If you can, recall those predictions of 2020 consumer behavior from last December. They painted rosy pictures, didn’t they? We thought there would be growing demand for experiential in-store and pop-up shopping. Shifts from shared online digital experiences (e.g. gaming) to in-person events. Ample opportunities for career-switching and saving for retirement. More off-the-beaten-path adventure travel.

Obviously, no one could predict the pandemic that has resulted in seismic shifts in how we prioritize our needs and purchase goods and services.

It’s time to regroup.
We have to abandon what we thought 2020 was going to look like. We need to look at what’s actually happening now. New habits have taken root, and will last beyond the pandemic.

Let’s look at today’s consumer behavior landscape.

Some trends have any only continued to build, like the “cocooning” movement toward more time hunkered down at home. So, our growing consumption of streaming television and proclivity for takeout meals was inevitable anyway.

It’s time to re-focus your marketing efforts.
Face it – unless you’re manufacturing hand sanitizer, it’s likely you will not be able to hit your 2020 sales and marketing goals. If you’re B2C, you’re dealing with a customer who rarely leaves home. If you’re B2B, you’ve had to adapt to new ways of doing business – almost completely online.

The common thread in both of these scenarios is a growing dependence on digital media. Now’s the time to pivot to digital marketing, and make sure it’s a large component of your 2021 marketing spend.

When we use the term “digital marketing,” what are we really talking about? In my world, digital includes programmatic advertising, SEM (search engine marketing), email and newsletters, digital sales tools, virtual tours, marketing automation, webinars, social media, and ecommerce. The cornerstone of all of these components is a robust, mobile-optimized website, built for SEO (search engine optimization) and regularly fed with fresh content.

It’s time to double down on digital programmatic.
If I were to pick a favorite among these, I’d say digital programmatic advertising offers the best measurable results and ROI. Digital programmatic campaigns reach people when and where they are most likely to be influenced.

By definition, programmatic advertising is the automation of purchasing digital ad space by utilizing technology and software, rather than the traditional process, which includes negotiations with an advertising representative or publisher.

Most often, “programmatic” refers to display advertising on websites, however, programmatic advertising has taken over just about every aspect of traditional media buying, including in-app mobile, native and video advertising, as well as connected TV and digital radio.

SEM, commonly known as “Google Adwords,” is a crucial, yet affordable, programmatic tool. With it, you can capture an audience based on intent, and feed an ad to someone who is actively seeking information on just the goods and services that you offer. Ads direct viewers to appropriate landing pages that provide them with the opportunity to make a purchase.

Our digital programs usually incorporate a combination of location-based geo-fencing or geo-targeting; content-based targeting based on behavior, keyword, and category; and site or search retargeting. We also make sure that search terms are optimized for very specific voice searches – for example, people who are asking Alexa, “Where’s the closest seafood restaurant that serves sea urchin?”

The key is to engage a smart, Google-certified digital strategist with strong marketing instincts who understands the technology and can direct the spending in real time. Programmatic DSP platforms can be very complex. Campaigns can be changed and updated almost immediately, once performance trends are identified.
It’s time to look ahead.

Consumer buying trends and 2021 forecasts are already circulating with a fervor that suggests we’re all very excited to look ahead and put this challenging year behind us. Futurists maintain that ecommerce will continue its upward trajectory, aided by AI to anticipate buyers’ wants and needs. Consumers dealing with the pandemic’s economic ramifications will be cost-conscious and brand-aware. Our homes, both indoor and outdoor spaces, will continue to serve multiple functions as places for us to work, learn, relax, and stay safe.

What’s past is past. The changes in the way we live and work now mean that consumers may not need what you’re selling anymore. Or they need it in a different way. Or they need something entirely new that you could potentially provide.
It’s time to shake off the missed goals of 2020, and start planning for a strong 2021.

Author:
Deborah Garry is the Founder and CEO of BBG&G, a full-service integrated marketing agency based in New York’s Hudson Valley. Debbe has more than 25 years of marketing and branding experience, and is a Certified Account Planner and Marketing Automation Specialist. A recipient of the 2020 Enterprising Women of the Year Award and the Hudson Valley Women in Business Award, Debbe leads an all-women team of marketing specialists to deliver exemplary service to her agency’s clients.

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