A few weeks ago, a webinar held by the Vice President of APAC Validity Tunc Bolluk called 'The Next Big Thing' explored the key developments that affected businesses and industry last year. Our own Lucy Acheson was joined by Email Marketing and Communications Specialist at MindValley Monique Schuldt, Head of Analytics at Power Retail David Fear, and VP of Customer Engagement (INTL) at Validity Guy Hanson.
"I don't do them [panels] often, but I like them – they're fun," said Lucy.
Several takeaways from the hour-long webinar include the impacts on the online marketing landscape during COVID-19, the strategies now being employed by brands to target key markets, and what the future holds for online business.
COVID-19 came with valuable lessons
As cities across the world entered a lockdown, the majority of customers shifted entirely online. David spoke about this being particularly prevalent in the retail industry due to physical stores forced into temporary closure.
It wasn't only online shopping that saw an increase in virtual customers, but the need to keep busy during stay-at-home instructions meant other industries witnessed a newfound interest in their products. Monique said that MindValley had a surge in subscribers during peak lockdown periods as people looked to self-educate.
However, several businesses also saw a lull in figures that the panel concluded resulted from online fatigue, a disengagement during US elections, and a shift away from online use as lockdowns eased.
Lucy explained that for these businesses, it was a time of reflection.
"We took the time to get ready for when the lights turned back on – so strategist, got things in order, found out what had been working and what hadn't been working," she said.
How companies adapted to the changing market
The analytics teams have had to work harder than ever during COVID to ensure they attracted 'sticky customers'.
Lucy highlighted that understanding the customer was the key to achieving this. Analysts tracked what a particular customer was engaging with, followed their online journey and used loyalty programs.
"The data we find most powerful is when clients can pick their own adventure. Open with a promise, deliver content and then they continue to engage – it gives us insight into what this person needs. Our campaign specialists are so essential for this reason because they constantly work to encourage people to interact with the brand," explained Lucy.
David also found an empathetic approach became the popular communication tool – companies had to show they cared about their customer to keep them onboard successfully.
What will the future hold for online marketing?
The panellists agreed that it's an exciting time for the online marketing world – there's a new sense of vigour and curiosity from companies willing to test what gels and what doesn't gel with their customer base.
According to Guy, Gamification also has a bright future who highlighted brands including Ray-Ban, who experimented with a tool that allowed customers to try sunglasses virtually before buying.
Using different channels of communication is something else the panel discussed as brands needing to consider. While email marketing is strong in some countries, other geographics prefer SMS or social such as Latin America.
However, it was loyalty programs that were the most emphasised strategies of the future. Rewarding the customers who click through and purchase proves to be much more effective than simply sending out rewards to an entire database. Again, this comes back to customers wanting to know how things work and feeling a sense of value and understanding from their brands.
"Customers prefer being rewarded by buying, so you're rewarding the people you want to keep. You have to understand the audience and build things they want," said David.
Watch the full webinar here - https://wi.st/3odRUop