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Savvy in-house marketing strategies for post-COVID times

January 31, 2021 - 360 views

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Savvy in-house marketing strategies for post-COVID times

In these volatile times, here's how businesses can use advanced technologies to get the most out of their in-house marketing spend.

Even as large companies continue to embrace in-house marketing agency models, they’re facing some stiff headwinds when it comes to carrying out their marketing and advertising strategies. Amid COVID-related lockdowns and continued business disruption, marketing budgets have been severely curtailed and scrutinized according to Gartner, causing some organizations to rethink their segmentation and market-mix strategies.

A majority of CFOs (62%) expect to cut SG&A costs due to COVID, according to Gartner, and marketing is a top target, with just over one-third expecting to reduce budgets in that area. The marketing dollars that remain need to be spent wisely, with a primary focus on reassuring customers that the company is safely open for business, in addition to fortifying customer engagement while positioning the organization for growth.

Gartner research also shows  many marketing program tasks are shifting in-house, including social marketing, creative production, content marketing, video and podcast production, and creative ideation. With mixed signals about budgets returning to pre-COVID spend levels this year, the priorities for hyper-efficient campaign execution and data-driven results are here to stay. 

In September, the Everest Group cited the need for greater speed, improved accuracy, enhanced customer experience and reduced costs as key drivers for more intelligent and efficient marketing processes, whether they are handled via in-house marketing groups or an external agency.

Marketers need to know how customers are finding their brands so they can rapidly adjust their marketing mix as needed. The ability to analyze channel effectiveness is also critical.

In-house marketing without compromise

It’s no longer viable from a time, resources and effectiveness standpoint to make marketing decisions manually. Advanced data management techniques that leverage machine learning (ML) and big data analytics capabilities are key in helping ensure marketing campaigns reach the right eyeballs at the right time and place – and to prevent ads from landing on objectionable sites and risking your reputation.

A high-profile example: Unilever was criticized last summer when its ads appeared on Facebook pages that promoted hate speech. As a result, the consumer goods giant temporarily halted its advertising on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

We worked with a large media company that needed to scale its geo-targeted audience reach for its advertising campaigns without compromising brand safety parameters or increasing its cost per acquisition. We worked with the company to leverage attribution data and insights, review historic campaign structures and performance, and identify targeting opportunities that justified redesigning audience segments. Then we optimized the ad spend to activate and scale against these audiences.

Using our own proprietary tools, our team projected optimal budget allocation across digital channels. Doing so reduced spend by 30%, while enabling the company to reach 20% to 30% more qualified customers, according to the client.

Optimizing marketing spend

In these volatile times, businesses can ensure they’re getting the most out of their marketing spend by asking themselves the following questions:

  • Are you using data at scale to make better decisions? Best practices include integrating offline and online data and using machine learning to massage the data and create insights. Both are key to better understanding and leveraging “first-party” data and personalizing experiences through better audience segmentation.
  • Can you effectively monitor and optimize your campaigns? Most advertisers and brands will burn through a significant portion of their ad budget quickly before realizing that the impressions or audience group tactics may need to be modified quickly.
  • Are your marketing policies adequate for protecting your brand reputation? Adding stringent brand safety parameters can increase customer acquisition costs. However, it’s critical to monitor and ensure that non-valid or objectionable sites don’t negatively impact brand equity.
  • Have you considered how GDPR and other privacy regulations restrict your ability to use cookies? An additional consideration is how to measure analytics attribution when cookies become obsolete. Both can be done by creating a robust technology stack with integrated analytics and increasing the number of campaigns that help nurture and accelerate the conversion process.
  • Do you have an omnichannel marketing strategy in place to improve the customer experience and customer loyalty? With an omnichannel marketing strategy, businesses  can ensure they automatically have several sources from which to pull data. Understanding customer touchpoints helps marketers understand the customer journey and create even better marketing experiences.

Marketing organizations are under pressure to increase their effectiveness and optimize their spend. The aftermath of the pandemic presents an opportunity for marketers to apply advanced technologies that provide more predictive intelligence that boosts efficiency and ensures growth. This will be critical as the pandemic’s impact lingers and more marketing responsibility gravitates in-house. This will raise the ante for all organizations – particularly those that face capital constraints – to get greater bang from fewer marketing bucks.

Digital Business Operations

Himanshu Verma

Himanshu Verma is Senior Vice President and Global Markets leader at Cognizant, where he manages a global business chartered...

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