There is no doubt that the world breathed a huge sigh of relief when 2020 came to an end – we sure did! The past year brought with it many unexpected changes in the way people functioned in their daily lives – from the way they communicated to the way they did business. Even so – what a year for Digital Marketing, Tech & Media in the Caribbean this has been! More than ever before, virtual services became heavily relied on as countries quickly went into lockdown, restricting travel, implementing curfews, and limiting gatherings.
There’s so much we can learn from the emerging trends and the way businesses overcame the challenges. As society transitioned into what has become the new normal, there is still so much to be further developed. Here’s a look at some of the biggest trends from 2020 and how we tapped into them to assist our clients in overcoming their challenges.
Staying Connected – Virtually
One of the greatest changes brought about by the pandemic was the sudden increase in the use of virtual tools. As early as March there was a boom in virtual meetings, parties, conferences, and other such ‘gatherings’ as the world tried to maintain connections even as social distancing policies were being implemented.
In our business solutions department, we saw a number of businesses take up our ‘intranet in your pocket’ secure company communications App. As the need to work remotely and still stay connected to company happenings continued to grow, not all staff could be connected to the internal intranet of a business. Our solutions helped decouple the viewing of secure business-centric data to employees from their smart devices.
Other software such as Zoom, Teams, Asana, and Slack also saw an increase in usage. The point many had raised years before about the need to consider working from home as a viable option for businesses became the new reality.
It is clear that even when the pandemic comes to an end this change is here to stay as employers are seeing the many benefits to have employees work remotely.
e-Commerce for the Win
With this new reliance on virtual connections, companies who had previously shied away from features such as e-commerce or having a strong digital presence quickly made a move to change this. It became clear that only those companies who offered ease of access to information, services, and goods would be able to thrive.
In March as things started to heat up in the Caribbean the interest in online shopping and being in less physical retail stores started to increase. We were in the midst of a long App development project for a major regional grocery to put shopping in the palm of everyone’s hand regionally and that project had to pivot to enable curbside pick up of grocery within weeks. Our team rose to the occasion but not without its speed bumps. Once we were live, versions 2 and 3 were already being planned. The application now supports pick up and delivery and a fully browsable catalog of products adding value to the eCommerce ecosystem in 5 Caribbean territories – Trinidad, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & Guyana. The app currently has 50,000 users and has managed hundreds of online orders for delivery and pick up.
With other businesses quickly wising up to the new demands, our requests for eCommerce solutions tripled and we were able to implement payment software for major retailers, insurance companies, and similar businesses. Our most significant success came from a long-standing retail client of ours whose website had been experiencing low traffic and conversion rates who quickly became the only place in Trinidad supplying a specific type of goods. He was able to outperform his competitors as nationwide their bricks and mortar businesses were all closing down. By realizing the demand and quickly rising to meet it by offering a safe way to shop, they saw a ten-fold increase in online sales when compared to 2019. Their success has been a testament to other businesses about the need for eCommerce and a strong digital presence.
Embracing the Hustle
As companies were forced to transition to virtual operations, downsize or close their doors completely, there grew a general interest in supporting local and small businesses. Throughout the pandemic, consumers became more aware of how their personal spending habits ultimately affected those around them and so the movement to ‘buy local’ grew.
We’re sure you saw an increase in new businesses advertising across social media. Many individuals were faced with unemployment or salary cuts and had to find new sources of income. Finding business ideas that were sustainable in the existing climate proved to be fairly easy as there was a marked need for sanitation items such as masks and sanitizers. There was also a demand for contact-free transactions which made bearers a necessity.
Getting with the Times
If nothing else, 2020 made it clear that only the most flexible businesses can survive. As the landscape quickly changed companies were left to ponder ways to remain relevant and maintain their existing customer base while appealing to new consumers. Many companies tapped into what they knew their consumers would not only need but support and soon there were distilleries making (and in some cases, donating) hand sanitizers, grocery stores creating easy to make meal bundles and pairing them with virtual tutorials, fitness studios, and schools offering virtual classes and parties being held exclusively through streaming platforms.
One client pivoted a major chunk of their budget to fund digital live seminars and events, and our team was able to train, demonstrate, and support them in the new normal. At a time when the world seemed so isolated, these moments were able to bridge the physical distance and create a completely new experience.
Other companies quickly realized the need to better incorporate social media into their marketing strategy. We saw more urgency to communicate in real-time with consumers and found ways to bridge this gap. Managing Caribbean-wide communication strategies proved to be a bit difficult with each island having different degrees of caution with regards to COVID-19 but in the end, social media – from Facebook to Instagram, Twitter, and even Tik Tok, was the real winner. Online usage on websites and social channels we manage for our clients have all seen a large increase.
While 2020 might have seemed like a year full of challenges, there admittedly were many lessons to be learned. The changes that companies had to adjust to having created new approaches to the way the world will conduct business, learn and communicate, and presents an amazing opportunity as this new way of life is established.
Are you looking into how you can make your mark and stand out in this transformed digital market? Do you want to transform your digital marketing approach? We can help you develop a solid strategy to help your brand stand out. Contact us today.