More than one in two (52%) C-suite marketers plan on allocating more spend across retail websites and apps in 2021, according to a newly released State of AdTech report from Criteo.

Despite six-in-10 marketers reporting a drop in revenue due to Covid-19, more than one quarter (27%) say that online sales have increased, paving the way for more digital marketing spend. Website sales is the most important metric influencing plans for 89% of marketers, indicating that driving online sales and visits will be a key focus moving forward.

Social media and search marketing lead the charge as the channels that marketers intend to spend more on this year (61%), closely followed by retargeting/paid display (58%), virtual events and content marketing (53%).

In the report, seven-in-10 (74%) said their digital marketing spend has increased in 2021 with 40% saying that marketing has become more important to help retain customers, acquire new customers, and drive sales. 

The top priority to better face Covid-19-type situations in the future was providing employees with more flexibility and support for remote working (42%), followed by greater digitisation of business processes (37%) and to broaden the supply chain (35%).

In the report, Criteo shares three ways to increase return on investment (ROI) during uncertain times:

  1. Make up for lost 2020 revenue with a big sales push.

Businesses should reconnect with people who showed interest, such as website visitors and people who put items in the cart but didn’t purchase. They should then help recent buyers discover what to purchase next by showing them products in stock and services available, with a discount or free shipping just for them. Lapsed online and offline customers should be re-engaged with by reminding them about products and services and inviting them to shop online or in-store.

2. Keep momentum going by reaching new audiences

A portion of the marketing budget should be reserved for campaigns focused on reaching people who are new to the brand. Businesses should engage consumers who have similar browsing behaviours or interests to current visitors and recent buyers. Retail media campaigns should target online audiences that are actively browsing retailer websites and marketplaces.

3. Ads need the right content and right context

Marketers need to align the creative with their objective. Invite new audiences to get to know the company to increase sales and build loyalty but tailor the ad creative to drive the right actions at each stage of the customer journey. User-generated content on social media platforms is a risky place to spend a large portion of the ad budget. Instead, get access to inventory on publishers and apps that allow or deny specific content categories, domains and apps. Lastly, marketers should use real-time data to understand purchase intent and serve ads when and where consumers are most likely to engage and reach people who show purchase intent by browsing retailer websites.