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COVID-19 has altered the course of businesses worldwide, resulting in a forced evolution of marketing. Events have been canceled, meaning fewer opportunities for a personal touch. Consumers have been isolated for months, their shopping habits turned upside down.

Businesses must evolve to meet the new demands of the marketplace and adapt to changing consumer habits. Marketing is feeling the brunt of these demands and pressure is high to show a measurable return on investment (ROI).

Let’s consider the COVID impact on marketing communications, how it has changed the course of marketing, and how these changes are making marketers more effective.

1. It’s Made Digital Processes More Critical Than Ever Before

While digital-first processes aren’t new to the business world, they’ve become more critical now with team members working remotely.

Businesses that already had an automated process set up will be in a better position to provide a seamless transition to remote collaboration. That’s because those with technology platforms in place to centralize their marketing efforts can remotely execute marketing campaigns without the learning curve.

Solutions such as web-to-print software help businesses by keeping all marketing and communications documents in a single location. From the marketing team to the sales team and partners, web-to-print software provides a digital storefront to hold all of a business’s essential documents.

This solution provides a centralized location for all of your business’s content, so collaboration doesn’t have to happen in person, and all the latest marketing and sales material can be accessed from anywhere. This capability keeps your team connected, regardless of where they are in the world.

2. It’s Forced Marketers to Get Even More Creative

“We’ve always done it this way,” is one of the most dangerous thought processes for any business. Now, many of these businesses have been forced to make changes, with 92% of them adjusting their creative messaging soon after the pandemic hit, according to the Association of National Advertisers. Customer support has changed, too: Banks have changed the relationship with their customers, for instance, and have taken more of a supportive role by offering forbearances or deferring mortgages.

COVID’s impact on direct mail is another key example of how the pandemic is changing strategies, especially for marketers.

A cutting-edge direct mail marketing strategywill enable you to personalize your content and design by geographic location and purchasing behavior and ensure you have the most up-to-date customer addresses.Personalized variable-data-printing solutions will allow you to further personalize your message and appeal to your target audience. In industries such as the financial sector, where reputation is crucial, this approach helps you create hyper-personalized messages.

There’s also the integration of augmented reality and direct mail, which allows you to bring your print pieces to life.

3. Automated Tools Have Become More Crucial for Connecting the Remote Workforce

While COVID-19 has affected consumers, it’s impacted the workforce as well. Businesses have had to learn to operate remotely and still collaborate effectively. Remote work in marketinghas become commonplace and marketers had to adjust quickly. This isn’t a trend that is going away anytime soon.

Agile businesses have seen the benefits of having a workforce that can work from anywhere in the world. This has opened up more opportunities for adding new talent without the constraints of geography.

Those with automated tools in place are in a better position to stay connected and seamlessly make the transition to remote work. For example, customer service teams in compliance-driven industries such as financial services can benefit from an electronic document management solution. This tool provides a centralized repository for all client documents, such as statements and service requests, so customer service doesn’t have to suffer.

Your remote team can access these documents easily, without having to search extensively or risk using outdated information. This solution also allows you to safeguard your data by setting user access levels, ensuring your data is only accessible to authorized team members.

4. Nurturing Customer Relationships Is More Important Than Ever

Budgets have been slashed for many, and marketing ROI is now under a microscope. This means brands are looking to do marketing that is measurable and reliable.

This includes tapping into the current customer base rather than focusing on customer-acquisition activities. Customer retention has become the focus. Strategies such as referral programs have become critical in this regard. Referral programs show your customers that they’re appreciated and they help you get in front of prospective clients. A handwritten mailer with a referral incentive shows your customers that you value their business and provides a personalized approach.

Customers are a business’s greatest advocates. Marketers who can nurture existing client relationships will build trust and reap the benefits of word-of-mouth marketing.

5. Businesses Are Building Stronger Virtual Relationships

Relationship building will always be a necessary aspect of business and that hasn’t changed during the pandemic. It just looks different.To be successful at marketing during COVID-19, brands must be efficient at building relationships online with vendors, business partners, and customers. To do this effectively, communication is key.

Some industries have provided innovative ways of doing business and opening the lines of communication. For example, progress with technologies such as telemedicine has changed the face of health care for both patients and health-care providers.

Many health-care workers are now hosting Zoom calls at home and patients are seeing them in their own space for the first time. In situations like these, clients are often getting a glimpse into your authentic life, and authenticity is key for building stronger relationships. It’s crucial to keep that momentum going.

Health care is not the only sector that’s seen the value of building virtual relationships. Businesses in any industry have the opportunity to relate to consumers on a personal level, and they can use strategies such as email marketing to reach these customers directly.

Businesses can nurture these relationships by taking a different approach to email marketing campaigns. Today, campaigns that perform well will be those that don’t just try to sell but provide value to prospects and customers. These messages will come from a place of empathy rather than promotion.

For example, COVID-19 has led to marketers asking subscribers what kind of content they want to receive and giving them the option to pause certain messages. This shows compassion and helps build trust with your audience while showing your brand’s human side.

To keep subscribers engaged, top brands are also offering free access to their content. One example of this is Nikon, which made some of its online photography classes free for a limited time. Smaller brands can use email marketing initiatives to deliver these offers directly to clients and prospects.

Marketers Who Can Adapt Will Come Out Ahead

COVID-19 has changed the world as we know it. It’s forced businesses to take a different approach to their marketing and communications initiatives and is set to change the course of marketing forever.

As marketers begin to put the pieces back together, many are molding them into something new. One example of this is The Coca-Cola Company, which has rerouted its marketing campaigns to adapt to shifting consumer behavior. Like-minded businesses that are willing to take risks to stand out and adapt to digital processes and virtual collaboration will be those that pull ahead.

United Mail has been helping brands get their marketing messages out for almost 40 years. Our solutions continue to adapt to meet changing customer needs. Sign up for our newsletter today to learn more tips for navigating the changing marketing atmosphere.