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The growing importance of online channels

In a world of seemingly infinite change and insecurity for organisations and individuals, there is an undisputed certainty about the growing importance of online channels.

In our personal and working lives, more of us are spending more time interacting and engaging digitally than ever before. It’s a fact.

So, as businesses continue to pivot, plan and prepare for a post-Covid 19 reality, how can they best use the power of digital communications to recover, re-focus and re-engage?

We asked five of our digital marketing experts at Northumbria University to share their top tips:

Understand your data

“Take the time to interrogate and understand what your data is telling you. Look closely at customer interactions and transactions both before and after the lockdown. You can learn an awful lot from changes in behaviour and this can be used to target much more effectively with personalised messaging and tailored content in the coming weeks.”

Dr David Hart is an Associate Professor in Marketing and a Fellow of the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing

Listen online

“Wouldn't it be great if you could identify gaps in the market caused by the pandemic? What new or heightened demands have emerged from changed consumer behaviour? Who are your customers engaging with and on which digital channels? What are they most concerned about? Social listening – that’s monitoring digital conversations and mentions to understand what your customers are saying – can provide invaluable insight, help you answer these kinds of questions and enable you to develop a really targeted digital marketing strategy as a result.”

Lizette Vorster is a Lecturer in Digital Marketing and an award-winning marketing practitioner

Build trust and engagement

“After the pandemic, customers won’t remember the companies with the best content or promotions. They will remember the companies that they could trust and rely on during such difficult times. Importantly, your social media channels are more than just a marketing platform; they enable two-way communication. Use these platforms to ask how customers are doing and how you can help. Be authentic and empathetic. Share relevant advice. Build genuine and meaningful engagement to enhance customer relationships and show that they are a valued part of your community.”

Danielle Barbe is a Lecturer in Digital Marketing with extensive knowledge of social media and social listening techniques

Make every communication count

“Consider carefully when and whether to email your database. Audiences are often littered with over communications and customers, particularly in fraught and difficult times, will all too quickly unsubscribe.  Allowing subscribers to easily access and manage their preferences is good database practice and it’s important to recognise that current circumstances mean some customers simply need a break from emails about products they’re not in a position to acquire.”

Kirk Dodds is Senior Lecturer in Marketing with extensive expertise of marketing in the automotive and technology sectors

Test perceptions and priorities

“As we begin to transition to life online after lockdown, purchasing habits and customers’ perspectives are likely to have changed. Organisations need to be tuned into what’s important and valuable to their customers right now. You might therefore need to consider whether to market test a planned campaign or value proposition It’s critical to understand whether perceptions and priorities have shifted and to adapt the way you position your products or services, and reshape your digital marketing strategy in turn.”

Craig Bradshaw is a Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing with extensive digital marketing agency experience

In recent months, many organisations – large and small – have had to think creatively about how they do business, often embracing new innovations and channels to engage with their customers.

As we continue to transition out of lockdown, authentic, relevant, tailored and timely digital communications will continue to be key – helping businesses stand out from the crowd, build loyal customer communities and ultimately emerge stronger as a result.

If you’re looking to invest in developing your organisation’s digital marketing skills and capacity going forward, a Digital Marketing Degree Apprenticeship at Northumbria University can provide practical workplace learning for staff at all stages of their career (from new recruits through to long-serving employees), with some organisations having up to 95% of costs funded. Find out more.







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