7 marketing trends for 2021

Deloitte Insights looks ahead to next year in marketing.

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Then new Global Marketing Trends 2021 report from Deloitte Insights is based on two surveys: the first, of almost 2,500 adult consumers in selected countries in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia; the second, of over 400 C-suite executives, including CMOs, from U.S. global companies.

The main headlines: the interconnection of trust and loyalty, and the importance of brands being able to pivot fast.

A loss of confidence. Particularly striking is the loss of confidence among executives in their ability to influence their peers and make a strategic impact. In the case of CMOs, the percentage of confident executives fell from an already very low 5% last year to 3% this year (for comparison, CEOs saw a fall from 55% to 35%.

Consumers, on the other hand, had a relatively positive perspective on how brands are responding to the current environment: “Almost four in five people could cite a time a brand responded positively to the pandemic
and one in five strongly agreed it led to increased brand loyalty on their part.”

The 7 top trends. The specific top trends identified by the report shared in common, said Deloitte, “breaking out of our often defensive mindsets to more holistically — and authentically — meet human needs.”

  1. Purpose: Flourishing brands will be those that know why they exist and who they are built to serve. “(C)ompanies which know “why” they serve their stakeholders are uniquely positioned to navigate unprecedented change.”
  2. Agility: Successful marketers will be those who invest in agile marketing strategies. The pandemic-triggered recession is not one that will reward retrenchment over imagination and innovation.
  3. Human connections: Making authentic connections is now more important than speed-to-market or efficiency. “It’s the choice between taking a cheaper flight or a safer one; buying clothing with the fastest delivery or from the supplier with the most ethically designed supply chain.”
  4. Trust: Trust arises when what’s promised is what’s delivered. Messaging should be transparent, and delivering on those messages should be consistent and reliable. Also, think about shifting your focus from demographics to values.
  5. Participation: Customer engagement at a deeper level, going beyond passive responses to activities like writing online reviews, givign advice to fellow customers, joining conversations (whether with the brand directly or on social media), and creating content relevant to the brand.
  6. Fusion: This trend recognizes the power of innovative business partnerships. As an example, “ExxonMobil partnered with a global tech company and a local car care brand to create a ‘digitally enabled car maintenance experience.’ A data platform created through the ecosystem enables customers to receive maintenance recommendations and make online reservations to have cars serviced; at the same time, it enables ExxonMobil to not only fuel vehicles but also ensure they are running safely and effectively.”
  7. Talent transformation: Marketing teams need to develop new talent models to differentiate themselves in a rapidly evolving digital environment. “(M)arketers can develop a core team comprising roles that best reflect their competitive advantage. Traditionally, these roles include those responsible for data insights, dynamic content creation, and owned and earned media.” And don’t overlook the flexibility created by the gig economy.

Much more detail in the full report.


This story first appeared on MarTech Today.



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How marketers can get the highest ROI out of podcasts

Planning, content and guest selection are at the foundation of a successful podcast strategy.

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The new at-home lifestyle brought about by the onset of COVID has driven a significant increase in the numbers of listeners and the numbers of programs in the podcasting and audio-streaming space, and where the channel was a secondary or tertiary option for most marketers, having a podcast strategy is now part of many marketing plans for 2021. 

“Podcasting is still a vast, open space that brands are smart to jump into,” said Lindsay Tiepkema, CEO of Casted, a podcast-centered marketing platform. “When you consider there are about 1 million podcasts, but more than 600 million blogs, you can see how much opportunity still exists for brands to own their own space,” she continued. “And listenership continues to rise dramatically, even in the midst of a pandemic, as people are actively seeking connection. Podcasts that offer that ability to connect an audience with a brand like not other form of content can and, in doing so, build trust and loyalty.” 

Research has shown that brands that advertise their products and services or business podcasts enjoy an increase on purchase intent, and major platforms are seeing significant increases. In June, podcast analytics provider Charitable tracked 825 million downloads, up from 600 million in March. 

But aside from using podcasts as an advertising channel, how can marketers use podcasts to achieve the highest ROI? One option is to recognize that the content can be leveraged beyond the podcast itself.

“Go beyond simply publishing episodes to also really wring-out that content,” said Tiepkema. “Marketers are getting into these shows they create to also pull blog posts, audio clips for social media, videos, excerpts to embed in web pages or email content and even thought leadership articles. This makes the stretched marketing team more efficient while also serving the audience more content to dig around that initial conversation with a subject matter expert.”

The podcast platform and planning

While most entertainment and social podcasts are often unscripted, or go off-script, the opposite is encouraged for marketers as they plan their podcast strategy, either as creator and host of their corporate podcast, or as a guest. 

“People are just now starting to realize that you should not just jump into starting a podcast and a podcast is not something you do for fun for companies,” said Sky Cassidy, co-host of the If You Market They Will Come podcast. Marketers failed to capitalize on the growing popularity of podcasts over the last couple of years, mainly because they didn’t have clear objectives and outcomes in mind. “You have to have a real ROI planned before you start, and it has to align with your corporate goals,” said Cassidy.

Podcast conversations spark consumer connections that lead to conversions in sales of a product or service. According to Voxnest, an audio technology solutions provider, global podcast consumption increased 42 percent during the onset of COVID between March and April. 

How can marketers maximize podcast success? Tiepkema mentions shorter, more frequent podcasts to match shorter commute times, and using statistics, facts and figures to make the content authoritive.

However, “[some] shows are publishing richer content less frequently,” said Tiepkema. “This works well for some because while they are publishing less often, like bi-monthly, they are delivering deeper content, so their audience is more likely to make the time to listen because the episodes are really that valuable.” 

Content as the cornerstone of quality podcasts

The cornerstone of any successful podcast is content. 

“You have to have something to give the audience other than a sales pitch,” said Karla Joe Helms, co-host of the If You Market They Will Come podcast. “As a marketer don’t look to try to monetize your podcast, worry more about building a consistent high-quality content outflow and go from there. People get tired of sales pitches.” 

After removing blatant sales pitches, podcast content is also dependent on high audio quality. Marketers should be willing to pay a bit more for higher audio quality platforms and tools. Always avoid podcast segments being recorded in coffee shops, moving vehicles, and at public places with spontaneous loud noises like malls and parks. 

Effective corporate podcasts educate their audience on a subject, rather than deliver a blatant sales pitch or provide pointless entertainment. One corporate activity naturally lends itself to the podcast format–the new product line or service launch/rollout. This announcement can be included in educational content that identifies the problem or need being solved by the new product or service. 

“It is the most non-captive audience you can have,” said Cassidy. “There are thousands upon thousands of podcasts out there, why would a consumer choose yours? That is the question that you have to constantly ask yourself as a marketer.” 

One way to increase the chances of your podcast being selected is to invite guests with large followings, either through their own podcasts, or on social media. “If you are depending on your podcast to grow your brand an audience, you will not get one,” said Cassidy. “Offer content that nobody else offers, and find your niche before you worry about big content. When you do, start with people, brands and entities that already have a large following. Now you have a strategy and you can be in podcasting for the long haul.”

Marketers can get the most out of their podcasts guests by allowing the guest to choose from two or three subjects so they can speak on a subject they are most comfortable with; conducting a prep call for all guests, no matter their experience or popularity level; and encouraging guests to invite their audience multiple times before, during and after podcasts.

“Energy and the audience they bring are everything for podcast guests,” said Helms. “If you nail those two down and combine it with high-quality content any marketing team can execute from there because you have already completed the hard part.” 

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Stackie winners get creative, highlight how martech maps with customer journeys, more

But all of this year’s entries show just how connected a company’s martech stack is to its values, operations and customer success.

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For many of us, the best visualization of our martech stacks are the icons in our bookmarks folders, but the creative stack managers among us see things like farms, desert islands and, yes, even a pizza.

That’s because it’s Stackie Awards season, and on Thursday Scott Brinker unveiled this year’s winners at the virtual MarTech conference.

For those unfamiliar, the annual awards program asks marketing technologists to create a single presentation slide that creatively visualizes the components of their martech stacks and how they relate to one another.

Click here to watch the session (free registration required)

“You do not get points for having a massive stack, that is not the point of this,” said Brinker. “The point is to talk about sharing examples of real stacks that real companies use.”

Even further, the best among this year’s 51 entries illustrated the impact of marketing technology beyond the organizational walls.

“One thing that stood out to me was … they don’t just tell you which solutions they’re using, but they diagram the stack in such a way that you got a feel for their thinking for the way it relates to their customer journey, and the way they’re guiding the customer through that journey,” said MarTech Today Editorial Director Kim Davis.

Several entries framed their stacks within Brinker’s “6 Cs” model for organizing marketing technology: Core, Content, Customers, Commerce, Community and Collaboration. 

Many award submissions followed this theme, but many themes were personalized to fit their indusDtries. WesTrac, a division of construction and mining equipment manufacturer Caterpillar, used a construction theme while popular butter brand Land O’ Lakes used a farming theme entitled ‘Nourish to Flourish.’ Geography themes we popular, as well as several with biotech, pharma and science themes. 

Here are this year’s winners.

Coffee Talks video marketing and branding podcast series by Nextiny Marketing, with a coffee shop theme

Echo360, a video platform company for education, with a bicycle theme

New England Biolabs, a native enzyme producer for life science research with a DNA strand theme

Nexthink, an IT solutions company with a scientific periodic table theme

Philips health technology company with a medical vital signs theme

Philips highlighted the ‘voice of customer’ through experience management, marketing content and translation, commerce and marketplaces. 

“The way [Philips] took us through the customer journeys and used the exercise as a way to build internal branding and a vision of thinking about this as an ecosystem really stood out,” said Brinker.

PitchBook, a financial data management platform, gets organized

PitchBook organized its martech stack through a rubric of Plan, Respond, Listen and Connect. But it also highlighted how often it used each tool in its stack through color-code to identify daily, regular or occasional use. 

“I find these kinds of insights really helpful,” said Brinker. “Because not everything in your stack needs to be something that you use everyday. I like getting a feel of what tools are at the core operational technology level and which ones are used more on a specialized and infrequent basis.” 

Poly, maker of communications equipment and software with a space theme

Puppet, a software development company with a corporate logo theme

SAS, the large data and analytics software company with a cell and DNA theme

United States Postal Services with a parcel theme

The USPS winning entry used a straightforward parcel-inspired design theme to cover its marketing automation, website management and media mix. These areas were covered under tools, purpose and outcomes. 

“[The USPS] has had such a rough year and so many people rely on them for ecommerce and we often forget about that,” said Brinker. “We admire the work they do and they are deeply appreciated.” 

How stacks may change

As Davis pointed out in the conversation following the awards presentation, many of the Stackie entries showed martech stacks built with dozens of tools that marketers must manage and orchestrate within their organizations.

But as the economic upheaval tied to the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted budgets and even staffing levels for many companies, will that disruption be seen in the stacks?

“There’s been a lot of this quote, unquote, digital transformation, happening, and what that largely comes down to is a company’s getting a lot more serious about ‘What are these tools we’re using, the process around it, and how’s it delivering value to us and our customers?’” said Brinker.

That could certainly lead to companies choosing to jettison components of their stacks that aren’t demonstrating that kind of value.

“I still think there’s plenty of room for innovation,” said Brinker. “For marketers to be increasingly more disciplined about justifying the value of a tool is a wonderful, wonderful thing. Yes, we’ll see some contraction in some places. And then new tools experimented in others.”

Congrats to the winners and we’ll see if next year’s Stackie entries bear that out. If you want to see all 51 Stackie submissions, it is linked in the Dig Deeper section under the presentation here (free registration required).

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You need a market research mind-set

Marketers need an inner ‘market researcher’ says Leela Srinivasan of SurveyMonkey.

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“If you think about all the work that marketers do across demand gen, brand, product marketing…there are many different aspects. When you talk about market research, the term seems narrow and specific — but my point-of-view is that it’s really vital to lean into feedback from the customers, prospects, audiences and stakeholders that matter to you.”

Tap into feedback. That’s a point-of-view Leela Srinivasan, CMO of SurveyMonkey conveyed in her recent session at HubSpot Inbound. “If you can tap into that feedback,” Srinivasaran told us, “it can really improve your output.” That goes for messaging and campaigns. “The creative process can be so subjective; it’s more powerful when you can back it up with concrete research.”

SurveyMonkey is a familiar name, of course; it’s been around for over twenty years and is well-known as simply an online survey tool. But from the tens of millions of surveys processed through its system over those years, SurveyMonkey has accumulated at a data-set which machine learning can use to generate guidance for users in designing effective surveys (the tool is called SurveyMonkey Genius).

With brands increasingly focused on customer experience, Srinivasaran is seeing marketers think more deeply research and feedback gathering, and voice-of-customer data. In digital channels, for example, it’s important to gather feedback at the right time, and make it easy to give feedback. “I was on a website this morning,” she said, “and up popped a chatbot to engage for sales reasons. I wanted to give feedback about this thing which wasn’t working, and there wasn’t a feedback button or anywhere I could do that.”

Cross-channel feedback. A brand’s own digital channels and online surveys aren’t the only ways customers deliver feedback — among other things, there are call centers, and the global social conversation. Do marketers need to pull all that together? “If you’ve got a lot of web traffic, that will yield a lot of responses, but that does call out a need. You do have to be thoughtful about how you aggregate and analyze the information.” The challenge with social, she says, is “cutting to what matters.”

One thing she’s seeing companies doing is pulling research results into systems of record where it can have impact. “It’s common for companies to send out a survey after a case closes. If that data doesn’t flow back into the system and cause different behavior, why are you even gathering it? There’s a heightened desire to connect feedback and survey data with other customer data.” SurveyMonkey itself has an integration with Salesforce for these purposes.

The customer impetus. If anything, the current economic and health climate makes it more important than ever for brands to be tuned into their customers expectations and needs. “The world has never been changing faster than it is today,” said Srinivasaran. “The way people feel about things is evolving all the time. That’s made it even more important to understand how your customers will react to, say, the launch you have up your sleeve.”

Why we care. Marketing is now data-driven. That’s table stakes. But it’s important that the data includes insights on how prospects, customers and stakeholders are reacting to your messaging. That goes deeper than just looking at KPIs like conversions, especially if you want to know what is working and why.


This story first appeared on MarTech Today.



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The growing importance of content analytics

Analysis and measurement is foundational for content efficiency.

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Content is the main currency for marketers, no matter what their industry, but the overabundance of content available to consumers has left many marketers with the question: How do I analyze the performance of my content? 

The question is valid and pressing whether we’re talking about content aimed at producing an outcome like a conversion or form completion, or content which is part of customer service interaction, and whether the content is written or visual.

For Greg Bennett, Conversational Design Principal at Salesforce, content analysis starts with identifying channels that are receiving the most response. 

“In the last six months the use of Salesforce’s messaging channel has grown more than 600%,” said Bennett. “Our use of chatbots has increased over 170%, so when you see dramatic changes like that you need to instantly start analyzing the content that is being produced to measure its efficiency.”

Creating content and conversation

During the onset of the pandemic, Salesforce experienced a 50% increase in service cases from its clients. The increase of requests generated a lot of content for Bennett and his team to review. 

For Salesforce increased content meant an increased use of Einstein AI for chatbot services, ensuring that all new content created fit the Salesforce corporate style guidelines, and reviewing processes and patterns of conversations to increase efficiency and problem resolution. 

“In content analysis we focus on the follow-up with customer requests and patterns of usage and conversation because those are trends we can immediately correct if we see any inefficiency,” said Bennett, a linguist by training from Georgetown University. “It is not just the subject of content in a channel, but the average handling time of content in the same space or the action taken from content in a marketing space.” 

The new attention being paid to content and conversational analytics and analysis has sped the industry ahead into a new level of scrutiny that is here to stay, according to Meggie Giancola, Head of CPG Sales and Strategy for Valassis, a marketing technology and consumer engagement firm. 

“Now marketers are really measuring content on how much it correlates to brand value, and the past six months has brought us to a place in analytics that normally would have taken five years,” said Giancola. “How content is being used to motivate shoppers is much different than when this year started, so your analysis and measurement has to change.” 

Content analysis and measurement needs to focus on the specific shift in consumer behavior and mindset that has occurred. 

In particular, has the content caused an increase in purchasing for lower-priced products and services because of the economic crisis? Has it led to an increase in consumer feedback about current campaigns, or increased consumer engagement about COVID-related services or promotional pricing?

“Every analysis is different. So as long as the analysis is data-driven that is a quality start,” said Giancola. “When you are seeing a high volume of content or impressions with minimal purchasing you need to ask if it is a content issue, brand issue or pricing issue.” 

Quantifying content

For Salesforce their current service requests come 42% by chat, 37% by phone and 21% by chatbot. The increased use of chatbots has led to Bennett and his team to closely scrutinize and measure chatbot performance.

“Measuring marketing content to extend and prolong engagement is less of a race and more of a marathon,” said Bennett. “If the content is for a service request you want minimal content that leads to a shorter waiting time that increases consumer satisfaction.

As a marketer you have to separate the quality of service from the quality of conversation when measuring content. You could have great content in a conversation, but not resolve the original issue.” 

When possible, content that is about a specific product or service should be measured against itself, even if the last measurement happened pre-COVID. Disparities in the two measurements should be easily explained away with new variables that have entered the market since the COVID outbreak. 

Video as a vehicle

As video content surges in demand throughout nearly every industry, the way that it is analyzed and measured has to change, too. Aside from the obvious measurement including views and reposts, the popularity of short-form videos has created a new urgency in content analysis and measurement. 

“Now that short-form videos are used as fundamental pieces of marketing campaigns, they need to be treated as such,” said Jon Niermann, co-founder and CEO of Loop Media, a streaming media company focused on video content. “The days of judging videos solely on if they go viral is over.” 

Niermann says the foundation of measuring video content should be making sure that it triggers an emotional response, with a clear call to action or desired response. While short-form video is the most popular form of the content, there will always be a place for long-form video content, but analysis and measurement needs to be equally scrutinized. 

“Clearly distinguish between how you are going to measure short-form video content compared to long-form video content, even if its about the same subject,” said Niermann. “We recommend daily reports of where and when the videos are playing, who is playing them, and the actions they are creating. As a general rule everyone should be reviewing their video performance more than they currently do.”

Content counts

So when measuring content, it’s important that the analysis is comprehensive in order to identify inefficiencies and opportunities to enhance promotions, services or products.

“Assets and content of the conversation experience will see even more in-depth analysis moving forward, there will be no change in that,” said Bennett. “Be able to scale your content quickly if you have to, but never stop ongoing analysis for a more efficient process.”


This story first appeared on MarTech Today.



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Marketers hopeful for late 2021 in-person conferences

But as virtual events take root in the community, attendees have clear opinions on cost and format, according to our latest Events Participation Index.

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Marketers’ already low expectations that they could safely attend in-person events this year have bottomed out, according to our latest Events Participation Index, which isn’t surprising as the planet passed a grim milestone of 1 million deaths tied to COVID-19 this week. 

But despite concerns over second and, in some cases, third waves of the virus beginning to show, many of the 350 professionals we surveyed are hopeful that they can travel and attend conferences, trade shows or more in the second half of 2021.

As expected, sentiment about attending events in 2020 hit two out of 10, a new low since we started asking the question in May. Optimism ticked up to four out of 10 when asked how likely they would attend in-person events in the first half of 2021.

Related: Register to attend MarTech

But marketers gave the prospect of attending events in the second half of 2021 a six out of 10 chance, our survey found. 

That growing optimism could be tied to the expectation that an effective and widely accepted vaccine will be available soon. There are currently several in phase three human trials, and some are already yielding an immune response in test subjects.

Absent a vaccine, nearly 68% of those we surveyed said they will only attend virtual events through the first half of 2021.

Virtual or bust

The upheavals tied to COVID-19 have caused considerable financial strain for event organizers, especially larger trade shows, but many companies have been successful in converting their events to online, or “virtual” experiences.

“I was somewhat cynical about how well that would work,” said CabinetM CEO Anita Brearton in a recent MarTech Live session. “But, you know, I think it is working, and we’ve seen examples of companies charging for virtual events and doing well with that,” she said.

In fact, 67% of marketers we surveyed said they would indeed pay to attend virtual events. Though the vast majority of those said they would pay between $99 and $499 and only a very small number said they would pay more than $499.

“It’s all about the quality,” said Brearton, but it is also about the unique experience the virtual approach affords event organizers, she said.

“This ability … to do it live and record, but then also make it available to individuals at a time that works well for them,” she said, “that’s a part of the success plan.”

That too seems to have been confirmed by our data. Only 18% of those surveyed said they prefer virtual events to follow a traditional full-day programming schedule spread over fewer days like most in-person events do. About 35% said they prefer half-day programming spread over several days. But 47% told us that they would prefer virtual events offer just a few hours of programming a day spread out over a much longer time.

We will continue to field our Events Participation Index through this pandemic to gauge how the community is feeling about business travel and events. If there are questions you think we should ask, email hpowderly@thirddoormedia.com.

Meanwhile, see Brearton’s comments below:

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What Digital Asset Management is and why marketers should care

How enterprises are using DAMs in 2020 and why COVID is increasing adoption.

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Digital Asset Management platforms, often called DAMs, are software programs that store, organize and enable the more efficient use of an organization’s entire library of digital assets. A DAM is the “single source of truth” where marketers can find every relevant version of the media assets that have been created for the brand — images, PDFs, photographs, audio, video and even virtual reality or other cutting-edge formats.

The further benefit of a DAM is that these assets are appended with metadata that can provide information on anything the marketer might want to know before using the asset, such as whether the company owns the perpetual rights to use a photograph (and in what markets), whether the legal team has approved a video, and that an infographic or whitepaper has been checked to ensure it complies with the brand’s design standards.

In 2020, enterprises are using DAMS in a variety of ways. Marketing agencies might leverage DAM technology to help their customers maintain consistency across in-house content and creative developed by partners. B2B businesses might use DAMs differently, drawing on the benefits of a centralized hub for sales collateral and event marketing materials.

The work-from-home boom we’ve seen emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic is also a factor in DAMs’ growing importance, as companies have come to appreciate the benefits of platforms that allow employees to collaborate easily no matter where they’re located physically.

Before the blossoming of software-as-a-service (SaaS), DAMs were installed software that resided on a company’s servers. But their utility has grown exponentially — especially for global and distributed organizations — now that most DAMs are cloud-based offerings.

Learn more about DAMs in our all-new Martech Intelligence Report, a buyer’s guide featuring in-depth profiles of 14 different vendors.

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Why DX is about much more than football for the Minnesota Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings ehanced DX embraces social change as well as football.

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With no preseason games due to the COVID outbreak, the 2020 NFL regular season is perhaps the most anticipated in its 100-year history. But for the NFL’s Minnesota VIkings, the 2020 offseason led to the creation of customer experiences that had just as much to do with community as catches, and just as much to do with social justice as scoring touchdowns. 

“As we transitioned to the offseason and [COVID] set in, we were seeing how serious the issue was and how much it was going to impact the economy, then at the same time in April we had to worry about how to deal with fan outreach for the virtual NFL Draft,” said Genette Seske Amar, Manager of Engagement and Sales Analytics for the Vikings, who also led the strategy for the team’s first ever mobile app development. “Then we are located only three miles from where George Floyd lost his life and we knew we had to communicate with fans as a community, even though every fan does not want to be engaged at a community level.” 

Creating a new fan DX

The death of George Floyd and the COVID outbreak were two unanticipated factors as the Vikings planned to establish an enhanced digital experience to deliver content-led engagement to its fans for the 2020 season and beyond. 

“Most NFL teams only talk to fans when it is about the game,” said Vikings Director of Analytics Rich Wang. “But we like to think we have a different dynamic here because we are an international brand steeped in midwest culture, and with a heavy U.K. presence in our fan base. We knew we had to deliver something different with our digital experience.” 

The Vikings selected omnichannel marketing cloud Selligent to leverage data to uncover fan insights, create new ways to interact with players, build community and camaraderie, while using relevant content to ensure memorable and purposeful touchpoints with the organization. 

In the cause of enhanced engagement, Wang had led a research project over a four-year period to identify the personas of Vikings’ fans, coming up with six distinct fan personas to build outreach around: 

  • Generational fan that roots for the team as part of a a family legacy; 
  • Football lover who is engaged with the entire League;
  • Intense ex-athlete who enjoys the competition of the sport; 
  • ‘Season Sid’ who is a season ticket holder and bases his summer, fall and winter social calendar around Vikings’ games; 
  • ‘Sidekick Sally’ who goes along for the ride to the games, enjoys the game experience, and also enjoys wearing Vikings apparel, especially unique and hard-to-find items; and
  • Community/social fan who views the Vikings as an extension of the community first and foremost. 

Marketing based on the personas has doubled the team’s conversion rate. 

“We did a lot of research with predictive models and how to engage each fan persona,” said Wang. “Our emails have to look different now and really demonstrate that we care about our community. Simply asking for credit card information for transactions will not work.” 

Providing a platform

The Vikings are using Selligent’s AI engine, Selligent Cortex, to deliver personalized content using their Smart Content platform. Personalization is based on fans’ activities across channels.  

“Our goal is to provide tools and capabilities for simple integration,” said Troy Smith, North America general manager for Selligent. “We have been working with the Vikings for a while to help build this marketing automation platform.” 

The platform tracks Site tracks fans as they engage with sites, sends data directly to the Vikings organization, and uses AI capabilities and real-time learning to create a more robust journey in multiple channels. 

“It allows the Vikings to serve their fans in a real-time dynamic and offer further personalized content,” said Smith. “We have in-depth experience working in entertainment sectors as we deal with casino and gaming platforms. That experience has been key in building our relationship and resources with the Vikings.”  

The Vikings’ built their relationship with the fans during the unprecedented offseason with virtual events for the NFL Draft in April and the release of the 2020 NFL regular season schedule in May. The events drew over 5,000 viewers and gave the team an opportunity to connect with its fans during turbulent times. It also allowed the team to build upon its omnichannel strategy. 

“The NFL is giving us more leeway with content right now,” said Wang. “We now have a pregame show an hour before kickoff and have free games to play in our Vikings app.” 

The increased offseason engagement with the virtual events, and custom emails to address Minnesota’s social justice issues, connected with fans from all six personas, leading to a 99% season ticket renewal rate while collecting payment from over 80% of fans. The recent reopening of the Vikings museum has allowed the team to begin the process of in-person experiences. 

The team’s additional channels for retrieving fan data include social media, email responses, and responses to social and community outreach content. 

“Having transactions-based communications was never our goal,” said Sekse Amar. “It is all about driving personalized content and engaging [the fans] with unique experiences.” Such experiences include personalized surveys, community outreach projects and opportunities, behind-the-scenes player updates, Social responsibility financial donation opportunities; and fun virtual experiences for young fans.  

“We have seen great success from these interactions,” said Sekse Amar. “It really set the stage for our fans as they prepared for the regular season.”

Building a satisfying stadium DX

Long before COVID existed, the Vikings and their state-of-the-art stadium, U.S. Bank Stadium (opened in 2016), were committed to trying to provide the best onsite digital experience and reporting in the NFL.

The digital experience begins as soon as fans enter the stadium. Since the stadium’s 2016 opening, the Vikings implemented a digital ticketing system to track a ticket as it is resold, given away, or transferred to different individuals. This replaced the outdated PDF ticket method that was used at the old Metrodome, which had no way of tracking a ticket after being purchased. Now they can track each person who physically walks through the stadium. 

“When we opened the new stadium we ripped off the bandaid and went straight to a digital system right away,” said Wang. “And the information we learned has been extremely valuable.”  

The team only knew the real identities of about 20,000 people of its over 64,000 capacity at the old Metrodome. Now they know every person that enters the U.S. Bank Stadium, collecting well over one million profiles from attendees since the facility opened. They also now know that seven out of 10 season ticket holders do not attend the game themselves; eight out of 10 game attendees are at their first game at U.S. Bank Stadium; and on average fans attend two games per season. 

“It has helped us elevate our game day experience,” said Wang. “Our game day presentation has to be top notch.”  

That game-day experience includes embracing the cold Minneapolis winters and the fact that the stadium will not be at full capacity for the 2020 season. The Vikings have partnered with Sleep Number beds, Miller beer and U.S. Bank to create “homegating” experiences, and are sending homegating packages to season ticket holders. The Vikings are also creating hashtag campaigns for fans to share their homegating experiences. 

“We have no choice but to embrace this season for what it is,” said Sekse Amar. “Our fans embrace the elements and we have to go out of our way to create a fan experience that is different and dynamic at the same time.”

Talking 2021

A key part of the Vikings CX strategy is the continuous testing of messaging to see what resonates with their fans. 

“We are already looking at what omnichannel marketing looks like for 2021,” said Sekse Amar. “We are looking at best ways to sell and market virtual events while maintaining consistency between a viewer experience and an in-person experience.” 

The team is also reviewing tactics such as what pay-per-click advertising may look like in 2021 as well as non-traditional digital advertising methods that could connect with a fan base that should be mostly at home during the winter months because of COVID and cold weather. 

“Everything is a blank canvas right now,” said Seke Amar. “Some of our fans feel like they are helping us on the field when they are at a game, so it is up to us to maintain that enthusiasm by using all of our digital resources.”  


This story first appeared on MarTech Today.



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Martech responds to the pandemic

MarTech Live and guest Anita Brearton discuss the role of marketing operations during the COVID pandemic.

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Every industry has had to deal with the effects of COVID differently, and in the martech world that means record demand for some companies while others have seen business grind to a halt.

“When the pandemic broke out we saw people freeze in place and being asked not to spend money so there was not a lot of technology activity going on,” said Anita Brearton, CEO of CabinetM during a recent Martech Live broadcast.

After the pause the outbreak put on martech, two distinctly different groups emerged—those who experienced immediate revenue decline and those that have had to respond to a sudden increase in demand because of the remote work and home-based lifestyle.

“For the companies badly hit by COVID where sales have come to a halt, there was a mandate to rationalize the technology being used,” said Brearton. “There was a lot of redeployment to channels that were still open because we live events disappeared.”

Certain sectors like online education, alcohol and spirits and grocery stores had to deal with a sudden increase in demand that lead to their marketing operations teams having to address both their martech stack and personnel.

“[Marketers] had to look at technology in its current environment,” said Brearton. “They had to see if it would support growth.”

The overnight digital transformation required by COVID made certain marketing tactics obsolete. Direct mail was experiencing a resurgence in the B2B world until remote work ending corporate mailing. Corporate IP addresses also become irrelevant so with both a surging tactic and a successful tactic being placed on the shelf, marketers are still facing how to work in a reality for 2021 and beyond.

“The digital transformation imperative that effects both types of companies have to be accepted into this changed world,” said Brearton. “I always thought that AI would be the catalyst in making digital transformation real, but in reality it is the business environment as a whole. People are looking at tech and how it can transform business.”


This story first appeared on MarTech Today.



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The driving force behind the new Porsche digital brand experience

Building a digital experience for the 21st Century.

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The Porsche brand has been one of the most well-known in both the automotive and luxury markets over the past 50 years. However a reputation that was built in the 20th century didn’t guarantee success in building a digital brand experience fit for the 21st century.  

From internal training to customer engagement

The Porsche AR Visualiser app evolved from five years of building the digital brand experience, first as an internal human resources training tool, then as an immersive engagement with the history, brand and vehicle marketing of Porsche. 

The internal digital training experience was developed by 8th Wall, a software platform that allows interactive web-based augmented reality (WebAR) and virtual reality (WebVR) experiences to operate on mobile devices, and innovation.rocks, which builds and implements AR and VR content solutions. Innovation.rocks is familiar with the luxury auto sector as it has a client list that includes Porsche, Audi and Bentley.

“[The Porsche AR Visualiser app] started as a native app for onboarding new employees,” said innovation.rocks CTO Felipe Sequerra. “Now the Porsche brand can be experienced digitally with a solution that works on 90% of mobile devices.” 

The Porsche WebAR activation took the best practices learned from its internal implementation and used them as a foundation for consumer engagement.

“[The app] gives users the ability to actively experience Porsche’s brand story,” said 8th Wall CEO Erik Murphy-Chutorian. “The brand achieves a deeper and more meaningful connection to customers through this process of immersion. Customers are allowed to explore and learn about the company in a way that is natural, engaging and memorable.” 

The Porsche experience

The Porsche digital brand experience on the AR Visualiser app is separated into three distinct basic chapters—past, present and future—led by an avatar, a Porsche employee.  The past is a review of the brand history, the present showcases current vehicles and the future reviews innovation opportunities and advancement within Porsche.

The platform’s origin as an internal onboarding tool allowed for the reuse of many assets, starting with the ‘host’ avatar that serves as a guide throughout the entire digital experience. 

“The investment up front for a high quality experience for employees as an internal training tool really paid off when we had to reuse the assets,” said Sequerra. “We used a past internal project with the Porsche Cayenne to promote the new Cayenne to the external audience.”

To compliment showcasing the new luxury vehicles to sales prospects, the animated 3D avatar had many new features developed or enhanced, including automation for more movement and interaction with consumers, and enhanced speech capabilities.

For consumers interested in purchasing more than the past, present or future of the Porsche brand, the WebAR platform allows the user to place a Porsche in their real-time environment. Users can also sit in a virtual Porsche, or even take a quiz on the history of the brand. 

“Creating the new chapters of content was definitely the biggest challenge of this process,” said Sequerra. “There was a lot of learning involved but we kept the architecture quite modular so we can expand in the future and add experiences based on consumer demand and corporate direction.” 

Future corporate direction includes working with new vehicle models, covering innovations and technology. The digital experience is also built to scale as consumer demand continues to grow.

Whether behind the wheel or the digital experience, Porsche wants their audience to drive away with a clear concept of their history, luxury and innovation.


This story first appeared on MarTech Today.



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