Adapting your digital marketing strategy to suit post-COVID shopping habits

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Patrick Cumming

Like it or not, COVID-19 is changing the way we behave.

Recent research conducted by Bazaarvoice suggests online shopping is one such area where our behaviour has radically transformed.

No surprise there.

With many of us confined to our homes in the early days of the virus, we were left with no choice but to shop online.

So, just what does this mean for businesses?

Well, for one, with consumer behaviour changing so rapidly, digital marketing strategies will have to be re-evaluated to be impactful.

To not do so is to risk missing out on potentially profitable opportunities at a time when every penny counts.

In this article, I’ll take a look at the key stats from Bazaarvoice’s research. I’ll highlight what this tells us about shifting consumer behaviour. And, lastly, I’ll show you how you can adapt your digital marketing strategy to suit.

Let’s get to it.

95% increase in online orders

What it means

95% might not sound like a huge number. But keep in mind this is double the number of online orders as the same time last year.

Regular online shoppers will have contributed to this increase in some part.

That said, it’s also an indication that previously tech-phobic consumers are becoming more comfortable with eCommerce.

With many high street retailers forced to close and newly converted online-shoppers now experiencing the ease and simplicity of eCommerce, it’s unlikely they’ll return to previous buying habits post-COVID.

How you should adapt

The first step for any trading business – retailers especially – is to set up an eCommerce store.

Users are going to expect ways to shop with you online. If you don’t offer this as a minimum, you’ll put yourself at a serious disadvantage.

Secondly, b2b businesses should consider ways to integrate eCommerce into their business models.

As an example, we’ve recently had a client begin to transition from a lead generation model to an eCommerce model.

In just a few short months since launch, it’s already looking like an extremely lucrative decision.

Finally, it’s also worth pointing out that users will compare any experience they have with you to their experience with Amazon.

Adding things like next day delivery and free delivery – now offered as standard by Amazon – will go a long way to impressing and retaining your new online customers.

75% increase in page views

What it means

With more time at home and less time out with friends and family, consumers are naturally spending more time browsing the web. So it makes sense that page views would have increased.

That said, it’s also an indication that consumers are spending more time researching products before purchasing.

This makes sense.

Imagine you’re new to eCommerce and are now forced to do your shopping online.

Without the ability to inspect purchases for quality in-person, you’re likely to spend more time researching than you normally would to check products are up to scratch.

Nobody wants to get ripped off.

How you should adapt

When consulting, one of the most common problems we see on websites is a lack of content addressing objections and concerns consumers might have before making a purchase.

This can seriously limit the number of conversions or sales a website achieves.

With users now spending more time researching products before purchasing, you should focus on creating content to complement the research phase of the purchase decision.

You should aim to address all of the objections and concerns consumers might have within the content of your website.

A great trick for doing this is to get your sales or customer service team together to find out the most common questions they’re asked by potential customers.

Pick 5-10 of these and create a short, easy to find FAQ section on your website that addresses them.

32% increase in online reviews

What it means

Firstly, with more online purchases happening, it’s natural that consumers would leave more online reviews.

Secondly, it’s important to note that the increase in reviews isn’t correlative with the increase in online purchases. Online orders went up 95%, but online reviews only increased by 35%.

So, it’s unclear whether users are more likely to leave reviews or simply that more orders equate to more reviews left.

How you should adapt

That said, it’s still important to note that, in the world of eCommerce and online shopping, reviews are a huge factor for users in making a purchase decision.

For this reason – especially for those only just transitioning to an eCommerce business model – building a bank of quality reviews for your products should be a priority.

In fact, not having reviews can be detrimental to achieving the high sales volumes you’ll need to operate profitably.

As a minimum, you’ll want to implement an automated email response requesting a review from all purchasers.

But, realistically, unless your product is so outstanding users feel compelled to leave reviews of their own accord, you’ll want to incentivise them to do so.

Many eCommerce stores will offer discounts, vouchers and free samples in exchange for a review.

While doing this long-term might limit profitability, it’s worthwhile in the short-term to build up a solid base of reviews.

This will make it easier for users to trust that your products are up to scratch – increasing sales and helping you scale.

Wrap-up

These are just a handful of the behavioural changes we’re undergoing as a society.

As we slowly transition out of lockdown, we should expect to see even more behavioural changes, with potential for long-lasting impacts.

To remain competitive and agile, it’s important that we – as marketers and business leaders – keep our ears to the ground for what these changes are. For how they’ll affect the way we operate day-to-day.

Finally, we’ll need to ensure we respond to these changes effectively.

We’ll need to adapt our strategies, plans and business models to suit the ever-changing behaviour of the consumer.

To not do so is to risk becoming outdated, obsolete and most likely forgotten.

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