3 Emerging Digital Transformation & Marketing Trends in the Midst of COVID-19

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Rogier van Nieuwenhuizen

Over the last couple of months, we have all been witness to a massive increase in digital activities and data exchange. Stats comparing March 2020 to Jan/Feb 2020 show global internet traffic up by 25.4% and online transactions up a staggering 42.8%. 

We've all been "doing" digital transformation for decades now, but we've been doing it, for the most part, slowly and steadily. The recent global shift to practically exclusively online purchasing, however, happened practically overnight — and none of us can predict what kind of long-term impact it's really going to have. There are, however, a number of emerging digital transformation trends that I expect will heavily impact the future of business. 

Retail and FMCG to start leveraging 1st party data

Some industries were ready for the overnight increase in digital activity and transitions and the influx of customer data that came with it. Overall, we see telecom companies doing very well in the current climate, with the overall number of data calls in this sector continuing to increase steadily in our platform. We also see utilities doing well, with one enterprise utility client showing a 25% increase in traffic compared to their January levels. It should also come as no surprise that logistics companies are thriving, with one client experiencing a respectable 25% increase in data traffic and another growing by an impressive 58%. 

Other industries, however, such as grocery, retail, and food & beverage, are finding themselves out of their comfort zone. Reports show major grocery store app downloads skyrocketing by as much as 218% in a one-month period, and retail platforms have seen a 6% global traffic increase between January and March 2020. Even before the crisis, we noticed these sectors becoming increasingly interested in harnessing the power of first-party data, but particularly in the past months we have seen demand skyrocket. Where a year ago we saw few inquiries from retail and FMCG, today these sectors are on the verge of becoming key industries for us. 

A shift to digital that was set to take place over the next few years has suddenly happened in a matter of weeks and months, and these sectors are going to have to be quick on their feet. It's a challenge that could turn into an opportunity for consumers and businesses in the long run, but in order to do that, it is essential that these industries unify and activate the massive incoming flux of first-party data. 

Noteworthy shift toward service use cases from leading businesses

In many ways, the travel industry has been leaps and bounds in front of the rest when it comes to connecting touchpoints and stitching together the customer journey. Sadly, this industry is getting hit hard in the midst of the pandemic, and they are being forced to do their best to get creative and try to stay afloat while travel is banned. 

blue banner with quote from Rogier: "Over the last few months, we have seen our airline and travel customers making the best of a challenging situation by changing the way they use our platform..."

Over the last few months, we have seen our airline and travel customers making the best of a challenging situation by changing the way they use our platform, going from more classic digital marketing use cases (e.g. increasing load factor) to more service-oriented cases like adjusting retargeting to exclude off-limits destinations. In order to support them, as well as our clients across industries who are adapting their customer journey in response to COVID-19, we've launched our Corona Use Case Lab where prospects and customers can develop use case ideas with our experts. 

Increase in customer-centric service use cases

It's been inspiring to see our clients launch new use cases to better support their own customers. We're seeing a new wave of use cases geared toward call center optimization, for instance. One customer has just launched a case where AI analyzes website behavior to predict a customer's question and provide the relevant answer online, with the ultimate goal of reducing call center volumes. Already, they've seen that 71% of calls can be predicted, and they're already seeing 17% call center volume reduction.

Besides serving the obvious business need to lower pressure on call centers (especially in times of crisis, when customers are more likely to pick up the phone rather than look online for answers), finding more efficient and direct ways to answer customer questions and provide assistance online (when appropriate) ultimately improves the overall customer journey, and that serves everyone.

blue banner with quote from Rogier: "Finding more efficient and direct ways to answer customer questions and provide assistance online ultimately improves the overall customer journey, and that serves everyone."

Remote selling and servicing has even fewer limits than we thought

Innovation arises from need, and remote servicing was already an essential place to innovate pre COVID-19. Many of us are doing business in dozens of countries, and have long been pushing ourselves to find more efficient and effective ways to help clients be successful from a distance. However, much like the pandemic has accelerated the need to leverage first-party data for retail and FMCG, it's also accelerating the need for businesses to innovate better and faster around remote servicing. 

At the beginning of the year, we signed a contract with a large global automotive company, and last week we finalized their onboarding and put the first use case live. Why am I mentioning this? Because once lockdown went into place and travel was restricted, we continued to onboard them completely remotely. I see this as a solid confirmation that business will continue to thrive on a global scale, even as we are required to get creative and work together, apart. 

blue banner with quote from Rogier: "I see this as a solid confirmation that business will continue to thrive on a global scale, even as we are required to get creative and work together, apart."

One thing you can definitely count on

And that, perhaps, is the final and most important takeaway: people are incredibly creative and resilient. Over the last few months I have seen countless inspiring solutions come out of deeply challenging circumstances — I particularly would like to thank our customers and business partners for their creativity, ambition and relentless pursuit during these challenging times. It has been hard for everyone, and despite that, we're all still pushing forward however we can.

I believe we will see many new innovations come out of this, and that they will have a huge impact on all of our journeys — as customers, as businesses, and as a global society moving forward together. 

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