Three Marketing Trends on the Rise in 2021

March 19, 2021by Hiebing

The beginning of any year is a time to reflect on where you’ve been and the upcoming challenges that must be tackled in the year ahead. 2020 was an eventful year for the world to say the least, and as 2021 is now underway, there is no shortage of things to consider as marketers.

Marketing in the 21st century is not a simple proposition, and it seems that everyone has a long list of considerations as you attempt to navigate the current landscape. We have boiled down a complicated world into a few key themes to consider.

#1: Privacy

Marketing in a cookieless world

As digital technology has become more ubiquitous over the past decade, privacy concerns have been a pervasive topic that has risen with digital behaviors and their impact on marketing. CCPA and GDPR have been customer data requirements that have forced changes for marketers over the past several years.

2020 brought a new set of privacy challenges that will drive much of the marketing industry conversation throughout 2021. This situation started last year with Google’s announcement it would remove third-party cookies from Chrome in 2022, which comes on the heels of Mozilla removing cookies from Firefox in 2019. Apple then announced it would ban cookies from Safari in March 2020.

What does this all mean?

  • There is not one path to success
    • Each category, business and balance sheet are different. Every marketing plan will attempt to achieve success in different ways – and ultimately measuring success should move beyond KPIs such as digital conversions and look toward what is growing the business.
  • Adjust the way we measure success of digital tactics
    • The appeal of digital advertising has long been the amount of data associated with each tactic. Moving forward we must recognize that attribution must be calculated more indirectly than has been the standard, but that does not necessarily mean that efforts will be less effective than before.
  • Prioritize first-party data
    • Your customer data will allow you to maintain a conversation with your most loyal customers. The touchpoints that drive customer communication will provide the most data points for measuring success.

#2: Digital First

Continued acceleration of digital behavior

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated many digital behaviors that had been steadily rising over the past decade. We detailed those trends across a variety of categories in a blog post in July of last year.

Throughout 2020, businesses adjusted to this behavior shift, and 2021 is a continuation of the digital revolution that was started last year. The consumer journey has grown exponentially to begin with digital touchpoints, but the pandemic shifted that behavior to be a nearly digital-only first step in connecting with a brand.

In addition to the awareness phase being largely digital, the experience a consumer has with a brand emphasizes digital touchpoints as well. Email, e-commerce, video chats with customer service and more will all continue to gain greater visibility (and importance) in delivering on the brand promise to a consumer.

Consider mapping your consumer journey with a digital-only lens to identify touchpoints to bolster or gaps to fill in 2021.

#3: Purpose is Powerful

Let your true purpose beyond making money shine through

The world is becoming an increasingly complicated place, and 2020 saw unrest across a variety of public health, social, economic and environmental issues. Many are looking toward businesses to solve these problems. According to an Edelman global survey, people see businesses as the most competent group to solve global issues (over nonprofits and governments).

Purpose is different than cause-related marketing – it’s a deeper opportunity. In 2021 and beyond, it is important to authentically communicate what your brand does for your target (and the world) beyond making money. This can only be achieved through alignment of your internal culture (mission, vision, core values) and the way you present yourself to the world (brand). Most importantly, it must go beyond rhetoric – and into true actions.

Some quick thoughts on defining and living purposefully as a brand:

  • It starts at the core of the company: Mission, vision and values must reflect purpose
  • It also starts at the top: Leadership must embrace purpose and find tangible ways to live it
  • Purpose must be lived in tangible ways – it’s showcased in ads, but lived out in actions
  • Learn from the experts and then grow that institutional knowledge within the organization
  • Authentic purpose can and should be measured and reported

Are there other marketing trends you’ve identified? Curious to learn how to activate one of the trends identified in this article? Email Dana at darnold@hiebing.com to set up a call.

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