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How Digitalisation will impact marketing in 2021?

Samir Bagga, CMO, L&T Technology Services Ltd, highlights how 2020 has been a year of recalibration and reinvention for all marketing folks the world over and how 2021 holds the promise of building on the new and pushing the envelope in a world that has embraced digitalisation like never before.

It’s hard to do marketing while observing social distancing guidelines. Even till as recently as January this year, we marketeers used to thrive on the ‘show and tell’ factor, organising large events, showcasing the best in class solutions and exchanging cards in trade shows. It was an engine that ran almost perfectly... Until COVID hit the entire planet. The months of lockdown imposed by Governments globally forced marketeers the world over to rethink and reshape their years’ old strategies and transition to a more digitally enabled, virtual mode of working in this new normal.

Customers’ adoption of digital assets – smart mobile phones, virtual connects, wearables clubbed with aggregator website and apps – has of course played a critical role in shifting customer preference towards personalised service offerings.

Indeed, COVID has disrupted buyer behaviour at its core. The buyer/ consumer is redefining what is essential or a luxury. At an enterprise level, vendor evaluation and contract negotiation are being done remotely without any physical engagements. We will see acceleration of digital transformation across the enterprise, manufacturing shop floor, engineering and supply chain like never before. Sectors like Aviation, Hospitality and Tourism have been adversely affected, but in the second half of 2021, once we have a vaccine, these sectors will probably witness a boom.

Marketing professionals have been quick to adapt, revamping their backend and frontend marketing engagement models. On the frontend, marketers have upgraded their website, developed apps and introduced online multi-channel customer process. In addition, social media such as LinkedIn has been used extensively in enhancing engagement with probable future customer by sharing market insights and initiating discussion on trending industry topics.

Synergy between sales & marketing teams like never before

In 2021, the effective synergy between marketers and sales teams has been a major change that will set new marketing trends in the digital era. During lockdown, sales teams were compelled to look beyond the traditional mode of engagement which came to a complete standstill. With traditional sales playbook out of the window now – when sales teams were always on the road, interacting physically with client and ideating over coffee and drinks – the sales person is now stuck to interacting on a screen with dwindling pipeline and uncertainty.

Given the scenario, marketing teams rose to the occasion and facilitated new ideas, propositions, and “bounce back” strategies to the sales teams, bringing in a unique synergy that will continue to dominate through 2021.

On the backend, marketing teams have been brainstorming and strategising ways to align their approach or customer engagement models in the new normal by transforming themselves from a product/ service provider to value driven, thought leader consultants. To achieve the same, marketers have been making efforts towards understanding customers’ empathy, gaining insights across industries, and coming up with practicable solutions that will create value for customers.

B2C digital marketing experiences to influence B2B marketing

Although personalised digital experience is often associated with B2C companies, a few B2B companies have also implemented personalisation due to the evolving customer behaviour. In 2021, B2B companies will be influenced by B2C digital marketing experiences that bring in personalised customer engagement model with the objective of having more meaningful conversations and enhancing customer experience by mimicking physical experiences that we have missed in 2020. In order to be successful in the digital era, marketers in 2021 would need the skill of analysing floods of data along with inferences and insights for relevance, create hypothesis and conduct trial and error tests for success in a shorter period of time before ideating new approaches and ideas. Successful marketers will need to “stick to basics” campaigns that evoke strong emotions rather than a more logical one. Simplicity will thrive.

Virtual offerings for customers

Given the current scenario, technology providers were quick to grasp that with remote work becoming the ‘new normal’, it makes business sense to virtualise core business-facing activities. This was critical since customer visits to our innovation labs and R&D centres of excellence came to a halt.

To ensure that our work continues to reach our customers, marketing played a pivotal role to create new opportunities to bring the organisations’ R&D innovations to the doorstep of customers. For example, in ER&D services companies, marketing departments are helping virtualise innovation labs to showcase a plethora of possibilities from ideating engineering excellence to prototyping samples and patenting design rights to mass production.

These R&D labs typically contain simulations, VR tools, tutorials and demos, that allow customers to view life science and diagnostic innovations at the click of a button. The dual-layer of authentication, while registering for the virtual tour, provides an added layer of security to the virtual tour. By virtualising labs and R&D work, B2B marketeers for technology firms are increasingly bringing innovations to the customer’s doorsteps at a time when physical travel is almost impossible.

‘Wow’ing the Customer

A related aspect is creating compelling customer and user experiences by leveraging digital tools and solutions. It is essential for marketeers to come up with programs and demos that can showcase an organisation’s innovations to the customer while providing them with a ‘wow’ factor. The digital transition of a brand in this day and age can be made possible through personalising customer specific engagement models built on high performance cloud connected Augmented Reality (AR)/ Virtual Reality (VR) solutions. A primary hurdle in AR, VR, and all forms of extended reality (XR) becoming mainstream has been the need of high bandwidth, low latency network to deliver an optimal experience. With the introduction of high speed connectivity platforms, marketeers can experiment more with these technologies to make customer experience and buyer journey more immersive and interactive. The ‘aha!’ experiences will triumph.

Industry 4.0 and smarter premises

Every new technology brings with it advantages. According to a 2018 Mckinsey report, IoT enabled technologies will play a crucial role in making official premises smarter, safer and more productive. This report and statement is more pertinent during the current times. Marketing teams’ interventions here is crucial both to showcase the digital offerings to customers and prospects and also to ensure that these solutions create new conversation opportunities with interested stakeholders and give rise to a stronger ecosystem.

Marketing technology solutions
Marketing is poised to take a seat at the CTO’s table. It is important in engineering services organisations to effectively capture the differentiators of an organisation’s flagship solution. This is where marketing can play a useful role, by setting context with relevant market research and intelligence about the solution, its potential and the ecosystem. The marketing team will also be working in tandem with the Technology Office to drive campaigns which showcase the power of digital solutions and eventually result in lead generation and sales enablement.

Voice Search Marketing

Voice technology in 2020 was dominated by Amazon Alexa, Siri and Google Home. Looking at the popularity of the popular AI “personal assistants”, marketers will be looking at voice service tool with greater opportunity in 2021. As a result, marketers will create content that is more suitable for mobile devices. The content will be created around screenless searches (voice search and digital assistants) and micro-moments. Voice Search marketing is expected to evolve faster as a tool of marketing to vow customers during 2021 and beyond.

Integration of Pay Per Click (PPC) and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

On the social marketing front, marketers will be exploring crucial relation between PPC and SEO that drives results in digital marketing campaigns in the coming year. By exchanging important keyword data and SEO ranking data, SEO and PPC teams can integrate to recognize position strategy and enhance Search Engine Result Page (SERP) coverage for all customers.

Interactive Content Marketing

While interactive content has been around for some time, the lockdown period has brought to the fore its popularity amongst marketers due to its engaging nature. The year 2021 will see more traction for interactive content amongst marketers as it engages viewers effectively. Interactive video, for instance, is considered more effective as it provides a unique user experience by bridging the gap between normal video and artificial intelligence.

Given the above trend, 2021 will see higher allocation of time and resources towards MarTech as customer engagement and retention becomes the name of the game in the pandemic scenario. MarTech will facilitate brands in personalising customers experience across physical/ digital channels and at various engagement stages through omni-channel personalisation, thereby creating direct relationship with customers.

2020 has been a year of recalibration and reinvention for all marketing folks the world over. 2021 holds the promise of building on the new and pushing the envelope in a world that has embraced digitalisation like never before. The Future is Now!

Marketing
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