What new year’s marketing publication would be complete without predictions? In this article, Eric Jan van Putten, VP Marketing at Dynamicweb offers his perspective on 3 trends we should be looking for in digital marketing. As you expect for a marketing leader for a digital experience vendor, it has a focus on the opportunity for technology-led digital transformation.


2020 was disruptive and forced organizations to pivot on a dime implementing new technologies helping them to stay in business. Luckily technology has become so accessible that you don’t need months of implementation and endless project meetings to get your business online. 

This year restaurants joined marketplaces and/or launched their own digital shops in a matter of days or weeks trying to stay afloat while transforming into pickup points or starting delivery services.

Boutique fashion shops massively stepped into social e-commerce through channels like Instagram, still able to show their products while taking orders via their own new shops or via social marketplaces.  

In e-commerce, we have seen a decade of change in just 12 short months, although it wasn’t an easy transition for most, in the long run, it might show that this change will be good for business. As McKinsey shares that organizations that are digitally mature are up to 5x more successful than their digital laggards. 

In this article, I dive deeper into 3 predictions for digital marketing.


2021 Predictions

In every organization, digital marketing relies heavily on tools and solutions that help drive business.

Email marketing is available free of charge. Setting up a website doesn’t have to take more than an hour or so from a technical perspective, but doing digital marketing right requires more than just tools.

The right data governance and strategy is needed to make decisions that will influence how you build your marketing technology stack. What are the desired outcomes, what features are must-haves, and which ones are nice to have?

I have three predictions for what will shape that conversation in 2021:

#1: ACCELERATED DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION AND TOOLS

With new marketing technology solutions entering the market, seemingly by the thousand every year, the martech market is still developing. Any challenge or idea you have, and I’m sure there is an app or technology for that.

The availability of software solutions, apps, and tools for just a low monthly subscription has made it possible for even the smallest businesses to create a positive brand experience.

Now digital transformation surely isn’t something new. It is a transformation that has seen growth for well over a decade. And this growth has been accelerating year over year, and so has the growth of available solutions. Check Scott Brinker’s marketing technology landscape and its growth over the past 10+ years. The future growth will be fueled by three, maybe four major topics:

NO CODE OR LOW CODE INTEGRATION

With solutions becoming easier to integrate, even the more complex best-of-breed solutions become available to most organizations that would be put off based on implementing and integration complexity. And the ease of integration will make it possible to fuel a better customer experience as different technologies can be chained together in offering a seamless offline and online experience. Of course, the other direct recurring costs from different best-of-breed solutions with or without a dedicated specialist will be something to plan for.

COVID AS AN ENABLER

For many organizations, digital transformation became a necessity to stay in business. It forced people to look into e-commerce options while also taking a good stab at improving the digital customer experience. Smaller businesses can move very rapidly and develop agile plans as they are less challenged by bigger organizational processes and ego’s where everyone needs to be involved.

COVID has accelerated this transformation for businesses that otherwise would have never even considered making a move into the digital age.

MORE OPTIONS IN DIFFERENT PRICE CATEGORIES

With the massive number of solutions out there available, it is usually worth checking what features are must-haves and which ones are nice to have and then to search what options are available.

Sometimes similar solutions can have a price difference of 5-10x easy. You might need to let go of some features or some fancy brand or UI, but your marketing budget will thank you!

THE FIGHT FOR THE CUSTOMER

With everyone going digital, it becomes a fight for the customer on the digital playing field. Not only do you need to have an attractive digital storefront or have a speedy website, but you also need to offer the best digital customer experience possible.

And to do that, you need to have as much data available as possible. When a previous non-converting shopper comes back, apply homepage personalization showing products the person has shown an interest in or related products that increase the chance of a conversion.

When in B2B have all this data available in your CRM, or your Digital Experience Platform, you can use behavior-based triggers firing of the right message at the right time, making customers out of browsers.

#2: SOCIAL MEDIA

With COVID reducing the normally available marketing and sales channels, people have taken to social media more than ever. It is one of the few channels that will allow you to connect directly with the right person, not hindered by any gatekeeper or the overflowing, easy to forget email inbox.

Social Media is part of almost any business. Ranging from the most minimalistic way a business has a Linkedin or Google Company page to organizations that do all their business through one or more social media channels.

In B2C e-commerce, social e-commerce has taken off. Boutique businesses can offer their products through Instagram, showing in live streams every possible angle and movement of the product, convincing shoppers based on a great digital product experience that this is the product for them.

In B2B and B2C, e-commerce Linkedin has a strong position. It allows marketers to promote products, increase brand awareness, and enable sales to check out who interacted with the company’s content or find the right person as part of the Account-Based Marketing approach to get a foot in the door with the right person at the right time.

But let’s all not forget that this is social media, so let’s not kick in the door and ask for a 15-minute call in the 2nd or 3rd sentence.

#3: VIDEO

Video in digital marketing will continue to develop in different formats.

I’ve mentioned live streaming in B2C, but in B2B there are similar opportunities. Video is applied to either show the business’s human side and/or dive into specific topics. Either with your peers or with topic specialists. During a live stream that can take anywhere between 15 minutes and 90 minutes max, topics and insights are given by industry experts.

Live stream video in e-commerce, both B2B and B2C, allows the viewer to get the most of the product. How does it operate, how does the fabric move? The consumer can ask questions that the presenter can cover. This digital experience has seen growth in recent years and will continue into 2021 and beyond.

In B2B marketing, with physical events barely happening, everyone seemed to have taken to webinars. Some try to mimic the event experience, where others embraced the webinar format to its fullest potential, including On Demand, re-usage of the webinar content, and snippets of the available video.

And in B2B sales, personalized video is coming up as well. Currently, these are mostly videos that are quickly created by a sales development representative. But I’m curious and looking forward to using modern technologies and helping automate and scale this. As video applied in this way is still relatively fresh, it gets a decent open and attention rate. If you can scale this via computer-generated video, the sky is the limit.

And last but not least, video calls. We try to keep the office-like human connection with everyone working from home by activating webcams and moving social chats to Teams and Zoom. While some of us describe suffering from Zoom fatigue, it provides an important human connection element of working in a team.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, marketing technology will continue to grow in the pursuit of offering better, personalized engagements. Technology is more accessible than ever before and allows almost any business to scale its marketing efforts and grow bottom-line results.

New features in established social media channels allow the marketing and sales department to engage in optimal ways with its target audience, increasing awareness and demand generation results.

And as we talk about established methods, content categories like video continue to see development in applying something old like video in new ways like the personalized video by SDRs to create the best way of being noticed and getting your foot in the door.

All these developments are exciting to keep an eye on. However, the overall goals of offering better digital customer experiences and scale e-commerce success are still the goals we are all after.


You can learn more about Eric Jan van Putten, his marketing approach, what gets his Monday morning marketing mojo working and what he would throw into the Rockstar CMO Swimming Pool in this backstage interview.


This article is an edited version of “Predictions 2021: Digital Marketing” first posted on the Dynamicweb blog


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