The Impact of a Global Pandemic on Online Business and Marketing

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic affected our daily lives in many different ways. When it comes to the way we lead our lives as 21st-century consumers, the pandemic has definitely left some marks and changed the way we engage in online shopping. How exactly did this pandemic affect online business and marketing? How can companies adapt to this change and keep up with the latest trends? These are some of the most impactful changes in the world of online business and marketing and how they changed the 21st-century consumer culture. 

Sectors need to reinvent and adapt

The pandemic has had different impacts on different businesses around the world. Depending on the nature of their business, some companies thrived while others haven’t really had much luck. 

Now more than ever, it has become important to think outside of the box and carefully examine all of the external factors that can affect your business. No matter what changes, one thing stays for certain – when customers can’t find what they’re looking for, they will simply go to a different place. That is why, you need to be flexible and you need to be able to adapt, especially during times like these. 

Local vs. global marketing 

One of many results of the global pandemic is the rise in local shopping. After travelling restrictions have been introduced all around the world people have turned to local shops and embraced the community. This way of local shopping has brought out the value of the local community which has long been neglected for bigger cities. 

Fun fact: Google Search shows a significant rise of up to 80% when it comes to keywords such as ‘local’ and ‘business’, and the combination of keywords ‘stock’ and ‘who has’ has gone 8,000% up. 

Also, the way businesses interact with their customers changed a lot. The focus is placed on the message and localising a lot more than before. For instance, Nextdoor is a great example of how a company can thrive if they focus on the neighbourhoods and local community. This company saw a mind-blowing rise in engagement of about 73% as a result of their marketers connecting with their customers on a local level. 

Also, a survey that was recently distributed on Facebook showed a humongous surge in online communities during the pandemic. Up to 91% of people offered support via online groups or communities to others, and about 98% have felt a strong sense of belonging by joining an online group. The trust and reliance that have been built within these online communities create a perfect environment for marketers to connect with their target audiences and build a long-lasting community base. 

Paid search and brand marketing needs to combine forces

Paid search marketing has always been popular amongst marketers, and there’s a good reason why. Not only does it make it way easier to identify campaigns at work, but it also measures your ROI (return of investment). Whether it’s done with the help of social media advertising, native advertising, sponsored advertising, or affiliate marketing, brands can easily link their spending to action like click, sale, or lead. 

The brand tends to lean towards paid search marketing via platforms like Amazon, Facebook, and Google since they offer a very efficient and cost-effective way to reach the target audience. Due to a sudden surge towards online platforms and social media during the pandemic, brands are using online platforms to communicate with their customers more than ever before. As a result, marketing teams are re-examining the way they can get the most out of their return for the budgets. 

On top of that, there has been a noticeable shift in consumer behaviour in the past two years. Customers are now eager to get to know the companies they are shopping from. They want to know what the brand stands for. The current social issues and how socially conscious and aware your company is can largely affect your company’s relationship with your customers. 

A great example of moving forward with these kinds of changes is Airbnb. This company redirected their budget from paid marketing and focused its finances on brand marketing, or more precisely PR. So, during the time when travelling was at its all-time low, Airbnb noticed a huge rise in its website traffic and overall online activity. As a matter of fact, their website traffic has gone up by an insane 95% without any marketing spend. 

However, you need to be aware that Airbnb was able to make this change due to their public awareness that customers easily recognise. That is why the ideal combination would be to use paid and brand marketing for your business so that you can get the most out of your activities on a budget. 

Ecommerce is crucial to brand success

Another insanely huge result of the Covid-19 pandemic is that global retail e-commerce sales went up to nearly $4.28 trillion. Between the years 2019 and 2021 according to Statista, retail platforms have experienced a surge of about 22 billion visits in June up from 16 billion in January (just five months before that). 

For example, in the UK online sales broke all the previous records when they reached £10 billion in July 2021. This is all due to the fact that 40% of people opted for online shopping rather than going to the stores. Shopify reached a recording first $1 billion with its GMV (Gross Merchandise Volume), and this isn’t the only company that benefited largely from e-commerce. As the data reveals, 90% of the top 10 e-commerce websites like Alibaba and Amazon experienced double-digit revenue growth during the pandemic. 

As it can be seen from the research and numbers, e-commerce seems to play a huge role in the market now that everyone has shifted towards online shopping. For that reason, paying attention to details and making sure your business website is in top-notch condition is very important. Growing your website traffic is one of the most important factors you should work on if you want to attract more customers who are looking for products and services online. Among many other factors that your online business can benefit from, a professionally done web design and local SEO are the most important ones. Making sure that your website is concise, informative, easy to navigate, and designed efficiently and in an aesthetically pleasing way can make a huge difference in your business’s online appearance. 

Customer experience is everything

As people focused more on staying at home a lot of daily habits changed during these past two years. As it was already mentioned, the whole shopping culture has completely shifted ad so did the expectations that come with that shopping experience. Now that in-person interactions have been irreversibly changed and reduced, people rely on online presence and interaction to connect with the brands they find interesting and want to shop from.

That is why such a huge focus has been placed on the company’s online presence and the way they interact with its niche audience. 

Most importantly, the way your customers experience the process of shopping from your business is one of the biggest and most essential factors that can affect your business’ success. To see their business grow in this time of pandemic and online shopping, businesses need to prioritise their customers’ experience in order to make online shopping as simple and pleasurable s possible for their customers.

 It all starts with a clean web design, easy navigation and regular online presence. Then, you need to learn how to use social media to build a name for your brand. Once you clearly send a message about what your brand stands for, people will be associating your brand name and logo with that message no matter where they see it online.

Also, use the advantage of the online space to reach out to your customers and let them know you are here for them no matter what they need. That is why social media platforms are so intertwined with one another. So for example, if someone stumbles upon your Instagram page for your business, they should be able to easily find your email linked below. That is how you build your online presence and with it your connection and relationship with your customers.

Social Media Commerce is accelerating

Speaking of social media, it’s important to recognise Instagram and other social media apps as some of the most present and successful online shopping platforms right now. 

Social media has taken online shopping to a whole new level. Some of the most used and most popular social media apps such as Instagram, Tik Tok, and Twitter drive a lot of website traffic and sales. With the popularised trends and challenges, gen Z has turned all of these social media platforms into a great environment where young people can communicate with each other, share their interests, and among everything else give recommendations about certain products and services to one another. These platforms are great for bigger and smaller businesses that are trying to grow.

As a business owner, you also shouldn’t overlook the power of influencers on all of these social media platforms. Through various partnership deals and sponsorships, you can easily get in touch with people who have a large following on Instagram and attract tons of new customers to your business by doing a simple sponsored deal. Exploring social media and all of its great digital marketing potentials can truly help your business grow during these times. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, the ongoing global pandemic has left many traces in the world of business and marketing. As we can see,  the world has almost completely shifted in the way we shop and use online platforms for the purpose of buying clothes, makeup, cosmetics, and just about anything else you can think of. Being able to keep up with such a change is crucial if you want your business to survive and keep thriving.