pandemic Responses

Pandemic Responses Make Room for More Data Opportunities

The move to accelerate digital transformation and engage with customers online in 2020 increased the opportunities for gathering data. monticellllo via Adobe Stock Last year when so many people wanted to avoid unnecessary trips outside during the pandemic, it seemed like it could be a risk just to go to the store for a six-pack…

The move to accelerate electronic transformation and participate with customers on the internet in 2020 increased the chances for collecting data.

monticellllo via Adobe Stock

monticellllo through Adobe Stock

Last year when so many people desired to prevent unnecessary trips outside throughout the ordeal, it looked like it could be a risk simply to go to the shop for a six-pack of Pepsi and a bag of chips. But that didn’t make you crave the bites any less.

Shipping soft drinks and snacks to customers in their homes may not have been a strategy that PepsiCo ever would have considered or pursued if it hadn’t been for the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdowns across the nation and the world. But the shutdowns forced everyone to look for other options and opened up a whole new prospect for PepsiCo and customer brands.

PepsiCo found two new direct-to-consumer websites, and, designed to let users purchase boxes of snacks and soft drinks directly.

“This was an introduction of direct-to-consumer relationships for brands that never had direct-to-consumer relationships before,” said Jason Heller, CEO of Transformation Ventures, talking at the virtual Adobe Summit in April. “All these sites let consumers shop directly for the brands they love as opposed to shopping at the retailer they love.”

These sites supplied brands with a revenue flow in a period when many companies were squeezed through shutdowns. However, the brands got something else which was maybe even more valuable for their long-term success — customer information, and an ongoing relationship with customers.

“The more immediate value is that it lets brands engage their most valuable customers, gather data, collect actionable insights,” Heller said. “They can test everything from products and packaging, pricing and messaging. It gives brands the permission to engage customers more frequently.”

PepsiCo was among many businesses that accelerated its digital transformation approaches in 2020 as the pandemic forced so many retail sales and other business transactions from the physical world and on online channels.

Amid these changes, organizations are taking a look at their digital investments and considering the most effective ways to build on the past year’s successes in 2021. Heller and the VP of Adobe’s Digital Strategy Group, John Copeland, provided some insights and advice within their virtual Adobe Summit presentation, Biggest Digital Marketing Trends for 2021.

Heller warned that during the pandemic we might have improved our electronic existence, but we also lost something in the process.

We’ve lost millions of in-person private interactions with customers, and they’ve been transitioned to generic digital experiences. That poses a danger for businesses’ relationships with customers.

Heller said that”personalization at scale” is the antidote, and he recommended that organizations invest in customer data platforms, customer journey analytics, next-best action decisioning, and content factories, and invest in tying all those together with an integrated stack.

“As the pandemic continues to drive more electronic engagement, individuals that aren’t focused on prioritizing a customer-centric lens 2021 will lose footing to those who do,” Heller said.

Data privacy and regulations

Data privacy rules and regulations have been on the increase over the past few years, and organizations will need to shift how they operate in response, said Copeland.   “This year companies will work on strategies to first-party data,” he said. It’s an approach they need to take to”thrive in a cookie-less world.”

In this environment, contextual and intent-based targeting will grow in importance. For instance, an ad for running shoes might appear in an article about training for a marathon.

Other big trends in digital marketing for 2021 include doubling down on digital transformation with an emphasis on people and shorter paths to value for tech investments; building content marketing agility (including intelligent content at scale) to feed a non-linear and evolving digital customer journey; and a greater percentage of advertising budgets moving to digital in 2021.

The changes of last year have led to a greater focus for brands in 2021.

“In times of numerous crisis over the last year, manufacturers have needed to pivot their marketing, their messaging, and their communications to stay resilient and relevant based on current events,” Heller said.

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Jessica Davis is a Senior Editor in InformationWeek. She covers enterprise IT leadership, careers, artificial intelligence, analytics and data, and enterprise software. She has spent a career covering the intersection of business and technology. Follow her on twitter:… View Full Bio

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