2020 has taught us a lot, and to be honest, we’re still collectively learning and evolving how to navigate the uncertainty of our environment. That’s pretty much the defining feature of this year: Uncertainty. Under some circumstances, uncertainty cannot be so bad and even exciting depending on the context. Under the lens of 2020? Not so much.

Earlier this year, we covered how Covid-19 has impacted advertisers, how brands responded to declining markets, and our take on the creative successes of pivoting strategy for the current landscape.

It’s also an election year, which already comes with its own effects. We shared a guide on how to plan media during the 2020 political year too. Yes, on top of everything else, that’s still happening.

By June of this year, CMO conducted a special edition report regarding the 2020 climate. 84% of marketers “improvised to generate new marketing strategies during the pandemic.” [1] Some made drastic changes, from completely cutting spend to a strategy-180. Some made minor changes like reducing costs or pausing a vertical or two.

Most importantly, consumer behavior changed as well, which was to be expected. The CMO report confirms:

  • 84% of consumers have increased openness to new digital offerings introduced during the pandemic
  • 84% show increased value on digital experience
  • 79% have greater acknowledgement of ‘do good’ company attempts

For purchasing behavior, we see:

  • 67% lower likelihood to buy
  • 59% more online research before buying
  • 43% unwilling to pay full price

As a whole, the CMO report confirms the experience many advertisers have faced and offers insight on how the consumer has changed.

Let’s look at the consumer behavior more closely. Consumers are embracing all things digital, including new offerings and experiences. The likelihood of purchasing has decreased, and a larger percentage of consumers are researching and looking for a deal. They respond positively to brands who connect with issues and causes, and they expect digital responsiveness from brands.

Most importantly, we’re in the process of adjusting to a new era of marketing that many of us have been discussing for years. Have you noticed more brands shifting to demonstrate their authenticity? Vocalizing and contributing support for causes and issues? Placing real, human faces and personalities behind their brand? Striving for relationship building? The development of new KPIs, such as brand response rate, based on solely what matters to the consumer?

2020 put this shift into hyperdrive and is continually proving how important integrating the human aspect to marketing is. That is, for those that are listening.

To make the most of our Q4, we should lean on the efforts that are showing a return and continue evolving to be supportive of the not just the consumer, but human experience. If you already do this, continue and build. If you haven’t, start yesterday.

  • Develop new strategies, whether advertorial or promotional, that responds to and supports your audience and their needs
  • Increase your online activities and digital footprint
  • Lean on social media for awareness, brand building, engagement, and customer service
    • Social media is a great place to demonstrate the authenticity consumers are increasingly craving
  • Expand or improve digital offerings to provide what consumers need
  • Optimize web, mobile and apps for usability
  • Expand or improve internal digital capabilities
  • Don’t lose your base. Nurture current customers meaningfully and don’t place new acquisition above them
    • This also includes improving the customer experience

Life moves fast, especially in 2020. Successful tactics and strategies can suddenly fall flat overnight, and that rings true even pre-pandemic. Thus, it’s important to analyze and keep up with results as often as possible. Absolutely do not stop utilizing the below to help guide you leading into and during Q4:

  • Consumer research
    • If you have vendors or partnerships, they can be helpful here
  • Tapping into the expertise and historical knowledge of the marketing team and the brand’s management ream
  • For your brand’s sales team, receive up-to-date information not just about consumers as a whole, but your customers
  • Research the landscape in real-time. Observe what is and is not working for competitors and non-competitors
  • Analytics for your website, including mobile and desktop versions, and app
  • Analytics for your digital strategies, whether organic or paid
    • What you measure should be dependent on your own brand and goals

It’s not going to be a normal Q4, that we all know. Our roadmap is still uncertain. If we can be certain about anything, it’s that preparing for that uncertainty is crucial. Develop your strategy with the latest research, adopt or drop what is or is not working, and be prepared for various scenarios and how you’ll pivot to adapt and respond to our evolving human behavior.

So buckle up, because the ride isn’t over yet.