2020 Was a Year of Big Changes for Digital Marketing

2020 was a chaotic year for all businesses. It was also one in which the world connected digitally more than ever before. Desperate to keep their operations going, companies digitalized at a rapid pace – some almost overnight.

How companies market and sell was impacted. Businesses had to adapt to digital marketing – many for the first time. No longer could B2B sales be agreed upon at conferences and trade shows. Face-to-face sales fell off the agenda. Marketing during a pandemic changed shape at digital speed.

So, what changed, what have we learned from the experience, and what is the future of digital marketing?

Marketing connects each part of your business

Here’s the good news. Now your marketing is online, your potential reach is global. It’s a huge market out there.

The bad news is that all your competitors are doing the same thing as you. They’re using pandemic marketing techniques: sending emails, producing content, publishing blogs, and posting on social media.

How do you win? First, by making the future of digital marketing an integral part of your entire business. It’s no longer a department sitting on its own. What most of your competitors aren’t doing is using the real strength of your marketers – to connect to your audience.

Your marketing team can gather a mountain of data and evidence, including customer insights and customer reactions to different campaigns, content, products, and services. They can feed all this back to the whole business, to help the whole company improve.

You must create your content wisely

Content sells. It sells your business, products, and services. It helps gain and retain new customers. But you must produce the right type of content to get the traction your efforts deserve.

How do you know which content is received best? Refer to your marketing team. They should have all the information you need.

You must share content on the right channels

Your marketing team is the go-to resource to help you choose which channels to publish on, too. Should you send emails or post blogs? What social media channels get the best results?

In truth, integrated campaigns will always produce the best results – but it’s how you devise and share that campaign that will dictate what those results are. It’s important to start conversations throughout the customer journey, and then use an omnichannel approach to continue the conversation through to closing the deal.

Empathy is king

In the face of an uncertain and frightening time, people have grown weary of brands competing for their attention.

Potential customers want information that is relevant to them. They need their questions to be answered. You get results by selling to needs, and to do this you must understand the customer, and then show empathy for the problem they need to solve.

Customers’ needs and priorities change constantly

Consumers are more mindful about what they buy, where they buy it from, and how much they are willing to pay.

Brands need to have a finger on the pulse of their customers to remain relevant. They need to understand what the current trends are, where they are heading, and how they can use them to their advantage.

There is not only a single way to get customers’ needs and priorities, but many strategies can be executed digitally:

  • The most popular way is through customer surveys and chats

  • Another way is by having a focus group with customers and observing the interactions between them

  • A third way would be collecting all data on social media about what people are talking about in relation to your company

Adaptability is key

Adaptability is key for a company to succeed in today’s digital world. As we have seen, customers’ needs are constantly changing, and so should the products and services that companies provide. 

Companies need to be able to adapt quickly to remain competitive. They need to be able to stop doing things the way they have always done them because customer preferences are always changing – this includes how you market your products and services through digital channels.

Seizing new opportunities

Digital marketing has evolved from its original form of just pushing products out to customers. Now it has become a powerful tool for branding, building customer relationships, and positioning your company as an innovator in the market.

Digital marketing is not only about the digital world. It has become an essential part of marketing since it provides a platform for reaching out to a global audience. This also means that the roles and responsibilities of marketers have changed, and they are now expected to be able to do more than just handle digital marketing activities.

Marketers are now expected to create engaging content, manage social media channels, handle customer service through emails and chatbots, and use data analytics tools for better decision-making, among others. The future-ready marketer needs skills in all these fields. Why is this essential? Because without these skillsets available to you, you will find it impossible to seize new opportunities that come from a constantly changing marketplace.

Flexibility is the way 

Flexibility is key to success in digital marketing. What works today may not work tomorrow. With so many strategies and channels open to you, it is essential that you keep pace with the changing market. 

Therefore, you must constantly monitor and measure results. You’ll need to test different approaches, and iterate your strategy as your customers’ needs and digital location evolve.

Remaining relevant is only possible through value propositions

Value propositions are what makes a customer come back to your company repeatedly. They are the things that set you apart from other companies.

If you don’t have anything special or differentiating, then the customer will be left with nothing to remember about your company. They will be more likely to go to a competitor who offers something they need or desire. Your products and services must provide value in some way, shape, or form for them to continue coming back.

Planning for growth is always necessary

Every company should plan for its growth. If there isn’t a plan for your company’s growth, then there is no direction to move in.

The planning process can be challenging because developing a plan needs to consider many different factors such as future goals, risks, possibilities of change, target markets and competitors, and so on. 

Some of these considerations might change as time goes on, so it is important to constantly update the plan to ensure that they are still relevant. A business plan includes all aspects of the organization’s operations, including marketing strategies that are necessary for success. Content marketing is one of the ways that companies can leverage this strategy of planning for growth in a long-term manner.

What does the future look like?

As a final thought in this article, I want to consider what the world will look like as we exit the trauma of the last 18 months. 

It’s likely to be a bumpy ride. There will be ups and downs, and businesses must be prepared for rapid, perhaps often unexpected, disruption. 

Don’t expect to get much help from stable politics, either. People’s views will be swayed one way and the other as we navigate the next few years, and politicians may make the mistake of doing what is popular rather than what is right.

We are also likely to see pandemic habits persist, especially in ways of doing business. We’ve got used to reading material online, attending webinars, and connecting digitally via Zoom and other communication tools.

There will be many opportunities created

Crises create opportunities. To take advantage of them, it is imperative that you build your digital following:

  • Continue to publish thought-provoking, interesting, and informative content

  • Send newsletters and emails

  • Post and interact on social media

Sometimes this will seem like slow-burn activity. It’s like the fuse on a stick of dynamite. You think it’s fizzled to nothing then, ‘BOOM!’

Would you like to hear more about leadership, entrepreneurship, business, and marketing? To book me for entrepreneurial coaching or for a speaking event, please get in touch.

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