A Guide to Marketing in 2020: Introduction

July 5, 2020

If I told you in January, 2020 that bread machine sales would increase by 652% in the coming months while bridal wear drops 63%, would you believe me? (Source)

Probably not, and understandably so.

Consumer behavior is undergoing radical changes on all fronts while many of us in the e-commerce world are still playing catch-up.

Millions of Canadians are now sitting at home with their families, either unemployed or working remotely. Countless other are still working on the front lines in grocery stores, hospitals, and other essential services. Some exist in an uncertain limbo where they aren’t working but have yet to be laid off. Regardless of these circumstances, people are still shopping online.

While initial panic buying saw people purchasing pandemic essentials (Lysol wipes, disinfectant, etc.), consumer interest has now turned its head towards non-essentials. Exercise equipment, lounge-wear, and home supplies sales have skyrocketed. Meanwhile, Amazon has announced that it cannot keep up with the demand. They’ve begun delaying non-essential orders or in some cases not processing them at all.

So why should you invest in digital marketing right now? You may be tempted to cutback your ad spend in an attempt to budget more conservatively but the truth is, there’s never been a better time for it.

Internet use has increased more than 70% since the isolation measures began. People aren’t just scrolling social media more, they are looking for hobbies, blogs, anything that can help them pass the time. That means that having a good website and social presence is even more important to a holistic marketing strategy.

Major e-commerce retailers like Amazon are finding it hard to cope, leaving abundant opportunity for local delivery and in-store pickup options. For smaller businesses, this can be an efficient way to see a return on your advertising investment. Marketing and delivering your products locally coincides with an increased desire to support community businesses.

It's important to note that most blogs and articles tend to overlook that these conditions are temporary. While the timeline might not be set in stone yet, countries have begun to recover from the pandemic and will continue to do so. Marketing and online shopping trends will normalize to a degree and the trends of the past will emerge once again.

However, manufacturers and retailers alike still need to adapt to the current environment. Luckily for us marketers, now is our time to shine. Buyer personas need to be revised, content strategies built from the ground up, and landing pages tailored towards this new breed of consumer. We need to be proactive, not reactive. Predict trends before they occur by causing them in the first place. Show people why now is the perfect time for them to purchase your product.

Advertising aside, let's say you already own and operate an e-commerce store. There are several factors you can improve to boost sales and customer loyalty. A study conducted by Canada Post found that free shipping, set delivery expectations, and better return policies had the greatest impact on consumer choice. 62% of shoppers have gone so far as to abandon their cart over return policy concerns and a further 79% stop buying from a retailer altogether after a bad return experience (Canada Post e-Commerce Report, 2020). While many of us e-merchants are obsessed with driving customers to our page and creating engaging design, we often overlook the simple buying experience.

With a few exceptions, there are always cheaper and pricier versions of the product you're selling. That's why its integral to not lose customers when they've already added to the shopping cart. Shopify provides many free apps, such as PushOwl, that follow up with customers who've abandoned their cart. Researching app integrations that focus on the buying experience can give you the advantage over your competition.

So what role do manufacturers play when it comes to online shopping? Surprisingly, in 2019, 26% of shoppers purchased directly from a manufacturer. Among shoppers who make 40+ orders a year, that number increases to 39%. The reasons for this trend are quite simple. It's less expensive, there's better selection, and its accessible. 34%of shoppers said they were drawn to buying direct due to a manufacturer's promotion. These trends are promising, and early adopters are proving to benefit most. While selling directly isn't feasible for some manufacturers, it can help build stronger relationships, move products faster, and offer you greater control over your products and reputation.

You may be wondering what any of this has to do with marketing. It's true, traditional marketing techniques are simply meant to bring people to your pages, but what happens when they get there? This is where inbound marketing comes into play. Improve your organic content through various channels to accent your brand identity and values. Shipping, return policies and delivery expectations all play into inbound marketing methods because no matter how strong your digital ads are, 58% of shoppers discover new online retailers by specifically searching for an item.

That being said, digital ads are mandatory in any holistic marketing strategy. When used appropriately, retailers can see massive returns on their investment. A staggering 46% of shoppers will visit a retailer's website/app after receiving a social media ad. Whether they stay and make a purchase relies on the strength of your inbound marketing. In this way, inbound and outbound are two sides of the same coin both focused on conversions.

Whatever size or state your e-commerce operation is functioning at, a new digital marketing strategy is key to prolonged success during this crisis and afterwards. Shoppers are out there searching for your products right now. Whether they find them or not depends on how proactive you approach your business's outbound and inbound marketing.

All statistics and graphics pulled from the Canada Post 2020 Canadian e-commerce report.