Lockdown has changed the daily routines and behaviours of many, if not most, people. Marketers need to update their personas accordingly, says Sam Robson.

The ‘new normal’ became reality in a matter of days. With daily routines turned on their heads, new habits are forming that will have a lasting impact on how the nation copes in both the immediate and long-term future – and in turn how marketers respond.

We’re all still trying to adapt. Whether an influx of free time has brought about a new motivation to pick up on fitness regimes, or juggling remote working with home schooling has revealed a desire for new tech to troubleshoot problems; everyone is looking for support.

And for many, that support is found online. Worldwide, publishers have reported huge visitor increases of 84%, with page impressions up 64%. In fact, March 2020 saw Future Publishing’s largest monthly audience of all time, with over 450 million sessions recorded by Google Analytics across Future websites during the month. With this dramatic change comes the opportunity to connect with a growing online audience – and one that needs help to find its new rhythm.

In a recent interview with CNBC, WPP CEO, Mark Read, spoke of seeing “ten years of innovation crammed into four weeks”. In these times of need we are pushing the boundaries of what we thought possible. But, as Read also suggested, it is the tonality of the interactions we have with customers that is going to be the difference between long-term failure and success for brands. Now more than ever, it is vital to understand the real-time emotions and needs of audiences, and respond with content that fosters authentic relationships.

These needs are continuously shifting and quick reactions are vital to maximise opportunities in a sensitive way. But with the end of the lockdown – whenever that may be – will come another significant and hard-to-predict transformation of habits, so what can marketers do to keep up?

Data is key and diving deeper into Future’s March traffic figures has highlighted the key personas forming from the new situation.

For all of us who have become home workers overnight, TechRadar is rising as a go-to source for the best anti-virus software, or for finding office chairs to make dining rooms a more comfortable home office. You also have the not-going-out solution searchers< trying to find entertainment on GamesRadar, in search of the best-rated streaming solution. And we’ve all seen the amateur chefs appearing on our Instagram feeds. They’re the ones looking for new recipes to try out and share, whether that’s all out gourmet or the best way to boil an egg.

For many, staying healthy both physically and mentally is the goal. The routine chasers are looking to keep on top of their fitness regimes by finding home workout advice and equipment via the likes of T3. While the newly appointed home teachers do their best to keep some form of normality for their children, heading online for educational tools and activities, and looking for wifi boosters to keep devices running. It’s not just the kids that are learning, many of us are turning to trusted sites such as LiveScience to get the facts on the world we are currently living in.

And while many have seen their routines taken away from them, looking on top form has not fallen off the radar. Image-conscious researchers are finding at-home solutions for their grooming needs, with personal care and hair clippers at the top of the list. Meanwhile house-proud DIYers are searching for the right tools to get the job done.

Many of these personas now belong to people that would not have considered themselves part of these groups at the start of the year. And, with new interests comes a need for education. By understanding these personas, we in the media can do our part in making life easier. From publishers to broadcasters and advertisers, we are in a position to impact the day-to-day lives of many – and now more than ever it is important to do this in a positive and productive way.

It is up to the media industry to identify how the pandemic is impacting its audience and how their priorities may have shifted, and to provide relevant advice and insights to reflect the current climate. Whether it be through introducing a COVID-19 information section to sites, using SEO keyword research to identify the most searched questions in Google and developing content around the results, or simply updating the tone of current content, the industry needs to drive true value to the viewer to remain top-of-mind during the pandemic, and beyond.

While we all come to terms with the changes, understanding the needs of the nation is a huge opportunity for us to build human connections based around the new parameters in which we live. By modifying our content to deliver the trusted insights our readers are craving, Future is doing its bit to support the nation in its time of need. Players across the media industry, can take the opportunity to drive lasting connections by approaching the situation sympathetically and as helpfully as possible, understanding where consumers are, what they’re looking for, and how best to reach them.