How social distancing will change the landscape of digital marketing: Prasad Shejale, Founder & CEO, Logicserve Digital

Digital will strive to satisfy core expectations of safety, trust and convenience to the consumer writes Prasad Shejale.

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Human beings have survived and thrived by collaborating. Our first instinct while solving any difficult problem/ situation is to come together and divide the responsibilities to tackle the problem at hand. Collaboration as a basis of human growth has not affected; rather, it has strengthened even more during COVID-19 crisis in the hyper-connected world.

Social distancing is a tool used to slow down the spread of the virus. As herd immunity sets in or vaccine(s) get invented, the need for social distancing will reduce and eventually be redundant. But it would have changed the behaviours of the consumers in a digitally enhanced and hyper-connected world where the digital would have proved that its safe, convenient, valuable and can be contact-less.

All of us knew that the importance of digital touchpoints and digital marketing would grow since more and more people are getting aware of products and services through digital channels. Also, many times users traverse through the whole consumer journey on digital channels along with the physical touchpoint. While the need for safety and contactless became a ‘must-have’, the physical touchpoints reduced. This shift of behaviour will help accelerate and thus speed up the adoption and growth of digital even more.

When we talk about social distancing, it's about ‘Contactless’ and ‘Safe’. But, for that to happen, the consumers have changed their ways in how they search, decide and buy products & services. As a brand, we need to know it and improve the consumer experience on our digital assets. While we were deprived of social events, it has also changed our channels and patterns to entertain ourselves. 

Contactless, Safe, Convenient and Trustworthy

Our consumers value these, and hence the expectations from Digital marketing will revolve around these. While we, as brands, try to satisfy these core needs of the consumer using digital marketing, the digital transformation is getting interwoven into digital marketing. It cannot be seen as a separate tool. Digital will strive to satisfy core expectations of safety, trust and convenience to the consumer. This, in turn, will condition marketers for channels and tools in digital which meet the same core expectations. While digital media fraud has been a concern always, marketers will try to be more stringent and have a high degree of intolerance for fraudulent channels and tools. 

Impact of Change on Consumer Journeys

Social distancing norms have changed the way we interact with each other, and similar changes are seen in the way we behave on the digital assets of brands as well. More reliance on online purchases has increased the dependency on digital touchpoints in the consumer journey. Marketers need to understand the changes and consumer behaviour at the earliest and strive to improve customer experience. There will be a massive demand for data & insights services, and usage of AdTech and MarTech will be higher since these tools help to understand, analyse and improve the customer journey. The consumer is transforming to be following an omnichannel approach, and every channel has its importance. Thus, there will be more efforts to weave online and offline journeys together. 

Changes in the Way We Entertain Ourselves

While opportunities of going out with friends and family too have dried up, mobile became our gateway for entertainment. Every one of us has our liking for the type of content and genre we prefer. This has fuelled the growth of OTT. Our choices and behaviours on these channels speak volumes about our behaviour. I think, Mobiles and OTTs will have more importance in the media plans. These channels, coupled with audience understanding, will have more value in the future. Though unlocks will happen and people will start visiting restaurants, cinema halls and sporting events, but the personalised entertainment they get on a personal device as a habit will continue.

As we are continually evolving during the current times where social distancing and other newer norms are being set in our minds, new habits are being formed. These habits have largely helped in ascertaining the importance and relevance of digital marketing in the minds of brands as well as consumers to continue growing together. These habits are surely not short-lived and will continue to be evident in the future as well, maybe in altered ways. While we have seen digital marketing play a key role in keeping our lives run smoothly during these tough times, it will continue to grow later too. Social distancing has strengthened the landscape of digital marketing. As marketers, we just need to keep evolving with our customers.



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