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Digital Marketing during the Pandemic: Disruptions and Opportunities




Digital Marketing during Pandemic: Disruptions and Opportunities

Digital marketing has long been one of the proven key business tools with extensive influence. In the age of Internet and advanced technology, it grows by leaps and bounds.

During crises that human-to-human contact is limited such as pandemic, lockdown or social distancing, online marketing is the lifesaver for hardest-hit businesses. The question is how. Follow these 4 steps to adapt your digital marketing strategies timely and protect your business’ sustainable growth during and after the pandemic.

Step 1: Understand Critical Changes in Digital Marketing during Pandemic

The pandemic has brought disruptions upon most, if not all industries. Even the best business must tread carefully amidst this pandemic. Doing business seems harder and harder with each wave of lockdown, but businesses can still turn the tables around with a silver lining: the empowered digital marketing.

Consumers pay much more attention to information about health, work from home (WFH), education and entertainment at home. As a lot of information is consumed online and on mobile devices, people started downloading more applications to follow these topics.

digital marketing during pandemic

Digital marketing during pandemic

Product & Service

They switch to online shopping even for goods that are normally purchased offline and directly, such as groceries or household products.

Consumers during pandemic focus on value and essentials more than ever.

Regarding service selection, healthcare, insurance and utilities are on the priority list, while travelling, sporting, entertainment and sectors requiring direct human contact suffer the fate of being put “on hold”.

Working & Lifestyle

WFH and online learning are the only options in many locations during lockdown, giving teleconferencing applications the chance to flourish. A 2020 Data Digest report of Sensor Tower showed that Zoom was the fastest growing apps for business, and its counterpart in the entertainment sector was TikTok.

Secluded in their homes, people turn to social media to compensate for the lack of personal interaction. This is not only a place for entertainment but also information sharing and entrepreneurship.

During pandemic, online marketing is the solution for necessities and entertainment for people locked in homes.

It all calls for deliberate changes in digital marketing strategies of our company. But to make changes sustainable, the first thing is to spare some time looking at current trends and predictions of digital marketing during pandemic as well.
Then, consider 3 insights for your business during pandemic:

business during pandemic

Business during pandemic

Search intent and purchase intent change

Consequently, your SEO, content marketing and advertising strategies can’t stay the same. A 2021 MDPI published research on the impact of the pandemic on digital marketing found that good business practices in SEO, advertising and e-CRM substantially impacted customer satisfaction and purchase intent.

Online shopping surges

With an eCommerce site and m-commerce application, you are several steps ahead in the business competition during the pandemic.

online marketing during pandemic

Online marketing during pandemic

Customer loyalty weakens

Limited choices and resources make consumers favor the most convenient and affordable solutions. This implies increased difficulties in maintaining customer loyalty and satisfaction. Improvement in e-CRM and online reputation management are advised.
Example actions are releasing mobile app, managing reviews and comments across channels, increasing online communication like email, social media feed, app notifications, podcast, webinar and livestream video.

Step 2: Identify Digital Marketing Opportunities for your Business during Pandemic

The pandemic hits each industry differently. The pandemic impact on your business depends on your industry, company size and geographic location among other factors.

For example, businesses that rely mostly on supply chains suffer the most during lockdown, while Internet-based services thrive. Learning from the best business in this pandemic can shed some light on next steps for your brand.

Consider 4 opportunities during social distancing to protect your businesses from unexpected setbacks:

Go e-commerce / m-commerce

A good-to-have for some sectors before the crisis now becomes a necessity. Investment in a well-designed eCommerce web and a user-friendly mobile app is strongly recommended.

Remember to consider the aspect of delivery because the supply chain is sure to be disrupted during lockdown.

Go omnichannel

Many brands opt for this strategy for long-term business growth. The pandemic flare-up accelerates it. For example, many brands increase their touchpoints, both brand-owned and non-owned, to minimize the impact of lockdown on certain areas. This comes with lowered control from the brand yet increased reach and scale.

Best business this pandemic

Go outsourcing

Recruiting and training an in-house expert team is indeed a feat, yet often a waste during crises. Therefore, outsourcing to trusted agencies is becoming the go-to choice. It saves time and resources while ensuring high quality and access to a huge talent pool.
Note that a recognized digital marketing agency with multiple all-in-one service packages is most preferred.

Step 3: Consider Long-term Impact of Digital Marketing Changes during Pandemic

Changes are inevitable, especially during crises. But it’s a big NO to trade off long-term growth for short-term benefits. Therefore, before any strategy change, you must think about its impact and value for your business after pandemic.
Let’s take an example. Cutting cost is one priority during crises. Some companies choose to stop SEO and intend to return to the old way when the lockdown period is over.
However, SEO doesn’t take effect overnight, and once you stop it for some months, restarting is not much different from starting it all over. This is not a wise move as you’re fueling the present with values from the future.
On the other hand, some brands quickly grasp the opportunity to “go omnichannel” during lockdown. They integrate in-store data before lockdown into online channel design to bring about the best user experience.
They also prepare so that their online and third party channels will support their physical stores once social distancing comes to an end. This flexible retail strategy powers the business and helps them overcome upcoming obstacles with minimal disruptions.

Step 4: Adapt your Digital Marketing Strategies during Pandemic

Before deciding on a new way for your digital marketing, you should be crystal clear about your current situation. Review your existing goals, progress, resources and other relevant factors. Then, do some research and cost/benefit analysis on the most beneficial changes. Doing business during pandemic requires both brain and gut.

No matter which digital marketing changes you choose, don’t forget to ask yourself 3 questions:

impact of pandemic on business

Impact of pandemic on business

Is this new strategy flexible?

Crises are unpredictable. If your new strategy is not flexible enough to adapt to another new situation, the cost is likely to outweigh the value.
But a strategy that can change any time and in any direction is not welcomed either. Your core values and mission should keep the base solid while leaving some rooms for responsive actions.
One way to make your strategy agile is social listening. It can quickly inform consumers’ reactions to certain campaigns or actions of your company, sometimes even changes in supply chain due to lockdown rules. Hence, you can deliver communication and make decisions in “real-time”.

Does this new strategy create new value for (new) customers?

The new normal has changed your customers and customer segments.

According to the 2021 EY Future Consumer Index, the pandemic has divided consumers into 5 types with different priorities: affordability, health, environment, society and experience.

Which is your company’s competitive advantage? How about your competitors? And which do you want to be your competitive advantage?

Review your customers and customer segments before moving forward.

How does this new strategy affect the overall marketing or business strategy?

Adaptive changes shouldn’t be applied for only one single team or strategy. All parties involved should be aligned and communicated clearly about the upcoming change.
For example, in a lockdown, some areas are off-limits for delivery. The strategy to deal with pending orders should come from management to various teams: development for mobile app function modification, marketing for official announcements on different channels, customer services for direct communication to customers, and operation for managing warehousing and delivery.
One such change needs support from many different teams, not just digital marketing, so that the message is clear and the action is consistent.
business after pandemic

Business after pandemic

A Case of Do and Don’B in Digital Marketing during Pandemic

Marketers are not strangers to “paid, owned and earned media”. The right ratio of these 3 channel types will give you a well-rounded marketing strategy. Each company has their own ratio. But the impact of pandemic on business has tipped the balance.
Among 3 types, earned media is the one that relies the most on consumer trust and loyalty. As customer loyalty reduces due to limited choices and resources, company A starts to invest more on earned media during the pandemic.
But they don’t want to miss out on the social media surge. So they also put more focus on paid social media (a type of paid media) to raise brand awareness and communication. As a result, efforts put in their owned channels are on the wane.

online marketing in pandemic

Online marketing in pandemic

Find out more: What is the impact of the pandemic on businesses and digital marketing?


In any crisis hides golden opportunities. The pandemic doesn’t leave any business with the choice to stay the same anymore. Let’s look at this pandemic on the bright side: an opportunity to transform your business as a whole.

It’s time to wield the power of a new, improved digital marketing to embark your brand on a sustainable journey built with strategic, well-thought changes.

Research current and future trends, review existing business and marketing strategies, and engage everyone in the next big move. If you’re still hesitant or unsure about any digital marketing change, don’t hesitate to contact your loyal partner – On Digitals.

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