’s fine. This is an opportunity to place a user in a more creative or artistic space. If we can create a visually appealing environment — one that uses color, shape and captivating user interfaces in dynamic ways — the experience can elicit a visceral reaction, one that will create a lasting impression. 

Creating the application environment is just the beginning of “generating the spark” for a buyer. As we move forward in this crazy new world, it will get increasingly more important to relate to users in creative and meaningful ways.

 As Associate Director of Creative Services / Mixed Reality Experience Strategist at Kaon Interactive, Howard’s role is to innovate user interaction and engagement for applications for Fortune 500 companies. Howard’s passion for interactivity has helped Kaon’s customers tell complex stories while creating emotional connections and exciting their audiences.

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Marketing Strategies

Instant messaging has taken over the world, but this is just the beginning



30-second summary:

  • Chatbots will soon be ubiquitous in written business communication, and they present a paradox that flips everything consumers think they know about automation on its head.
  • Customer input to a company is valuable information, and using messaging apps, customer feedback can also become actionable. By interacting with a bot, a customer is leaving an eternal record of their input, whatever it is, in a system that can read, analyze, and internalize the information.
  • Furthermore, instant messaging apps and VoIP present the possibility of integrating video or phone calls into your communication. The combination of fluid written conversation and video has opened the door to digital transmission in many fields traditionally reserved for face-to-face interactions.
  • Instant messaging has a fluidity that resembles that of spoken conversation. This fluidity is coming to good use now, especially for small businesses, which operate by one-on-one interactions, for which investments in big and bulky IT-systems are beyond superfluous.

The conversation surrounding the digitization of society has sounded in classrooms, newsrooms, and marketing departments for decades. During the pandemic, the process was accelerated as instant messaging came to the rescue, earning much-justified praise for helping people maintain connections even at a distance.

If there is one thing the process has taught us, it’s that the future has a way of sneaking up on us. So what will messaging look like, before we even know it?

The value of chatbots

Chatbots will soon be ubiquitous in written business communication, and they present a paradox that flips everything consumers think they know about automation on its head.

Generally, many people think the bots reflect over-automation and less-personalized service. Yet regular, human employees at corporations usually have very standardized, canned responses as well, offering only a veneer of personal service.

Chatbots reveal that the truly important part of the communication between a business and its customers is what the customers have to say, and bots’ role will become increasingly important.

Customer input to a company is valuable information, and using messaging apps, customer feedback can also become actionable. By interacting with a bot, a customer is leaving an eternal record of their input, whatever it is, in a system that can read, analyze, and internalize the information.

Instant messaging apps and VoIP provide an added layer of personalization

Furthermore, instant messaging apps and VoIP present the possibility of integrating video or phone calls into your communication. The combination of fluid written conversation and video has opened the door to digital transmission in many fields traditionally reserved for face-to-face interactions.

Tele-health, yoga-classes, and education are but a few examples of services ready to adapt, and they quickly managed to deploy instant messaging.

Experiences resembling one-on-one interactions, but still taking place at a distance, are essential and more useful than ever before. This will remain true well after COVID, as businesses and individuals alike become accustomed to the efficiency and effectiveness of such interactions.

Until now, messaging has mostly involved replicating real-world communication in the virtual world as seamlessly as possible.

But what if virtual communication were actually an improvement of physical communication? Imagine having a live call with someone across the globe who speaks a different language.

In real-time, the software can recognize the speech, anachronistically translate it, intelligently adjust for tone, prevent misunderstanding, or warn you that you might be stumbling into a cross-cultural faux pas.

The software could be intelligent and integrate with your calendar. As soon as you agree to meet someone for dinner, automatically, a reservation is made at your favorite restaurant and the event is added to your calendars.

This technology will be made available sooner than we think, and messaging apps will be the ones to implement them.

Instant messaging to play a major role in the evolution of communication

Messaging services will become the bridge between impersonal email and human touch. There is a reason messaging apps consume the most significant part of people’s internet use.

Whether consumers use social media platforms, dating apps, or office communication systems, it’s the messaging that gets people hooked.

Instant messaging has a fluidity that resembles that of spoken conversation. This fluidity is coming to good use now, especially for small businesses, which operate by one-on-one interactions, for which investments in big and bulky IT-systems are beyond superfluous.

Though it might not seem like it, society is still new to digital communications. The technology is in its infancy, and companies and individuals alike are still figuring out how to harness it in the best way.

By expanding its functionality and integrating instant messenger services to more facets of society, we improve the quality of the conversation between people, businesses, and institutions—one more step along the path to enhancing society with digital technologies.

Djamel Agaoua is the CEO of Rakuten Viber, one of the world’s largest mobile applications with 800+ million users worldwide, offering a range of features such as one-on-one chats, video calls, group messaging, social shopping, and updates. A veteran executive with a track record of growing innovative global techs, Djamel is a private investor and sought-after board member, advisor, and speaker.

The post Instant messaging has taken over the world, but this is just the beginning appeared first on ClickZ.

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Marketing Strategies

Want media coverage? Make sure your content is emotional



30-second summary:

  • Emotion is a pivotal component of great content.
  • If you have an opportunity to create emotional content, you’re much more likely to be successful. 
  • A new Fractl study reveals what emotions are most common in highly-linked-to content in each industry.
  • You should explore what emotions are already prevalent in your industry to gain new ideas and understand what already resonates with your audience.
  • When pitching content to writers, highlight the key emotional takeaways so reporters glean them quickly.

Yes, content should be useful. In fact, nine times out of 10, it must be useful in order to make an impact. But emotion is pivotal too. Emotion can form a sense of connection between a reader and a story — between a reader and their place in the world. For this reason, emotion can sometimes carry an entire piece of content because it taps into our common humanity. How do you hit the right chords with emotional content? Here are tips on how to do that.

Sure, it sounds corny. But that doesn’t make it any less true. Emotion matters, and if you have an opportunity to create emotional content, you’re much more likely to be successful. 

1. Understand which emotions resonate in your industry

Before jumping into content creation, it’s good to understand what works well in your particular niche. What content that’s been created has performed well, and why? What emotions are present in some of the most talked-about content?

In a recent Fractl study, we looked at more than 5,000 pieces of content that earned at least 25 backlinks. Then we explored which Facebook reactions were more prevalent in each content niche.

This breakdown provides a great overlook of what emotions are already prominent in your niche’s content. Look at how anger appears in sex/relationship stories while love appears often in travel stories. 

Why do you think these emotions may be associated with your niche? What can you cover that hasn’t already been covered that taps into why people are upset or in awe?

To gain more industry insight, before creating content, I would:

  • Pull out my customer personas. What emotions are tied to what they worry about? Struggle with? Seek out? Can I apply these emotions to content?
  • Read my target publications’ content. Which articles are on the front page? Which got the most engagement? What emotions are featured in them?
  • Check BuzzSumo to see what content is most engaged within my industry. Not only will this highlight certain emotions that are prevalent, but it’ll also let you know if an idea you have has already been covered in depth.

Take a look at some of the highly-engaged-with stories that appear on the BuzzSumo content search for “job interview”.

Buzzsumo search emotional content

Just from this snapshot of stories, you can see multiple emotions: humor/laughter regarding funny anecdotes, fear that the job application process might be totally changed by AI, happiness at the kind gesture from Lyft, and contempt at discrimination taking place at interviews.

Perhaps honing in on one of these emotions can spark an idea. What else might people be afraid of regarding the job application process? What else are they angry about? Happy about?

When all else fails, capitalize on the feeling of surprise. Our research on viral emotions revealed that the most common emotion in viral images is “surprise”. People like to learn something new that’s unexpected. If your data reveals data points like this, make sure to highlight it in the project.

2. Identify which emotions to focus on in your content

When trying to come up with content ideas, ask yourself: What emotions are tied to this concept? What are the different circumstances people can encounter, and how do those circumstances make them feel?

For example, for our client The Interview Guys (a job interview advice portal), we considered the variety of issues that can come up related to work. One such idea that hadn’t been fully addressed, in our opinion, was burnout. 

Burnout in and of itself is an emotional topic. It’s associated with stress, anxiety, and exhaustion. After surveying people about burnout, we earned coverage on Inc., Yahoo Finance AU, and International Business Times.

Example emotional content topic - Burnout

But not every idea will be as emotionally straightforward. Perhaps you have an instinct that analyzing a certain data set would yield interesting results.

Push yourself to identify

What would make those results compelling? What insights might this data help us gain, and what emotions are involved with these insights?

For example, in a separate project for the same client, we thought about identifying jobs that pay well that don’t require years of education. What we’d end up with is a list of jobs and what they’d pay. 

On the surface, this may not seem too emotional. But let’s consider the layers involved here:

  1. Less schooling means less stress, less debt, and less pressure.
  2. The potential to make a good salary provides hope.
  3. Struggling to find a job with little to no experience can give someone a lot of financial and emotional anxiety.
  4. Why would people care about this information in the first place? They’re looking to switch jobs. For whatever reason, they’re dissatisfied.

So you have stress, anxiety, hope, and dissatisfaction as some examples of emotions tied into this list of jobs. It’s not just a list anymore, is it?

Call upon these feelings every time you make a decision about the project. It’ll help keep you focused on the real soul of the story.

3. Pitch the emotional angles

When you can identify these emotional elements, you’ll also know how to better promote the idea. 

We pitched the high-paying-jobs project to publications. Take a look at some of the coverage.

Emotional content for job searchers

Source: Reader’s Digest

Reader’s Digest opens with the dilemma of not being able to find a job because you don’t have enough job experience yet. They’re tapping into a common, shared frustration people have, and by starting the article this way, they’re immediately putting the reader in a frame of mind to connect emotionally with the content.

Example of emotional content

Source: MarketWatch

This headline taps into the hope angle; they’re essentially saying, you don’t have to be the typical tech person to make a lot of money with little experience.

When you pitch writers, make sure to include the emotional data points and angles prominently. Include bullets of the most impactful takeaways so the reporter doesn’t have to dig through the data to understand why it matters and why their audience will care.

And don’t do the same thing for every publisher. Consider their particular audiences and what they care about, and then tailor your data points to speak to those readers.


Data is only as powerful as the story it tells, and all of the best human stories are packed with emotion. In every stage of your content creation process, from ideation to design to promotion, keep the emotional components in mind and center them.

Amanda Milligan is the Marketing Director at Fractl, a prominent growth marketing agency that’s worked with Fortune 500 companies and boutique businesses.

The post Want media coverage? Make sure your content is emotional appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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