How COVID Changed the Marketing Landscape

08/25/2020 4 min read Written by Kelly Groover

COVID-19 has impacted the daily lives of people around the world dramatically. From masks in grocery stores to people working from home for the first time, there’s almost nothing it hasn’t touched.

And that includes marketing. Here’s a look at how COVID-19 has altered the marketing landscape and how digital marketers are adapting.

The Move to All Virtual Events

In June, 72% of B2B companies surveyed by CEIR said they had to cancel at least one in-person exhibition or event. Many reported more than one. Some of these events were minor, like local trade shows, while others like HubSpot’s INBOUND are huge – taking months, if not years to plan.

The switch to digital events means several things for marketers. Those who rely on trade shows, conferences, and other events for lead generation had to find new avenues to generate new contacts. Others who prepare for such events had to find new ways to make their digital versions just as engaging. However, by canceling in-person events, many organizations recovered large budgets they could use toward a virtual event – and turned to agencies for help producing content!

Reallocating the Marketing Budget

Certain businesses and marketing agencies saw a financial hit as the COVID-19 first unfolded. As countries went into lockdown, they lost a regular revenue stream that otherwise would have trickled down to sales and marketing resources. Many opted to reallocate where they spent their budget, such as switching to virtual events, as noted, to save costs.

Digital advertising on social media, Google, and other platforms in favor of more costly, traditional means skyrocketed. They’re cost-effective and helpful for driving traffic and eCommerce purchases to businesses in-need. Another economical tool that saw a boost in use and word-of-mouth as a result of COVID-19 was SMS marketing.

Outsourcing or Not?

With COVID-19 came a blow to the economy, and unfortunately, some businesses couldn’t weather the storm and needed to let employees go to stay afloat. Others went on hiring freezes, resulting in some internal marketing team members donning many hats to get work done — a stressful combination for an already anxious time.

That’s why outsourcing or utilizing an agency became a popular avenue for financially strained businesses. Not only do some companies find it cost-effective, but agencies can offer the flexibility needed for such trying times.

On the flip, some organizations that didn’t experience layoffs chose to move everything in house and cut contract work completely.

Offering New Services to Customers and Prospects

When the pandemic first unfolded, the surge of remote workers was unreal. Lynton responded by offering consultations on working from home – something we’ve never done before. As it progressed, our team focused heavily on using SMS as a useful crisis communication tool and started offering SMS onboarding.

Other marketers have also chosen to offer new services, cross-sell, and up-sell to help their network navigate the backlash of COVID-19. Another related, refreshing change almost every person received? An influx of highly personal, heartfelt communication. As marketers look toward 2021, some may choose to stay on this messaging path.

Trying Out New Marketing Strategies

“When times are tough, the tough get going.” Or, in this case, they start engaging in digital marketing strategies they never thought they would! Businesses who hadn’t dabbled in newsjacking took to social media to hop on COVID-19 related hashtags. Smaller companies took to SEO to attract new consumers, or alert their current customers that they were open online.

As noted, many engaged in personalized email marketing or SMS campaigns, while some chose to write long-form blogs that weren’t evergreen material for the first time. Despite the negative consequences of COVID-19, organizations still found ways to innovate and provide their services to their communities.

The List Goes On and On...

In times of crisis, it’s remarkable how people rise to the challenge to survive. Marketers with creative minds, born to move businesses forwards regardless of the situation, are no different. With that said, here’s what our marketing team has to say about the current marketing landscape:

“We’ve noticed our clients have shifted budget away from in person events and used it to address gaps in their overall digital experience. This includes website redesigns, building apps or tools to streamline lead generation, and revisiting foundational elements like SEO and inbound marketing or ABM strategy. Our clients recognize that their website is a 24/7 salesperson that can really help keep the cost of finding and retaining a new customer low.” - Sam Winski, Optimization Director 

“I would say the biggest shift for companies is having to find a way to continue to reach people outside of normal in-person events or sales presentations. People still crave personal connection and interaction, and many of our clients at Lynton have found a way to do that with things like digital events, webinars, LinkedIn Live, Facebook Live, and virtual office hours. With that came an increase of educational content. Webinars, for example, no longer seem to be a sales driver but more of an educational experience. And to reach these audiences for these events and content, there’s been an increase in ad budget spend. There’s been a lot of pivoting to say the least!” - Jenny Traster, Strategic Director 

“I think this pandemic has made companies quickly realize the importance of system alignment. When you’re fully remote, it’s even more important to make sure your systems are talking to one another and keeping your sales and marketing teams on the same page. Thankfully, it’s easy to solve this pain point with an integration.” - Kelly Groover, Brand Marketing Manager 

“I've seen tone and messaging change for many clients. There is a concern that some messaging might come across as "tone deaf" or insensitive as everyone’s lives have changed during COVID. Therefore, companies are trying to speak to the business or individual more holistically as they address their personas’ needs and pain points, sincerely citing the challenges this time has presented. This approach both creates relevance and conveys empathy to their target audience, while strengthening client relationships.” - Jennifer Lux, Vice President of Client Experience 

Reach Out

What about you? How has COVID-19 changed your marketing habits? If you need any help brainstorming or getting back on your “marketing feet,” reach out today.

By: Kelly Groover

Kelly serves as the Specialist of People and Talent for Lynton. She lives in Savannah, GA with her husband, daughter, and two dogs. When she's not managing conversion rates and lead generation for the company, she's typically playing soccer or watching football.

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