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What Did Marketers Learn From 2020?

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In 2020, all companies were faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges. The pandemic forced them to do things that once seemed impossible. They had to change business structures overnight under the relentless pressure from the worldwide situation. But this is how the future came into focus. It’s now clearer than ever how the value of a company depends on how customer-obsessed, creative and adaptive they are in tapping into new markets, trends and industries. If there is one thing we all learned from 2020 it is that much of our success depends on how quickly and how well we build new platforms that differentiate our company. In this unusual year, marketers have learned some valuable lessons.

Lesson #1: Stay focused but flexible and don’t cut your marketing budget

The most important thing marketers learned from 2020 is to stay focused but also flexible. This also means not to cut the marketing budget during a financial crisis. We all know that 2020 has been a difficult year financially, but cutting your marketing budget is not just bad for your business during this pandemic, it can also hurt your company in the long run. In difficult times it is more important than ever to stay in contact with your audience. This is why it is so important to keep your marketing team in full force to make your customers feel supported.

At the same time, it is important to stay focused but also flexible because the pandemic showed more than ever that we should not run our marketing department based on rules. The customer comes first, so marketers should learn to take a customer-centric approach as a guiding principle and value proposition. A rule would have quickly told us to ignore the pandemic, but taking a customer-first approach gives us the chance to ask “What is best for our audience?” The answer is clear: Helping them to navigate the pandemic. Therefore, as a marketer in 2020 and beyond, it is more important than ever to stay focussed, flexible and on a full budget. The main strategy once again relies on transparency, getting ahead of questions and being as creative and positive as possible so that your audience feels like they’re in the know.

Lesson #2: Authentic and transparent communication is key

Last year, marketers had to live with many changes. Events had to be canceled and companies had to think about other ways of getting in touch with their audience. No one wants to cancel or postpone an event but it was necessary. After spending hours planning and preparing, it was time to think about how to press pause without making the audience feel uninformed and confused. The key for good communication in these difficult times is to be as transparent as possible.

“The pandemic forces the digital adoption not just on the consumer side but also the enterprise side. Customer behavior has changed due to the pandemic, for example, people spend more time online than ever and tend to check the information before going out.”, according to Wan-Yu Lee (MarTech & Digital Analyst at Digital Loop)

Thinking about the questions that they might have and answering them before they come up is very important for maintaining trust in the company and brand. Even when there isn’t a crisis happening, 90% of consumers report that a brand’s authenticity impacts whether or not they will support it. Moments of crisis aren’t the right time to sugarcoat things. Your audience can tell if you are not being authentic about the difficulties of the current situation and will be less engaged as a result.

According to Wan-Yu Lee (MarTech & Digital Analyst at Digital Loop), the importance of being updated and connected with the users/customers, in other words, digital engagement, is increasing. She says that digital engagement is not just limited to social media or the community but is also influenced by the UX of an online channel. Further she mentioned:

“In this era, it is too easy to find a cheaper alternative of any kind of service or product. What we can win the willingness to pay is actually the user experience and their satisfaction. According to the reports from Deloitte and McKinsey, people decrease their consumption and tend to buy only the necessary products. Personalization can be one of the solutions - for better UX and also providing and promoting what the user needs.”

Lesson #3: Stay in contact with your audience

Now more than ever should companies stay connected with their community. Without a strong online presence, your audience may find your competitors first. SEO marketing is one of the strongest tools when it comes to staying top-of-mind for your target audience - not only during a pandemic. Apart from SEO, Social media is another powerful tool during times of crisis. Your audience is looking for information and empathy, but also positivity and guidance. In times of uncertainty, it is more important than ever to use social media to provide your audience with the optimism they need. Get creative with your communication and connect with your audience by providing them with the tools, information and reassurance that they need.

In 2020, we’ve seen those companies without a robust digital infrastructure and presence struggling hard when events and trade shows disappeared overnight. Since then, the digital space are bustling with activity because events take place online, and it’s increasingly challenging to find new ways to differentiate your company.

Selling online is as much an art as a science. It requires the fusion of creativity and strategic thinking. Nowadays, you have to delight customers at every single touch point of the funnel. Today’s top brands have leveraged novel digital marketing tactics — they’re driving demand by hosting virtual roundtables, developing more online content, and connecting with potential audiences worldwide through engaging digital activities. Whether it’s experimenting with TikTok or creating a Facebook community, communicating with audiences on different digital channels is worth your time and effort and more important than ever since 2020.

Lesson #4: Invest in security, risk management and employee engagement

What marketers also learned from 2020 is to accelerate their spend on cloud, security and risk management. Coming out of the pandemic, we are at a time to invest in employees, breaking down old ideas and resolving resistance within the organization. This is why 30% of firms will increase their spend on cloud, security and risk, networks, and mobility, as Forrester mentioned in their 2021’s critical business and technology trends. In a critical year like 2020, CIOs focused on employee experience to attract and develop talent that can provide competitive advantage.

Furthermore, the way of working together has changed during the pandemic. Marketers learned to work together from different parts of the world, as Covid-19 forced everybody to work remotely. As there are many creative ways to communicate with colleagues, this can also be part of a new marketing strategy. To keep your audience informed, it is important to use new technologies to get in touch with them. The other big challenge during the pandemic is to stay synchronized with your colleagues.

Vladimir Stashevskiy (MarTech Consultant at Digital Loop) shared his most important learning from 2020 when it comes to communication:

“The biggest learning for me was that teams need to break silos and communicate. This is especially important when teams are physically separated from each other by working from home. It’s essential to align and synchronize on a regular basis to be aware of cross-team dependencies, to eliminate impediments and to avoid future debt because a few persons didn’t talk at the right time”.

 

Vladimir Stashevskiy (MarTech Consultant at Digital Loop)

Lesson #5: Building a profitable customer base takes time but is most important while hard times

A customer base takes years to build. But when there’s a pandemic, these customers are more important than ever. Because the businesses that have built a strong customer base thrived even in hard times like 2020 due to their steady revenue streams. Those that did not prioritize their customer base before the pandemic are scrambling. Post-pandemic, no brand should take digital marketing for granted since it is a gradual process. One benefit of it is that it helps to cultivate the relationships you’ve built with your existing customers. Acquiring customers during the pandemic is costlier than before it happened. This is why you should focus the bulk of energy on serving current customers the best you can.

Wan-Yu Lee (MarTech & Digital Analyst at Digital Loop) got it to the point: “I would say the key should be updated and stay connected with the users and customers. And another quote I think that matches the topic is from the report from McKinsey: Many of the longer-term changes in consumer behaviour are still being formed, giving companies an opportunity to help shape the Next Normal.” 

About Digital Loop

We at Digital Loop are the experts for your digital business. We provide companies with success-oriented, actionable recommendations data analysis. Data enables us to develop strategies to better position companies in the market. Our goal is to gain insights into the customer journey and keep them in the long-term by using integrated marketing techniques and analytics. Since 2015 we have been successfully supporting numerous companies throughout Germany. Our goal always is to support companies to reach their best potential.

About Vladimir Stashevskiy (MarTech Consultant at Digital Loop):

Vladimir has over 6 years of experience in Digital Analytics, MarTech and Digital Marketing. He is our Google Analytics Expert at Digital Loop. Also, he is responsible for our MarTech Stack Consulting and Tech. SEO Consulting. At Digital Loop we call him Web Analytics & MarTech Ninja.

Find him on LinkedIn

About Wan-Yu Lee (MarTech & Digital Analyst at Digital Loop):

Wan-Yu is focusing on digital marketing data to deliver insights and strategy solutions. At Digital Loop, she also coordinates with IT & Marketing stakeholders to roll out BI projects. Aside from this, Wan-Yu is responsible for conceptualizing reports in Excel, Google Data Studio, Tableau and Adobe.

Find her on LinkedIn