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A World Upside Down: Marketing, Content And Sourcing During COVID-19

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on eCommerce can hardly be underestimated. As early as December 1st, data from Salesforce estimated an increase in global online sales of 36 percent compared to 2019. And while that figure may be significant for digital retailers, the pandemic also presents new challenges for marketers. More specifically, sourcing creative content.

Sourcing top-performing content has always been a challenge. Chiefly because there’s no way of gauging traffic for content until after it’s been published. And while eCommerce has now been established as positively vital to the success of a brand, the struggle for visibility has never been greater.

Amazon earns approximately $11,000 a second as many consumers are left with digital retail as their only shopping outlet. You’re not likely to reach that number. So how do you source the best content for your marketing campaign in an increasingly crowded landscape?

Redefining Borders—Your Community and Your Brand

It’s easy for us to think of marketing as a purely internal function. But in 2021, sourcing content is increasingly becoming a question of reaching outwards.

It’s been estimated that investing in influencers can bring an ROI of as much as 800 percent. But your influencers don’t just have to be overnight YouTube sensations. They’re also your followers. Your customers. And they can sometimes be more effective than a high profile Instagram maven.

Part of the appeal of the influencer market is its everyday status. They’re not A-list celebrities but your next door neighbor or coworker. Consumers trust what they can relate to—and that’s not always going to be a high profile public figure. They want to trust a brand which celebrates their audience, not a multi-million dollar marketing campaign. Social media outreach is vital to understanding your key audience. In fact, Facebook accounted for over 80 percent of social referral shares in the US to eCommerce sites in 2019. But it takes skill to navigate social media successfully.

  • Utilize giveaways and promotions to encourage your audience to post pictures of themselves using your product line. Leveraging special offers in conjunction with Amazon listings can be invaluable during peak seasons.

  • Engage with your customers directly and personally. This may be time consuming, but will cultivate an impression that you value their thoughts and opinions.

  • Different networks require different approaches. A visually friendly medium like Instagram doesn’t necessarily lend itself to direct engagement in the way Facebook does. Keep in mind that the pandemic has forced many people to rely on social media as a lifeline, and it’s critical to keep as high a visibility as possible on diverse networks to keep your brand fresh in people’s minds.

  • Localize your postings to target specific cities and towns. As online shopping becomes increasingly woven into the fabric of our lives, localizing your posts helps create a sense of community—even when social distancing keeps us apart.

  • Diversify your content. The entire stage of a shopper’s journey from impression to purchase requires a full understanding of their needs. The shopper on Facebook is quite different from the average TikTok user. Optimizing content for each platform means understanding both the demographics of each platform as well as whether they’ll match your brand.

Retargeting Your Content

What’s new isn’t always what works. That’s because there’s some content which simply remains timeless.

While the eCommerce genie is out of its proverbial bottle, consumers long for the pre-COVID days when things seemed just a little more simple and carefree. This isn’t a superficial nostalgia, but a literal yearning and need. Their shopping habits may have changed. But their memories and needs haven’t. And even the newest brands can draw from an archive of content to retarget and repurpose.

  • The average click-through rate online for display ads has been estimated to be 0.07 percent, while the average click-through for retargeted ads is approximately 0.7 percent.

  • Nearly three out of five US online buyers indicated they noticed ads for products they looked up on other sites.

  • Thirty percent of consumers have reported a positive or very positive customer experience as a result of retargeted ads.

  • In a recent study from digital analysts comScore, retargeting generated the highest lift in trademark search behavior among six ad placement strategies at 1,046 percent.

  • Brand awareness has been known to increase by as much as 37 percent as a result of mobile retargeted ads.

  • In 2018, 41 percent of global marketing budgets went to retargeting.

But it’s one thing to retarget an ad campaign that’s proven successful. It’s another to develop a new campaign that speaks directly to a customer’s need to return to happier and much more stable times.

Nostalgia for the Future?

Digital commerce has always been mainstream. But it took the coronavirus to cement it as a necessary global retail channel. And things may never be the same.

It’s hard to predict whether physical retail can fully recover from the effects of the pandemic. Even as we speak, retailers are experimenting with in-store predictive learning analytics and contactless kiosks—tools which would have been unthinkable without the rise of eCommerce. Omnichannel engagement existed long before COVID-19 and there’s no reason for it to stop. But even as digital retail has transformed our lives, new challenges emerge. New challenges which demand new solutions. That includes marketing.

Content can be as much of a product as a physical item itself; and the surge in eCommerce sales has only reinforced the idea. But that idea demands a shift in our attitudes towards a more holistic understanding of the role of marketing. An understanding which sees marketing and product development as intimately connected and complementary. The vision of your product is limited only by the impact it makes.

And successfully sourcing digital content requires understanding your audience as much as understanding your product.


Color More Lines provides white glove, global account management of your eCommerce platforms so mission-driven companies can focus on new product development, branding and growth strategies. Find out more at Color More Lines.

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