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2021 Digital Marketing Predictions: What to Expect for the New Year

Nobody needs to be reminded how difficult of a year 2020 was for the economy and small businesses in particular. However, as we reflect on the trials of such challenging times, we must use what we’ve learned and experienced to push forward and have a better experience this time around. By no means will the effects of 2020 be completely erased, but there is hope for both surviving and new businesses to capitalize on market trends as vaccines are distributed and online marketing increases in importance. Since digital marketing has become an integral conduit for business success during recovery from a global pandemic, we have outlined a few predictions and trends for the year 2021 to keep an eye out for so that your business can find a way to thrive.

Individualized, First-Party Data

As marketing continues to progress from traditional to largely digital, the key emphasis has become a company’s ability to produce authentic individual relationships with each consumer interested in their product. This has proven to be much more valuable, but also more complicated to achieve than some of the simpler yet more dated digital marketing tactics. An example being that most companies previously used third-party cookies to track consumer data, but now there is a push to switch to utilizing first-party data. Third-party is less complex to gather but is also messier, less personalized, and can cause marketers to be complacent in the data collection process. First-party data increases the level of competition to achieve individualized client data and encourages a stronger push for more innovative strategies.

While first-party data is causing advertising technology firms and other companies to develop new alternatives to cookies for gathering data, this is becoming both the solution and the new problem. First-party data will be better in the long-run, but with every company designing their own solutions for cookies, data will be harder to transfer cross-platform. Ultimately, our advice is to be aware that this movement towards first-party data is only continuing to grow, so it’s important to prepare for what your transition may look like.

Cultural Integration Into Branding

Aside from the economic pitfalls of 2020, the focus of the year was also directed towards the historic political and cultural unrest that occurred. From the rising awareness of civil rights through movements like ‘Black Lives Matter’ to the heightened divisiveness within political parties, the expectation for brands to openly align with such movements rose greatly. However, the companies that did openly align were intensely dissected to ensure that they had no past record of hypocrisy. The bottom line is that there is a heightened level of pressure on companies to not only speak up but to be able to back up everything that they say when they do align. The key for companies moving forward is going to be their ability to learn how to voice views in a manner that brings people together rather than fueling the flame of division.

The majority of customers in nearly every industry want to know that the companies they buy from stand with what they believe in and have no past record of hypocrisy. This may be less true for companies in essential industries, but the non-essential are almost entirely challenged to integrate cultural views into their branding strategies. That said, be careful about what your company chooses to support and work hard to justify your reasoning as a means to bring people together and advocate inclusivity and equality above all else.

Marketing Plans Fueled By Flexibility

While marketing is already largely seen as one of the most flexible departments in any organization, COVID-19 has still somehow managed to throw many marketing departments for a loop. The pandemic caused marketers to rethink their strategies in a way that allowed for their marketing plans to not just be flexible but be able to change completely at any given moment. Completing such a task without any challenge is practically impossible, however, many companies were able to do a solid job of adapting quickly so that there were at least precautions in place should something go wrong.

Unfortunately, it is incredibly difficult to plan for long-term success when all of your strategies are short-term and very circumstantial. Thus, it is important for your business to stay up to date on current demand trends among your target markets and locate the core of what truly matters to them so you can center your plans around that. Whether it’s changing your consumer messaging to focus more on their practical needs or forming new partnerships with companies that can help meet needs that you can’t, ensure adaptation early and often. Long-term growth is becoming solely dependent on the predictive capabilities of strong data, so invest as much as possible in quality marketing research that prioritizes consumer satisfaction.

For more information on what’s coming for digital marketing in 2021, visit us here to figure out what methods might be best specifically for your company!

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