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2020 in Review: Navigating the Crisis with Digital-First Marketing

Marketing Strategy, News & Events
December 9, 2020

2020 has been an unpredictable year, full of challenges, pivots, and unfathomable shifts toward digital firsts. 

Insights from a Performance Marketing Agency 

As a trusted marketing partner for clients within various industries, it’s our responsibility to follow the data – and luckily, we’ve spent the last 10 months gathering plenty of it. When news surrounding COVID-19 shook the world in March, it was no surprise that brands pulled out of the marketplace. While we understand the impulse, we also saw the cost of advertising drop while conversion rates remained steady. 

The reality? More eyeballs were on devices and platforms than ever before. The data and trends showed “Black Friday” level traffic and transactions in April, despite an 8.7% drop in retail sales. The result? Brands that decided to stay in the market not only maintained their presence, but were able to stay in front of consumers for nearly half the price [of advertising]. 

But it didn’t stop there. The months that followed gave rise to a shift. Brands had the opportunity to not only stay in front of their target audience, but share their own stories along the way. We went back to our roots – our inherent nature to help one another – and showcase the realities of how businesses, both big and small, were navigating these unprecedented times. While some went into discount mode, others saw this as an opportunity to give back to those in need.

A Shift in Brand Preferences

While we can mention countless examples of brands that shifted for the greater good, we were fortunate to support a coalition of brands who joined together to form Brands x Better. This community of over 140 brands, including Dagne Dover, helped raise over $3.8M (to date) “to support and foster stability to our communities as they navigate critical social issues.” 

As the uncertainties surrounding COVID-19 continued, a civil rights movement emerged and we began to see an uproar of support for the Black Lives Matter movement. When millions decided to stand in solidarity by posting [black squares] to their Instagram feed, we had to ask ourselves what role sponsored content played as we scrolled through in conversation? 

Black Out July soon followed on Facebook, and many brands had to decide whether or not they would pull their presence (ad spend) from the social giant. In our view, it wasn’t a battle of right and wrong, but rather highlighted the reality that we live in the duopoly of Facebook and Google – and it’s our job to help our clients diversify.

Witnessing the Biggest eCommerce Event in History

Here at Mason, holiday planning starts in July. You’ll hear us reference the “leaky bucket” concept dozens of times leading up to the Q4 shopping season. Brands who began filling up their bucket with quality water [traffic] through top of the funnel, awareness strategies in Q3, were able to focus on bottom of the funnel strategies come holiday. They say that timing is everything, and although we couldn’t predict what the reality would look like in November, we knew that our strategy remained the same.

It’s December 2020 and the dust is beginning to settle. A vaccine is expected, and people around the world are feeling hopeful for the future. The numbers don’t lie – While the U.S. had its biggest e-commerce day ever, we also saw record numbers for Black Friday and Cyber Monday goals across our portfolio. And that is something to be proud of. 

We’re not just helping businesses hit their goals this month, we’re helping them strategize for the future, and beyond. With 2020 almost behind us, we have to ask; who will walk through our door next year and how can we work in partnership to help drive success for the years to come?

Schedule a consultation with our digital experts and start the new year right with the help from a trusted digital marketing partner.