March 9, 2021

Digital Marketing 2021 Survey: How COVID-19 Has Influenced Companies’ Strategies

Survey of 1,000 companies in UK, Germany, and Italy identifies 2021 marketing priorities and trends.

  • Almost half of UK eCommerce companies surveyed have increased their sales in the past year.
  • Sixty-five per cent of marketers have accelerated digital and technology innovation more than they had planned due to the pandemic.
  • Sixty-one per cent report that their customer engagement platform has contributed significantly to growth in 2020.
  • Sixty-three per cent struggle with having unconnected data sets and only a partial view of customer behaviour.

Mapp, the international provider of insight-led customer engagement, has conducted a market survey to identify marketing priorities and industry trends for 2021. Due to the challenging times caused by COVID-19, the key focus is on changes to marketing strategies, the latest trends, planned investments, the impact on eCommerce, and data management. One thousand companies in the UK, Germany, and Italy took part in the survey.

Unless stated, the findings below relate to UK respondents only.

Marketers focus on website personalisation

Demand in 2020 increased sharply: 45 per cent of eCommerce companies surveyed increased their online sales. A third of the respondents already provide a personalised experience on their website, with a further 13 per cent reporting they are looking to do so in 2021. Currently, only a quarter report the use of dynamic content on their website, but over half are planning to introduce it in 2021.

Although 65 per cent report they have accelerated investment in digital and technology innovation due to the pandemic, 43 per cent still do not have an app and of those that do, only five per cent have one that does everything their website can do.

Data management continues to be a challenge

Unlocking the power of their own data is one of the major challenges marketers face right now. The survey revealed that almost one third of businesses do not currently use a data management platform (DMP) to improve targeting and optimise advertising spend, and 63 per cent of businesses struggle with unconnected data sets, providing them with only a partial view of customer behaviour. At the same time, three-quarters of respondents said they can identify less than 20 per cent of customers who visit their website, and 38 per cent can only identify less than 10 per cent.

Investments in customer engagement prove successful

Those who use a customer engagement platform report very high levels of satisfaction, with 67 per cent rating their customer engagement vendor four or five out of five during the pandemic.

These platforms help marketers manage the customer journey in a data-driven way. Here, everything revolves around obtaining a 360-degree view of each individual contact across all channels and activating them in a targeted manner. Through central contact profiles, important information such as socio-demographic characteristics, interactions, and transactions can be bundled and used for targeted personalisation.

Ricardas Montvila, Global Strategy Director, at Mapp comments, “COVID-19 has massively accelerated eCommerce and digital business models. Our market survey shows that 65 per cent of UK eCommerce companies have increased their investment in digital and technology innovation as a result of the pandemic. However, the results also show that the full potential of personalisation is far from being realised. In the future, customer intelligence and marketing analytics will become critical in providing even more precise real-time customer insights to optimally use existing budgets in a changed market environment and to score points with the end customer through customised content.”

About the survey

A total of 1,000 participants from the agency, retail, finance/insurance, media & publishing, telecommunications, and tourism & leisure sectors were surveyed in February 2021, of which 262 respondents were from the UK. A summary of the results in the UK market can be viewed in this infographic.