How COVID has increased virtual engagement

Guest Column: Jayati Singh, Global Head, Marketing – Tally Solutions, says B2B marketers are turning to online experiences and virtual walkthroughs

e4m by Jayati Singh
Updated: Jul 10, 2020 9:14 AM
Jayati Singh

The Covid-19 disruption has made sure that the world starts viewing problems and solutions differently and has given a chance for us all to pause, prioritize (after the initial phase of panic) and reset in all walks of life - personal, professional, everything.

While we strive to find our way towards the “new normal” there are aspects that have begun emerging clearly with respect to people as consumers and businesses. The landscape of media and retail has changed drastically, as being home bound is leading to an increased TV engagement across countries globally. From the return of classics making DD National, the most watched TV channel, to shopping behaviour becoming more of an online activity, the ‘new normal’ has already taken the front seat in these industries.

Around the world, many markets are now planning and testing their exit strategies from living restrictions implemented to “flatten the curve” of the novel coronavirus. With no playbook in hand, each government is carving its own pathway to “a new normal,” complete with restrictions, health-safety protocol and changed consumer behaviours, in hopes of restarting the economy while still keeping the virus under control.

Digital Transformation Not A Matter Of Choice Anymore
While digital transformation has remained a key topic for nearly a decade, instead of making an existing model digital, it calls for integration of digital technology into all aspects of business, fundamentally changing how businesses operate and deliver value to customers. Fortunately, or unfortunately, this pandemic has led to that digital transformation of organizations, as it no longer is a question of choice but a way of life to survive and sustain.

In times of crisis, strategizing different approaches to marketing, management, and culture are necessary measures for marketers to make. Marketers play a large role in how the society functions, through influencing what products people buy, cultural ideas, and access to information. Given the lockdown situation, the shift in how prospects, leads and customers are managed and engaged digitally has perhaps been fast tracked. Brands are seeing the need to leverage their data from a wide range of channels and systems to deliver and continuously elevate contextual, personalised customer journeys through the right set of digital touchpoints. Cashing in on this opportunity, businesses can elevate brand building by shifting the brand message from one of ‘look what my product or service can do’ to one of ‘look how we help the community solve an immediate pain.’ Projecting your business goal by portraying how your product/service will help community at large must be the key messaging rather than demand generation.

Online Experience Will Drive The “New Normal” Post Covid-19
The most significant advances in technology are the ones that we use. As people adapt to new ways of socializing, working and learning, we are seeing mass adoption of innovations that will create lasting, positive changes in our world. As marketers and advertisers, human needs and behaviour should be at the centre of the solutions we design. We can’t expect to convince users to do things they don’t do today unless it makes their lives better. If given the opportunity to engage a customer to try a new experience, make sure it’s easy, satisfying and positive - negative interactions will only lead to greater resistance, while a positive experience will build connection and loyalty.

Several B2B companies started investing in webinars which aimed at educating their customer and prospects about their product/service, primarily the ones that have definitive value addition for customers and businesses. Leads are generated reliably and engaging an audience with an interactive Q&A session at the end of each webinar allows marketers to take on board new understanding about areas of traction and areas of weakness and solve problems for greater impact. Online experiences and virtual walkthroughs are much easier to plan, execute and collect ROI as compared to traditional events, so there is little surprise that B2B marketers are turning to them as their most popular marketing method. Online events provide them with reliable, measurable data—which is a great plus point.

How Reassessing Consumer Journey Will Reform Your Business
If you believe this “recession” will last for more than a couple of months, and we do, it will be beneficial to elevate your brand building through thought leadership and community advocacy efforts, to become more of a mix than demand gen for your business. Typically, we see a 40/60 split in B2B (brand/demand), but that should skew to 70/30 or at least 60/40 in the coming months. Sounds counterintuitive, but it will pay off later.

• Cut down mid-funnel spend and focus on seeding the top and closing the very bottom. The prospects in the middle won’t move much for a while, given the current situation. As a matter of fact, SEO, SEM, Social + Content efforts will be key, both paid and organic. Though, display can help build brand, but results will only be visible at a much later stage
• Enhancing digital experiences and creating reasons to stay connected will be vital. Supplement longer-term website updates and upgrades with buyer-driven landing pages with relevant content and features in the meantime
• Focus on sales enablement content and tools to help convert bottom of funnel prospects who may pull back, but are closer to buying than any new prospect you generate
• As the lockdown restrictions are lifted, it is about ensuring adequate supply to meet the short-term demand surge. In the medium to long-term it is about robust scenario planning and building agile and adaptable plans that can anticipate the new/changing consumer interests’ post-crisis

We hope that in the next few months, life resumes normalcy. However, the repercussions of this pandemic are not going to be erased with the lifting of the restrictions. The new protocols of social distancing, travel curbs, screenings, and preference for touch-less communication are likely to continue. The world has been hit hard by the suddenness and the magnitude of this outbreak. Hence, prudence lies in ensuring that we can function without any disruption whenever a crisis hits us again.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of

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