Marketers invested in digital tools were quicker to pivot when pandemic hit, study says

Linda J. Dodson

Dive Brief:

  • Half of marketers found that previous investments in marketing innovation and automation helped them quickly pivot as the COVID-19 pandemic affected marketing, per a new study by BrandMaker shared with Marketing Dive. The other half reported being less agile than they had expected and that workflow collaboration tools were inadequate, according to the report.
  • In 2021, 80% of marketers think their workflow processes will be more collaborative due to workplace changes driven by COVID-19. Ninety percent plan to increase investment in digitizing marketing and 75% expect employees to continue remote working next year. Additionally, 80% expect to shift budget from brand campaigns to pipeline and lead generation and two-thirds anticipate a move away from agency to in-house content creation and management.
  • The data revealed that one-third of marketers had to reduce their marketing budget by 60%-80%, one-third cut budgets by 20% and one-third did not cut their budgets at all.

Dive Insight:

Digital marketing and e-commerce have been playing a key role for many brands during the coronavirus pandemic, allowing them to communicate with and sell to consumers when stores and offices are closed down.

E-commerce growth accelerated during the crisis and this latest report from BrandMaker breaks down how companies survived the early stages of the crisis based on how invested they were in digital marketing tools before the pandemic hit. Those companies that had previously invested in automation were better poised to survive and pivot during market changes.

“Recent events have demanded global marketing organizations to rethink their entire 2020 strategy and campaigns,” said Mirko Holzer, CEO of BrandMaker in a statement. “The BrandMaker Pulse shows a clear indication that organizations with agile MarTech systems have fared better than their counterparts. The need for marketing organizations to be fast, effective and nimble, with highly productive, collaborative, and agile workflows, that are also highly measurable, will be even more vital given the anticipated budget shift from brand to pipeline and the undoubted increase in the need for new, fresh and local content.”

As marketers look to how they will emerge from the crisis and plan for next year, companies seem to be focusing on investment in order to improve digital channels. The majority of marketers have revealed plans to invest in digital marketing processes and collaborative workflow tools, as most companies expect employees to continue to work from home, per the BrandMaker report. Interestingly, along with the investment in digital tools internally, marketers appear to be moving away from agencies and into in-house efforts. However, while the in-house model’s focus on cost and efficiency may be appealing in a tough economy, existing problems with the approach may be amplified by the shift.

Marketers also expect to invest more in lead generation campaigns and move away from branding efforts, a transition that supports the desire to acquire new customers online as consumers are shopping more online and new consumers are adopting the e-commerce behavior. During the early stages of the pandemic, ad spend from e-commerce sites doubled from $4.8 million for a trailing four-week period starting on Feb. 17 to $9.6 million for the week of March 9.

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