Each year, we review the marketing strategies that we believe will guide our customers to success in the spring selling season and beyond. When we look at the trends for 2021, it quickly becomes clear: In today’s environment, a focus on data, digital, and customer engagement will pave the path to marketing growth and sales success. Here are three tips to guide your sales and marketing campaign planning:
- Make high-quality data central to your sales and marketing campaigns.
Personalization continues to be among the most important marketing strategies you can employ. People want to feel “known” by the companies they buy from and that applies to educators as well. Whether you are implementing email, direct mail, or social media campaigns, targeting “who” you reach out to at the most granular level and then crafting your message to specifically address them is critical. How do you achieve that? With quality data. To reach your current and potential customers, your data must be of the highest quality and up to date.
Quality data will also help you implement a successful account-based marketing strategy that focuses on your top accounts and drives the most revenue. Use this model to integrate your sales and marketing efforts, so your marketing team works directly with sales to target and develop content for these key accounts. When you implement an account-based marketing strategy, your high-quality data will allow you to target the right individuals, at the right time, in the right schools or districts, resulting in big wins in key accounts.
- Focus on and increase your digital touchpoints.
Across industries, buyers have increased their preference for digital interactions with brands by a factor of two. Ninety-six percent of companies have shifted to a remote selling model and 78 percent believe that these shifts will persist indefinitely (McKinsey). According to Gartner, “Those who win will need to transform their digital engagement strategies, think differently, and deliver extreme value in every interaction with their buyer.” This holds true for the education market as well. Educators rely on email, social media ads, and other web advertising to find the tools and resources they need for their classrooms and schools. And growing touchpoints, like chatbots and virtual, provide new ways to connect with educators.
Another digital touchpoint for reaching customers is virtual events. In the midst of the pandemic, most of our education conferences went virtual, and this trend is continuing for at least the first half of 2021. While some events will likely return to face-to-face, many others may realize the value of the ROI and increased accessibility for attendees that they get from virtual events. Our traditional trade shows and conferences will likely take on hybrid models and become even more powerful digital tools for reaching customers.
When creating your digital outreach, remember content is still king! Creating compelling content that is personalized and engaging is critical to the success of your sales and marketing campaigns—throughout the digital touchpoints that you use. And while we have traditionally focused on written content, the growing trend of using audio and video content to reach customers will also play well in the education market.
- Make customer retention a top priority.
While securing new customers is always important, retention marketing is critical because, as we all know, it costs more to acquire new customers than to retain existing ones. In the past, you likely entertained your existing customers at trade shows and conferences—maybe your sales reps stopped by their schools to meet with them and take them out to lunch. That social interaction helped you build strong relationships with those customers. 2020 put a hard stop to that. In 2021 and likely moving forward, it will be important to think of creative ways to connect with and serve your existing customers, with customer support at the core of your strategy.
Happy customers are your best salespeople, so turn those customers into brand advocates. Building relationships with customers by providing them with unique value will make them the best possible spokespeople you can have, and this is particularly true in the education community. Best practices for developing brand advocates include creating a formal referral program that rewards your customers for telling others about the value of your products. Also, you will build stronger connections with customers if you have a powerful feedback loop—don’t just tell them what you can do for them, have them tell you what they need. And then listen and respond.
Creating and growing engagement with customers is the most important marketing strategy for 2021. Many of the trends described above support reaching customers in new and personalized ways. MDR is here to help you integrate them into your 2021 sales and marketing campaigns by leveraging our data and campaign activation tools.