As personal and professional lines blurred and continuously shifted throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the behaviors and expectations of consumers evolved as well.
With global market landscapes altered beyond recognition, businesses — indeed, entire industries — were forced to take a step back and revise strategies to adjust to the “new normal.”
What is now clear, however, is that the evolution is ongoing. The new normal is change.
The pace of change has accelerated dramatically, and nowhere more so than in the digital space.
Organizations must evolve not only their strategies, but their strategic thinking models and review cadences as well. Data-driven insights, agile decision-making, and real-time pivots are needed to survive (let alone thrive) in these challenging times.
So where do we start? Amidst continuous change, the proven playbooks of years gone by have become paperweights.
Businesses now have an opportunity to embrace more agile ways of working, tailoring strategy models to support continuous adaptation. And at the heart of every good strategy is the data that informed it.
Let’s consider how and where search data and its associated consumer insights can support your team in their ongoing evolution.
Understanding that search data provides a view into the minds of consumers, savvy strategists can leverage data and insights into consumer psychology and the associated buyer behaviors with the right thinking.
With regard to changes in consumer sentiment early on in the pandemic, Simeon Siegel, managing director at BMO Capital Markets, said in an interview that the coronavirus had accelerated a decade’s worth of structural evolution to digital across retail and society in mere months. “On the one hand, social media has essentially been prepping the world for social distancing. On the other, humans aren't built to not interact,” he said.
As the psychology of consumers continually evolves, search trends present us with the pulse of the market, and in real-time. As consumers continue to demand increased societal good from businesses, search trends on social issues can present data and insights in support of everything from marketing campaigns to sponsorship and public relations strategies.
Context is king
Organizations are coming to understand that presenting strategies based on historic data no longer presents meaningful context, as it fails to reflect the impact of continued disruption across the globe. From COVID-related behavior to vaccine attitudes and availability, thoughts on travel, home-schooling, and beyond, real-time insights are necessary to inform any kind of timely strategy.
Marketers and content strategists need to be on top of search behavior and ready to optimize as quickly as they can. The importance of providing the right information at the right time cannot be understated.
Let’s consider, for example, COVID regulations and their impact on local search. In an environment of continued uncertainty and evolving restrictions, local buyers need to know what they can expect from local businesses. Which stores have health and safety measures in place? Which grocery store is open early in the morning, when I prefer to shop?
If that content isn’t available when and where consumers are searching for nearby solutions to their needs, they will keep searching.
Search engines understand this and throughout the ongoing pandemic have fed the consumer need for timely information with enhanced attributes in local listings. The local businesses making use of these on their listings are best positioned to win those online-to-offline conversions.
Optimization is everything
Content strategists and marketers know that SEO is part of a comprehensive marketing strategy but in fact, SEO presents incredible value across a range of strategies supported by digital. In the new normal, successful strategies need to be integrated, multichannel, always-on, personalized, and responsive — and of course, continually monitored and tweaked. This is where SEO can provide real value.
With ongoing performance monitoring and content adaptation in response to SEO data and insights, you can continually improve across multiple lines of business. More than simply rankings and traffic (though both are good indicators of how your SEO strategy is working) SEO adds value across business lines and goals from brand awareness and public relations to reputation, content, customer experience, and retention.
Modifying your strategies based on SEO data and insights allows your business to meet the needs of changing consumer behaviors, supporting your bottom line and maximizing spend both on and offline. When you can act on SEO insights in almost real-time, your business is able to meet your customers and prospects when and where they’re going to be most receptive… and what business doesn’t benefit from that sort of insight?
At a time when continued change and uncertainty dominate the consumer psyche, more and better information is demanded. When companies rise to the content challenge, be it from an ethical, societal or convenience perspective, consumers respond.
Consumers increasingly demand more from the organizations they choose to do business with. And as the personal and professional continue to intersect, this trend sees impact in both B2B and B2C spaces. In the face of disruption and change, consumers will continue to search for more answers.
Looking forward, optimizing for those searches is key to any organization’s success.