The COVID-19 pandemic caused some changes in the ways businesses do marketing online. Some of the year’s trends are a natural extension of technological advances, but the global epidemy that still cripples many industries influences some of the others. Here are some of the most important B2C digital marketing innovations and trends of the year.
Statista projects the VR market to increase from less than five billion U.S. dollars in 2021 to more than 12 billion U.S. dollars by 2024. Businesses already take advantage of this growing trend to offer virtual tours of stores, to allow them to check out products before they buy, and to tell brand stories in fun and engaging ways.
Earlier this year, Wool & Water launched Extended Retail®, a proprietary technology that transforms organizations’ omnichannel retail footprints with shoppable VR/AR experiences.
Gucci allows consumers to design virtual sneakers in a space called the Gucci Sneaker Garage.
Brands also use virtual escape room games for marketing themselves to consumers. For example, Amazon Prime Video and The Escape Game had a live virtual escape room called “Truth Seekers.”
These are just some examples showing how B2C companies can use virtual reality to satisfy consumers’ increasing demand for immersive experiences.
Brands focused on building human connections with their consumers instead of acting out of self-interest are most likely to succeed during and in a post-pandemic world. A Deloitte Global study in April 2021 found that one in four people walk away from brands acting in self-interest, and more than 70% of the respondents value digital innovations that deepen their connection with others during COVID-19.
The CMO Survey had similar findings: 79% of their respondents showed greater acknowledgment for companies’ attempts to do good, and “B2C companies experience this approximately 25% more than B2B companies.”
Businesses striving to increase their impact on society bringing human values at the forefront of their marketing efforts, will improve their brand image, attracting more customers, and generating more sales.
Digital Voice Assistants
Statista approximated the number of digital voice assistants used in devices globally in 2020 at 4.2 billion, with a prediction that this number will reach 8.4 billion by 2024 (more than the world’s population).
Digital voice assistants can search the web for information, respond to commands, and assist users in controlling connected electronics in homes, offices, and even vehicles. Since many people perform voice searches for products and travel through personal digital assistants, it makes sense for B2C to speed up the adoption process and optimize their websites and apps for voice searches.
To put things in perspective, Adobe Analytics found out that 31% of digital voice assistant devices users use voice for smart home commands, 30% for ordering or shopping online, 17% for take-out food orders, and 16% for flight and hotel research.
Also, according to Juniper Research, “eCommerce transaction values via voice assistants will reach $19.4 billion by 2023, rising from just $4.6 billion in 2021.”
The one-size-fits-all approach to digital marketing no longer works. Now, consumers expect personalized experiences while searching, in email and newsletter correspondence, while accessing chatbots, browsing websites, compelling individualized offers, ads, and so on.
A report by MoEngage revealed that personalization boosts CTR by more than 1.65X.
To deliver content personalized to the consumers’ preferences, businesses must use smart data analytics, which clusters big data into actionable and contextual insights based on user behaviors, buying intelligence, trends, sales analytics, and other KPIs. As a result, personalization can help B2C companies optimize and boost sales, increase customer loyalty, drive more leads, and gain more brand advocates.
As a result of the pandemic, many B2C retailers opened online stores and apps to make the shopping experience easier for their customers. Click-and-collect, or BOPIS (buy online, pick up in-store), is one of the innovations clients seem to appreciate very much, even when the lockdown restrictions are easing.
A Raydiant survey of 1000 American consumers offers several eye-opening statistics:
- 4% of shoppers have used BOPIS at least once
- 56% of the respondents used BOPIS six or more times in 2020, and out of these, 2% used it more than 20 times
- 4% of shoppers cite COVID-19 as their primary motivation to use click-and-collect
After the pandemic, BOPIS is likely to remain a favorite way of shopping, combining digital innovation and personal interaction. Moreover, it is a flexible and convenient shopping solution for people with limited time or the elderly.
Businesses must continue to innovate while refining their marketing methods to be more humane and customer-centric to remain relevant for consumers during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Adopting new technologies and taking advantage of the ones users already prefer are other good marketing strategies that will continue to drive growth and revenue.