What can marketers learn from 2020 to lead digital transformation in the new year?

January 6, 2021 | By Raja Rajamannar

The Topline

Digitization was disrupting business long before COVID-19 turned the world upside down. But when the pandemic left workers, students and families physically separated, we had to rethink our digital capabilities and innovate rapidly to stay connected. Marketers faced the same challenge: shifting gears quickly to bypass barriers and stay connected through completely new digital architecture.

The Tidbit

Now that the world has realized the power of next-generation digital technologies, we will begin to feel the shift more heavily in 2021 as this tech will only continue to gain momentum in every area of our lives.

The Shift

Marketing at its core is about connection, engagement and conversion. Digitization and virtualization are transforming those pathways. To stay ahead, marketers must claim and harness this power to thrive in the digital age.

My Take

  • Billions of people sheltering in place found they missed experiencing new things — so much so that we built a whole new experience architecture, online and off. Digital experiential marketing is here to stay.
  • Inclusion and solidarity have become crucial messages. With digitization helping to level the playing field, it is more important than ever to leverage new platforms for welcoming and enabling inclusive connections.
  • Marketers who know the digital landscape are valuable for shaping risk-management strategies. First, they must pinpoint their brand’s vulnerabilities; then, they must leverage data to mitigate risk.
  • Purpose-driven marketing is an increasingly important differentiator. With so many digital platforms for a brand to showcase its values, engaging new technologies will multiply the impact.

We will look back on 2020 for decades to come as the moment our circumstances jolted us into the digital future. Only when we understand and embrace the disruptors shaping us today can we rise to meet the tide in 2021 and beyond.

About this blog

Marketing Sense is a blog series from Raja Rajamannar, Mastercard’s chief marketing and communications officer. Every month, Marketing Sense will bring you unique, original, relevant content to equip you with the knowledge that will keep you ahead of a rapidly changing industry. We’ll filter out the noise to focus on key marketing trends backed by new findings and support from thought leaders from across the trade.


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Raja Rajamannar, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer