The pandemic has accelerated a drastic shift from bricks to clicks, which meant that many brands and businesses have had no choice but to adapt and develop their digital strategies
So, in the new financial year of 2021, brands who have already been in the digital marketing and PR sphere will see a surge in newcomers working towards the common goal of attracting new customers and building brand loyalty.
With there being an anticipated rise in competition within this field of work, brands will have to work much smarter for them to be noticed. In order to stand out from the crowd, creative campaigns are almost non-negotiable during this ever growing era of consumer-first mindset. Here are a few things to consider:
The Expanding Digital Demographic
Brands and businesses have conventionally formed their digital strategies around the likes and needs of a younger demographic. This assumption is backed up by stats and data that show those aged between 25-34 are the most active on various digital platforms, with those aged 18-24 coming at a close second.
However, with the closure of most physical stores, the pandemic forced many of us to have to shop online. According to IBM’s recent retail index data, the pandemic is estimated to have caused the world to accelerate the shift to e-commerce by 5 years.
Brands and businesses need to be aware of the expansive growth in internet users across all age groups and address each of these strategically. Most brands and businesses are seasoned experts when it comes to communicating with the tech native Gen Zs and tech-savvy millennials, but lack understanding in digital users of older age groups.
It’s been revealed that those aged between 38 and 54 are the most digitally-engaged generation (Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative), meaning short-form content and micro-storytelling won’t be as effective on this group of consumers. Instead, brands will need to put new efforts and resources into creative campaigns that address the needs and wants of the expanding demographic of digital users. An older age group in the digital sphere may respond better to long-form, investigative and informative content.
When Creativity Meets Data
Besides the expanding digital demographic, forming unique ideas are also crucial to creating an impactful campaign. The benefit of having the internet on our fingertips is that there is a vast amount of information available for marketers to use and repurpose. Big data and in-depth research led by corporates, industry leaders and the government are made accessible to the public which means that marketers require creativity when researching for their brands or clients and creativity in recognising how they can leverage these bits of information and create a campaign that would allow a cohesive and compelling narrative to be formed.
Brands and businesses can start by looking for datasets relevant to their industry and analyse the data by segmentation. This can be done by temporal trends, by regional differences (or similarities) and more. Additionally, if more than one set of data is available, marketers can consider using a unique scoring system. This allows an interesting comparison within a chosen category.
For example, for one of our clients, Lease Car, we created a unique scoring system that looks at each UK region’s preparedness for an electrical vehicle revolution in line with Boris Johnson’s ‘Ten Point Plan’.
We took 9 UK regions and scored them based on 4 different EV-ready markers: The number of licensed EV cars in the region per 100,000 people; the number of rapid charging devices in the region per 100,000 people; the number of regular charging devices in the region per 100,000 people; and the total CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) caused by transport in each region in 2018. Each of these were based on unique datasets but were put together to create a strong story and narrative and generate success amongst influencers and journalists alike.
When Creativity Meets Innovation
Digital disruption has accelerated innovations such as marketing using new forms of mediums for brands and businesses to use as part of their creative strategies.
Brands in the coming year need to understand that it isn’t just about creating unique ideas, but instead diversifying from conventional mediums, like infographics, videos and interactives and realising that you can present these same ideas in new, more exciting medium forms.
Brands need to be visible in order to reach existing and future customers, which then leads onto conversion, engagement and further advocacy of the brand. Creative campaigns are fundamental to achieving the first of the 4-step process.
In recent years, brands are putting more emphasis in experiential story-telling for their consumers. For example, one of the most effective new mediums is augmented reality, these take products and creative campaigns as we know them and repurpose these into a more interactive and lively medium.
For businesses and brands wanting to give these new (slightly foreign) mediums a go, you can collaborate with an expert within the field and make use of their expertise to create an impactful creative campaign together.
Cultivating Brand Loyalty Through Community
On the topic of finding new ways to engage with consumers, brands and businesses are conventionally highly focused on using emotive campaigns to spark an instant connection with their customers. These are often one-off and focus on triggering a specific emotional response, like humour, sadness and even anger.
However, after a year of solitude, consumers aren’t just passively waiting for an interesting brand to come by, but are eagerly looking to participate in a community of value, where they can stay connected with like-minded people.
Lotus Bakeries, ranked as one of the best brand improvers of 2020, created a stream of organic Instagram content showcasing what normal people made for breakfast amidst lockdown. The Drum reports that ‘[t]his offered a space and community for people to connect and share ideas for recipes using the brand’s products’.
Where brands and businesses previously focused on establishing a recognizable identity, in order to maintain or foster success, the coming year will be about using creative campaigns to weave your brand into everyday conversations. Marketers need to stay in the know and be observant over emerging conversation topics that can be transformed into creative campaigns.
Brands with a Purpose
Besides the pandemic, 2020 has been a year charged with social awakening. We’ve just gone through a period of time that has forced many of us as people to question and reevaluate our values. And as a result, we have seen strides being made in various issues including racial disparity, environmental issues and gender inequality.
Consumers recognise that businesses have an immense impact on our society and the world, and are therefore demanding much more transparency and efforts in showing their support for these social issues. They are now actively looking for brands that not only reflect their personal values but are actively taking part in these difficult conversations and driving change.
Brands and businesses not only have to be more conscious and deliberate with their messaging, but use creative campaigns to address otherwise sensitive conversations. Those that do it well, and correctly, are often rewarded with long term brand loyalty and support.
In the coming year, brands and businesses will have to work smarter and harder in order to stay relevant in the fast evolving landscape of consumer desires and going digital is only part of that ‘recipe’. Consumers will develop more loyalty with those brands that are devising purposeful and creative marketing strategies.
Campaigns play a huge part in successful digital marketing strategies, however, in order to do so you need to first understand what is required for a campaign to be successful in the coming year. This includes understanding the needs and wants of the expanding digital demographic; generating unique ideas; exploring and utilising new medium forms; and weaving your brand into the everyday lives of your consumers by getting involved in both everyday and important conversations.
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