Sowmya Iyer
Dec 23, 2020

Opinion: Reconstructing digital marketing for 2021

Digital may seem like the promising way ahead, but if not done right, it can also be a drain on resources with very little or no change in results

Sowmya Iyer
Sowmya Iyer
We have seen an unprecedented acceleration and adoption of digital across businesses and daily lives of people. 
Consumers are spending more time on digital, ecommerce, OTT, gaming and e-sports than ever before. 
While businesses are reorienting themselves to the new normal – marketing functions within organisations will need to refresh and reinvent quickly to help put the businesses back on the growth track. 
An obvious direction is to dial up your presence on digital. Skew efforts in favour of digital channels.  While this may seem like the promising way ahead – if not done right, this can also be a drain on resources with very little or no change in results. 
The sheer number of players flocking for discovery and visibility on digital platforms has made it mandatory to pause and assess.
The need for an integrated and singular brand narrative on digital
The digital media landscape is complex. Ever increasing and dynamic platforms, content formats, advertising assets coupled with the need to consistently create content to be in touch with the consumers has left brands looking confused, with no linearity in communication and single thought holding them together. 
The increased decibels online only compound this problem further. 
Therefore, building a digital brand identity document is not an option anymore. While the document should honour the fundamentals of brand identity, it should build in definitions, check points and guardrails for all platforms and content formats on digital. And remember that this document by the very nature of digital will be ever evolving, and thus agile. 
The need for personalisation 
Cookies are likely to be history in 2021. While advertisers have a reason to be upset, I also believe there is an interesting and perhaps a more powerful alternative—which is opt-in personalisation. 
Consumers are now more likely to opt-in for richer and relevant experiences. And as brands we need to be prepared to give them the best and the most memorable experiences.
This is the job of data and technology. 
Priority one is to structure your customer data in meaningful ways. And next – use creativity and technology to make it worthwhile for your consumers that you have their data. 
The data which consumers are willing to leave behind for you will be your biggest asset and also your biggest responsibility. 
The need for conversations 
An integral part of personalisation is conversations. And brands now have both public platforms (social media) and private platforms (messengers) for conversations with consumers. 
Personalised conversations add value, build affinity, and have the potential to build powerful brands.
And thus, the adoption of rule-based conversations, or machine learning based conversations on chatbots enabled across websites, apps and commonly used messenger platforms like Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram etc. will need to become the norm. 
Another high potential enabler for conversations is voice technology. As per a Google report- 27 % of online audiences are already using voice in some way. 
Voice is poised to change the game on search. Thus, when you enable your brand for voice search, you are preparing the ground to build a personalised relationship and equity with your consumer. 
The need for gamification 
“Tell me, I will forget. Show me, I may remember. Involve me, and you got me.” – This is the power of gamification. 
Nothing will have more impact in digital marketing than finding ways to involve the consumer – and gamification allows exactly for that. 
And the fact that adoption of gaming has exceeded the growth projection owing to Covid19 – multiplies the power of gamification. 
This could involve in-game integration, creating custom gamified digital experiences using AR, VR and chatbots or even using new tech platforms on social media like Spark AR from Facebook or Lens Studio from Snapchat. 
The need for immersive storytelling 
As 5G becomes mainstream in 2021, video should become the preferred format of content for brands to build their brand narratives. Audio visual formats by far are the most impactful channels of communication today. It moves, immerses and triggers mirror neurons of empathy. 
The amount of time spent on Facebook Watch, Reels, YouTube, and video first platforms like Tiktok stand testimony to this. 
But for the brands to meet the demands of the volume of videos to be created – democratization of video creation is the solution. AV can no longer remain the privilege of brands with large budgets. 
While most popular social media apps have native video capture and editing DIY capabilities built in—the need for automation, technology and AI enabled video production will be more pronounced in 2021.  
It’s also noteworthy that Facebook’s oculus is also making fast advancements and will open up a whole new dimension of storytelling in VR. 
The need for innovating 
What’s most critical to remember is 2021 will be marked by millions of brands dialing up their digital presence. 
Brands active on digital will step up even more aggressively, those moderately present will make digital their primary channel and those who ignored digital so far – will be forced adopt digital to be in business. 
Thus, innovation for marketers is not a choice, it’s is a responsibility.  There is likely to be barrage of communication towards consumers, and thus information fatigue. The question creative strategists should as ask themselves is: 
Q. Is my content adding value in some way to my consumer—entertaining him, telling him more about what he is already interested in, and surprising her/him in a way that will create marvel or bring a smile on her/his face? 
One way of doing this is to reimagine and play with user experience and user interface on platforms that you use to communicate with your consumers regularly. 
The need for going beyond digital 
And last but not the least – find ways for your communication to go beyond digital and impact and engage the consumer in their daily, physical lives. 
As marketers it is our responsibility to find ways to connect people and humanize the world. It is the social and human fabric of the society that ultimately is the base or even reason for any commerce to happen. And this need for encouraging connections is even more pronounced as we recover from the Covid-19 era. 
With so much going on about a digitized world – let’s not forget we are living in a physical world, with real people, real emotions that value touch and care. 
The author is founder and CEO, DViO Digital.
Campaign India

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