- ClickZ’s quarterly advisory board meeting focused on unpacking key marketing insights for 2020 and what they mean for 2021 and beyond.
- Our advisory board members are made up of thought leaders and greats who bring decades of marketing experience with them.
- The main topics of the quarterly meeting include the importance of agility, the rapid pace of digital transformation (and the associated digital backlash) and the need for greater agility in terms of martech tools, messaging and creativity.
At the quarterly meeting of the ClickZ Advisory Board on December 3rd, our focus was on looking back on the most important things we learned over the course of a very unusual year. We also looked ahead and made some predictions based on how these insights could affect the next year and beyond. Our advisory board members are made up of thought leaders and greats who bring decades of marketing experience with them.
The main topics of the quarterly meeting include the importance of agility, the rapid pace of digital transformation (and the associated digital backlash) as well as the complexity, agility and (lack of) spontaneity in marketing that result from dealing with remote teams.
# 1: Data-driven analytics teams working remotely struggle with creativity
The inability to get into a room and spontaneously share ideas and work together as a team has negatively impacted creativity. The problem is widespread across many different teams and groups as organizations quickly adjusted to the need to work remotely.
forecast: Legacy technologies like email and phone calls can help foster human connection and creativity. Email remains an important channel as the need for a remote connection remains. Our experts recommend a renewed focus on investing in email and SMS as a key channel for 2021.
# 2: Live events won’t come back until 2022 (plan accordingly)
More than one advisory board member is crowding out live events in the first quarter of 2022 based on the realistic timeline of events surrounding the pandemic – namely, the widespread release of a vaccine that is unlikely to happen in the US until May or June 2021, when people turn up familiar with events and travel, we will likely be in the first quarter of 2022.
forecast: Instead of personal events, picking up the phone and talking will be an essential way to fuel creativity and real connection in 2021. The rigidity of zoom can detract from the natural tendency to drop our hair and actually speak (and listen). to each other. 2021 will still include Zoom calling, but it will likely include old-fashioned phone calls as well.
# 3: Brands with solid ecommerce and digital foundations did well in 2020
Digital-first brands with a solid e-commerce infrastructure were better prepared for the rapidly changing consumer purchasing behavior of 2020. They were also better equipped to switch to digital / remote working.
This approach made them more agile and better able to adapt to customer needs. These companies also tended to have a clear purpose so that their marketing caught on with consumers. Companies that focused on people and talent as one of their key elements in 2020 were more successful than those that didn’t.
forecast: In 2021, digital transformation, data relevance and the focus on recruiting top talent will accelerate further in order to secure long-term survival and maintain sustainable growth.
# 4: Agility was a big challenge in 2020
Agility was a challenge for companies that were forced to work remotely and eliminated or reduced the ability to brainstorm together on the fly. In the post-COVID environment of 2020, businesses of all sizes had to switch very quickly and consistently, making it difficult to think ahead, be creative, and plan strategically.
forecast: The whole idea of agility, even for small businesses, will change, especially with the alignment between sales and marketing. This is probably one of the biggest challenges in 2020.
Sales go one way and marketing lags behind. It will be important to budget and plan for shorter periods of time so that marketing and sales are more aligned and more agile than external factors related to virus displacement.
# 5: There has been a big shift in optimizing the customer journey that puts more emphasis on customer analytics
Customer analytics were more important than ever in 2020. Understanding how people use your products, how they move on the customer journey, what creates points of friction, and how companies can create better, more personal customer experiences, is critical to developing relevant products, services, and news for the post-COVID -Consumer.
forecast: Customer analytics are (and need to) be more responsive so brands can better engage with customers and deliver more personalized, empathetic, and meaningful experiences. The goal will be to improve customers’ lives and help them even before you actually sell them anything.
# 6: Due to the pandemic, consumer shopping behavior has changed significantly
The spread of e-commerce and the way consumers buy things has accelerated massively. Amazon is the figurehead for this shift. It took you twenty years to reach a million employees.
In the last 10 months alone, Amazon hired nearly half a million employees (that’s an average of 1,400 new employees per day). The demand for companies like Instacart has exploded. Consumers use their phones to shop at Target and Walmart, and use apps to make buying easier.
forecast: Looking to the future, retail media will become a massive consumer awareness channel. Facebook, Google and Amazon correspond to the old media channels (NBC, CBS and ABC) of the past. By the beginning of 2021, consumers will not only buy goods from these platforms, but also get to know new products from these platforms.
# 7: Any place you transact becomes a media platform, but being creative is a challenge
Everything is a place for transactions and that means everything can become a media platform. The consumer offering is tied to the credit card, which can be used online or offline, giving consumers the ability to reward brands and deals through the financial institution they do business with.
Creative is challenging in this environment and needs to be scaled to appeal to people whether it’s online or offline.
forecast: Creative as a Service will be a scaled-up mechanism that more advertisers will focus on, especially now when they cannot work in person with a creative team. It will be critical to develop a marketplace with people who can help brands create unique, authentic content on the channel they are working towards.
# 8: Best-of-breed technology is the only way to stay agile
Customer data and the orchestration of experiences serve as the link for an effective Martech implementation, but only in an environment with minimal complexity. The way marketers think about building travel is changing.
Simplifying the tools we use to create agility is critical in 2021 and beyond. Best-of-breed vendors are the only ones who can achieve this in the currently overly complex martech ecosystem.
forecast: There will be a redefinition of marketing technology in the coming years, with the AI and lifecycle experience at the heart of this shift. Best of breed is the only way to stay agile in this environment. This means that Martech platforms must be suitable for second and third party data in order for it to get on the stack and actually be useful.
# 9: Brands and companies need to become more efficient
The rationalization and streamlining of the Martech stack was an essential strategy in the past year. In the highly uncertain environment that defines 2020, companies have focused on the effectiveness and efficiency of their martech stack. This means making sure that there are as few tools as possible and that they have a direct business impact.
Forecast: Martech vendors and platforms have consolidated their technical tools, and it is expected to stay that way through 2021. Clearly, the most successful technologies will focus on initiatives that have a direct impact on business results.
As digital transformation continues through 2021, there will be digital setbacks in uncertain market segments and tools where analysis and measurement are not clear.