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2020. Finally, it’s over!

A look back at the year that was

So, what an exciting year it’s been. I’m sure most of us wonder if we can open our eyes again and get off this awful rollercoaster that was 2020. I started 2020 like this!

When in reality, there were plenty of fireworks, but not the kind we intended.

Who would have thought 2020 would have turned out like this? Typically when I wrap up the year, it ends up being an excuse for me to reminisce, smile as I recall the fond memories that past by (usually very quickly). Still, there have been so many forgettable moments this year, and I don’t know about you, but it felt like 2020 had 48 months! It’s been a hard slog.

There were so many cancelled events this year. We had Glastonbury; the Olympics, Paralympics in Tokyo, the European championships, and a whole host of sporting events. And of course our dotdigital Summit. We were looking forward to delivering a bigger and better even than we’d ever put on before, but that was canned. Thanks, 2020.

Things weren’t all bad I guess, Ant & Dec managed to bring us I’m a Celebrity from Wales. We managed to release Hitting the Mark early on in January to ensure that you knew who the mover and shakers were in the world of eCommerce marketing and what tactics you should be adopting to help futureproof yourselves. We also managed to bring you the dotties virtually for the first time, and I’d like to think that was somewhat a success. We want to thank all our clients and partners for helping to make the event such a success. There was an unbelievable amount of entries this year; a year when I’m sure you all just wanted to focus on yourself and your businesses, but you found the time to enter. Thank you.

At the turn of the new year, it’s customary to make resolutions and make plans for what you’re going to pledge to do more of or improve. I asked that we all focus on the customer experience because 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience.

86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience

Customer engagement or Customer Experience CX is something we should focus on. And I prefer making marketing resolutions because marketing predictions are pretty much impossible to get right. After all, here’s the thing. You cannot predict the future. It is impossible. The only thing you can expect is Mariah Carey overplayed at Christmas

I saw this image a few weeks back and thought it summed up the year that most businesses had.

How many brands missed the mark this year because they were late adopters of new tech or strategies?

This, unfortunately, happened a lot. But it’s not just this year; two years ago our Hitting the Mark report threw up some interesting results.

This was our top ten back then. All looks very normal, so brands you’d expects, others maybe not so much. Until your eyes land on the odd one out. Maplin.

Back in 2018, Maplin went into administration. The company’s annual statement attributed “declining footfall” to the drop in sales, but made sure to highlight its online arm’s strong performance, which accounted for 13.2 per cent of sales that year. Investing more in the concrete foundations they had created online may have resulted in a different outcome. But we’ll never know for sure as I said you could not predict the future. But what you can do is be agile enough to adapt when the proverbial hits the fan. Be that an act of Mother Nature, or accidentally hitting send on an email to your entire database with the subject line {insert witty subject line here} 

No matter what is thrown at you, the best strategist will tell you what you need: an agile tech stack, engaging content and empathy.

Agile Tech Stack

It would be best if you had a setup that will allow you to utilize your customer insights. Build a data foundation from multiple inputs, whatever channels are relevant and apply them in a programmatic way across various channels. Then align those insights into the channels and content preferences and find the right way to do that which respects and highlights customer privacy.

That is precisely what dotdigital provides, allowing your data to flow the way you need it to, but we also endeavour to become an extension of your marketing team. All the best vendors will lend a hand when they can because we all benefit from a well-established relationship.

dotdigital and our partners hold a wealth of knowledge on our products and services. We also have experience in utilization within your industry (no matter what it is) and that knowledge helps you, as a client, achieve your objectives quicker and less painfully.

Engaging Content

It’s not about selling all the time. If your approach is to chase the sale continually, you’ll end up losing contacts as quickly as you acquire them. Vary your content be useful, surprise and delight your subscribers whenever you get the chance to. The mundane, repetitive approach will have your competitors running away with your customers. 

The abnormal beauty company offered its subscribers 23% off every product for the entire month of November. Still, they also revamped the month calling it Knowvember and sent emails each day committing to deliver as much educational content as possible. By offering a month-long discount and daily education, they hoped to empower people with the time and information required to buy less and buy better.


You also need to deliver contextually relevant content. This is all about knowing what to send, and when to send it. It does require having the right tools to get the job done, i.e. your agile Tech Stack. But it also means looking at your customer lifecycle and plotting out those messages that will tell more when sent at the right time for subscribers in their journey with you. Therefore the art of not overselling becomes easier; as you’ll know when it’s appropriate to send those salesy messages and when you need to nurture.

Winning content is content that is personalized for the context in which customers are consuming it

You can find resources on how to write better content here

Show Empathy

Finally, be empathetic. Show you understand your customer’s needs and how you can help.

Today’s consumers are not only interested in passively consuming content. Instead, they are actively seeking out content that prompts change, in both themselves and the world around them.

People buy from people – Make your communications human and less robotic. Yes, of course, you should use automation, but your content doesn’t need to feel mechanical. Personalization in your emails can make the message relevant. But the words around that personalization, the copy, can make it feel warm and more human.

So sprinkle your style in there. Build that brand advocacy show empathy. Develop relationships with fans, not just customers.

This year brands stepped up their humanity and connected with their audiences, and I hope that’s one of the by-products of 2020 that stick around for years to come.

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