Looking for predictions with regards to growth opportunities for marketing in 2021 and beyond?
The obvious answer would have to be AI, ML and AR, but I think we can all consider these mainstream trends by now. They have already been successfully embedded themselves in today’s market reality and marketers (and brands alike) are trying to find new ways of implementing them in their strategies.
The advancement of AI and ML specifically was characterised by gigantic leaps in terms of development and adoption rates by brands both within the B2B and B2C sectors, so now it’s more a matter of effectively implementing, fine-tuning, and capitalising on what these technologies have to offer us.
AI, ML and AR should already be a staple in every marketer’s arsenal or at least integral parts of their strategy for 2021 and the future.
The “old” marketing funnel
Instead, we should shift our focus towards the natural evolution of the marketing funnel we all have come to know and love.
The “traditional” and ubiquitous marketing funnel – in the shape of an inverted pyramid – is based on an outdated model that focuses mainly on new customer acquisition rather than retention, re-engagement, and repeat clientele.
Combine that with the new reality of the Covid-19 era and you can easily identify the new challenges that arise and the gaps that marketers and brands are called to fill.
The classic marketing funnel is still being taught in pretty much every major university as part of their business/comms/marketing degrees and masters, every course and article around the web.
It’s pretty much everywhere and whether you’re a beginner marketer, chances are you’ve already encountered this and it’s your bread and butter for building and analysing your acquisition and conversion strategy.
This is how it looks like:
Unfortunately is not applicable to today’s audience requirements, needs and wants.
There is a massive shift to digital, both in terms of internal organisation of the companies and how they manage their workforce and operations, but more importantly regarding the channels they use to sell their products and services to their customer base.
Customers are increasingly placing value on digital, and we’ll never go back to pre-pandemic levels.
Brick and mortar stores were on their way out, but the pandemic swooped in and put the final nail in the coffin, accelerating the full transition to digital. Ready or not the demand for digital channels, avenues of communication, and purchasing platforms has gone through the roof, and the projections are only higher for 2021 – 2022.
The evolution: the flywheel model
Brands and marketers must act quickly to adapt to the new landscape and the flywheel model is the only framework that provides a viable model for today’s challenging reality.
The flywheel framework puts the bullseye on continuously re-engaging with the customer, maintaining an open channel of communication, involving them in the brand’s activities, and even decisions, and keeping the dialogue going 24/7.
And let’s not forget that it’s the only model that places strong emphasis on pushing word-of-mouth, which is still the most effective marketing method bar none.
Where does the flywheel model shine?
Two-way conversational marketing requires an “always-on” channel and a means of communication with your brand. How does that translate in practical terms? Think of chatbots, personalisation utilising AI and ML, mobile presence, augmented reality experiences, user generated content, (micro) influencers, social media (commerce), semantic and voice search, and finally programmatic advertising.
Brands and marketers need to be able to adjust their strategies with all this in mind if they want to stay relevant now and in the future.