Plus, marketing ad spend is increasing and most companies have multiple plans in place for a 'back-to-normal' scenario post-coronavirus.

Most marketers are increasing ad spend and say that new service innovations—such as the adoption of new marketing technologies—put in place as a result of the coronavirus are here to stay, according to the recently released Customer Engagement Report COVID-19 Special Edition by performance marketing company Merkle.

When looking at ad spend, 59% of marketers in the retail industry indicated that they have increased their marketing spend. The remaining 49% say they are keeping their budgets the same (20%) or decreasing them (21%). Comparatively, the only industries with a higher percentage of companies increasing ad spend are health (70%) and insurance (60%), with the nonprofit sector seeing the lowest increases at 17%.

By marketing channel, 56% of marketers say they have increased their ad spend for site/mobile chat, 55% on mobile app functionality, 51% with email and 50% on video.

“When comparing these insights with the likelihood of replacing technologies in the next two years…we can assume that investments in chat and mobile are more temporary—while current investments in email platforms are more permanent,” Merkle reported.


Some of the marketing budget increases have gone toward trying new marketing technologies (according to 50% of marketers surveyed), becoming more consumer-centric in marketing messaging (45%) and developing new transaction fulfillment capabilities (42%) such as promoting consumer adoption of buy online pick up in store. Consumer-centric messaging is designed around a customer’s needs and includes messaging on consumer benefits, building trust, etc.

“I’m not surprised by the retail industry’s spike in new transaction fulfillment capabilities,” said Anne-Marie Schaffer, executive vice president and general manager, retail with Merkle, in the report. “BOPIS isn’t a new concept and has been implemented at leading retailers prior to COVID-19. For many retailers, it was a nascent concept with low adoption rates, forcing them to accelerate their transaction strategies to make up for lost ‘brick-and-mortar’ sales. It’s required brands to purchase robust point-of-sale systems and inventory management tools in order to effectively manage their supply chains and deliver customer experience.”


With the uncertainty of the lasting implications of the coronavirus on ecommerce, many marketing professionals are making multiple plans for a post-COVID-19 world. 63% of those surveyed said that their companies have multiple sets of plans in place for a “back-to-normal” scenario for consumers once the COVID-19 lockdowns end.

Many of the uncertainties related to the coronavirus pandemic have resulted in frustrations for marketers. Insights from Merkle found that marketers are irritated with how long it is taking to make a marketing decision (46%) and data being scattered across too many places to be useful (43%).


The Customer Engagement Report by Merkle is based on findings from 400 marketers surveyed at major U.S. and U.K. brands in June 2020.