You are not alone if the pandemic shook your sales and marketing strategy. The overnight redesigning, strategising, reactive planning and tactical execution demonstrated by marketing teams was impressive and, as it turns out, permanent.

An explosive report by a new McKinsey Global Survey demonstrated that, in response to the pandemic, there was a radical acceleration of the digitisation of companies' customer and supply-chain interactions by three to four years, including online sales and digital customer service.

During the pandemic, Fingo supported many businesses to pivot their efforts and strategies to the online space, and we observed that for our clients, the cost of not doing so was extremely high.

In 2021, Accenture published data confirming a dramatic and permanent rise in how consumers shop, work and live globally. A wealth of data reveals the fast track of omnichannel e-commerce and multichannel sales. There's just no getting away from it.

But this isn't just a change to the e-commerce change landscape. The expectation of digital to enable business continuation touched every cornerstone of company process and brand strategy. Below, we review why today's businesses must adapt to these new market conditions. We also explain why you should prioritise digital strategy as a core business strategy.

The pandemic was the great equaliser for brands. 

The pandemic galvanised opportunistic new businesses that could competitively position themselves online and attract audiences who were formerly brand loyal. It was the great equaliser for brands.

strong example is the well-established UK retail store B&Q, which experienced severe website infrastructure and software issues due to an unexpected surge in web traffic during lockdown- causing waiting times of over an hour before loyal customers could even visit the website. 

Google's core objective is to serve the search engine user and match their search query as quickly and accurately as possible - ensuring they reach the website they need and have a good time. So Google quickly provided alternatives to B&Q to the growing crowd of consumers eager to make the most of their lockdown at home. The vast rise in general keyword search terms for Home Improvement* was honoured with lesser-known brands (providing they had solid SEO and a great User Experience).

Across the board, the myriad of changes and a newly emerging emphasis on excellent digital execution became more prominent, and consequently, brand loyalty suffered immensely.

X, formerly known as Twitter Businessexplains:

"This general change of behaviour in response to COVID-19 has also been reflected in a shattering of brand loyalties. Almost half of consumers are trying new brands, and a third are incorporating new private-label brands into their shopping repertoire." 

SEO, Paid Advertising and Social Media wins

The COVID-19 lockdown highlighted the need for marketers to adopt integrated, multichannel digital techniques because, with all that extra time on their hands, shoppers developed a taste more likely to use search engines or social media to browse instead of directly seeking out their favourite brands. 

Retail Gazette provided insight from retail leaders on how the pandemic shaped marketing strategies which have had to be adapted:

 "The world has moved online, forcing the nation's favourite retailers to rethink how they speak to their customers. Social selling has also been on the rise, so having a multi-platform strategy to include presence across online, social media, and media coverage is essential for retailers."

To illustrate the above, Forbes has identified the changes in the cultural zeitgeist of consumer behaviour, which looks like nothing brands have seen before:

"Consumers are in a constant state of passive shopping. They shop while they scroll Instagram or TikTok; they shop while reading the news online; and they shop while in Zoom meetings with colleagues."

Retail Gazette noted on a social media strategy that "Instagram and Pinterest are acting as sources of inspiration for everyone from the everyday DIYer to an avid designer".

High Performing Websites were the unsung heroes of COVID.

The pandemic highlighted the digital divide between inadequate websites and, in contrast, technically savvy platforms equipped with agility and performance. 

One example is the wine retailer Majestic's website crash because of inadequate infrastructure. In contrast, UK wine merchant Berry Bros. & Rudd experienced its biggest online trading day as the lockdown drove consumers to its pages, which could technically handle the influx. 

Forbes reports, "Shopping in this brave, new economy is less about choosing whether to buy products online or in stores and more about how shopping fits into consumers' schedules. Consumers now ask one simple question for every purchase: Do I need it today, or can it wait?"

With this in mind, understanding the importance of a high-performing website as a critical business asset that either boosts or undermines the customer journey is the difference between business growth and stagnation in most instances. Websites that need more investment or strategic thinking can start to experience a range of problems, leaving brands vulnerable to competitors (as illustrated in our example above). 

Insight from the Retail Gazette quotes Martin Reiter, Head of Europe at Wayfair: 

"At a time like this, a fast and frictionless shopping experience and excellent customer service are key to not just stand out but drive repeat business." 

Poorly designed websites with weak technical infrastructures can negatively impact excellent paid marketing efforts when the disappointing user experience fails to convert all the leads.

Why digital transformation and reinvention are crucial

New and established brands have had to push and increase their momentum towards digital business models where necessary. These innovations will become lasting pillars for the businesses concerned with thriving and succeeding after the pandemic.

Thus, businesses should know the importance of being prepared for digital growth and change. As demonstrated, a successful approach involves considering:

  • Designing customer journeys and touchpoints across multiple platforms and channels
  • Understanding the value of each customer touch point and responding strategically
  • Websites designed with long-term growth, stability and scalability as part of their development
  • User experience as a cornerstone of all digital strategy
  • Digital underpins real-world business risk mitigation, such as web page failure, low stocks, and lack of delivery drivers.

How Fingo delivered digital excellence during the pandemic

Fingo were delighted to step in and work within the wine industry to help prevent further crisis with our integrated digital strategy and delivery for Corney and Barrow during the pandemic.

Corney and Barrow is one of the UK's oldest independent wine merchants. As customers increasingly turned to online purchasing, management approached Fingo to develop and implement a robust digital strategy and protect its leading position. 

Campaign results:

  • Revenue up by 154%.
  • Sales targets were exceeded by 14%.
  • 1,567% return on investment in six months for paid search activity.
  • 72% increase in website visits, year-on-year.
  • E-commerce revenue increased 48%. 
  • Total transactions are up by 18%.
  • 1,926% return on advertising spend (ROAS) in weeks 4-7.
  • 12:1% ROAS in weeks 8-12.
  • ROAS at 13:1 after three years of our digital partnership (updated in 2023)

How Fingo Can Help Your Business

We have 20 years of experience designing and delivering digital strategy for our multi-sector clients. Our services include website design and development, SEO, User Experience, Social Advertising, PPC and Creative Development. We combine our services holistically to ensure our client's have a well rounded, commercial strategy. If you need advice on how to ensure your sales and marketing strategy has a strong grasp on digital strategy,  pop us an email and we'll get in touch.