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COVID-19 Impacts on the Digital Marketing Trends for 2020

March 28, 2020

The first thing that is striking in B2B digital marketing is how vital it is to have the basics in place.

Companies that don’t are in the same shape that companies without a website faced in 2008. The basics are:
  • Strategy
  • Interactive website
  • Actively driving traffic to your website with SEO, PPC, or Social Media
  • Actively working conversion of visitors to leads
  • Nurturing leads until ready to buy – email and more information online
  • Great sales process to close

COVID-19 has made this even more vital for virtually all companies. Particularly for companies, like manufacturing relying on traditional marketing and lead generation, those methods have dried up instantly. If companies don’t have this in place now, it will be a #1 priority during the recovery. Longer term, the dependence on online marketing and sales will be dramatically more vital to business success.

Next for companies is answering the question “How much should we be investing in marketing, sales, and digital marketing”. The trend to more investment in digital marketing continues.

  • Budgets vary a lot by industry. Emergency response companies, like Heating and Air Conditioning companies, are used to advertising – might spend 30%
  • Normal for most B2B companies should be 5 to 10% of sales
  • Of that, at least half should be digital marketing
  • Growing companies invest more in digital marketing

As in the #1 Trend, getting up to speed with digital marketing will take an investment. Many of our clients are predicting that trade shows will get cut back dramatically and may disappear in some industries. Companies that still have revenue coming in are already starting to invest more in digital. It’s mandatory now.

SEO continues to be a staple of digital marketing but continues to change every year.

  • Content marketing continues to be the main focus of SEO. Adding a lot of new, relevant content is still the main ingredient in high Google rankings
  • Writing your content for Voice Search will grow every year. It’s estimated that over 50% of searches will be by voice by 2020. The main focus of this is to answer the expected questions people will ask by voice; what, where, when, how, and why.
  • Getting your videos ranked is vital in some markets and keeps growing in importance

Although SEO will remain vital for the long term, it’s not such a “must do” during the COVID-19 crisis. The reason is that SEO takes time to see results. Investing now in SEO will show results in 6 to 12 months. If the money is there, it’s a good investment. If not, cautious spending on Paid Advertising will have more short term impact on bringing in new leads for products and services you can sell.

If a company wants to be “ahead of their competition” in digital marketing, these are some of things companies should be looking at.

  • Aggressive content marketing campaigns
  • Video and more interactive messaging
  • Marketing automation
  • Engaging social media
  • Invest some in “many or all” multiple areas of digital marketing; video, social media, email marketing. It’s not enough anymore to just do the basic things.

In the middle of the COVID-19 crisis and immediate recovery, the two areas of video marketing and engaging social media offer the most immediate payoff. Implementing marketing automation is a long-term investment, like SEO. Content marketing is the same, more long term.

Aggressive growth companies will build on their investments over the last two years in digital marketing and stretch their online presence leads because of these areas of improvement.

  • Picking the right partner and tool set is critical to success. There are so many tools available, that picking the right “Martech Stack” of software is critical. It should be a CEO level decision for most small and medium sized businesses
  • Affordable marketing automation with CRM integrated is very powerful. It provides deep insight into website interactions, social media, and email with CRM
  • B2B Customers are expecting a better online experience, same as consumer companies. Give them a great experience and you will benefit.
  • eCommerce for B2B is now mainstream

Of these ideas in our focus are of manufacturing, eCommerce for B2B sales will be paramount as the recovery begins and companies plan for the future. The clear advantage companies with strong eCommerce had at the start of the COVID-19 shutdown will be a prime motivator for most B2B manufacturing companies. We expect a huge growth in eCommerce solutions.

A bit more detail on higher customer expectations in the B2B online experience.

  • B2B companies have to go beyond a brochure website. If that is where you are, you are losing business
  • B2B Customers are expecting phone support, eCommerce, lots of sales information, PRICING, and more on your website. Just like if you went to the Garmin or Lexus websites
  • Make it easier to differentiate why you are unique. If this isn’t clear, you are just another same-old company in your market selling on price

This trend is crystal clear in the COVID-19 crisis. Companies who had this in place from the start are seeing huge advantages. Companies who had been putting it off are suffering more.

Personalization of your marketing messages becomes more vital in B2B. Customers are expecting Amazon-level of personalization in all their online dealings.

  • Marketing automation is a huge step in this direction
  • Using more sophisticated eCommerce platforms in B2B. Customers are expecting good related products, shipping updates, details on products, reviews, and more
  • Websites need to talk to “customer personas” on a more direct way. Your website can’t be a “one message for everyone” any longer

This trend is important as we recover from COVID-19 and things start returning to normal. In the middle of the crisis, customers are desperately looking for the solution or product they need online. They will be willing to put up with a bit more friction. Once things are back to the “new normal”, online businesses who make it easy will steal market share from those that don’t

AI automation of marketing processes is coming on strong in 2019. Some examples include:

  • Chatbots that have AI level of expertise allowing a natural and informative discussion with website or social site visitors
  • Creating and generating content for sites. This is already in use extensively in the major news networks and papers
  • Email marketing, building on the manual creation of nurture tracks in marketing automation to automate major parts of the process
  • Digital advertising with products that provide Audience Management as a Service (AMaaS) using AI to automate your ad optimization on Google and Facebook

A couple of these are easy to implement immediately. An AI chatbot can be set up in a matter of days with a little logic to guide customers to the right person. With many people working from home, it’s probably easier to make sure someone is monitoring the chat. It’s a quick easy way to talk to a customer.

Email marketing has been essential during COVID-19. Communicating with your customers has been more critical than ever before. Email is a great medium for that and successful companies are leveraging that power to get their message out fastest.

Importance of Video in all forms, particularly on mobile.

  • It’s proven that people are far more likely to get your message in a video.
  • It’s becoming the prime way people are getting information, particularly on mobile
  • Voice recognition is going to mean that videos are going to be indexed by Google more often and shown in the search results even more
  • Web pages without a video on them are going to be second-rate

With so many people using Zoom and Go to Meeting, video will now explode even more than it already was. Use video in emails, in your blog posts and everywhere on your website. If Garth Brooks can be effective using simple videos from his home, you can use it in your business without fancy productions.

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