Going for Gold

Three of the UK’s outstanding marketing campaigns from 2020 were recognised at the DMA’s Grand Prix Reveal ceremony last week, including the National Health Services (NHS), England’s health care program, BT Sport, a football-focused television channel package, and Klarna, an online bank allowing customers installment payment at their favourite shops.

Each program had to solve big challenges: The NHS needed to fill a huge recruitment gap of 50,000 nurses, BT Sport had to deliver new subscribers despite extensive budget cuts, and Klarna needed to figure out how to run highly popular competitions without being overrun by bots. Despite these very different starting points, common themes emerged as they developed into 2020’s best entries.

Know Your Audience

All three campaigns started with research to learn more about their target communities. Each was looking to shake things up and achieve their objectives in a way that hadn’t been tried before, and it was important to understand how their audiences might respond.

The NHS learned a major obstacle to nursing recruitment was low confidence and fear of failure. Klarna defined their “Sneakerheads,” where inclusion of the tribe would maximise relevance, while BT Sport identified how to place itself front and centre into football’s culture and conversation.

The sudden arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic meant marketing messaging underwent a big change from “What do you want to buy?” to “How can we help you?” This shift needed to be credible and authentic, and the deep understanding these campaigns were able to demonstrate meant they were well positioned for these conversations.

New Technology

At Validity we’ve been talking about the “Next Big Thing”. Last year’s events accelerated the adoption of new marketing technology, and many of 2020’s innovations will go mainstream in 2021. The three DMA finalists were no exception.BT used Artificial Intelligence to harness some of the biggest minds in data—Google Cloud, Opta, and Squawka— to predict the script (and generate debate) for the entire 2019/20 football season. Klarna beat the bots by integrating heartbeat recognition into its sneaker raffle sign-up process. The NHS deployed a complex multi-channel communications strategy including television, social media, paid-search, re-targeting, and email.All these approaches were designed to achieve accelerated interactivity and the combined use of AI, accelerated mobile pages (AMP), and Augmented Reality (AR) to drive truly omni-channel communications strategies is the shape of the future.

Data Quality

This has several different dimensions. Data quality means being compliant in meeting legal requirements and correct in having the right information about each subject. The third dimension is “completeness,” i.e., is there enough data to make informed decisions about prospects and customers, especially when making changes to important factors like content and tone of voice.NHS had to go beyond inspiration and understand the drivers that promote confidence and address fear of failure. BT needed to resonate with pundits, players, influencers, and journalists. Klarna had to learn more about its Sneakerheads’ demographics, gender mix, and problems they are facing. When the data exists to answer these important questions, the end product is relevant and credible marketing that builds durable relationships underpinned by strong levels of trust.Make sure you grab a copy of a brand new DMA/Validity report where we review the results of a comprehensive survey that considers these data quality aspects in more detail.

Of course, all three campaigns were hugely successful. Klarna generated more than half a million people site visitors in less than a fortnight, BT Sport saw a 30% uplift in subscriptions, and NHS nursing applications rose by 6% (and by 12% for applicants considering a career change).

You can read more about all the great entries here, and it almost feels wrong to single one of them out for individual recognition, but competition crowns kings and as headline sponsors we’re delighted to applaud BT Sport as the very worthy winners of this year’s DMA Awards Grand Prix.

What will 2021’s winners look like? We’ve already got a good feel for the key marketing trends we’ll see over the next 12 months, and if you’d like to learn more sign up [here] for our next webinar. We’ve got more excellent blogs you can read, and check out my recent ClickZ article on 5 Predictions for Email Marketing in 2021.

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