This time last year, we were making predictions on what the new decade would bring, but 2020 ended up being more unpredictable than anyone could have guessed. And while there are still a lot of uncertainties heading into 2021, there are some table stakes for marketing teams that won’t change.
If anything, this past year has focused the industry to get back to basics and highlighted the importance of connected, authentic engagement to meet today’s challenges.
While there is a sense of optimism around marketing budgets and consumer spending as we head into the new year, no one will be rushing to increase their spending or return to the status quo. Instead, marketers will be looking to work smarter, not necessarily bigger.
By investing in technology that offers flexibility and automation, marketers can be nimbler and maximize their lean budgets or reduced teams to compete in a marketplace that requires brands to be scrappy and keep scaling as they continue to deliver on stellar customer experience (CX) and grow their business.
One example of such technology that supports CX is marketing automation, which serves as an extension of the team by not only automating communications and taking the manual labor out of tasks, it’s the engine that enables marketers to create and execute an exceptional customer lifecycle.
After all, 2021 isn’t going to change the old adage that marketing comes down to delivering the right message to the right person at the right time.
In fact, according to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, 73% of all people point to customer experience as an important factor in their purchasing decisions. Despite this, only 49% of U.S. consumers say companies provide a good customer experience.
Marketing automation can help bridge this gap by allowing marketers to identify prospect and customer interests and pain points through their engagements and behaviors across digital channels, empowering marketers to tailor nurture campaigns through customized, unique touchpoints.
While there is ample data available, there is also a lot of data that can distract marketers from providing customers value. In 2021, growth-minded marketers will cut through the noise and hone in on the two most important metrics when crafting their campaigns – prospect and product engagement.
First, marketers must focus on data that measures engagement at every stage of the customer lifecycle. In marketing speak, we call this metric “prospect engagement”.
From identifying your most qualified, relevant prospects at the top of the funnel to leveraging incoming engagement data to shape campaigns, the constant monitoring of what works and what doesn’t and who is interested and who isn’t is crucial.
Why? By measuring and fostering prospect engagement you set the stage for constant improvement and show that your brand is listening to the needs and wants of your audience. That is, if you are merely measuring leads and dollar-to-dollar transactions, you will overlook your role in the market and fail to create a long-term strategy that keeps your offering relevant.
Secondly, it’s vital that your brand pay attention to how your customers are interacting with your offering throughout their journey with you. This metric is referred to as “product engagement”.
Are you noticing that a majority of your customers are having difficulty with a specific feature of your product? Now is the time to go the extra mile and host tutorials and free training.
On the flipside, have you recognized a specific aspect of your offering that gets them jazzed and feeling creative? Highlight their work and share it with your network via social or through a testimonial program to express your appreciation and long-term commitment to their success.
In today’s market, it’s not enough to merely close a sale, pat yourself on the back and move on to the next. Instead, it’s a necessity to pay close attention to where your product is hitting and missing the mark so you can fill in the gaps and celebrate wins accordingly.
The new year tends to bring new “revolutionary” technologies with grandiose claims of solving the industry’s most prominent pain points. But as marketers look toward 2021, they need to use technology that has a proven impact rather than just overhyped promises.
That’s why smart, tried-and-true behavioral marketing solutions, like marketing automation, will still be so key to helping move the needle compared to risky, half-baked technologies. Take for example the swirling, yet pervasive, conversations surrounding artificial intelligence’s (AI) role in martech.
Yes, there are absolutely quasi-useful deployments of AI that are helping right now in the real-world, like identifying buying patterns, but 2021 will not be the year to make big investments in experiential technology that isn’t fully proven.
At the end of the day, marketers have to disrupt an already disrupted world, where customers are savvier, less patient, and more skeptical than ever.
Marketers should instead look for technology that will help them determine when recipients are most likely to engage and with what assets – in order to not only garner the best customer experience, but also improve ROI on the outreach.
A fluid platform can help marketers make sure that customers get what they need, when they need it, no matter what.
2020 was a wakeup call for a lot of things, including the way that marketing departments had to operate. However, anticipating customers’ needs or behaviors and getting there first has always been key to successful marketing, and that’s not going to change in 2021.
Marketers just have more tools at their disposal to do more efficiently. I’m optimistic that we’re going to see a lot of marketers getting creative and rolling up their sleeves in the coming year — especially when it comes to customer experience.
I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to see how the industry advances in 2021.
David Greenberg is the CMO of Act-On. He oversees all aspects of the company’s marketing and growth strategies. David brings over 20 years of marketing leadership experience in high-growth technology organizations.
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