Changes in society – especially the big ones that are defined as “eras” – typically come with plenty of time to garner information, plan, and prepare. COVID-19 landed smack in the middle of our lives with no such warning system. In the dawn of this new era, everything changed – how we make a living, how we educate our children, and even our purchasing habits.
The global pandemic forced people to think about mobility in a new way. No longer was mobile and digital technology only a luxury primarily used by millennials and the tech-savvy. It became a necessity for nearly everybody, and with that acknowledgment, the landscape of omnichannel marketing changed forever.
Marketers are still scrambling to make adjustments and find new ways to interact with existing and potential customers. But despite the changes inspired by the virus, one baseline marketing principle has remained – you need to meet customers where they are.
New Rules of Engagement
Under quarantine (voluntary or mandated), more people are turning to home delivery, online shopping, and social media for both primary and “luxury” needs. E-commerce retail jumped more than 30% in March, and companies like Amazon hired more employees to meet the surge in demand. The brick and mortar industry was struggling before COVID-19, with many now facing permanent closure.
With these new lifestyle standards, three themes have emerged above the rest for omnichannel marketers maneuvering to increase customer engagement:
- Mobile optimization and the evolution from QR to DRV (direct response video) readers
- The continued rise of interactive digital signage
- Renewed interest in digital ad tracking
One theory playing out across the nation is that claustrophobic irritability, AKA cabin fever, is driving customers back into stores — but they’re still wary of physically interacting with products (or sales staff). This leads to a different phenomenon called “brick and order” or “click and mortar” where customers are physically visiting stores but purchasing through in-store apps or QR/DRV readers and having products delivered.
Today, sophistication in DRV augmented QR readers, which are amplified with computer vision and augmented reality overlays, enables end-users to scan either code seamlessly without switching brand apps. DRV readers allow a distance ratio of 150 to 1 vs. QR, which is 9 to 1, making the DRV reader the clear choice for safe, fast, and touchless transactions. Brands can integrate real-time analytics and rewards programs to track ads and customer spending patterns meticulously.
The Return of Crowds?
As social distancing measures continue, it will become more critical than ever for omnichannel marketers to interact with customers from a safe distance. COVID-19 has emphasized the importance of digital signage, which remains the most effective advertising medium for seamlessly connecting with customers today.
For a moment, think about how many different forms of digital signage you encounter while moving through the city: large billboards at intersections, the menu and ordering kiosk at your favorite fast-casual eatery, or the gas station pump. Digital signage is everywhere. From airports to train/subway stations, inside malls and restaurants, and outdoor markets and emporiums. Envision Times Square or Las Vegas and the seemingly endless number of digital billboards and signs. They are inescapable. Even at home, we are surrounded by flat-screen TVs, smart-appliances, computer monitors, and mobile devices.
Companies that rely on communicating directly with large crowds are utilizing digital signage to bring people together for sports, concerts, live events, and more while providing enough space for safe social distancing measures. DRV technology is currently the only platform that can communicate with digital signage from a smartphone. It easily integrates with digital billboards and signage, giving marketers an original and meaningful new way for customers to interact with their favorite brands or discover new ones from a safe distance.
Communication is merely the starting point. The goal is an interaction that leads to conversion! DRV technology gives marketers new opportunities to create exciting and enticing content for their brands, and to better track conversion rates and consumer behaviors.
Discover and Reinvent
Many brands are finding it necessary to continually pivot messaging and creative executions to focus on coronavirus-related patterns and themes. With the economic volatility of today, brands can not risk precious marketing dollars on tactics deemed ineffective with minimal ROI. Tracking the impact of marketing strategies and campaigns provides a micro- and macro-level understanding of where adjustments need to be made.
Businesses are realizing that their survival may become reliant on their digital marketing strategies. Know your customers and meet them where they are most comfortable during these trying times. You may learn just how valuable you are to each other’s livelihoods, and that is always an experience worth discovering.