How has COVID-19 changed marketing and how do we prepare for “the Next Normal”? What should brands improve about their email strategy in 2020 and beyond? And what are some of the most deceptive marketing myths?
One of the most experienced marketers joins us today to answer these questions – and more.
Mathew Sweezey is Director of Market Strategy at Salesforce. He’s an award-winning marketer, podcast host, and an expert in the future of marketing. Some of the world’s most reputable brands – such as Dell, AT&T, Home Depot and UPS – have used Mathews research and insights to shape their marketing strategies and achieve more success.
We’re thrilled to have him as a guest! Here’s what he has to say about marketing in the New and Next Normal.
What will digital marketing look like in post-pandemic times? How can brands better prepare?
Marketing post-pandemic has changed in many ways. Depending on your vertical there are specific effects, but from a macro perspective, here are a few that stand out to me.
Video is the new voice.
Video calls have become standard practice, and even in industries we never considered. Like plumbing. Lowes has rolled out a new tool to allow home improvement pros to zoom into their customer’s homes, assess situations, and even walk them through how to fix them. Telemedicine spiked, and 76% of customers plan to use that service moving forward. Video is going to be a key aspect of many moments along the customer journey in the future.
eCommerce spiked, but along with this we also must consider what this opens up from a marketing perspective. It’s not just that everything moved to eCommerce, but how prolific it has become, and what new options that new world allows marketers.
Many retail eCommerce sites have begun creating ad networks where brands can buy space just as they would on Amazon. So the fees retailers used to charge for shelf space, or end caps on isles is now moving digital and becoming programmatic. This also creates a new value for brands from their customers’ data, giving them another revenue stream.
Shifting consumer personas.
Across the board, customers are not who they were before the pandemic. Personas are changing for everyone, and are going to change back again to something new once we reach the next point in time, The Next Normal.
Operationally, marketing is also going to change.
Brands have built new muscles. They learned how to pivot, how to embrace virtual, and how to be agile. They will continue with those methods becoming more nimble and agile organizations.
👉 Read: Marketing in the New Normal, by Mathew Sweezey 👈
What was the most surprising thing you noticed in marketing during the past few months? What can we learn from that?
To me, the most surprising thing has been how many people have been tuning into virtual events, and how well those virtual views are converting.
Virtual events allow for massive scale, far past what is possible in person. We scaled a 10,000-person event into a 1.5M virtual show. Many brands are seeing similar numbers, but what has been surprising is that the conversions are keeping pace.
Many virtual events are meeting or exceeding their goals virtually. I’d not imagined, with all the work everyone was having to do, that they would also dedicate time to watch virtual conferences or continue to engage in the sales cycle. They are still showing up, and still buying.
How can businesses create better experiences for their customers, and how can marketing support this goal?
This is a massive question, and to simply answer it, businesses must change the idea of what an “Experience” is. It’s a buzz word these days and most organizations look at it through the lens of “Experiential marketing,” which are activations in a moment. Holograms in physical spaces, virtual reality, wine tastings, etc.
These are all single moments, rather than looking at the entire customer journey and following an experience design framework to craft each moment for the highest value for the customer.
This also leads to more progressive ideas such as an Experience Guide. Just as you likely have a Brand Style Guide, you should also have an Experience Guide.
Zooming in on email marketing, what are some of your predictions?
Email is a simple format. However, it is a powerful one and, in the future, I see email operating more like a mini webpage rather than a static message. As we expand in the digital space, we now have to remember more logins, are part of more communities, and email is a key to tying a lot of those experiences together.
In the future, I see interactive emails allowing people to have better experiences by bringing the experience to them, rather than making them go and seek it out.
Emails only become more interactive.
What is one email marketing challenge you notice brands facing again and again, and how can they overcome it?
They write horrible emails. Most email marketers try to use an email to convince someone why they should do something. They are full of jargon, fluff, and all the other bad copywriting that we know to avoid.
Learn to write like a human. Use a human tone, voice, and keep it short and simple.
👉 Read: How to verify emails in Salesforce 👈
What were the findings you uncovered that have been the most determinant of Salesforce’s approach to marketing?
We’ve really focused in on communities, and co-creating content with our marketplace. This has helped us build much deeper relationships with customers, provide our prospects with amazing stories directly from customers, and produced amazing results.
One of our communities has been so successful our customers who join spend 2X as much and stay customers 3X as long.
What are some of the myths you bust in your latest book, “The Context Marketing Revolution”?
There are a lot of myths that we believe about marketing. They aren’t “myths” as much as they are no longer truth. Such as the need to be top of mind. My response would be top of what mind?
We offload memory to digital devices and then rely on those devices when we need that memory recalled. This changes decision-making behavior and customers now pull out their phones and ask questions to Google rather than racking their brain.
There is also the notion that sexy images sell products, or could back door the brand into someone’s memory. This has been found false as well. Not to mention the goal again was to be remembered.
However, the biggest myth I bust is the idea of “Creative Genius.” The notion that a marketing campaign so creative is what will drive growth. While it is true that a brilliant campaign could have an effect, that total effect is highly limited. It is a spike in time which the brand must then recreate.
The odds are you will never have a creative hit, and that thinking your marketing is failing because you are not creative enough is a myth.
You’re not succeeding because you likely have a horrible customer experience, and are not looking for ways to work with your market, rather you are seeking ways to force them to do what you want.
That’s not how the modern world works.
Yes, we need to be creative, but that now means finding ways to co-create with our market, find new ways of delivering value, experience design, etc. Focusing on these things creates sustainable growth, not campaign spikes.
What do you wish you knew five years ago?
So much. I really wish I had gotten into experience design back then.
What do you like to do when you don’t have to do anything?
I’m a big surfer and mountain biker. So when I’m not in the office, I’m in the saddle or on the water.
More about Mathew Sweezey
Mathew Sweezey has been working at Salesforce for almost a decade. As Director of Market Strategy, he crafts and delivers thought leadership and guidance to the company’s top customers.
Consumer psychology and behavior, technology, media, marketing – these are the topics Mathew talks about the most, whether at events or in his books. He’s spoken at digital summits and conferences such as Content Marketing World, Dreamforce, and Wistiafest. Also, he’s the author of “Marketing Automation for Dummies” and has published his work in Forbes, The Observer, AdAge, and others.
His second book, “The Context Marketing Revolution,” came out in 2020 at Harvard Business Review Press.