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Marketing in a Post-Pandemic World

The massive shift in how companies operate and how employees work (from home) has turned everything upside down. The old rules no longer apply, and while companies had been reluctant to push into uncharted territory in sales, accounting, and collaboration tools in the past, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced them to shift gears immediately. One area that has been changed beyond recognition in the past year has been marketing. A marketing strategy a year ago looked very different from the strategies of today, and tools such as the marketing calendar weren’t ubiquitous within marketing teams. 

As people began to work from home, challenges within marketing teams emerged as team members needed to be brought on the same page. Changes to marketing plans accelerated the necessity for tools to be implemented that would not only align teams on the plan but also inform them of any changes that impact them. Marketing departments implemented platforms that extend channel execution assisting with planning automation. The marketing calendar software became the fabric for marketing planning allowing teams to design, share and communicate plans. Additionally, the demand to integrate planning and execution tools increased as marketing teams attempted to further streamline their processes.

Integration between tools became vital as teams were scaled down requiring automation to maintain productivity. Connecting tools such as the marketing calendar and project management systems like workfront became vital allowing planning teams to enter and approve their plans in the calendar and automatically sending details downstream to the project management system for execution. Also integration with syndication platforms like marketo for email campaign automation and sprinkler for social media campaign automation allowed teams to further streamline the planning and execution processes. The interconnectivity across these platforms has now created a sophisticated ecosystem for marketing teams allowing them to operate with a much smaller team and efficiently execute their marketing budget.

Marketing Transformation

With the automation of planning and execution processes through integrated platforms, CMOs and marketing operations teams are now able to focus their teams on the marketing strategy rather than mundane execution. COVID catalyzed the necessity and became the mother of invention when it came to automating planning and execution processes. Furthermore, it laid the foundation necessary for marketing teams to tackle the next era of marketing.

Automation implemented due to a scaled down marketing team during the pandemic and an emphasis on more digital marketing over traditional channels has positioned a transformation in marketing for this 4th industrial revolution. Marketing teams that do not transform will be unable to compete as the emphasis on doing more with less resources has become the norm.

The demand for targeting audiences across multiple and new emerging channels like ad space in the metaverse will require marketing teams to work smarter with less resources. Teams and budget resources will need to be allocated in a manner to simplify and streamline the process. Simultaneously a highly results oriented framework will develop ensuring measurement and effectiveness of marketing initiatives is a vital part of investment allocation.

The New Paradigm

There are several changes expected in the way marketing will transform emerging from this pandemic. A highly targeted and personalized investment approach will be the cornerstone of every marketing strategy and plan. This data driven approach to marketing will establish the framework for machine learning algorithms to automate the allocation of marketing resources and execution of marketing activities.

Highly Targeted & Personalized:

This will be the decade where a large amount of mass-media will shift to more of a targeted and personalized approach. We’re already seeing Television networks suffering while digital and platforms that are more targeted enhancing revenues. Facebook revenue has been increasing geometrically as a large number of clients allocate more of their budgets to social media targeted advertising over traditional media.

 

Source: Facebook’s revenue and net income from 2007 to 2020

Targeted and personalized marketing is easily measurable and yields a higher ROI providing CMOs with the ability to easily prove effectiveness to CFOs. The shift from traditional to targeted digital marketing is highly quantifiable and flexible for CMOs to easily reallocate their budgets from one channel to another. Unlike traditional media, which requires significant long-term commitments, targeted digital marketing campaigns are short-term and also work well in a test-and-learn model allowing marketing teams to swiftly reallocate funds to initiatives that yield better returns.

Multi-Channel & Omni-Channel Approach:

Unlike the pre-pandemic era where marketing departments were structured based on managing different marketing channels, a new departmental structure will emerge where marketing teams will be oriented around the marketing strategy along with having teams to manage research and analytics and operations. 

Marketing strategy and planning teams will focus on defining strategy based on the overall business strategy and data-driven decisions from information provided by the research and analytics team. The research and analysis teams will be highly data & algorithm driven allowing them to leverage their data warehouses to determine what works and what does not work at the same time recognize new emerging trends. This information will be fed back to the marketing strategy and planning teams to help tweak the strategy so they can capitalize on some macro level decisions. Once the plan has been finalized, marketing operations teams will allocate budgets and execute plans.

The marketing operations teams will rely more and more on automated solutions for marketing execution. This will be essential as new emerging channels increase and marketing teams become more focused on strategy and analysis.

With this structure and by introducing tools like the marketing calendar, CMOs will transform their marketing teams to operate as a multi-channel or omni-channel department. Investments will be allocated based on channel performance and marketing channels will be leveraged differently across customer segments allowing the marketing team to reach their audience in the most effective manner.

Marketing Effectiveness & Budget Optimization:

Since digital marketing is easy to measure success as you can track where the lead was generated, marketing effectiveness will become a vital part of the decision-making process when it comes to budget allocation. Campaign budgets will be optimized to ensure the allocation across channels for different customer segments are performed in the most effective manner.

Data science and analytics will be leveraged to determine the most effective channels to communicate with a certain customer or customer segment, the right time to interact with them and the specific channels to use. This data driven analysis and campaign execution methodology will provide for the framework for more of a science than an art approach to marketing.

CFOs will require CMOs to demonstrate the investments are allocated in the most optimal way ensuring the best ROI. Campaign, monthly and quarterly reporting will identify what worked and what didn’t work along with how quickly the marketing team reacted to switch direction and reposition investments allowing them to capitalize on any new observed trends.

Machine Learning Algorithms & Artificial Intelligence:

Machine learning algorithms and AI will help marketing teams with automating planning, analysis and execution. Algorithms designed to analyze data and automatically plan micro-campaigns by entering them on the marketing calendar and executing them providing efficiencies, optimization and capitalizing on new trends. 

Marketing teams will become highly data centric and rely on their research and analysis department to collect, structure and analyze data that will allow them to develop models for different purposes. Structured data will become the cornerstone for decision making and campaign planning that will provide higher returns on marketing investment. 

Machine learning algorithms to help with decision making, planning, analysis and execution will create new processes within the marketing department. Some of the algorithms that will assist marketing include:

  1. Clustering: help determine customer segment by correlating customer behavior
  2. Recommendations: based on customer or product features make recommendations to customers
  3. Budget Optimization: Incorporating multiple factors including performance, determine optimal allocation for marketing budget
  4. Promotional performance: Predict performance based on promotional features

The post-pandemic world has transformed and regardless of whether marketing teams are working from home or back in the office, they will be smaller and smarter with technologies that assist with planning and execution. Data science and machine learning will help drive decisions and automate processes and execution. We’re looking forward to a world where  intelligence will ensure customers are informed of products and services that are most relevant to them at that time. 

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