Pivot is an understatement for 2020. Marketers and consumers were forced to change behaviors in dramatic and unexpected ways. People are resilient, though, and marketers proved again their ability to adapt and thrive in an everchanging landscapes. While vaccines are on the horizon, a return to pre-pandemic behavior probably isn’t likely for a while. What changes should we expect to continue into 2021?
Turns out there is still value in virtual conferences. High quality live and on-demand content still managed to draw crowds. Virtual conferences eliminated the geographic and expenses barriers that accompany in-person events, with the bonus of unlimited seating. Some organizers were surprised to see larger than expected attendance. Steeply discounted sponsorship packages earned loyalty from prior exhibitors. As sponsors of several conferences, emfluence increased awareness to geographically distant prospects that we ordinarily may have not engaged with and speaking engagements led to in-depth conversations with peers and prospects. The takeaway: The value is different, but value remains. Virtual events certainly won’t be a one-to-one replacement of leads generated through exhibitions and booths, but speaking engagements and sponsorship still represent a uniquely personal way to remain relevant and maintain brand awareness to targeted audiences.
Need help qualifying the types of leads you received from virtual conferences this year? Check out our guide for defining MQLs and SQLs.
Lack of Mobility
We can presume that as a nation, we will endure limited mobility through the first half of 2021. With sales calls going to voicemail and offices vacant, ABM campaigns will have to wait a bit longer. Marketers will be challenged to engage prospects through targeted marketing, brilliant nurture and engagement campaigns, and probably more important, up-leveling their content strategy. According to HubSpot, interactive content gains two times more engagement than static content and doesn’t have to be expensive to produce.
- 45% of B2B buyers say interactive content is one of their top three preferred content types. (SnapApp)
- 51% of B2B buyers say interactive content is helpful when tackling business challenges. (SnapApp)
- 62% of B2B marketers are already using interactive content. (DemandGen)
Digital Marketing Will Maintain a Lion’s Share of Marketing Spend
2020 saw a shift in marketing dollars toward digital marketing.
- Given customer shifts, marketers are, in turn, adjusting their offerings and pivoting their businesses. Some 60.8% indicate they have “shifted resources to building customer-facing digital interfaces” and 56.2% are “transforming their go-to-market business models to focus on digital opportunities.” https://cmosurvey.org/pandemic-exacts-toll-digital-strategies-pay-off-and-marketers-expect-them-to-pay-forward/
- 85% of marketers report an increased openness among customers to their digital offerings and 84% believe customers place more value on digital experiences than before the pandemic, according to a Special Covid-19 Edition of The CMO Survey from Duke University surveying marketing leaders at for-profit U.S. companies. https://cmosurvey.org/covid-drives-digital-as-marketers-pivot-into-stronger-and-leaner-roles/
What Won’t Change
Cookies are still going away and you need to prepare. According to Josh Cole in Adweek, “Google’s industry-leading browser Chrome will stop supporting third-party cookies by early 2022, significantly altering how digital ads are targeted and tracked.” Luckily, there are resources to help you prepare, including Adweek’s Institute for Brand Marketing’s free course: “Marketing in a Cookie-less World.”
Use of Ad Blockers will continue but may have peaked. According to a study by Audience Project, 63% of respondents had a negative view of ads in online video clips and 47% had a negative view of ads on websites. The people that were most annoyed by ads on websites were persons aged 56 and older. (Get off my lawn!) The study did find that the use of ad blockers is decreasing, though. From 2016 to 2020, the share of the online population using ad blockers has decreased across all countries.
5G Is More Accessible
According to Forbes, 5G will finally go mainstream. We expect this to further power the move to mobile engagement.
Increased Emphasis on Agility and Customer Experience
A survey by Deloitte noted that consumers showed an increased appreciation for customer-focused digital experience. “In a survey of more than 2,400 global consumers, 58% of respondents could name a brand that was able to nimbly switch offerings to react to the “new normal.” And two-thirds of consumers surveyed told us the pandemic has increased their appreciation for well-designed technologies, too, according to Deloitte.”
While tactics may shift, the value of relevant, targeted messaging remains a cornerstone for acquisition and loyalty.
Need a little help navigating your 2021 marketing landscape? Drop us a line below, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.