Going into 2020, nothing could have prepared the marketing industry for what was ahead. As the permanent reality of the Covid-19 pandemic set in, marketers had to throw out their marketing plans – and any type of existing rule book – and settle into a constant routine of adaptation and improvisation.
Almost one year later, we’re all still rolling with the punches.
Nothing has gone ‘back to normal’ in 2021. Although several effective vaccines have become available, it will be quite some time before events, conventions, and all types of public life can come back. Plus, the full economic impact of pandemic lockdown measures is only beginning to affect consumer sentiments, so we could be in for a bumpy ride.
The good news is that our industry has learned many valuable lessons over the past year. About 77% of companies have accelerated their digital transformation due to Covid-19. After a year of shifting priorities, pivoting between channel strategies, and evolving our tech stacks, we are now wiser and better equipped to deal with the challenges of this new reality.
To offer some inspiration for marketers, we are showcasing some successful strategies from Selligent Marketing Cloud clients that generated major marketing wins in a year that was nearly cancelled. Here’s how these companies used our marketing platform – plus their own ingenuity and teamwork – to create next-level customer experiences, despite the pandemic:
Right around the 2020 Easter holiday, over 50% of the world’s countries were forced into pandemic lockdown. To lighten the mood – and increase customer satisfaction – telecom giant T-Mobile set an ambitious goal: surprise all 1.8 million T-Mobile customers in the Netherlands in a simple way, with personalized gifts.
Working with its CRM and loyalty marketing agency, Merkle Netherlands, and executed at scale via Selligent Marketing Cloud, the digital Easter Egg Hunt campaign spread excitement with kinetic and personalized content. Customers didn’t just like it – they loved it, as one customer said: “An email that makes you happy in these crazy times? Nicely done! I’m going to participate.” Aside from significant boosts in customer satisfaction, web traffic, and subscription renewals, the campaign also generated baskets full of customer data to create even more personal happiness in future campaigns.
Marketing lesson: Over 77% of consumers say that brand messages made them feel like brands care about their wellbeing, and 30% said they feel less anxious about the pandemic. With that comes responsibility – and the potential to create moments that matter via digital messages.
Major holiday festivities were cancelled in 2020, as were consumer tradeshows and conventions. This included the popular annual shopping event hosted by Hearst Country Living magazine. The Spring Country Living Fair usually connects hundreds of artisan companies with shoppers in a marketplace atmosphere. When the 2020 edition was cancelled because of Covid-19, the team had only two weeks to execute an alternative.
The events team reached out to Hearst’s CRM division with a plan: Create the first-ever virtual shopping experience, the Country Living Virtual Artisan Event, supported by a campaign to create consumer excitement online. Executed in Selligent, the invite campaign generated overwhelming registration numbers, allowing the event to draw significant revenue. Given the success of the event, Hearst is now able to monetize virtual events and feels confident in doing so. The publisher has since launched similar initiatives for other titles, including, most recently, a CNL Christmas Artisans event, which saw over 31,000 registered shoppers.
Marketing lesson: The cancellation of industry and consumer conventions left a billion-dollar hole in the economy, and a return to in-person events remains uncertain. Virtual experiences not only keep audiences connected, but also generate data-driven consumer insights that will prove useful once real-life events can come back.
Looking ahead, it’s still unclear how 2021 will play out. But as many of the consumer habits adopted during the pandemic are here to stay, so are the lessons marketers are learning.
Companies that can plug into relevant customer data and deliver state-of-the-art CX through the interplay of marketing-specific AI and personalized engagement will remain first in mind for their customers – through the pandemic and beyond. Until then, we will all keep learning.
Selligent Marketing Cloud is part of the CM Group family of brands.