There is more than the usual sense of expectation and optimism as 2021 rolls around. With circulation of the vaccine for COVID-19 gradually increasing, there is hope that the world can put the trauma of 2020 behind us.
But that optimism is tinged with a degree of uncertainty. Economists agree that there is still a long road to recovery from the financial devastation the pandemic caused to many businesses and, in some cases, whole industries such as travel and entertainment.
Key to that recovery will be the twin tasks of stimulating consumer spending after a period of extreme caution, and wise resources management by businesses. Marketers are ideally placed to tackle both challenges.
Stimulating consumer spending will come down to what is essentially ‘more of the same, but better’ from marketers. Even pre-pandemic, it had become increasingly clear that creating joined-up customer experience drove brand loyalty and advocacy.
This, married with empathy from brands who were allied with customers’ needs during the pandemic (as opposed to trite campaigns which frequently struck a bum note ) is what has stood leading brands in good stead as they go into 2021. For those brands in a less enviable position, it is an important learning and one they need to act on.
Managing resources may seem like a much more ‘nuts and bolts’ strategy, one for the finance team or IT department perhaps, but getting control of assets and data has far-reaching consequences that impact not just company expenditure but also marketing effectiveness, customer experience, and ultimately of course, revenues.
One of the biggest and immediate improvements businesses can make to their marketing resources management is to organize their digital assets, content and product information . As companies grow organically and the number of departments and product or service ranges multiply, so too do their assets, which can of course result in duplication, confusion and waste. Extra costs associated with these issues, such as unnecessary photography, increased image hosting, plus the time taken by employees to sift through the extra assets can be substantial. Take Spark44 as a case in point, a client agency joint venture which saved Jaguar Land Rover £55m since 2011 through effective digital asset management (DAM), while Hearst Publishing cut more than 3,000 employee hours in a single year .
Effective marketing depends on data. Not just customer data, but product and company data in all its forms - imagery, product and price information, supplier and sustainability credentials… the list goes on. All of this information feeds into product marketing across an ever-growing range of platforms and channels.
With all this growing complexity comes risk. For example, brand reputation can take a serious hit when product information is wrong, or systems don’t communicate. Some of customers’ biggest frustrations are being sent promotional messages only to arrive online or instore to find the product representation inaccurate or the item out of stock. Having the appropriate systems in place can be the answer to this – for example supermarket chain REWE Markt GmbH eliminated 100% of pricing errors in promotional material by using a centralized and integrated content management approach . Making sure marketing, merchandising, sales, and supply are working in concert with one another depends on robust and connected product information (PIM) , content (CMS) , and digital asset management systems (DAM) .
We’ve already stated that a better customer experience will help stimulate customer spending into 2021, but what does that mean? A large part of it is making sure that the omnichannel environment functions as it should – something that is still a challenge in most sectors.
The ideal is that consumers should be able to interact with companies and be met with the right information at the right stage of their purchase journey, and in the right place. A customer should be able to buy online, interact with a chatbot about the progress of their order and then speak to a contact center operative with all the relevant product and purchase data to hand in real time. This means that not only must the content consumers receive be consistent at all points in their journey, but it must match up in real time with the information available to company operatives.
While the rush to online in 2020 accelerated many organizations integrated content plans through the rapid onboarding of systems and a ‘make do and mend’ approach, 2021 will be the year where businesses examine how those systems are performing and look to refine their strategies.
The imperative, given the economic climate, will inevitably be to do more with less. But equally, as the world opens up again, there will no doubt be a rush to regain those customers that have been under lockdown for so long. Integrated content management is going to be the central pillar that can help provide both the infrastructure and the financial stability to help brands survive and thrive into 2021 and beyond.
Download the exclusive research report, The State of Universal Content Management 2020, based on a survey of over 700 marketing and business professionals, which examines the current state of content management and the success strategies of industry leaders.Download Now