Marketing Trends to Watch in 2021, According to 21 Experts

Entrepreneurs are community-minded folks. We collaborate throughout a number of departments in our personal corporations, whereas maintaining observe of aggressive gamers and making certain we’re deeply linked to the wants and targets of our clients.

So, to raised perceive what to anticipate or pay shut consideration to in 2021, I’ve linked with 20 advertising and marketing consultants for his or her perspective.

Whereas there may be important range of concepts and visions introduced under, I really like the widespread theme of how we’re working towards a greater future collectively, which is why my prediction is that this: Advertising in 2021 might be extra empathetic than ever.

I proceed to consider in my mantra that advertising and marketing is highly effective and should be used for good, not evil. That may sound overly simplistic, however I do consider it is paramount that entrepreneurs perceive their affect and what a beautiful optimistic energy it may be.

We’re people, serving people. Whether or not B2B or B2C, clients are in search of manufacturers they will belief to satisfy their wants and make their lives simpler or extra pleasant. If we deal with every individual with loving kindness and respect, we’ll be making the optimistic affect I do know we will whereas constructing a stronger, extra loyal base.

This is what else 2021 has in retailer primarily based on the predictions of this fabulous group of selling leaders.

→ Free Report: The Executive Marketing Leadership Survey [Download Now] 

Digital Occasions

1. Entrepreneurs will plan asynchronous occasions that plug into the funnel.

Latané Conant, Chief Market Officer at 6sense, predicts: “This yr noticed an explosion of digital occasions as entrepreneurs tailored to a altering world. Whereas I think quite a lot of us are feeling some digital burnout proper now, there’ll nonetheless be a spot for these sorts of occasions, even after we resume in-person ones. Think about a digital occasion operating 24/7.”

“Your prospects get triggered into the occasion as they proceed to the suitable steps in your funnel, and so they have interaction with this occasion by a number of means, like Netflix meets Slack. There’s video content material they watch on-demand, there is a reside stream taking part in on-site and there is a group of customers and followers who create a singular and interesting place to be. Prospects study your options after which, after watching movies and chatting with others, they get directed instantly to your product group. Now that seems like a digital occasion value attending!”

2. Group advertising and marketing will exchange event-based advertising and marketing.

Adam Masur, VP of Advertising at Credly, advised me: “The period of anchoring advertising and marketing round an enormous, trade occasion is coming to an in depth. We have all seen the annual convention go digital as a result of affect of COVID-19. However I count on hosts to search out that their viewers’s urge for food for the singular digital gathering will wane, as effectively.”

“Search for extra intimate, and extra topical on-line get-togethers in 2021. Specialists with verified digital credentials and a willingness to share might be extremely valued digital group leaders and influencers.”

“Corporations ought to be able to be lively contributors and convey sensible worth to the dialog.” 

3. Companies will discover new methods to encourage on-line connections.

Kevin Alansky, Chief Advertising Officer at Higher Logic, says: “The digital and digital-first world will proceed in 2021 and probably past. Many organizations have shifted their annual occasion and tradeshow to a digital one. Many organizations have not succeeded, nevertheless, as a result of they tried to copy the expertise on an outdated mannequin. This has led to a flood within the variety of digital occasions and many individuals dealing with ‘Zoom fatigue.'”

“Organizations at the moment are questioning methods to struggle this overcrowded market and stand out in opposition to the remainder. The reply is on-line communities — how do you have interaction earlier than, throughout, and after your occasion? We have to discover methods to raised have interaction our audiences and construct significant connections between our organizations and our clients. We’re seeing the demand for engagement already this yr and this can proceed to be an enormous development by 2021.”

4. The interactivity that is been promised for many years is now a necessity for 2021.

Jake Milstein, CMO at CI Security, advised me: “When the pandemic hit, there was an enormous spike in registrations and attendance in digital occasions that tried to imitate in-person occasions. Attendance at these occasions lasted a month or two after which dropped off shortly. Individuals are in search of extra human interactions — one thing out of the norm. Webinars simply do not do it anymore.”

“Folks at the moment are all for discussions and panels wherein they will ask questions, they are often a part of the motion, they will supply their very own experience. That is not one thing you possibly can do when watching somebody on-stage, however everyone knows it is one thing you are able to do on-line. The interactivity that is been promised for many years is now a necessity for 2021.” 

Model Values

5. Buyer-centricity will propel manufacturers ahead.

Natalie Severino, VP, Advertising at, predicts: “All through the numerous challenges of 2020, income groups have been capable of climate the storms and thrive by placing the client on the heart of each choice. That is solely made doable by whole alignment between gross sales, advertising and marketing, and buyer groups, as all should depend on utilizing the precise voice, ache factors, and targets to create a profitable partnership.”

“Whereas standard strategies of relationship constructing, like in-person conferences, will not be doable at present (or just do not scale shortly sufficient), coming into 2021 gives us a paradigm shift for bringing relationships and shared enterprise targets to the forefront of each alternative.”

6. Manufacturers will navigate an more and more polarized social and political local weather.

“One of many largest tendencies to look at in 2021 might be how manufacturers navigate an more and more polarized social and political local weather. Presidential politics, the response to navigating the worldwide pandemic, and an more and more siloed media and social media panorama is forcing manufacturers to make onerous selections about how and the place they align with their clients.”

“Each advert greenback spent, each alternative of channel and platform, each social publish, each inch of shelf house, and each convention or commerce present might be evaluated by the lens of what a model’s advertising and marketing selections say about who they’re and what they stand for,” says Tim Linberg, Chief Expertise Officer at Verndale.

Income and Finances

7. A/B Testing will change into a waste of time and finances.

R. J. Talyor, CEO and Founder at Pattern89, says: “The subsequent decade will see the tip of A/B testing. Entrepreneurs have lengthy relied on validating their instinct with A/B exams to information artistic promoting and advertising and marketing selections — nevertheless, the rise of AI makes this not solely out of date, however wasteful.”

“As soon as machine studying predicts the tendencies earlier than they occur and gives clear steerage for entrepreneurs, why waste cash to A/B take a look at one thing that would not work as effectively? Quickly, entrepreneurs will be capable to go all-in on what’s going to work finest with out having to check the idea.” 

8. Digital advertising and marketing spend will proceed to develop.

Bridget Perry, CMO at Contentful, predicts: “We have discovered a digital innovation hole between what clients demand and what manufacturers are at present able to delivering. That is why digital leaders throughout industries inform us they plan to spend, on common, 25% extra on digital in 2021. And 25% is simply the common — some plan to spend considerably extra. CMOs who aren’t scaling up their digital spending will quickly be outpaced by opponents.” 

9. Tech spending ranges will return to regular over 2021 — however not all classes will profit.

“Some corporations will stay distant, others will transfer to hybrid places of work, and a few will — ultimately — return to enterprise as normal. In 2020 we noticed person searches soar on TrustRadius for software program classes like e-signature, collaboration, video conferencing, endpoint safety, antivirus, and naturally telemedicine. These classes will keep robust in 2021 and past, reflecting the brand new office. Different classes — occasion administration and services administration, for instance — will radically reinvent themselves,” says Russ Somers, VP Advertising, TrustRadius.

10. Content material advertising and marketing will begin with conversations.

“The content material advertising and marketing playbook we have been utilizing is at the very least twenty years outdated. Entrepreneurs are nonetheless specializing in keyword-heavy weblog posts as the primary tactic to captivate their viewers. Nevertheless it’s a method made for Google, not for folks.”

“At this time, your viewers needs to have an genuine expertise together with your model and the easiest way to do this is by main with conversations.”

“As entrepreneurs purpose to create a extra human-centric expertise, we’ll see extra content material pulled from precise conversations with folks within the trade who can present that real interplay at present’s shoppers are in search of,” Lindsay Tjepkema, CEO of Casted, advised me.

11. Many corporations will lower their advertising and marketing budgets.

Melissa Sargeant, CMO of Litmus, says: “Within the coming yr, entrepreneurs will expertise finances cuts and even smaller groups. However, by doing this, corporations are setting themselves up for failure. Throughout an financial downturn, corporations that pull again and starve advertising and marketing efforts, don’t carry out effectively. And, when our consumerism-driven setting re-engages, these manufacturers might be additional behind than they have been after they made these budget-conscious selections.”

“In the end, the pandemic has accelerated tendencies in enterprise. Have a look at digital transformation and make money working from home initiatives, for instance. However, if there have been cracks inside a enterprise’s mannequin beforehand, the pandemic introduced these to mild so now’s the time for them to repair it, not bury it. Companies should place themselves the perfect they will now with the intention to come out even stronger ultimately. And, it requires a mature, superior multi-channel technique with skilled entrepreneurs.”

Groups and Collaboration

12. In 2021, it is all about folks, folks, folks.

Caroline Tien-Spalding, CMO at Aptology, says: “Advertising’s north star might be evolving in 2021. Advertising has all the time been about understanding folks and performing on that data. A key distinction in 2021 is that entrepreneurs are capable of know greater than ever. It is the rise of the psychologist, and the rise of the digital marketer.” 

13. Many corporations will implement a brand new Internet Operations group.

Christy Marble, CMO at Pantheon Systems, predicts: “Entrepreneurs would require expertise to allow real-time responsiveness to buyer wants that span the client lifecycle and every buyer touchpoint. The occasions of 2020 taught us that we should demand the agility to remodel on a second’s discover to answer buyer wants. This compelled an finish to the period of prolonged multi-year model and web site re-builds.”

“In 2021 these might be figments of the previous, changed by cross-functional groups that collaborate by technology-enabled workflows to constantly take a look at, study, and evolve their digital buyer expertise. These WebOps groups can have a definite benefit — particularly these supported by synthetic intelligence, machine studying, and automation.”

“The tempo of change has accelerated, however one factor will stay fixed: Entrepreneurs who deal with folks — on buyer expertise — would be the ones who will maintain tempo with change. Focus your group on bettering personalization, advancing your buyer journey, and creating a really genuine net expertise that meets your clients the place they’re.” 

Digital Transformation

14. Manufacturers will unlock the important thing to orchestration.

Andrea Lechner-Becker, CMO at LeadMD, advised me: “Information ought to be on each marketer’s thoughts as we enter 2021, however not in the best way it often is. B2B entrepreneurs should understand they’re typically robust with orchestrating their very own knowledge, however weak with third-party knowledge — which should be a prime space of focus. They cannot afford to depend upon advertising and marketing automation or CRM platforms for this, however might want to strongly think about creating their very own system, one thing alongside the traces of a CDP. In the event that they try this? They’ve unlocked the important thing to orchestration and success with knowledge in 2021.”

15. The ‘panic pivot’ will flip into extra purposeful reinvention.

 Laliv Hadar, VP Advertising, InVision Communications, says: “In 2020, out of pandemic-induced necessity, entrepreneurs have quickly remodeled face-to-face occasions into digital ones, and developed progressive methods of connecting with audiences digitally. In 2021, this reactionary ‘panic pivot’ will flip to extra purposeful reinvention of the methods we have interaction our core audiences. That reinvention will manifest in hybrid viewers experiences which can be wholly linked throughout the communications ecosystem. This built-in model method might be constructed on the premise that our audiences comprise actual human beings, whose model perceptions are formed by their experiences, and now, greater than ever, crave skilled empathy and connection.”

As a result of whereas quarantines, social distancing and distant work will play a vital function in our eventual emergence from the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition they have had a big aspect impact: Disengagement. 2021 will see entrepreneurs tapping into the human want for simply the alternative: engagement.”

16. Manufacturers will capitalize on change.

John Graff, Chief Advertising Officer at Sonim, predicts: “I consider 2021 might be a yr that may present important alternatives for corporations to develop/increase market share. Why? As a result of many corporations will fall into the lure that there might be a post-2020 ‘return to regular.’ Advertising has already been experiencing fixed change and evolution the final decade, and simply because many individuals are able to get previous COVID occasions, doesn’t imply the change will cease. The truth is, for better of breed, it very a lot will speed up. The whole lot has been modified, whether or not it is work-from-home, training, on-line retail, and extra.”

“One of the best entrepreneurs will look to capitalize additional on these adjustments in 2021, whereas others sadly revert to the outdated pre-COVID playbooks. It is a good time for entrepreneurs to additional embrace change, and be the stewards of serving to their corporations develop and achieve share in 2021!”

17. Entrepreneurs will proceed to include actual, true personalization.

“Advertising automation shouldn’t be confused with personalization. Oftentimes, it is simply faster batching and blasting. When entrepreneurs use intent knowledge and data-based insights to gas their automated communications, they will create outstanding model experiences subtle shoppers depend on. Within the yr forward, entrepreneurs will higher incorporate actual, true personalization.” says Nick Runyon, CMO of PFL.

18. Entrepreneurs will depend on deep knowledge insights and machine studying to ship worth to prospects.

Richard Jones, CMO of Cheetah Digital, predicts: “The subsequent technology of personalization will not be about cookies or third-party knowledge, it is not about merchandising, and it is not about guesswork. The subsequent technology of personalization is about counting on deep knowledge insights, first and zero-party knowledge and utilizing machine studying to derive not solely the suitable content material, not solely the suitable supply, not solely the suitable channel however, the suitable sequence of occasions that results in an automatic path to conversion.”

“The subsequent technology of personalization is about offering a worth trade for shoppers within the ‘second’ when you will have them in your cell app, in your website, in your retailer. How are you going to present them one thing that may generate belief and affinity with the model?”

19. Cross-channel integrations will proceed to develop.

Meg Scales, CMO of SlickText, advised me: “Incorporating a number of channels inside campaigns is far more efficient than merely placing all of your sources into one channel — even a flexible channel like SMS. It is why we’ll see channels and ranging techniques proceed to cross-integrate within the coming yr.”

“For instance, channels will undertake companies like loyalty applications to raised join manufacturers with clients by quite a lot of methods inside only one platform. Additionally, a buyer interplay in a single channel might set off a personalised, automated sequence in one other, creating data- and behavior-driven campaigns many are unable to supply at present as a consequence of a scarcity of time, cash and experience.”

20. We’ll see an acceleration with the digital-first shift.

Auseh Britt, VP, Progress Advertising at Terminus “We noticed an acceleration within the shift to digital in 2020, primarily as a result of hole left by reside occasions. Substitutes like digital conferences lacked the flexibility to essentially have interaction audiences, making them glorified webinars, exacerbating the ‘Zoom’ fatigue.”

“I see this development persevering with in 2021 as we search for extra artistic methods to have interaction clients and prospects by hyper-personalized outreach, excessive affect junk mail, intimate and interactive digital experiences, and related academic content material.”

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