From the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, marketers have had to re-think or adjust many of their strategies. A new survey from LinkedIn and Vision Critical examines some of the challenges they have encountered and the strategic shifts they have made. Here are a few key points from the study.
1. Budget Cuts Cause the Largest Concern
The ongoing pandemic has undoubtedly created many challenges for marketers. For three-quarters (76%) of the 450 marketers surveyed, being forced to shift marketing priorities was one of their top challenges, while others are facing challenges such as advertising investment and planning (69%), switching from in-person to virtual events (69%) and tactical execution of campaigns (67%).
What marketing dollars remain available are a cause of stress for most, as 3 in 4 (74% of) marketers cite budget cuts as a top challenge. Indeed, the largest share of respondents identified budget cuts as their single largest concern (34%).
In turn, more than 7 in 10 (72%) respondents report that one of the main reasons for decreasing their spend is down to their budgets being reduced or cut. Another 3 in 10 say spending has decreased because it’s the wrong time to advertise, while about one-quarter (24%) say that leadership doesn’t want to invest in advertising right now.
2. 85% Report At Least Some Impact on Campaign Strategies
Around 1 in 5 (18% of) respondents say that COVID-19 has had a major impact on their campaign strategies. And, while fewer (15%) claim that the pandemic has no impact on their strategies, the majority (67%) report that it has had some impact, with some campaigns needing to be pivoted or paused.
One area of marketing that has been hit hard by the outbreak of COVID-19 and has left marketers scrambling for an alternative has been live events. Some 38% of respondents have had to either pause or cancel events, while another 40% have moved their events to a virtual platform. As such, 4 in 5 have decreased their investment in events and two-thirds (67%) have increased their investment in webinars.
Another area that has seen a boost in investment due to the pandemic has been social media. More than half (56%) of the marketers surveyed have increased their investment in organic social and about two-fifths (39%) have increased their spend in paid social. Recent research from The CMO Survey likewise finds that CMOs have been increasing their investments in social media.
Meanwhile, the LinkedIn survey also notes that although recent research has shown that Americans enjoy spending their evenings watching TV, one-third of marketers have decreased their investment in TV, while 44% of marketers have increased their spend on online video.
3. Funnel and Targeting Priorities Have Changed
Although 2 in 5 (42%) marketers say they haven’t shifted their funnel activities, others report that they have shifted their budget from upper to lower-funnel activities (18%), while slightly fewer have done the opposite and shifted their budget from lower to upper-funnel activities (15%).
For the most part, marketers have seen a shift in the audiences they are targeting. Some 43% share are targeting audiences whose needs have changed due to COVID-19. Smaller proportions have also found themselves targeting new audiences (16%) or new industries (13%), while some are targeting the same audiences but in different or new regions (23%).
4. Content Strategies Have Shifted
About two-thirds (64%) of marketers say that proper content, messaging and tone is one of the top challenges they have been facing since COVID-19. Nearly half (47%) report that marketing content or creative has become more emotional in nature, compared to 31% believing it has become more rational in nature.
Many marketers have shifted their content marketing strategy in some areas. Following the increased investment in social, more than half (56%) say they have increased their social content. Thought leadership (53%) and direct customer outreach (48%) have also increased. And, with consumers’ desire to see brands respond to the pandemic as well as the racial justice demonstrations that have occurred of late, marketers have also increased their content strategy for corporate social responsibility (46%).
The survey findings can be found here.
About the Data: Findings are based on a May 2020 survey of 450 marketers.