Embracing digitisation to make your brand more human. Adam Kensington - Content Strategist by Adam Kensington, Content Strategist

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“We’re all in this together”. How many times have you heard that over the past year but been unsure what that means for your digital marketing career? 

Maybe you’ve read our content series on marketing through Covid, downloaded our 2021 Digital Marketing Strategy Guide or subscribed to our newsletters but you’re still unsure. If so, fear not. Here are a few highlights of where we think the land lies for digital marketing in 2021 to help you get up to speed. 

Values Based Marketing. 

Value based marketing has been an often touted term that has sometimes been a band wagon to jump onto. In 2020, there were brands promoting the Black Lives Matter movement, encouraging consumers to vote in the US, or advocating COVID safe work practices. 

Consumers are savvy and can tell when a value is genuine. Authenticity has always been a central requirement to brand values. 

In an interview with Forbes, Amy Vale (CMO of Dosh) says, “Consumers are reaching a tipping point in voting with their dollars, holding brands accountable to higher ethical standards. However, marketers absolutely must balance communicating values while avoiding a tactless stunt.”

So 2021 affords you the perfect opportunity to re-evaluate the authenticity of your value proposition, and ensure that what your project marries with your underlying ethics.

Being more human.

With the move towards less in-human interactions, brands have invested heavily in digital transformation in the last year. Digital transformation has become a buzz term in itself with the internet awash with service providers who promise to revolutionise traditional routes to market. 

The danger with automation is that human contact gets replaced with something that doesn’t fulfill human interaction needs. High-stake sales still rely heavily on human contact and whilst B2B brands can learn from the success of their B2C cousins, it’s all the more important to ensure that the buyer’s journey includes expert assistance via phone or live chat exactly when they need.  Sales reps need to be equipped with “the data they need to provide a world-class human / automation hybrid experience”, according to Dee Anna McPherson, CMO at Invoca.

Digitalisation at the core.

While human interaction is of huge importance, digitalisation must be at the core of a successful marketing strategy. Prior to the onset of the pandemic, digital transformation was an airy, long-term goal for many marketers. With the massive shift towards online commerce, the pace stepped up and a truly integrated fully-digital customer experience needed to be implemented remotely and practically overnight. 

Industries that have embraced this truth include healthcare, education and wellness, dispensing telehealth, online learning and digital wellness. 

Marketing strategies need to hit the fine balance between what can be offered in the digital realm and what still requires human input. 

Marketing ROI and attribution.

WIth every pound being accounted for and budgets squeezed, never has it been more important to demonstrate marketing ROI and attribution. 

Omni-channel marketing campaigns driven by digital platforms can bombard us with overwhelming quantities of data. We can easily get caught up in vanity metrics that aren’t very meaningful to our brand’s overall financial success. 

The key question remains, how can marketing efforts be attributed to growth and profitability. We’ve gone into a fair amount of discussion on evaluating marketing campaigns in this post. 

AI led hyper-targeting and personalization.

If you’ve read any digital marketing literature in the past year, the recurrent theme is personalisation. Programmatic advertising, adaptive email campaigns underpinned by buyer personas and automated social posting led by social listening are just some of the ways that we can hyper-target our audiences. 

It’s no longer good enough to target consumers or customers in groups. Behavioural metrics can inform placement or outreach strategies in a way that hasn’t been possible before. AI utilises massive amounts of data to generate assumptions on what types of content each target customer would appreciate and therefore more likely to engage with. It’s now possible to automatically generate copy that reflects tone, sentiment and behaviours of consumers at any point in time. 

Data driven story-telling.

Further to what AI can offer in terms of targeting, data can inform the stories we tell. Now more than ever, storytelling is critical for linking the value of your product or service. It must be done authentically and data is the best way to support authenticity. It’s no good making up a narrative and then supporting it with data. Data must come first and dictate the stories we tell. 

Every person on the frontline of your company needs to be armed with the data that supports their stories in the moment. This means having the insights to hand which can be generated by customer surveys, testimonials, industry insights and even anecdotal evidence. 

Stories can be crafted into posts or videos for content marketing purposes, used as sales conversations or delivered in webinars or email campaigns. 

Embracing the benefits of the virtual event.

With the working from home culture now embedded in our everyday lives, it’s tempting to think that events no longer play a role in our marketing lives. However, virtual events are a great way to mobilise cross functional teams and engage customers in new ways. 

Many B2B brands explored virtual events for the first time in 2020. This resulted in higher levels of engagement and renewed purpose for employees. Virtual events can be customer facing but can just as easily repurpose team building physical events. Augmented reality experiences and virtual booths are great examples of where technology can bridge the gaps in geography or logistics.

Paid advertising.

With your audience spending much more time online, ads remain an important way of drawing attention to your brand. Paid ads are becoming much cheaper and bidding my democratised. It’s intuitive when thinking about digital ads as an auction system. They need a lot of businesses to drive up the price (Cost Per Click) for ads so the larger companies have to spend more money. 

If there’s a shortage of smaller businesses advertising, there won’t be as much for the competition for the product (ad space), so the CPC decreases. 

On the other hand, we’re also experiencing a continued downturn in conversion rates – though not across all industries. The decrease in conversion rates does not match the decrease in CPCs. So while conversions are down, ads are far cheaper meaning you could offset lower conversion rates by increasing the number of clicks. 

This presents an opportunity for digital ads to generate higher returns on your investment due to the current climate. 

If you don’t run any digital ads, you should definitely be considering it right now. If you are running ads, consider ramping them up to make the most of the potential out there at the moment. 


With the seismic shift in consumer behaviour, a move towards a work-from-home culture and less chance of in-person interactions, us marketers have to adapt to the new post-pandemic landscape. 

The true value is seen in harmonisation of online and traditional marketing methods, especially in high-ticket transactions. We’ve produced a series of resources to help you as you traverse 2021.

Adam Kensington - Content Strategist by Adam Kensington, Content Strategist
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