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How the COVID-19 Pandemic Is Changing Marketing

By Tracey E. Schelmetic December 30, 2020

While certain marketing strategies remain fundamental regardless of what you’re selling and what the marketplace looks like, 2020 will be remembered as a year that upended many of the conventional wisdom. According to a report compiled by Salesforce, 2020 was a challenging year for marketers who found it necessary to find new ways to engage with the consumer in the “new normal.”

Salesforce’s sixth edition of its “State of Marketing” report highlighted the importance of the customer experience, particularly during a pandemic crisis.

“The good news is the COVID-19 crisis has forced businesses to figure out how to better connect with customers and deliver what they need, when they need it,” wrote the report’s authors. “It has pushed ahead many of the ideas that we have been talking about for years. Marketers can be at the forefront of this innovation – 79 percent of them say they lead customer experience initiatives across their organizations.”

What are some of these ideas that have been pushed to the forefront during the COVID-19 pandemic? They include:

The rise of account-based marketing (ABM). The study found that 92 percent of business-to-business marketers now have an ABM program. Account-based marketing is marketing strategy in which key business accounts are marketed to directly, as units of one (compared to the typical one-to-many approach). The rise of ABM programs is quite recent – nearly two-thirds of programs were begun within the past five years. These programs, however, have grown more sophisticated, as 68 percent of them use automation.

Increased use of artificial intelligence. As companies collect and process more data, they’re in a better position to use AI to make marketing decisions. The Salesforce report found that 84 percent of marketers report using AI, up from 29 percent in 2018. This represents a 186 percent increase in AI adoption in two years.

Customers want excellent experiences. Whereas customers of the past were more price- and product-driven, today, they want convenience and excellent customer experiences. The Salesforce report found that 84 percent of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services. This is up from 80 percent in 2018.

Channel-switching in real time. Customers today expect to be able to use multiple communications channels, sometimes in the same transaction. The report found that 71 percent of customers have used multiple channels to start and complete a transaction, according to Salesforce. Customers now expect dynamic interactions – where the content they see on one channel is tailored based on their actions from a previous channel. For the first time, more than half (51 percent) of marketers describe their cross-channel content as dynamic – up from less than a third (31 percent) in 2018.




Edited by Maurice Nagle
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