Navigating the New Normal: Digital Marketing Tips for Professional Services in a Post-Pandemic World
The post-COVID-19 era shifted consumer mindsets and priorities. Is your business adapting?
If the answer is “hardly” or “no,” work with a fractional CMO for professional services. This cost-effective marketing expert provides strategic guidance for sustainable growth, especially during uncertain periods.
This article delves more deeply into that topic and makes these essential points:
- Understanding the “new normal” consumers
- The importance of data analytics at this time
- How to refine time-tested online marketing strategies to align with the post-COVID era
Read below to learn how to thrive in the new normal! Let’s go!
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Understanding the Post-Pandemic Consumer
Who are the “new normal” consumers? They share the following attributes:
- Back to the “old normal” up to a certain extent
- Engaged in cautious spending
- Growing markets for omnichannel experiences
After two disruptive years, more consumers are returning to their old routines: going to work, flocking to grocery shops, and meeting friends.
However, they are not the same as they were before COVID-19. The health crisis has inevitably changed their habits, beliefs, and preferences. For example, more employees prefer flexible schedules and hybrid work setups. Others are actively quiet-quitting to achieve a better work-life balance.
Today’s consumers exercise more self-restraint in spending to cope with high inflation and recession threats. They redefine their financial values by supporting more local, sustainable businesses and experiences.
Last, they embrace omnichannel marketing as part of their desire for an incredible, worthwhile experience. Buyers interact with brands or businesses across several touchpoints. For instance, a patient wanting to see a doctor books an appointment on the website and pays with their mobile device.
What do these points mean for professional service organizations? One answer is personalization in some aspects of marketing. This way, the business adds value and becomes more relevant and necessary to new-normal consumers.
To personalize marketing approaches, businesses need accurate data. However, the COVID-19 pandemic radically changed consumers and industries. Pre-2020 forecasts are less reliable. Many professional services firms also need specialized data teams and tools to rapidly compile new insights.
Fractional CMOs play a critical role in this process. They do the following:
- Possess the data fluency to identify accurate, timely sources and derive actionable objectives.
- Avoid relying on intuition.
- Ground recommendations and messaging in up-to-date information.
- Continuously adapt strategies based on these real-time inputs.
Uber is a perfect example of this. It employs artificial intelligence, data, and research to identify key shifts in demand since 2020 to achieve the following:
- Expand its offerings from grocery to package and prescription delivery
- Reinforce its value during inflation with rewards programs and promotions
- Integrate its ridesharing and delivery services into one seamless on-demand experience via a unified app
This ride-hailing service demonstrates that the on-demand platforms thriving today are those that rapidly identify and respond to changes in consumer priorities and expectations within the new normal.
Seven Digital Marketing Tips To Strengthen Your Online Presence
You might not be as big as Uber or any other popular brand. You might even be bootstrapping a startup. Regardless of your business stage and size, you need a strong online presence to build relationships with new-normal consumers.
Follow these seven digital marketing strategies a reliable SEO agency can provide:
1. Revamp Your Website and Strengthen Your Social Media Presence
As consumer behaviors continue to shift since the pandemic, professional services firms should reevaluate digital touchpoints, especially websites and social media. The goal is to provide seamless, personalized user experiences.
For websites, fractional CMOs help businesses identify pain points through analytics to guide refinements. For example, an accounting firm might highlight virtual consultation options or DIY tax resources. Other options include the following:
- Enhanced navigation
- Self-service features, such as chatbots
- Speed optimization
On social media, fractional CMOs are invaluable partners for increasing audience engagement. They use social listening data to identify the topics and questions that resonate most with a firm’s followers and prospects.
Beyond content creation, these C-suite market leaders handle responsive community management. They monitor conversations to join discussions, provide assistance, and resolve issues promptly. This human touch strengthens connections.
2. Craft Content That Resonates with the New-Normal Consumers
Consumers are inundated with articles and ads throughout each and every day. How do you capture some of their time and grab their undivided attention? Combine interactive content with authentic storytelling.
Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches is one fine example. Launched in 2013, the video featured an emotional narrative highlighting the self-perception gap: women see themselves in a more critical light than others view them.
Conveying this poignant insight aligned with Dove’s brand purpose of promoting “real beauty.” It deeply resonated with the target audience because the marketing tactic pivoted from the product to the consumer.
It was also a massive success from a business standpoint. It generated a strong positive reaction across social media, and mainstream news eventually featured it. The ad also changed people’s perspectives on the brand, making them view it as more feminine than before.
You can take a page from Dove’s playbook and use videos to tell emotional stories that embody your values, share your purpose, and connect more deeply with today’s consumers. If you are an accounting firm, content marketing services can design an engaging plan such as this:
- A quiz that helps business owners assess their current accounting and financial management practices, with customized recommendations provided on the basis of their responses
- A choose-your-own-adventure video that shows the consequences of different financial decisions
- An interactive calculator that allows users to input their business details and get a customized estimate of potential tax savings from working with the firm
- A simulated “day in the life” video that shows common financial scenarios
- An interactive guide to navigating key accounting issues
- Social media series such as “Ask Our Experts”
3. Use Technology to Personalize and Automate Digital Marketing
Leveraging technology helps brands deliver more tailored, engaging experiences while optimizing marketing workflows.
Personalization allows businesses to match content based on what their users need. In the process, ads and blogs become more relevant, helpful, and important.
For example, a fractional CMO for professional services supports a consulting firm’s targeted account-based marketing approaches. They use prospect data to deliver more suitable content, such as relevant case studies, event invitations, and special offers.
Meanwhile, marketing automation improves operational efficiency and high-value strategic work. Common marketing automation use cases include the following:
- Triggered emails and notifications based on certain user actions
- Dynamic ad targeting and bidding based on real-time data
- Automated social media posting and audience segmentation
- Artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbots for customer service
- Predictive lead scoring to identify sales prospects
Netflix is a good case study showcasing the benefits of automation. It uses machine learning and AI to analyze big data and power personalized recommendations. Automated models rapidly parse signals to curate suggestion rows such as “Watch It Again” or “New Releases Just for You.” This level of personalization contributes to its multibillion-dollar revenue.
4. Engage the Audience with Virtual Events and Webinars
Virtual events, including webinars, are the next big thing in digital marketing. Its market size could achieve a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.8% until 2032. By the end of the forecast period, it would be a trillion-dollar industry.
These new-normal interactions appeal to both consumers and businesses for the following reasons:
- They are cost-effective. The audience does not need to buy tickets or book accommodations. Companies can avoid paying for large venues.
- You can design more agile events. Users can choose their preferred time and view videos on demand.
- This strategy supports other online marketing initiatives. It is a great demand generation tool. It allows businesses to collect information, such as emails, for lead nurturing.
- It is engaging. Participants can ask questions, answer polls, or chat with others.
- It elevates the brand’s value. Virtual events, such as webinars, can effectively showcase your expertise as face-to-face workshops.
You can launch these events quickly with platforms such as Zoom. Then, use these ideas to maximize the results:
- Pick the right speaker. Remember that this person directly or indirectly reflects your brand’s values.
- Keep it short. If it is a full-day event, break the talks down into different periods. Allow participants to sign up for their preferred talks.
- Promote extensively across digital channels. Use email, social media, PR, and paid advertising to encourage registration and drive sign-ups.
- Have clear goals and calls to action. Do you want to increase the mailing list? Entice the participants to leave their email addresses to receive the webinar’s recorded version or more workbooks.
5. Leverage Other People’s Marketing Influence
The COVID-19 pandemic substantially increased the demand for authenticity in branding. This is because it reduces uncertainty and provides psychological security in threatening situations.
Professional services can still be vulnerable, even when promoted online. One option to consider is influencer marketing:
- The most effective influencers lend credibility through honest, real-life reviews and organic product promotion.
- User-generated content feels more realistic than polished video production.
- Behind-the-scenes and other transparent influencer content make the business more relatable to the audience.
- Values-aligned partnerships convey what a brand genuinely stands for.
Influencers give brands an authentic voice that resonates better than corporate messaging.
When overdone, though, it creates the opposite effect. How do you influence people without elaborately selling them?
Suppose you are in an urgent-care clinic. A fractional CMO crafts an authentic influencer marketing campaign with these ideas:
- Partner with patient influencers, preferably those already vocal about their care experience.
- Give behind-the-scenes access to showcase new technologies and facility upgrades through Instagram Stories.
- Collaborate with an influencer to organize a community 5k promoting active lifestyles.
- Work with physician influencers to co-create informative healthcare content, such as live Q&As or tutorials.
6. Decide Based on Data
The COVID-19 pandemic changed the meaning of organizational agility. Pre-pandemic, it was an iterative marketing process to carry out long-term, fixed strategic plans.
In the new normal, agility became associated with responding dynamically to unforeseen situations rather than sustaining predefined plans.
Specifically, the pandemic highlighted how agility could become a cost-effective approach to help businesses withstand and recover from unexpected PR crises. Agile companies rapidly pivot their messaging, advertising channels, and budget allocations. This nimbleness lessens the impact of disruptions on operations and branding.
A huge part of the transformation is data, which guides most companies’ decision-making today:
- Leveraging analytics on consumer behavior, market trends, and competition allows brands to detect shifts immediately.
- Consumer research and feedback guide marketers when modifying strategies.
The various tools and techniques make data analytics easier for marketing beginners. Google Analytics provides insights on website traffic, engagement, conversions, and more. Dashboards allow segmentation by channel, device, and location.
Social media analytics reveals demographic and psychographic audience data and engagement. It is also critical in competitive benchmarking. Meanwhile, sentiment analysis platforms mine online conversations to detect emerging consumer perceptions.
HubSpot agency partners automate and centralize many digital marketing channels to develop more accurate customer personas. Machine learning drives predictive analytics and uncovers deeper behavioral insights. Companies then use the information to refine audience targeting and experiences.
Data Analytics in Action
Airbnb was one of the brands that used data to react swiftly and thrive even after the pandemic. First, it exercised empathy by displaying banner warnings about COVID risks. It also emphasized its commitment to keeping travelers safe.
Then, it adapted and innovated. Airbnb has made Online Experiences its primary product. Instead of booking accommodations, customers sign up for various activities they can do at home. These ranged from cooking classes to virtual walking tours.
As travel restrictions eased, the company paid more attention to consumer shifts. For example, it recently launched the Live and Work Anywhere initiative to develop a more seamless infrastructure for the growing digital nomad market.
7. Manage Your Reputation
The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly amplified existing consumer skepticism toward brands. Throughout the crisis, companies struggled to respond to massive disruptions. These included supply-chain breakdowns, haphazard health policies, and a lack of empathy.
This problem and rapid consumer sentiment shifts make monitoring online customer reviews more vital. Companies cannot afford for a scathing review to go viral and damage their reputation. They also need more reliable data to notice changes in people’s brand perceptions.
Here are some of the most sensible crisis management and reputation protection strategies for brands today:
- Monitor sentiment metrics and listen to data closely to detect emerging issues proactively.
- Demonstrate authentic empathy, understanding, and compassion in all customer communications.
- Leverage influencer partners and employees as credible voices to humanize and add trust to crisis messaging.
- If mistakes occur, acknowledge them openly rather than deflecting them. Take ownership and offer sincere apologies.
- Provide regular updates on resolution progress rather than being silent, even if the news is mixed.
- Overdeliver when reinforcing goodwill, such as with generous refunds.
- After crises, develop strategies to prevent repeat issues.
One good case study for this is Lululemon Athletica. The Canadian athletic company faced a major reputation crisis in early 2020. One of its art directors promoted a shirt believed to be offensive and racist, especially against the Chinese.
Lululemon responded swiftly by firing the employee. The company also issued a sincere apology that immediately acknowledged their error. A designated spokesperson answered interview questions, reiterating Lululemon’s core values. This emphasized to the public the positive image the brand wants to rebuild.
Optimize Your E-commerce Strategies
As more consumers demand an omnichannel experience, professional services should embrace e-commerce. Such businesses can use it to achieve the following:
- Seamlessly integrate virtual and in-person marketing strategies.
- Meet heightened expectations for self-service access and on-demand purchasing.
- Offer tiered services to align with more cautious spending.
- Provide personalized recommendations based on online behavior data.
- Build trust and credibility through social proof, such as reviews and ratings.
- Enable hybrid engagement with scaled digital delivery.
- Add more income streams.
- Increase customer or client retention.
Of the many e-commerce strategies, professional services organizations benefit more from utilizing technologies to strengthen human relationships. Consider Intuit. This maker of QuickBooks and TurboTax effectively blends tech and human expertise through the following:
- Online applications provide DIY tax preparation, accounting, invoicing, and payroll capabilities.
- AI-powered recommendations suggest products or features to meet specific user needs.
- The platform lets users connect with dedicated accountants or bookkeepers for personalized QuickBooks assistance.
- Clients can book virtual consultation appointments.
- Physical Intuit Pros advisor locations offer in-person support.
- Events such as QuickBooks Connect blend virtual attendees with live expert sessions.
- Omnichannel journeys move users from DIY access to human expert guidance.
An e-commerce fractional CMO helps you blend humans and tools in two ways:
- Design data-driven lead-nurturing journeys
- Build referral programs incentivizing clients
FCMOs use customer data to map personalized journeys that progressively move leads toward human relationships. For example, an accounting firm publishes a tax guide encouraging readers to book free consultations. Data informs tailored messaging at each stage.
Meanwhile, fractional chief marketing officers also manage referral programs, encouraging clients to recommend services to their networks. This amplifies existing human relationships into new business.
Digital marketing has forever changed after the COVID-19 pandemic. The only way to thrive from here on out is to adapt to the massive changes.
If you are a professional services firm, it will be challenging to embrace an omnichannel marketing approach while offering reasonably priced products to clients. Following these tips will help you ease into the new normal cost-effectively and build a more sustainable, agile brand.
Digital Authority Partners (DAP) is also an expert fractional CMO for professional services. Our years of experience allow us to better equip you with tools and strategies during volatile periods. Contact us today for a free consultation.
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