COVID-19 and the Future of Digital Marketing

Aug 25, 2021

person graphic

At a Glance...

There’s been much talk about a digital agenda as we move towards the tail-end of the pandemic, but what exactly does a digital transformation look like for businesses? In our latest blog post we take a look at McKinsey’s study on ‘The Future of Work after Covid-19’ and start to unpack the data.

Now that we are at the tail-end of the pandemic, many – including myself – are keen to move on and forget. However, it would be remiss to ignore the impact COVID has had on business and wider consumer behaviour.  

A great body of work has already been produced analysing both the outcomes and opportunities of COVID – far too much to effectively summarise in one short blog post – so the focus here is on McKinsey’s recent study, “The Future of Work After COVID-19”, seeking to draw out some of their most pertinent conclusions. 

1. The pandemic has accelerated digital’s agglomeration of traditional business

E-commerce, for instance, grew 4.5 times faster in the United Kingdom compared to pre-pandemic years, and made up 25% of all retail sales in 2020. A similar trend was seen in all other countries featured in the McKinsey report – China, USA, Spain, Germany, India, France and Japan.

2. The labour force has moved to remote and flexi working  

According to ONS statistics, 47% of people in the UK did some work from home in April 2020.  Of course, once the pandemic is over, consumer and corporate behaviour will revert in some way to that pre-pandemic. We are unlikely, for instance, to see virtual meetings and remote work quite like that seen at the height of the pandemic. However, 82% of company leaders do plan to offer employees the chance to work at home some of the time,1 and roughly 30% of companies plan to reduce their office space requirements.2

3. COVID has increased adoption of AI, digital tech and automation 

This movement has been most evident in close physical proximity workspaces. 85% of those surveyed have accelerated the implementation of technologies that allow virtual employee interaction and collaboration.

4. Executives expect to rely more on contractors and temporary workers

Out of 800 executives surveyed, 70% expect to use more on-site contractors two years from now. This is partly down to uncertainty about how the pandemic will play out, but also born out of a desire to increase company resilience.

Impact on Digital Marketing 

Just as the digital sphere has proliferated further into our lives during the pandemic, so has the importance of digital marketing. In 2020, for the first time ever, spend on digital marketing outweighed spend on traditional marketing3 – an extraordinary detail when one considers the internet accounted for just 2% of ad spend at the turn of the millennium. According to Vincent Lang – head of global forecasting at Magna – small businesses embracing digital marketing during the pandemic were a big driver of 2020’s trend. For instance, 66% of Google and Facebook ads were local, highlighting how small businesses had embraced digital marketing as a means of survival.  

One might think last year is an exception spurred by the pandemic. However, given that there are roughly 300 million4 new internet users each year, with a current total of 4.48billion5, then it’s likely the favour towards digital marketing is here to stay.


  1. Gartner, (2020)
  2. McKinsey, (2020)
  3. Financial Times, (2021)
  4. Datareportal, (2021)
  5. Datareportal, (2021) 

Freddie Carruthers, Senior Performance Executive

Ready to improve your performance?

Reach out to one of our team to learn more about our services and how we can help your business thrive.