COVID-19 continues to devastate our world and is causing consumer behavior to change dramatically. These changes are forcing a shift from traditional, in-person workforce and school environments, to a virtual workforce and online education. These two factors are creating what we believe to be a lasting impact on human behavior and consumer marketing.
Over the last few months, we’ve analyzed a lot of consumer behavior data, and here are the shifts you will need to make as the dust settles from COVID-19.
Your brand’s online experience will be critical
Just last year, 84% of consumers stated that the experience a brand produces is equally as important to them as the goods or services the brand offers. This “experience” involves both the physical experience your customer receives when entering your store as well as your online presence — including page speed, mobile functionality, and overall journey.
The percentage of consumers that hold brand experience to the same standard as products and services has likely increased substantially within the past few months. Now more than ever, people are paying closer attention to brands that share their values and put the customer first.
Consumers will demand faster page loading speeds
Society’s newfound shift towards a virtual world is now mandating that you optimize your consumers’ online experience.
Quarantine restrictions have resulted in increased gravitation towards social networking and mobile devices. Because consumers are accessing more information at their fingertips than ever before, businesses must try harder to communicate and reach people online. Customers are spending more time online than ever before as they try to locate the products, services, and information they need.
The amount of free time and patience that consumers have is beginning to decrease, and loading speeds are becoming more important than ever..
Page speed is one of the most important factors of the consumer experience and increasing conversions, yet somehow, it often gets overlooked. Think about it: when you’re browsing for a product, if you land on a page that takes more than a few seconds to load, you’re likely to become impatient and try another site that loads faster.
One of the lesser known benefits to quicker page loads is that faster sites receive higher rankings on Google. For more info on increasing your page speed, check out these SEO tips from Moz.
Consumers will interact more with mobile friendly sites
If your website is not yet optimized for mobile devices (i.e., smartphones and iPads), making it mobile friendly needs to be at the top of your priority list.
Surveys show that over the last few months, mobile data use has increased worldwide. The lockdown has caused Internet users to spend more time on their smartphones and tablets each day.
With consumers gravitating towards their phones and consuming more mobile media, your site must be user friendly and functional across all devices in order to keep up.
In today’s market, you need to reach consumers where they congregate and today, that’s happening online and primarily from mobile devices. If your site is not optimized for this mobile experience, consumers will seek out your more mobile friendly competitor.
While the amount of time users spend on mobile devices may decrease as many head back to work or school after the virus has passed, the importance of responsive design to users (just like the importance of loading speed) will not diminish.
As mobile consumerism becomes more common practice, users will have even less patience for websites that can’t be properly navigated on their phones.
Mobile friendly designs will streamline the user’s experience across all devices, satisfy the majority of your customers’ browsing preferences, boost your Google ranking, and boost your mobile conversion rate.
Consumers will seek online communication with businesses
Moving forward, it will be absolutely essential for all brick and mortar stores to offer an ecommerce solution.
You’ve probably already implemented online options to substitute the typical in-person interactions that take place in your business. However, you may have mistakenly thought that using tools like Zoom and Facetime were just addressing a temporary situation. Now is the time to recognize, however, that online meetings and consultations are now a part of your permanent future.
COVID-19 induced adaptations and innovations will become the new norm. Since the lockdown began in March, Facebook has noted a 1,000% increase in the use of group calls. Slack and Microsoft MS teams have reported 14.5 million new subscribers to their platforms.
From video call conferences to no-contact grocery store pick-up options, advances in technology have arguably made communication more efficient and made goods and services more accessible than ever before.
If your business relies on customer appointments, consider allowing consumers to schedule these appointments online from now on — even after the virus has passed. This will not only be easier and faster, but it will provide a better overall experience for the user.
If you recently started offering video consultations to substitute face-to-face meetings, consider making this a permanent option as well. For many, video calls save time and gas, and they’ll remain a safe alternative to future in-person interaction during times like the flu season.
Consumers will seek online shopping options
By 2025, online shopping is expected to account for 30% of all retail sales, and we might even hit the 30% mark much sooner if the U.S. continues to see a long-term spike in COVID-19 cases. Permanently implementing any temporary ecommerce solutions you originally put in place during the shut-down should become a priority. This will help you continue to address the accelerated market shift toward online shopping and communication..
As the world continues its shift toward a more virtual environment, brands that continue to optimize online consumer experiences will be the most successful.
Take a hard look at your full consumer journey and seek ways to improve customer engagement, reputation management (i.e., responding to customer reviews and social media presence), site product searches, purchasing experience, return policies, etc.
Life as we know it is going to continue changing, and we hope a pandemic-free world isn’t too far away. The best way to keep up with the change is by listening to your customers and responding to their needs.
Stay up to date with the latest on marketing during COVID-19 by checking out the Bizzuka blog.