Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Pauliina Jamsa: What 2020 taught us and what you should focus on in 2021

NDA columnist Pauliina Jamsa is Global Senior Online Marketing Manager, Siemens, and Head Tutor overseeing the disruptive strategy Programme for the University of Oxford.

Could anyone predict what would happen in 2020? Probably not.

However, even if it definitely was massively disruptive for all of us, I wouldn’t say that we had to throw the 2019 marketing plans in the bin: it simply accelerated the speed that these plans and changes had to be delivered.

As someone passionate about changing mindsets to digital, I noticed that this sudden “need” for digital made people finally realise why it was so essential to have the right tools and use digital way of communication.

Importance of digital employee experience

In my keynote at Google in 2019 I was predicting trends that we should focus on in 2020 – one of them was improving digital employee experience. I pointed out that companies tend to focus on creating amazing digital experiences for customers but forget their employees.

It’s not ok to give old, inflexible solutions for your workforce. You need easy-to-use solutions and infrastructure for employees that enable them to work virtually from home, for example. If you weren’t going to change this, you’d be in trouble.

Oh dear.

I had no idea how right I was.

Rise of social media and social selling especially in B2B

Besides the sudden focus on the digital employee experience, we saw a heavy rise of the social media, especially in B2B.

In the beginning of the lockdown, companies used it to show how they care and that we’re all in this together. In the second phase, brands told stories how they helped customers, employees and society, for example by supporting mental health, producing masks, being flexible with payments, or sending packages for vulnerable people.

We all needed hope in the midst of all the chaos.

When it was clear that we could not do face-to-face meetings or events in 2020, the focus shifted to social selling and virtual connections.

For example, as sales couldn’t go to the customer’s office, they were able to stay in touch by commenting or liking their posts on LinkedIn.

Urgent need for ecommerce

Anyone who didn’t bother to do ecommerce in 2019 got a big shock in March 2020. Again, we all already knew that it was necessary to offer our products and services online, but the pandemic really accelerated this.

If you weren’t online, you basically didn’t exist.

Well, you still don’t. That reminds me of the business case studies I read about online grocery shopping and how it was a miserable failure, because the demand wasn’t there.

Well, who’s laughing now?

My suggestion for you is to check similar experiments that were done in the past, that didn’t work only because customers weren’t ready to buy things or experiences online. It’s all about the timing.

An old idea might hit gold.

What should we focus on in 2021: Hybrid

We need to stop living in denial: the world will not go back to what it was. Consumers and businesses have already experienced the ease of buying products and services online, and when all these restrictions lift we’ll go to the hybrid model, e.g. we buy new things on the high street, but get recurring items online.

Same goes with events, because companies have realised how much time and money they save plus travel restrictions and quarantines will continue.

In 2021 we need to focus on helping our customers with their challenges by bringing helpful, quality content and saving them time while increasing convenience. We need social engagement and selling, demand generation, and marketing funnels to bring value and stay on top of the mind of our customers.

This applies both B2C and B2B.

If nothing else, during the pandemic we have seen that we’re all humans and therefore our messaging and targeting should remain as such.