Every brand should be cautious with their advertising and messaging during a time of high sensitivity and upheaval. But paralysis is not an option for marketers.

David Barker, CEO of StatSocial

Prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent global protests, we’ve seen some positive messages of solidarity coming from individuals and corporations. Many people and brands are pausing to turn their collective actions toward supporting communities in need. For months, officials have told the citizens of the world to shelter in place to help slow the spread of illness. Now, they’re speaking up again, and brands should follow suit.

The worst thing businesses can do right now is to engage in opportunism. Every brand should be rightfully cautious with their advertising and messaging during a time of high sensitivity and upheaval. However, brands shouldn’t let the current moment’s complexity serve as an excuse to freeze in place. Paralysis is not an option—and that includes data-driven efforts to understand the needs of consumers in adjustment better. Especially when it comes to ecommerce, people still need brands to get them what they need despite ongoing challenges.

In times of crisis, you must think long term

Businesses across industries are undergoing existential crises as the pandemic and social upheaval upend their value

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propositions. This means that companies need to leverage new data and insights that shed light on changes in consumer behaviors and shifts in baseline needs. People’s personal and professional lives are in transition, and it’s reordering what and how they purchase.

While many businesses are looking forward to what most hope will be at least a partial economic reopening of the world in the coming months, the world will feel the pandemic‘s residual effects for years. Pausing all business activities until familiar conditions return is not an option. That world is gone now.

Fortunately, many brands have already started investing in customer-centric data and ecommerce. Now is the time to fully employ those tools to meet the challenge of a new consumer landscape. Sentiment and economic fortunes are shifting dramatically moment-to-moment, and the only certainty is that the new world will scarcely resemble the old.

All audience insights are new

Just because somebody showed a purchase intent yesterday or a month ago, that doesn’t mean they’re still in the same position. If you’re marketing to them like they are, you’re likely to waste money and risk alienating them. It’s not just that they might have been laid off or canceled their vacation plans. It could mean that they’re fundamentally rethinking their place in the world.

Nearly every brand’s target audience has changed fundamentally. You must understand this new environment to reach them and meet their needs. While some audiences are evaporating, considering the pandemic and civil unrest, others are emerging just as quickly amid crisis. To speak to them with sensitivity is not just a good goal to have; it’s imperative to your survival.

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But you can’t just rely on intuition. A data-driven understanding of how consumers are changing their behaviors must be what drives adjustments in marketing and ecommerce.

There’s no shame in marketing to consumers in times of crisis if you do the marketing with sensitivity and insight. Everybody still has material needs, and now more than ever, those needs must be met with ecommerce. Despite the current upheaval, the future is unwritten. Everybody is starting from square one, but we have more tools than ever. If you treat the rest of this year and next like the challenge and the opportunity it represents for your marketing and ecommerce business, you’ll come out stronger on the other side.

StatSocial provides data intended to help brands and publishers to understand, segment and target their social audiences.

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