Paige O’Neill, CMO von Sitecore, ist sich sicher: Aus der Corona-Pandemie werden ganz von selbst neue Kunden hervorgehen. Die Krise zu nutzen, um Kunden aktiv zum Kauf zu animieren, davon hält sie aber gar nichts.

Heike Nock war so freundlich, mit der Unternehmens-CMO in Kalifornien für uns ein Interview zur aktuellen Lage im Marketing zu führen.

How does (did)  the corona crisis affect your marketing strategy? Can you adhere to it or do the new circumstances force you to make changes at short notice?

Many marketing teams (including ours) had to quickly adapt their marketing plans overnight as this crisis hit, determining what conversations were appropriate with their customers as the crisis evolved.

Can you determine an impact of the events on your current marketing campaigns?

For us, given the market we’re in, we have seen an uptick in customers seeking information on many of our content and commerce offerings. We have not done anything new or different to promote them, but it has been interesting to see this uptick – perhaps not surprisingly as more and more businesses are looking to quickly move operations to digital.

Did you have to stop or change ongoing campaigns? What was your experience with this?

At the initial onset, we paused proactive campaigns as we wanted to be mindful of what our audiences were going through. Now, a few weeks in, campaigns are back up and running but all communication has been reviewed through a new lens. For example, we were running a campaign on the “content crisis”. We’re now calling this a “content crunch” as we recognize that the term crisis has taken on an entirely new meaning. Our changes also vary by region. We’re closely watching how the pandemic is unfolding around the world. For example, in some areas life is beginning to show signs of returning to a new normal, whereas others –– are right at the peak of it.

Are there any marketing and PR measures that are currently – perhaps surprisingly – working better than before?

We’re seeing an increase in engagement on the content we’re sharing that focuses on personalized content, commerce, efficiency and making human connections in a digital world.

Does the corona crisis have an impact on the size of your marketing budget? In your opinion, will even more funds flow into the online sector in the future?

In the short-term, companies will likely be mindful of budgets as we wait to see how long this crisis will continue, us included. But, I think as we move through the crisis, it will continue to shine a light on the need for companies to begin, re-evaluate and / or continue or complete their digital transformations – maybe more quickly than previously planned. So, I do think money will be allocated to continue supporting these initiatives, as their need and value will be at the top of everyone’s minds.

How do you manage to maintain your customer relationship in the current situation?

One of the first things we did was to outreach directly to all of our customers to see how Sitecore could help. Given that our technology is so ingrained in what is now the lifeblood of many of our customers’ organizations, we wanted to reassure them of our business continuity plans and discuss additional resources they may need. We were able to upgrade many, specifically in the healthcare industry, to premium support levels immediately to ensure their sites were up and available to serve their increasing audiences.

Do you think it is possible to win new customers in such a situation?

Given the need for organizations to move forward with or kick off digital transformation efforts sooner than they may have thought, I do think new customers are possible in our industry. As mentioned above, we have seen an uptick in interest across our offerings and especially in our personalized content and commerce offerings.

That being said, I do not believe it’s appropriate for us, or really any brand, to be proactively tying product to the pandemic. Do I think new customers will naturally come as a result of this? Yes. Will we use this crisis to push them into a purchase? Never.

Can this crisis also be an opportunity? Do you see potential for the market?

It is an important point to reflect on if we are where we need to be in serving our employees and customers digitally. We couldn’t have planned for the majority of people suddenly working from home and trying to access our digital properties overnight, that is a huge consumption to have gone up so rapidly. But, it brings home a realization that it is more important than ever.

Companies are carefully examining their current digital transformations now. For those not currently on the path, they may be recognizing the need to accelerate plans sooner than later. And, for businesses who have entry-level or no e-commerce capabilities, they may be looking expedite those plans.

Many of us have to postpone or cancel planned events. Does this situation also apply to your company? If so, how do you deal with it?

Yes, we are moving many of our events to virtual, launching Sitecore World Tour: Digital. For our signature event, Sitecore Symposium, currently scheduled to take place in Chicago in the U.S. during October, we’re planning two parallel paths – a live event and virtual. While we hope and are planning to have the event in-person, we will be ready to host it entirely online. If the live event continues as planned, those who cannot attend will still benefit from the virtual option. We will continue to look at this strategy for all of our events planned worldwide.

A thought experiment – One year from now: How is your company doing? What has changed? In which direction has your company developed? What can you be proud of? With what feeling do you look back on the changes?

As we move through the current crisis, it’s become increasingly clear that companies not far enough along in their digital transformations are having to quickly reevaluate priorities. And, as we go through the crisis, we have seen many signals from our communities – such as conversations with customers and partners – that these evaluations are ongoing. Sitecore is going to be on the frontline helping customers prioritize and get digital strategies where they need to be.

Recently, I’ve heard many people say that “necessity is the mother of invention.” This has never rung more true. As we move out of this crisis, we will be able to take the results of this great digitization experiment that happened during quarantine, and apply these innovations to better understand what kind of digital experiences and technologies are most critical for both customers and employees. Hindsight will give us the gift of being able to build lessons from the hardships and come out stronger than ever from both a customer relationship and digital perspective.

For marketing teams, many had to throw plans out the window and move quickly to an all-digital plan, while thinking carefully about what conversations are the right ones to have with customers at different points throughout the crisis. For companies that have something relevant to share during the crisis, they must get those messages out in record time, begging the question of why would we ever go back to a three or six month schedule to pull together marketing campaigns? The same goes to finding shortcuts to get content created. For example, I also think we’ll soon realize that high-production video shoots are not always necessary. Quick recordings done from home, with limited production, work just fine, and in many ways are more authentic.