08th Apr, 2020

2020 Marketing Trends During the Coronavirus Crisis: What’s Changed and What’s Next

The CMO.com 2020 marketing trends outlined in December of last year no longer apply. Or do they? 

Persado President Jason Heller and Adobe Vice President of Marketing and Customer Insights John Copeland collaborated to deliver a virtual and updated Adobe Summit session that adapted the five marketing trends they predicted for 2020 to the current business environment, including one new trend companies can’t ignore.

Revisiting the top five 2020 marketing trends through the lens of the current environment — and our subsequent journey to a new normal — provides a strategic, and important counterbalance to day-to-day crisis management.

Additional trend for 2020: Maintain brand purpose while building resilience

Entire industries are struggling for survival while other sectors are trying to reinvent themselves. A brand’s purpose can be the guide. Reconsider your value proposition and find ways you can offer more to your customers for less. Great examples include:  

  • Telecommunications companies removing data caps
  • Auto manufacturers introducing financial assistance programs
  • Insurance companies delaying policy cancellations
  • Media companies adding social features to their streaming platforms

Short-term measures like these will build customer loyalty and position your company for success in the future.

The original 2020 trends revisited

1. A new era for integrated data

Breaking data out of individual silos and integrating it together still holds incredible value. 2020 showed potential for companies to realize the promise of a single view of each customer by implementing Customer Data Platforms (CDPs).

What’s changed and what to do about it:

  • Understanding new customer segments may be as important as ever, but the deployment of CDPs will be delayed
  • Companies able to utilize real-time data will prove more resilient
  • Data privacy compliance remains as important as ever

2. AI-augmented content

Many of the biggest brands already use AI to augment their content. AI works with human creators to build better, more personalized content at scale. In the current environment that increasingly means using AI to balance empathy-centered messages that also meet performance criteria.

What’s changed and what to do about it:

  • Brands need to create more content than ever
  • At a time when tone is critical, it’s important to use data to help guide messaging
  • Small changes to copy can generate significant lift in return on ad spend

In the current environment that increasingly means using AI to balance empathy-centered messages that also meet performance criteria.

3. Companies begin to climb the digital maturity curve

2020 held promise for brands to fully embrace digital customer experience management (CXM). We’ve seen a trend toward the creation of Chief Customer Officer roles, or the integration of these responsibilities into existing leadership roles.

What’s changed and what to do about it:

  • Brands need to commit to customer-centric models, not just pay lip-service
  • Investments should be made in both short-term and mid-term capabilities
  • Companies who have taken a risk-averse approach to digital transformation now find themselves at a disadvantage, but it is still possible to catch up

4. Continued adoption of agile marketing

Agile marketing enables companies to unlock potential by giving cross-functional teams the autonomy to drive rapid testing of new ideas. Early adopters of agile were poised to scale in 2020.

What’s changed and what to do about it:

  • Agile marketing was a must-have before the crisis, and it’s even more important now
  • The work-from-home environment may challenge teams used to co-location, but collaboration tools abound
  • More tests of more ideas will lead to more winners. Build a funnel where some tests win and some fail, enabling you to succeed fast and often

 5. Marketing becomes a catalyst for company-wide digital transformation

Business automation and the digitization of operations dominated early investments in transformation, but marketing is poised to lead a new wave of commercial digital transformation to change the front lines of customer engagement and generate billions of dollars in new enterprise value.

What’s changed and what to do about it:

  • Marketing teams hold unique skills and expertise to drive digital transformation within their organizations
  • More organizations are shifting their entire structure to agile frameworks to break down bureaucracy and drive growth
  • More than ever, CMOs are being tasked to lead these transformations

Looking to the future

Leaders must navigate the path from crisis communications to preparing for the “new normal,” even though the future remains uncertain. The language you use to engage your customers, the operating models used to execute plans, and the integrated data that serves as the backbone of marketing success are even more critical today. 


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