Pundits say life will never return to quite what it was before the COVID-19 pandemic. The same could be said about marketing.
Digital is deemed critical to survival during the crisis by 87% of brands. And the same percentage say it will be crucial going forward, according to State of Customer Engagement Report 2021, a global study released this week by Twilio.
Moreover, 96% feel that not digitizing would have seriously hurt their business last year. For instance, 43% apiece say they would have been less competitive, unable to meet customer expectations and that they would have lost revenue.
And they would have lost out on certain benefits. Of the firms polled, 90% of brands gained in customer insights, thanks to greater engagement during the crisis. And, 92% say COVID-19 has accelerated their move to the cloud.
In addition, COVID-19 spurred 92% to explore new ways to serve customers.
Video is now being utilized by 78%, and most say its use accelerated more than that of other channels.
In general, 54% claim their digital interactions increased 50% or more during the pandemic. And there was a 63% increase in the number of digital touchpoints with customers.
For its part, Twilio states that it handled over 1 trillion digital interactions in 2020 -- a 45% increase YoY.
Going forward, 95% expect to increase or maintain their engagement channel offerings after the pandemic.
Worldwide, most companies sped up their digital strategies two to four weeks after the initial pandemic lockdown in their countries.
In the greater EMEA region, businesses plan to add three new channels in the next 12 months. Live chat is the leader, cited by a third, followed by video and in-app chat in third place.
Email is way down the list, perhaps because brands already had email systems in place.
The findings are similar in the APAC region.
“For nearly every organization dealing with the impacts of the pandemic, increased digital engagement was a core part of their solutions,” said Glenn Weinstein, Chief Customer Officer at Twilio.
Weinstein adds, “From remote learning, to work-from-home contact center agents, to vaccine distribution logistics, digital communications have played a critical role. We expect that to accelerate through the pandemic recovery and become the new normal.”
In addition to analyzing trends on its own platform, Twilio surveyed over 2,500 enterprise decision makers in the U.S., UK, Germany, Austria, France, Spain, Italy, Japan and Singapore.