Marketing Predictions for a Post-Pandemic 2021

2020 was a unique year, especially for marketing professionals. The talks about 2019-led MarTech were swept away as the pandemic disrupted all walks of life.

With the year finally over, do we see AI, ML, bots in the marketing ecosystem resurging?

Experts don’t think so.

Initial marketing predictions suggest this year will be all about customers. Target audiences’ behavior and expectations will remain the main driving force for brands.

This is something we all saw coming.

Last year  drastically changed how customers interacted with brands. In-store exchanges saw an all-time low and digital interactions skyrocketed.

But online shopping is only one of the few trends that will continue into 2021.

Here’s a quick list of the marketing predictions for 2021:

Online Becomes Central to the Customer Journey 

As buyers spent months on months at home last year while in lockdowns, the customer journey changed. Buyers spent less money, and they tended to only buy the essentials. 

Even when the lockdown restrictions lifted, the majority of buyers continued relying on online means to make their purchases because it was convenient and safer. 

But this change meant businesses had to be available online in order to survive. As a result, 2020 saw businesses going digital or going out of business. 

This year will be more of the same.

We can expect the digitization of businesses across all domains. Customer and digital experiences will play a pivotal role in digital marketing strategies. Online interactions will shed their global outtake and local links will matter.  

Omni-channel marketing is the call for the year. Marketers need to make data-centric decisions to provide a customized digital experience 

Summary: The customer journey will revolve around digital touchpoints for every business.

Social and Environmental Conscious to Drive Marketing Strategies

Actions speak louder than words. In 2021, customers will focus more on a brand’s deeds to trust its message. 

In 2020, we faced several local and global issues in addition to the coronavirus making people more empathetic towards society. January saw the Australian bushfires followed by the Black Live Matter protests. 

Modern customers are anything but shallow. They want to connect with brands that have social and eco-consciousness. 2021 will only push them forward in their quest.

Brands that are empathetic towards societal and environmental causes will continue to thrive.

Tone-deaf messaging will be the biggest turn off for people and will become the fastest means to alienate them from a brand.  

Brands have a moral obligation to be good ‘brand citizens’. Marketers will need to focus on making an emotional connection with customers, not just posting positive messages of support on social media. Each brand’s messages should be strong and consistent.

Summary: The political and social events will force businesses to connect with their customers by being vocal about causes and taking steps towards improving the situation.  

Digital Experience Will be More Than a Buzzword 

Before 2020, digital experience was a buzzword that attracted marketers. They wanted to learn how to use digital experience in their customer experience strategies.

The pandemic led to a digitally-conscious customer who owns the online world. He knows what he wants and where to find it. Businesses are fighting hard to catch his attention.  

This customer is actively clicking, tapping, and scrolling through digital devices. And he’s demanding a more personalized digital experience. 

Customers are judging a brand by the digital experience it offers. They want technology to shape their online experience. 

Digitalization and customer experience will go hand in hand, and data-driven marketing strategies will play a significant role in its successful implementation. Data provides the truth required to know what the customer wants and what pushes them to make a decision.

Brands to Build an Analytics Center of Excellence

With data-driven marketing gaining pace, the Analytics Center of Excellence (ACE) will be on every brand’s to-do list. 

Marketing teams will be onboarding data scientists to drill-down customer data. Procuring data will no longer work for any brand. They need to transfer the data to the right teams and people to implement them in a strategy. 

An ACE will be a team with the collective knowledge of the data, competitive intel, customer intel, and market intel. 

The data analyzed could range from price comparisons to shopping behavior to predictions to stock forecast.

Summary: ACE will allow brands to optimize their marketing efforts collectively by sharing the right intel with the right team at the right time. 

CMOs to Start Collaborating Across the Enterprise

Marketing will no longer be an individual’s work. Rather, it will be the collective efforts of all teams combined: IT, CFOs, sales, and business development. CMOs will work together to yield outcomes that matter. 

Being commercially accountable for the business will not be their only goal. CMOs in 2021 will need to master the skill of smart collaboration across the organization for impactful results. They’ll shift to people-led planning to target the customer obsession. 

Summary: As the tried-and-true practices are aging out, CMOs need to be the chief customer or experience officers handling the complete customer lifecycle.

People Context Matters Now More Than Ever

As we talked about people-led planning for teams, people context would take center stage for any marketing exec or team. 

Brands with moral leadership and people context will dominate the ecosystem in 2021. 

To build trust, brands will focus on people context to stay relevant. Those found preferring profit over people will drive people away and might even face backlash. 

An Edelman Brand Trust Report suggests that 71% of people will lose trust over a brand if they see it putting profit over people. 

The pandemic has affected customers drastically. They want associations with brands that are empathetic to their needs.

Summary: This marketing prediction has marketers investing their efforts and resources in building their company’s brand image in a way that addresses customers’ concerns.

Content, Context, and Cadence for Value Creation

Value creation will be based on the three C’s: content, context, and cadence.

  • Content: What marketers offer to their customers or the message they want to send out. Be it in the form of videos, written content, infographics, GIFs, or any other thing. The value would depend on the type of content that they offer. 
  • Context: The way content is offered and with what intent it’s presented. It addresses the individual need while delivering the message to ensure the right impact and required outcome.  
  • Cadence: The frequency or number of times we offer the content to the audience. 

Brands need to create value for their customers so they can feel good from associating with a brand. A positive connection is what brands will be looking to build with their customers. 

2020 might have shifted customer behavior to digital means, but the human nature of being loyal to a brand that offers value remains the same.

Summary: To create value among customers, marketers should focus on the three C’s  – content, context, and cadence.

Wrapping Up Marketing Predictions for 2021

All in all, 2021 is going to be an interesting year for all marketing professionals. They will need to shift attention to building a connection with their customers and offer them value with their marketing strategy. 

Any brand, enterprise, SME, or startup can use these marketing predictions to draft a marketing strategy.