Over the last month, e-commerce brands have tackled their fair share of unique challenges. On the one hand, internet usage has risen by 50% due to home-quarantine and COVID-19 measures, on the other hand, many consumers are facing the risk of reduced working hours and job loss. The demand for essential products skyrocketed, but non-essential shopping has required extra creativity and consideration from brands.
To address this, e-commerce brands have been making considerable adjustments to their marketing and communication strategies. They’re faced with two very different requirements: continue to grasp their consumers’ attention (which, depending on the product may require a completely new go-to-market strategy), whilst also navigating their crisis brand strategy that communicates where they stand in the current global climate. How your e-commerce brand connects with your audience matters greatly during this time.
Essential products: Time to strike home with customer loyalty
For essential products like groceries, protective gear, and sanitizing products, purchasing behaviors have very clearly increased. Protective masks alone have seen a surge of 817%. However, an area not to be overlooked here is the opportunity to improve upon and earn customers’ loyalty.
An example of how this can be implemented is Touchland – a “cool” new brand of hand sanitizer. They aren’t capitalizing on the current panic-buying phenomenon to sell their products. Instead, Andrea Lisbona, founder and CEO, shared that she wanted Touchland to build a community with their customers instead.
“As a brand, we think long term and do not want to drive people to buy Touchland products out of fear,” said Lisbona in an interview with Modern Retail. “You’re not going to see us using the outbreak to promote our products – we certainly address it when it’s relevant – but it’s certainly not part of our promotion strategy.”
Non-essential products: Keep the messaging, but shift your angle
For products that may not be a top priority, brands need to recognize that people still want to look and feel good – even when they are at home. It’s important for e-commerce brands to communicate this angle to their customers, without compromising their authentic messaging.
Lush, a skincare brand, has consistently promoted self-care as its main messaging point. Under the monumental presence of COVID-19, Lush continues to bring light to the world through encouraging community and self-love. #LushShowAndTell is a campaign hashtag that Lush dedicates to highlighting happiness and joyous moments from its community, despite these trying times.
New opportunities for certain markets
Not surprisingly, being home has lead people to reevaluate how they spend their time. Certain markets thrive: from gaming, streaming, online courses, and… marijuana. That’s right, the state of California deemed the cannabis industry to be essential during this time. Sales of cannabis during March surged up to 40% compared to the first 2.5 months of the year – including home delivery sales.
While these markets aren’t new, they are definitely seeing new opportunities and new customer bases. For these brands, a smart marketing effort can include free products to not only introduce new customers to the brand, but also to contribute to the bigger picture: encouraging people to stay at home.
Consider where to advertise online
In last week’s blog post on E-commerce, we reported on e-commerce sites doubling their ad spend from $4.8 million to $9.6 million between the month of February and March. However, how you spend your marketing budget matters greatly during this time, especially when there are so many changes to URL and IRL traffic.
Evidently, it’s not a great time to spend money on advertising banners or physical advertising campaigns. Naturally, brands are exploring online alternatives. Each new environment brings with it a new set of challenges and considerations: when and where to place those ads can greatly impact your brand’s success. A New York Times article found that screentime on mobile devices has increased, but not as significant as compared to laptop usage. Most remarkably, people who access Facebook via the website (on computers rather than the Facebook app) increased by 27%. Youtube followed at 15.3%.
This means that while Instagram ads are great, Facebook and Youtube ads might be more efficient during this time.
Use influencers to your advantage
Influencer marketing, when leveraged in the correct way, is one of the most efficient additions to your marketing strategy. It’s a great way to introduce your brand to a carefully curated and loyal group of followers, but also the perfect bridge to build a strong community between you and your consumers.
With that said, working with influencers during this time, as with everything else, requires a thoughtful approach, more so than before. We dive deeper into how you can navigate an influencer marketing campaign during this time in this article. It’s important to continue being mindful: being mindful of the influencer you’re working with, of your campaign angle, how to remain sensitive, and being mindful of the audience you’re trying to reach.
Being present, wherever you are
No matter what industry you are in, what product you offer, what campaigns you run, or where you run them: it’s important to be present. This means that as a brand, especially an e-commerce brand trying to combat these sweeping industry changes, you remain present with your company, your employees, your consumers, and your industry as a whole.
We invite you to embrace this historic moment as an opportunity to learn and adapt to any changes that come your way. We understand that the pace of change this past month has presented a number of challenges and opportunities to all industries – and know that there will be more to come.