A round-up of 4 exciting developments you can use to propel your brand and reach your 2021 marketing goals.
Happy New Year! 2021, it’s going to be great, isn’t it? What do you have in store? Exciting business plans? A new service or product venture? Market opportunities to explore? Whatever your plans, a new year is your time to do better. And with that we say a big goodbye to 2020 – and a big hello to a revived marketing strategy!
So let us help you by sharing our 2021 marketing predictions. In this blog, we’ll summarise 4 key trends over digital, content, branding & design. Each trend could steer you in the right direction and strengthen your marketing in this new year.
Digital transformation & Gen Z propelling marketing in 2020
Before we delve into our predictions, let’s just lay out some 2021 marketing context. And to do this, we need to wind it back to 2020 and discuss quickly what happened (don’t worry – we won’t linger long in this year!).
Stating the obvious, we all got online – a lot. Replacing our face-to-face and traditional means of communication, we rushed to the internet to shop, socialise, entertain ourselves and so much more during international shutdowns, lockdowns and restrictions. This required any business who wanted to survive to make a (for some, giant) leap to digitise their offering. From brick-and-mortar shops going online to online consultations, we saw both the B2B and B2C world move online. And if they didn’t? Well, needless to say, they struggled.
The other big factor? Generation Z is not only entering the workforce but they’re ‘disrupting’ it. Despite their young age (the oldest being 23, born in 1997), this doesn’t stop Gen Z marching forward and occupying positions of power in businesses. No, age is certainly no barrier for Gen Z. With these changing landscapes across B2B and B2C sectors, we can expect huge change – which impacts how we will market services and products in the year coming.
So that’s what happened in 2020. Now, let’s look at what we think 2021 will look like in the marketing world…
1. Digital agility
Although in no particular order, we think this trend deserves first place. As we mentioned above, in 2020 businesses – big, small and everything in between – were forced to get online. Quickly. In 2021, we’re only predicting digital advancement will continue – again, rapidly.
Why? Well, let’s take a basic example of a consultation in the service industry. Over the lockdown, you swapped face-to-face consultations with Zoom consultations – all bookable online, of course. And your resources went online, and your clients could even access them from your social media profile. The result of this rapid digitisation? Happier clients who loved the frictionless, convenient and easy way to schedule appointments with you.
Even if you were to go back to face-to-face consultations (because let’s face it, many of us thrive in this environment and do want face-to-face back!) you can’t argue that everything else is probably better online for your clients. What matters is that the ‘online’ and ‘offline’ experience is seamless – for quick adaption on both your side and the clients’. Basically, whatever industry you’re in, after giving your audience a taste of how good things can be in the digital world, you need to keep up with the latest digital demands – and serve your audience in the best way online.
Here are some ways to remain digitally agile in 2021:
● E-commerce – From live stock levels to dynamic pricing, retailers will offer a seamless shopping experience that both mimics and improves on ‘real-life’ shopping experiences.
● Apps – Create an ‘at the touch of a button’ service that’s extremely user-friendly and accessible.
● Social media – Platforms such as Instagram get smarter search facilities, where you can search caption text (not just the captions) so leverage and create keyword-rich content.
● Predictive analytics – Use data, statistical algorithms and AI techniques to identify possible future outcomes- and stay ahead of the curve by adapting your marketing.
● Omnichannel marketing approach – Put your customer at the centre of what you do, and create a seamless experience across every marketing channel you use, online and offline.
2. Profitable creativity
In a commercial sense, it can be easy to overlook the value of creativity. After all, it’s always been so difficult to measure its ROI. Yet if you think about it, some of the most innovative ad campaigns are so memorable that they stay in our minds for a long time after the campaign has run its course. Often, this creates at the very least a strong and longstanding brand awareness and in the best scenarios, brand loyalty.
So, in 2021, we expect to see more brands remembering the ‘art of marketing’ as well as the ‘science of marketing’. By relinquishing the power innovation and creativity, they can expect to see a direct impact on their bottom line. But how do they do this?
In 2019, Forrester predicted “advertisers will give up hyper-targeting for a hyperfocus on creative,” and that “creative adtech will improve ad quality and cross-channel storytelling as cheap-looking, product-focused display ads decline.”
In 2021, that technology is accessible to marketers – and must be used to increase the power of their creative resource. In practice, you need to marry creativity with technology – that’s advanced analytics, algorithms, and AI – to produce better campaigns that truly delight your target audience. This creates a testing and learning environment which allows a business to monitor investments better and work towards more profitable creative.
Furthermore, it simply allows a business to use a creative resource better too – which better ensures its ROI. On a very simplistic and theoretical level, if a graphic designer were to create graphics for a Facebook advertising campaign and the main image uses a red t-shirt, how about changing that to a blue t-shirt and running that alongside? Two creative ideas run simultaneously to see what results are best – and voilà, you have results on which is the most successful creative.
3. Human connections
A 2021 trend or genuinely a step in the right direction to a better world? We think the latter, more than anything. After all, we are surrounded by brands every day. From the ‘big guns’ to small, independents, their messages are powerful and influence society’s behaviour – so isn’t it time they use this power for good?
That’s certainly what Gen Z wants to see – and we expect in 2021 campaigns to not just ‘cover’ this human aspect, but in some cases, revolve around it – building hugely successful campaigns that attract ‘tribes’, foster communities and overall, build brand loyalty.
In 2020, the death of George Floyd prompted worldwide outrage. It forced the privileged among us to reassess our stance on racism and there was a shift to acknowledge our fundamental need to be anti-racist – and therefore empower and amplify the voices of black people.
Black Lives Matter is an important and wholly positive movement that many brands got behind in 2020. From making pledges to be better and do better to taking prompt internal action, BLM represented a huge shift in marketing campaigns and beyond. What was particularly monumental was this socio-political movement was approached authentically – to ensure success. Any brand that didn’t – or took a rather ‘checkbox’ approach to the issue – was called out and reprimanded until they corrected their mistakes. L’Oreal was perhaps the biggest example of this.
In 2021, we expect to see more of this authenticity when it comes to social issues. That’s whether it’s support for BLM or mental health issues. It’s integral that companies champion this within their culture and can therefore naturally create excellent marketing campaigns that speak to Gen Z on a level they demand.
In 2021, we’ll see increased demand when it comes to eco-friendly business. Essentially, consumers want to make sure the brands they give their money to are equally as concerned about the environment as they are. And interestingly enough, 88% of consumers want you – the brands and businesses – to help them make that difference.
There are many ways to tackle this from a branding perspective. However, whether it’s your packaging or your social media messaging, it must be authentic (as above) and not fall into the easy-to-spot category of ‘greenwashing’.
4. Participation & personalisation
Finally, in 2021, we expect to see a greater demand for going past ‘what’s necessary’ – especially in the online world. Whatever happens in 2021, we know that the rising digital world in 2020 has transformed our attitudes and proven how amazing technology can be – so in 2021, your audience is only going to demand you build on this.
From calculators to chatbots, digital tools that give your website user an instant answer can be incredibly effective when nurturing a lead – or even converting a purchase. Why? Well, simply it’s more engaging and it’s more likely to help: answering questions, offering reassurance and quelling doubts – all important aspects when considering a prospect in a marketing funnel.
In fact, according to inc.com, fully-engaged engaged customers are 4x more likely to appreciate branded messaging and 7x more likely to claim offers from a brand when there is interactive content. However, 91% of non-engaged customers become dissatisfied. With those stats, it’s clear that interactive content is key!
Nothing new, we know. We’ve been personalising our emails for years now with a “Hello Dave” – and we hope you’ve been segmenting that email data too (read more about that in our email marketing blog here). But in 2021, we’re talking about more than this.
Because in 2021, we’re going beyond email – and seeing the true potential of great data. A big example will be in paid advertising, where we expect to see more brands creating digital ad banners that appear across the web specific to a company, an industry, or what buying stage someone is at. From one click of a button, this prospective customer is then displayed other ads in the sequence – nurturing them towards your goal.
This tactic has been big in the B2C world for some time now and often represents a hugely profitable marketing move in the retail sector. However, in 2021, we expect to see more B2B organisations realise its potential – and those who start now have the advantage of building up data and therefore creating better ads, that become smarter and smarter over time.
Make your 2021 marketing amazing!
We know, it’s both exciting and can be overwhelming with so many new opportunities to explore. However you feel, we are here to help. Our team of expert digital marketers, content marketers, designers and brand strategists love nothing more than diving into our clients’ businesses and handpicking the best strategy for them – especially when kicking off a new year.