Five reflections from digital marketing in turbulent times

The only constant is change itself – this has been particularly true since 2020. Marketing consultant and Inflexion Digital Associate Lea Hartkopf, who is currently supporting two Inflexion portfolio companies on their online marketing strategies, shares her observations on consumers and marketing.


1. Customer behaviour adapted quickly to COVID-19.

Marketeers needed to adapt quickly to customers’ fast-changing habits. Lea explained that Lintbells, a Hertfordshire-based animal health specialist, saw a large increase in demand for its products, both because many people got new pets and existing pet owners continued to care for their own. Lintbells has a very strong Customer Service and Trustpilot rating and so people are happy to buy directly from the firm. It meant employees needed to adapt quickly in the first lockdown to cater for the unprecedented demand.

2. Marketing money can and should go as far as possible.

Budgets are limited by necessity, but some found they could get more bang-for-buck as certain competitors pulled back from their usual marketing spend. This worked for online and TV:

Online – Lea advises pushing as hard as possible on pay-per-click and making use of impression share. As competitors reduced their spend, Lintbells found it got better impressions for its spend, and so it was worth doubling down on expansion here. 

TV – Lintbells opted to test TV spend while prices were favourable as other advertisers retrenched during COVID-19. The initiative was a big endeavour for a company of Lintbells’ size, but the backing of Inflexion since December 2017 meant it had the financial firepower to do it. It proved to be one of Lintbells’ most successful initiatives of 2020.

Lintbells' digital #ThankYouDogs campaign was projected onto London landmarks

Lintbells' digital #ThankYouDogs campaign was projected onto London landmarks

3. Digital is top of the agenda.

Especially for businesses with a low digital footprint. Lea quoted a popular meme that

The pandemic saw people increasingly engage online, which in turn accelerated demand for digital capacity. This wasn’t the sole preserve of retail or tech companies either; Lea explains how exercise classes moved online and even how she taught her mother, a tutor, how to deliver her teaching over Google Meet to ensure continuity.

4. It’s about the people.

Everyone has been working with people they’ve never met and adapting to make it work. Lea admits it’s hard, but that elements of it have proven to be successful, and she suggests an empathy has crept into workdays which may not have previously existed in offices. While marketeers have long focused on ‘know your customer’, perhaps it’s time many businesses focus on ‘know your colleague’, too.

5. The future is still uncertain.

We still can’t be sure what this year will look like, but we learned last year that we are resilient and can adapt, as people and as businesses. We need to make room for enough thinking time and keep up the pace, and throughout it all we need to care about customers and employees. “Staying connected personally is very important,” Lea says.