Right now, the global economy exists in something like suspended animation; brought to a halt by the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). For businesses, it’s been a trying time, and one filled with frantic efforts to find ways to keep on working despite the crisis. For many, the existence of digital platforms like Zoom and its brethren has been a life-saver, keeping workers connected and businesses operating.
But there’s another reality taking shape for businesses while they’re busy adapting to the new normal. It’s the fact that the crisis is driving customers right into the waiting arms of digital-natives like Amazon, who haven’t been shuttered due to the pandemic. Experts predict that it’s a shift that may not reverse itself, even when the restrictions ease and people start getting back to life as they knew it.
That means businesses that rely on brick-and-mortar retail locations are going to have to make some adjustments if they want to survive in the post-pandemic economy. The good news is, the latest in marketing technology, or MarTech, is helping them to gear up to compete on a playing field that’s going to be forever changed by the coronavirus pandemic. Here are the three major MarTech upgrades that will shape the post-pandemic digital economy.
Business Intelligence and Data Science
One of the big advantages that digital businesses had over their brick-and-mortar counterparts was the fact that they were in a better position to collect reams of data about their customers. On digital platforms, collecting and analyzing data about user behavior was a simple matter of coding and seeking permission (or adding legalese to user agreements). It’s one of the ways companies like Amazon have become so dominant – because they have access to customer insights the competition can’t match.
For traditional businesses, it’s not as though data collection was nonexistent, though. The problem is that customer data was kept in several disconnected systems, and therefore wasn’t always available for analysis. To combat that, an increasing number of businesses are accelerating their plans to invest in business intelligence and data science solutions. Even before the crisis, spending on such technology was expected to climb to over $189 billion worldwide, and experts expect that number to grow almost exponentially as a result of businesses shifting their digital strategies on the fly in response to the coronavirus.
AI-Powered Conversion Rate Optimization
For businesses that hadn’t previously relied on their websites to handle the majority of their sales, making the switch isn’t always easy. For it to work, they need to upgrade their sites in a variety of ways. Besides providing a top-notch user experience and having the capacity to handle increased traffic and sales volume, they also have to make sure that the site is designed to convert as many visitors into customers as possible.
That’s driving a boom for digital marketing firms that specialize in building website marketing funnels that produce real bottom-line results. More specifically, though, it’s companies like Melbourne, Australia-based Convincely that are enjoying the lion’s share of the gains. It’s because they’re one of a new breed of MarTech firms that use AI to analyze customer behavior to auto-tune a website for peak selling performance. They offer businesses without much experience with eCommerce and digital marketing the ability to turn their website into an automatically-evolving selling machine – which is what will be needed to survive in the post-pandemic digital economy.
With more shoppers than ever before turning to digital businesses rather than traditional ones in the wake of this crisis, the competition to capture their attention is going to be fiercer than ever. That means more businesses will be jockeying for digital ad space and the most valuable impressions they can get. Companies that don’t already have internal teams to handle digital advertising efforts face a choice – build a team of experts, or find some other way to compete for attention.
With digital advertising specialists in short supply, that’s leaving an opening for programmatic advertising platforms. They leverage AI to help businesses meet their advertising and marketing goals with automated, cost-controlled campaigns. They require little technical input from the businesses themselves and deliver results that are on par (or better than) with human-directed campaigns. As the competition heats up, they’ll be very much in demand, especially among businesses just getting acclimated to digital sales.
A Brave New World
By the time the global economy starts to return to normal, a great many traditional businesses will have completed their digital transformations. They’ll emerge from the pandemic ready to compete with the array of digital natives that now dominate. There’s no telling how successful they’ll be, but with a much larger number of online shoppers to target, they’ll at least all be fighting for a slice of a much larger pie.
In the end, analysts may look back on the coronavirus pandemic as the event that finally forced the vast majority of businesses to evolve to meet the challenges of a digital future. Although it won’t have come about in a way anyone would have liked, it was a long time coming and might turn out to be a rare bright spot within the global crisis. Let’s hope so, anyway.