I’ve now published 7 articles where I collected and curated predictions for the coming year. However, as I started doing last year, I’m pushing this effort one step further. I’m also providing you with my 2021 predictions on a number of topics.
Mind you, as I believe myself to be an expert where digital marketing is concerned, that’s where I’ll limit myself in terms of predictions.
My 2021 predictions were divided into 7 posts or topics:
- 2021 general predictions
- 2021 marketing predictions
- 2021 ad spend forecasts
- 2021 advertising predictions
- 2021 mobile predictions
- 2021 social media predictions
- 2021 technology predictions
My 2021 Predictions
In my preparation and curation of the many experts’ 2021 predictions, I took note of those forecasts that were prevalent among them.
Several of the major trends span across many disciplines, and I’ll highlight them accordingly. However, as obvious it is, for posterity’s sake, most of these predictions are largely tainted by the global Covid-19 pandemic.
1- Social E-commerce
Social e-commerce and social shopping will continue to grow quickly in 2021 as many countries remain at various stages of lock-down due to the Coronavirus global pandemic. Of course, the situation has profited all of e-commerce, not just social, but social should be the bigger winner in 2021.
Consumers have established habits, which were upturned in 2020. There are some e-commerce sites we turn to naturally, while others, we discover on social media (for example). What makes social the bigger winner for 2021 is that when shopping, we’re always looking for the shortest route to the cash register.
This means that shopping directly on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media will continue to grow rapidly.
This trend extends as well to Google My Business where the “storefront” will be used more and more by retailers.
2- Increase use of influencer marketing
One tactic that really got up-ended in 2020 due to the pandemic is influencer marketing. Several categories of influencers were suddenly “stopped” in their tracks when lockdown affected them locally, international travel, or the locations where they usually produce their content.
Most have found workarounds to keep going alternatively from curating old content to remixing content.
However, during this upheaval, consumer behavior and sentiment toward brand profiteers as many went weeks or months without work have shifted the dial to “anti-marketing”. Because of this overwhelming and broadly felt sentiment, there is a move toward pro-influencer marketing.
This means enabling them in any way the brand can to push its messages across.
3- Content is an integral part of the consumer journey
Many predictions for 2021 revolved around content marketing in one way or another. By far the biggest trend is that most marketers, from the largest to the smallest, have come to the realization in 2020 that content really is an important part of the consumer’s journey from awareness to purchase.
This is something we have been teaching for many years, and also something most companies have heavily invested in in the past. That is, offline content in the form of various marketing materials, flyers, user manuals, posters, and such.
The lockdown, forcing people indoors had made people spend much more time online – not only to catch up on various TV series and films but also to wander around the web now that they had the time to do so (i.e. not just going in with a mission and popping out immediately one a job was done).
This left many opportunities for content marketing to work its magic, faster than it normally does. Content marketing is usually a slow route to sales, but a necessary one as it is an integral part of the consumer journey.
That is not only consumers directly, but also in the B2B realm. Not only that, it provides material to be shared across various social media platforms, where consumers spend their time. Further, this also spills into the customer service arena.
4- More Virtual Events
This trend is a direct result of the lockdown. Initially, events were on hold, then canceled one at a time. Then they began reinventing themselves online only. There had been virtual events in the past, which for some organizations became an immense advantage – having had that experience.
Others had to build-out their required solutions to offer something that was as close to the intended in-person event as possible. Of course, the networking aspect is nowhere near the same as in-person, however, we must do what we must do.
Many organizations began organizing more regular online town-halls, talks, and mini-conferences to remain top of mind with their B2B audiences.
As a Covid-19 vaccine is already in limited distribution in some countries, it will likely take until Fall 2021 before a sufficient portion of the population has received it to hold in-person events.
So, 2021 events are planned for online-only now and when we can see each other again, those events will have a significant virtual component for the foreseeable future. That is because some will maintain the fear of crowds for some time to come until the return to normal is well behind them.
Beyond that, there will also be the realization that virtual events draw interested parties from much further away who normally would not take the time to make it to a 2-3-day event in another city.
5- Campaign Attribution
Campaign attribution is another tactic/discipline I have been teaching for many years. However, it is often lost on those who have just learned they can find out which ad, from which media generated a sale.
It takes time to get used to this data before wanting to get to the next stage. The next stage being campaign attribution optimization.
Many marketers have been forced to work from home, thus converting a ton of commuting time into extra work. It’s then predicted that they’ll now be spending a lot more time and effort in campaign attribution optimization.
In the past, many surveys demonstrated that 80+% of marketers found that measuring business impact (attribution) is very important. However, less than 40-% of them had the time to do this or enough time to do it well.
6- Conversational Marketing to Drive More Sales
As many were stuck at home during the lockdown or kept working from home since then, we have gained a few hours in the day to do more. Do more instead of traveling to and from work.
With that additional time, many business owners and stakeholders had time to react to social media questions in real-time. That is because their audience was also forced into lockdown and worked from home when they could or were temporarily out of work.
With that time and responses, came direct connections with their clients and prospects. They realized that getting involved in the conversation helps convert prospects into buyers!
7- Ad Targeting Uncertainty
One major theme that keeps rearing its head is ad targeting uncertainty.
If you don’t know what’s up with ad targeting, then let me catch you up to speed:
- At this time (December 2020) the following web browsers and platforms block 3rd party cookies used for most online ad targeting. Firefox, Safari, and all mobile apps block them already. Chrome will block them come January 2022, and MS Edge will likely follow suit soon after.
- Ok, but what’s a 3rd party cookie? A majority of ad targeting options on programmatic, network, and direct buys rely on 3rd party cookies. 3rd party cookies allow identifying those audiences to present your ads to the right persons. A 3rd party cookie is a cookie deposited on a user’s browser from a site other than that which he is visiting.
- In other words, when you visit Hohoho.com only Santa leaves you cookies. Those are 1st party cookies. But, if Santa decided to sell ad space on his site, then the ads could also leave cookies. All of the ads’ cookies would be 3rd party cookies.
Take the time to consider where your ads are delivered and what type of targeting, you’re using.
The uncertainty largely comes from the fact that we don’t yet have a replacement for 3rd party cookies. Sure, some sites have interesting audience segments in their 1st party cookies. However, they take a lot more time to manage than the alternative…
8- Nostalgia Marketing
Another often cited trend is to use nostalgia in marketing more and more. That is, to use visuals from 20-40 years ago. This goes for themes that hold up today both politically and ethically – we forget how much we have changed in the last 20+ years.
My 2021 predictions…
I’ve identified another 8 important digital marketing trends. Let me know if you’d like me to highlight them as I did these in the comments below, or via my contact page.