Businesses, partners and customers navigated through a lot of unchartered water in 2020. It was hard to sell because budgets were tight, and it was hard to buy because products and resources were not readily available. As things went upside down, backwards and sideways, Sales teams that previously relied on in-person events to meet revenue goals became dependent on digital communication and content from marketing teams. Meanwhile, Marketers in re-planning mode were quickly reminded about the critical importance of having a cohesive digital communication and content strategy in place.
Now that we survived the year of the shift and pivot, we can take a few deep breaths and look ahead with a little clarity and renewed focus on the horizon. As we plan for 2021 let’s consider a few trends that will influence the digital marketer’s roadmap.
- Content is king and experience is queen. But with limited physical interaction, increased screen time and the volume of online content skyrocketing (if that were even possible), “Digital Fatigue” has become a real hurdle to meaningful engagement. Brands need to map out how to best deliver quality content, integrated experiences and well-executed thought leadership programs to credibly stand out in the digital firehose. ‘Just okay’ anything will not do.
- Community is back. Expect to see a renewed focus on holistic ecosystem engagement across all stakeholder groups – customers, employees, partners, influencers and investors. Brands in both B2B and B2C marketplaces will ramp up their relationship building efforts and work to foster trust through online communities and formal advocate programs. These are highly effective strategies proven to drive customer advocacy, feedback and support efforts. These types of programs have been delivering tangible and measurable ROI for years.
- SaaS spending will be more surgical and controlled. We will see a period of rapid, but thoughtful innovation with AI, personalization and approaches to data. The MarTech buying center will carefully evaluate the types of technology and tools that are compatible and aligned to their organization’s needs and procurement strategies related to their CX and digital transformation initiatives.
- Because digital CX is such a high priority we expect to see a period of reinvention. New websites, branding, messaging and imagery projects will roll out in 2021 for a variety of reasons, but mostly it is because today’s user experiences are not designed to support a seamless and connected UX that is truly omnichannel. Thriving and surviving brands recognize they need to deliver better digital, social and mobile experiences, that they must be journey-centric, and their voice, tone and imagery must be appropriate, empathetic and authentic to their audiences.
Being ready for anything means getting back to the basics. Following best practices with a renewed focus on strategy aimed at delivering relevant and quality content, great digital experiences and engaging stakeholders are signs of progressive and positive change that will impact businesses, employees, customers and partners. We have much to look forward to. So, keep calm, carry on and continue to swim in your drive lanes. Have a great year!
Jenny is a digital content strategist, who leads customer-centric engagements that focus on understanding B2B buying behaviors and developing custom roadmaps.
Her expertise is creating buyer personas and mapping digital content journeys to assess the multi-channel user experience. She helps clients operationalize plans across workstreams and identifies processes to create efficiencies in marketing operations. Jenny also has extensive time under her belt developing and managing customer advocacy programs and community building.
She has helped a diverse group of organizations including Cisco, VMware, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, BMO Harris, Capital One and many others become more customer-centric.