Navigating Your Post-Pandemic Marketing Strategy
The world of marketing and advertising was shaken by the pandemic. The sudden cease of nearly all public gatherings pushed the industry into a new age of digital marketing, and companies had to adapt to succeed. With the pandemic winding down, how many of the changes are here to stay? And how can the industry adapt to a post-pandemic landscape?
All eyes were on digital marketing during the pandemic — quite literally. Closures of common public gathering spaces, and sometimes even mandatory curfews, ensured that most ads and content consumers encountered were through their screens while at home. This in turn led to one of the most dramatic shifts in marketing and advertising that the industry has experienced in years.
New strategies were implemented nationwide, social media took over and a massive focus was placed on adapting to an online-only environment. Now, as more people begin to return to their pre-pandemic lifestyles, we’re finding that some of these new strategies might not be worth keeping around.
We’ve asked some of our industry experts their opinions on which pandemic marketing strategies are worth keeping, and which may not hold up in a post-pandemic landscape.
Meet our Experts
Mary Ann O’Brien, Founder and CEO of OBI Creative
Karisa Malchow, Vice President of Client Services
Sean Conlin, Vice President of Strategic Development and Insights
Christian Stillman, Manager of Strategic Content and SEO
Christopher McConahay, Business Development Manager
Josh Trecartin, Digital Media Strategist
Sophie Spicci, Account Coordinator
What is a new marketing trend that emerged during the pandemic that you think is here to stay?
Mary Ann: “Customer acquisition cost modeling, real-time access to analytics and dashboards and visible return on investment. If an agency isn’t providing these, they should be. Ask anyone here at OBI for examples and we’ll be happy to share them and provide you with the data you need to increase your market share and your budgets. We are results driven, and all our campaigns have associated key performance indicators. We never just ‘set it and forget it,’ we are always measuring and managing.”
Karisa: “Widespread adoption of digital-focused marketing. The move to digital that happened during the pandemic is irreversible and catapulted adoption ahead at least 5 years. Brands that take this into consideration — without losing personalization — will remain at the top of consumer’s minds and be the top choice over competitors. It’s all about personalization and experience.”
Sean: “With the uncertainty in the market there was a higher emphasis on measuring the effectiveness of marketing. This increased focus on return on investment led to clients needing more sophisticated methods of reporting and data analysis from multiple channels to understand how their marketing efforts affect their business objectives — something that continues moving forward.”
Christian: “Short-form video has been the dominant theme in social media. Done right, it’s quick and cheap to produce (HubSpot identifies short-form video as having the highest return on investment across social media marketing), and most importantly it stops the scroll and gets users engaged. The primary competition between social platforms seems to be revolving around developing short-form video tools and features, with that content type being the primary driver of engagement for millennials and Gen Zers.”
Christopher: “Mood based decision making. As audiences grew immune to standard marketing messages during the pandemic, brands had to become more sensitive to consumer mood when it came to their marketing strategies. It will be key moving forward that creativity is delivered in a personalized way.”
Josh: “A marketing trend that isn’t new, but grew in prevalence during the pandemic, is influencer marketing. The primary growth driver was the introduction of TikTok, which saw massive growth itself during the pandemic. This micro-influencer market continues to advance, and I don’t see it slowing down anytime soon.”
What is a new marketing trend that emerged during the pandemic that you think lacks staying power in the post-pandemic landscape?
Mary Ann: “We’ve begun to see the digital oriented marketing plans that became very popular during the pandemic shift to more balanced approaches. These balanced approaches include traditional (TV, print, radio) media tactics alongside digital. During the pandemic, many clients leaned heavily into digital marketing because they could track it and everyone was behind a screen. That was — and remains — important, but with many now returning to their normal lifestyle, traditional media is needed once again. When combined they drive the market forward — and we do it every day here at OBI.”
Karisa: “Brand loyalty. It’s hard to say, but it’s true. Brands can continue to cement their place with consumers, but if the experience, digital adoption and personalization can’t keep up, consumers have more options than ever — and aren’t afraid to make the switch.”
Christian: “Once the darling social media platform of the pandemic, Clubhouse has by and large died out. Its meteoric rise was fueled by ‘fear of missing out.’ With its exclusive invite-only user structure driving interest and the opportunity to virtually connect with celebrities, influencers and regular people, a significant carrot dangled in front of isolated users in the middle of COVID lockdowns. But there were many issues with the platform, ranging from content controls to the lack of clear ability to monetize content or effectively advertise.
Despite its rapid fall, there are still lessons we can take away from it — primarily the twin motivators of exclusivity and interpersonal connection. People crave connections, and COVID put an enormous spotlight on that truth. As marketers, we need to leverage that human reality and look for ways to foster connection between brands and their customers.”
Josh: “The lack of emphasis on traditional media may reverse — particularly with B2B. We could see the impact of print and other traditional media rebound as corporations and business push for a return to in-office work.”
Sophie: “Event marketing went virtual during the pandemic, and while it worked at first, it’s not sustainable. Online-only events lack the ability to facilitate engagement, and the result is little to no connection between participants. As more and more online events populated people’s calendars, Zoom fatigue set in and cameras turned off.
Hybrid events are the way forward. They offer excitement and immersion to those seeking an in-person event and flexibility for those who would like to participate virtually, fostering a more accessible and inclusive environment.”