Despite COVID-19’s numerous challenges and impacts on the industry, marketers continue to prioritize and invest in new innovations to better serve and retain their customers, with 52% of respondents increasing marketing spend since the outbreak, according to a special edition of the quarterly Customer Engagement Report from data-driven performance marketing agency Merkle, focused on the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on marketers.
The findings also break down spend by vertical with marketers across health, insurance, and retail consumer goods industries seeing the largest increases in spend, and nonprofit marketers overwhelmingly indicating a decrease in spend. The report features findings from a survey of 400 marketers at major US and UK brands spanning industries including retail and consumer goods, financial, travel, media, entertainment, health, insurance, and nonprofit.
“The world has been significantly disrupted by COVID-19, and as marketers, we’ve had to find new ways to innovate in order to thrive during this time,” said Jose Cebrian, senior vice president, marketing strategy at Merkle. “Our research indicates that despite the challenges, marketers have found a silver lining and adopted new and innovative solutions with customer-centricity as the common theme. We aim to showcase these impacts through our report, with our findings highlighting how the power of data and the importance of the customer are encouraging signs that we can move forward as an industry.”
Over 90% of respondents indicate that they are reassessing historical practices to eliminate under-performing activities or campaigns. Marketers have also been using this time to cut waste in their marketing programs, with 67% implementing new programs to improve first-party data capture, and 57% investing more in existing programs. Additionally, 74% of marketers have changed their approach to content developed for consumers and an overwhelming 96% of respondents state that their organizations will continue with their recent customer marketing innovations once the crisis is over.
Looking ahead, the report shows that marketers are optimistically prepared for the possibility of future stay-at-home orders with about 80% of respondents stating that they are better positioned to continue operating business as usual should stay-at-home orders continue. In addition, marketers are better prepared from a technical perspective with 41% feeling “significantly better,” while 51% feel they are “a little better” prepared from a strategic perspective. Marketers also report preparedness for re-opening in the form of plans for getting “back to normal,” with 95% of marketers having a plan for a national lockdown exit, and 62% having multiple sets of plans.