A successful digital marketing strategy proved itself to be a valuable requisite for resiliency during disruption. Yet many brands struggled to harness some of the core tenets of digital marketing this year. That’s according to LEWIS’ annual Global Marketing Engagement Index, an analysis of the world’s 300 largest public companies from Forbes Global 2000 list.

The report reveals that ecommerce, entertainment and engagement were the winning trio for successful brands worldwide this year. As consumer behavior fluctuated, marketers who embraced empathy, value perception and data stayed ahead of the game.

Overall, the average LEWIS Marketing Engagement Tracker (MET) score—developed  between November 9 and November 25—for the Forbes top 300 has stayed consistent with the 2019 average (56 percent vs. 54 percent).

However, the firm observed significant shifts within digital marketing metrics. For one, website reporting metrics remained the lowest scored topic on average, with all industries scoring lower than previous years in terms of optimum tag management and engagement tracking—both essential for addressing changing consumer behaviors.

While video consumption surged 60 percent globally during the pandemic, many companies are still not fully utilizing video content on their webpages. In fact, the average Forbes 300 company scored 30 percent in this area, reports LEWIS.

“Visual storytelling remains an untapped opportunity. Some brands do this really well, Nike for example. However, there is so much more we can do as marketers. It’s not just about putting out a video, it’s about the story you tell. Situational fluency is the key to success. You must know what’s going on in the world, how your brand connects to that and show versus tell,” Noah Dye, senior vice president of client engagement, LEWIS US, tells AList.

More people flocked to online shopping than ever before, yet 76 percent of companies weren’t running search engine marketing ads when LEWIS’ research was conducted.

Social media usage also soared, giving brands an opportunity not only to communicate brand values through influencers, but to also share statements from their leaders about important issues such as COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement. Despite this, LEWIS found that two in three Forbes top 300 chief executive officers had no active social presence. Including CEOs lacking public facing accounts, 78 percent of the Forbes 300 CEOs were missing from social media conversations.

“The pandemic has driven us all online. If executives don’t see this, brands could fall behind. CEOs set the tone for an organization. They must listen to both internal and external audiences. If they are missing from social, or not truly engaged, they risk missing important conversations about their brand,” Dye says.

The importance of a visible CEO shouldn’t be undermined, as LEWIS found companies using CEO thought leadership platforms to provide quotes for the media performed better overall. 

The organizations analyzed used data to inform their fluid marketing strategies, as US data usage jumped 38 percent in March alone compared to the previous year. Additionally, consumer facing industries scored highest on user experience, with financial services companies earning 15 percent higher than the average Forbes 300 company.

For nearly all industries, website security scored high (82 percent) across the board, with the exception of the entertainment industry, where website security scored 23 percent less than the average Fortune 300 company. Still, one in three companies had site issues that could lead to a hack if not fixed.

“Always remember that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Brands must listen. Respond quickly. Be human. Customers will make their preferences known, but if you’re not listening, you’ll be left behind.”