Few world events have caused as many business constraints as the recent Covid-19 pandemic. Regardless of segment and size, almost every company was affected by the harsh restrictions implemented, especially during the first wave.
However, the paradigm shift brought an opportunity for companies to reinvent and adapt and finally channel priorities towards digital transformation, a crucial element for success. In this new reality only the most agile survive, only the most prepared grow and only those who understand the evolution of consumer behaviour can aspire to greater projection and development.
In fact, it is safe to say that, even though the global economy, both in 2020 and 2021, has suffered declines, these two years of pandemic have allowed considerable growth for companies in the digital area.
More we can even say that the pandemic represented an opportunity for companies and businesses, especially for those able to rethink their strategy, their positioning in the market and even their business concept.
We are gladly witnessing the acceleration of digitalisation and the transformation of companies and business models, which in Portugal is far behind the most competitive markets. In fact, it is enough to analyse the data from the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI – or Digital Economy and Society Index) to understand this generalised delay in business digitalisation.
According to the data published this year, Portugal occupies the 16th position in the general ranking of the 27 European Union Member States. In the same study, our country drops one position (17th) when the subject is Digital Technology Integration (that is, the technological density of the companies, the integration and use of technologies used by them and E-commerce).
Faced with the needs of the moment, organisations and brands woke up to action and started investing in Digital. Those that had already started this process took advantage of the moment of greater conversion to accelerate and deepen the business digitalisation process, reducing the gap with their European counterparts. In this domain, it is essential to continue this process with maximum traction, especially those companies that want to take advantage of the internationalisation potential, so often disregarded.
In terms of E-commerce, growth was so significant that data points to Portugal being one of the three countries in Europe where e-commerce will grow most in the coming years, which will finally bring us closer to other European countries. Proof of this are the data from the National Statistics Institute (INE), which reveal an increase in demand for online sales channels, compared to 2020.
With the increase in online shopping, optimising the user experience in order to ensure a seamless omnichannel experience has become essential. For this, it is necessary to invest in mature marketing teams with great knowledge in Digital, but who, at the same time, know how to integrate the experience of the offline world with online tools and means. But, above all, it is necessary to have disruptor DNA to know how to retain them, providing sustainable growth and responsible integration.
The big change has occurred in SMEs, which have accepted the challenge of going digital and have made digital marketing a fundamental “arm” in their strategies. For many, the investment in digital marketing allowed not only to reverse the negative effects of the pandemic at a financial level, but also opened the door to a new audience that until then was not considered or was unreachable.
There are several digital marketing channels and tools that companies and brands can benefit from: from email marketing, social networks, Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing, Lead Generation, Google Ads, and multiple other paid media formats.
For 2022, there are some trends that we should all be aware of, namely: the importance of integrating Artificial Intelligence and Bots in marketing strategies; Search by Voice; the bet on the use of Video in social networks or advertising by brands that want to increase their reach and notoriety, the massification of NFTs and the appearance of digital twins. These are some of the examples that I believe brands can and should work on and insert in their strategies.
As an example, consider the immense possibilities that Artificial Intelligence (AI) configures in the context of digital marketing. In fact, AI currently assumes a leading role in the reconfiguration of business, and especially of digital marketing, at a global level. In good truth, AI has been transforming the modus operandi of marketing as we know it, in its more traditional approach.
AI and digital marketing are two concepts that go, nowadays, “hand in hand” or are “two sides of the same coin”, since AI allows to optimize several digital marketing processes and accelerate more complex tasks, in order to improve the experience from the consumer’s point of view and generate more conversions.
It is safe to say, then, that Pandemic, allowed to create a stability and security for those who managed to direct their attentions to digital, as it enabled them to define more robust digital strategies, to bet on the optimization of campaigns and to strengthen indicators such as Return on Investment in digital campaigns.
It is through this new tool (let’s call it that) – AI – that companies now have access to greater volumes of data and processes capable of generating and obtaining new insights about their target audience and, in this way, understand what the real needs of consumers are and create a deeper connection with them.
Not to mention, of course, the advantages from a business point of view, since AI tools allow to simplify and speed up several tasks, namely, at the level of content curation (by adjusting the content according to the audience’s characteristics), chatbots (which allow a 24/24 interaction between brands and their consumers) predictive analytics (which collects relevant data on consumer habits and behaviours), dynamic pricing (AI can be used to set dynamic prices for products, according to demand, product availability or customer profile, for example) and, absolutely central, the reinforcement of marketing automation.
More than thinking of the digitalisation of companies, and the reinforcement of digital marketing strategies, as trends of the moment, it is important to understand that it is about keeping up with global developments, capable of allowing companies and businesses to maintain competitiveness and growth rates in line with the assumptions of the much-talked-about and coveted Industry 4.0.
In this context of AI massification, we no longer talk about the advantages of betting on Digital Marketing, but about the immediate need for processes of creating digital maturity, where performance marketing is a central element. The potential reach is much greater than the traditional model, allowing businesses to reach more people for a lower cost and to guarantee a better and more integrated experience, in the different channels where they are. On the other hand, Digital Marketing offers the most valuable of opportunities: data about the business and its audience. The use of this data to optimise strategy – and consequently, results – is essential.
Speaking of data, in 2022 brands should see First-Party Data as a pillar of their strategies. Businesses that operate in a hybrid model – with physical and online shops – should use integrated Customer Relationship Management solutions, Customer Data platforms and leverage Automation tools to ensure that all opportunities are seized. Audience segmentation based on demographics, location, but above all based on consumption and day-to-day behaviours, will also be particularly important to plan targeted marketing actions that drive a lead to action, turning it into a customer.
Preparing 2022 implies a strategy with digital at its core, a flexible and data-driven governance policy, mastery of CRM and CDP technologies; but above all, the establishment of processes and the creation of a mindset in the teams that will provide the quantum leaps that digital enables and requires for those who want to grow at an accelerated rate.
Article by Exame informática