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Marketing Operations Trends and Planning for 2021

2020 has been a tough year for businesses globally. The Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdowns and economic downturn that followed has wreaked havoc in many markets with some businesses struggling to survive. For instance, in the US alone, nearly 163,700 businesses closed since 1 March, with over 90,000 closed permanently.


This means that now, more than ever, effective marketing is paramount if businesses want to be successful. Marketing operations stand central to the efficiency of a businesses marketing activities. It will therefore have to adapt to the changing marketing landscape in the wake of the pandemic.

To this end, new trends in how marketing organizations are handling their marketing operations have emerged. Whether it?s revised budgets, new platforms, or new technologies, businesses are finding ways to deal with the fallout of the pandemic.

But what are the trends that are emerging? And how can you plan for the year ahead to make sure you stay on top of your marketing operations? Here we?ll take a look at these questions in more detail.


Budgets Will Be Lower

During the pandemic customer spending is reduced dramatically. Less customer spending means less revenue, and with less revenue comes budget constraints. Ultimately, this means that marketing organizations will have to make do with smaller budgets. For marketing operations, this means it?s more difficult to manage marketing projects.

It?s therefore understandable that advertising and campaign budgets will be the biggest losers because of the pandemic. For this reason, marketing organizations will pursue relatively conservative growth strategies with marketing operations that focus on existing markets to fuel growth. In other words, the focus will be customer retention as opposed to new customer acquisition.

Also, in an effort to lower budgets, businesses are shifting more work away from agencies to in-house. This can bring about a significant saving as marketing operations weather the storm of the economic downturn.


More Technology

Despite budgets falling, the biggest marketing spend will be on marketing technology. Most of this spend will be on new platforms and solutions, followed by increased spend on virtual events solutions.

With social distancing regulations and lockdowns, it?s not surprising that marketing organizations are investing in events platforms. This allows them to produce virtual events where there is a slim chance that in-person events will resume during 2021.

Also due to social distancing and lockdowns, many businesses are shifting to a digital experience over a traditional approach. The shift to digital marketing technology channels has been ongoing in recent times, but the pandemic has emphasized the need for it and its adoption rates are immense. In fact, digital channels account for nearly 80% of marketing budgets.

For businesses adopting digital technology in their marketing operations, the biggest themes will be:

? Conversational marketing. In a customer centric environment, this one-to-one approach to marketing can shorten your sales cycle, help you learn about your customer, and create a more human buying experience. It cuts out human intervention and allows your customers to get information when and where they need it.

? Consumer privacy and consent. With many interactions moving online comes the unfortunate risks relating to internet security. As technology becomes more advanced, so does the attacks on users? privacy. It?s therefore understandable that privacy and consent are one of the major technologies that businesses are employing to safeguard their customers.

? AI and machine learning. While the adoption rates of AI and machine learning are still low, it is expected to rise significantly in future. With it, marketing operations can be improved immensely. From predictive analytics, content creating, to lead scoring, and ad targeting, AI can make marketing more efficient and productive.

? Customers are increasingly looking for a personalized experience throughout their customer experience journey. By harnessing personalization, customers get content and recommendations suited to them at the right time. This shortens the sales cycle and improves the customer journey.
Marketing hubs and email automation. All of these themes can be contained and managed by using capable marketing management software.

The adoption of new technologies also plays a role in-house where many businesses are shifting towards a remote workforce. By using technology, marketing operations can be streamlined across the entire team, irrespective of where the employees are.

 For example, approval workflow software can ease bottlenecks in a marketing process which enable team members to make decisions faster and make the whole marketing process more efficient.


Integration Is Key

Integration is becoming increasingly popular amongst marketing teams. With so many tools and platforms available, it becomes troublesome to manage everything. This increases efficiency and promotes collaboration between team members.

For example, a business might have a marketing strategy that uses the following tools:

  • Website
  • Live chat and bots
  • Video
  • Personalized marketing
  • Email automation

By using an integration platform or marketing operations software, all these tools can be managed from one hub. This makes the entire marketing project management process more efficient and productive.

Add to that the fact that teams can gain insights from the data analytics provided by the software to further improve their marketing strategy and this makes integration an essential part of any marketing operations. In light of this, many businesses foresee data scientists and analytics personnel as part of their marketing spend and expect these functions to grow within marketing operations in the next year.


Planning For 2021

So, now you?ve seen some trends in the marketing space and you need to do your planning for 2021. Some things you could look at are:

? You need to build flexible and adaptive plans. There will still be volatility for some time, and you must have the right tools, processes, and insights to implement strategies and spending priorities in a continuously evolving and competitive market.

? Map your investments and execution against the evolving market and your customers? needs. By using data, you can rapidly test, monitor, and adapt your methodologies as your needs, and the environment, changes.

? Develop key performance indicators that measure the impact of technology on your marketing operations. You could, for instance, measure campaign performance and productivity, and adapt to make them more efficient if needs be. With these key performance indicators, you can also filter out any processes and technology investments that don?t meet your thresholds.

? Implement an organizational strategy by linking your in-house and outsourced decisions to strategic capability goals, considering near-term cost and return on investment considerations.


Another thing to consider may be to appoint a marketing operations leader. Research shows that 81% of organizations without a marketing operations leader feel that they cannot maximize the impact of their initiatives when also striving for efficiency.

With marketing technology making up 26% of marketing budgets, but marketers not utilizing this technology?s full potential, the role of marketing operations leader becomes even more important.

Despite this, only 49% of marketing organizations have a dedicated marketing operations leader. From the research it?s clear that a marketing operations leader can improve the efficiency of marketing operations whilst using new technologies.


Final Thoughts

There?s never been a time where efficient and productive marketing operations are as important as it is now. In a competitive and fragile market, it can mean the difference between success and failure.

But if you plan your marketing strategy according to the prevailing trends you can stay on top of the market and ensure continued success.