Taylor Swift told us we could leave the Christmas lights up until January, so we did. However, now the Christmas lights have been put away and another year is in full swing. The end of the year and the beginning of the next is when many organizations, including Speak, set aside time to reflect. We’re all reflecting on where we succeeded, where we came up short, where we pivoted, and where we are headed.
On a personal note, I majorly succeeded in my goal to spend less on concert tickets (this was clearly not very hard for me given that all concerts were canceled). I also had other goals that weren’t achieved, set new goals for the coming year, etc. Regardless of what you or your organization achieved (or didn’t achieve) in the previous year, we learned a universal lesson: we never really know what lies ahead.
So while there are many predictions we could make (and have made) about what’s in store for marketing in the year 2021 — 2020 taught us that we don’t know the hand we’ll be dealt.
I’d argue that knowing what’s ahead isn’t essential to outline your goals, you just need to know in what direction things are trending. We’ve compiled a list of the top four marketing trends along with stats for 2021. Have a trend you think we should add to the list? Send us an email, we’d love to hear your insight.
2021 Marketing Trends and Statistics
2021 will be the year of the micro-audience.
Our VP of Client Partnerships, Kindra Svendsen, has said this a time or two and it couldn’t be more on point. Everyone has spent the last year creating community online and now it’s time for brands to capitalize on this. By creating communities based on your audience’s interests, you can serve them information and products they are looking for in a way that feels more personalized. Each year the technology we have access to as marketers becomes more sophisticated which leads to better data. In theory, better data should lead to better personalization. However, too many organizations leave this data untapped.
Social media stats are a great example of this, and the brands that stand out on social are undeniably the ones looking at their data. Sprout reported that “while 56% of all social marketers use social data to better understand their target audience, there’s a huge opportunity to do more with the data at their disposal. Only 23% of social marketers use social data to measure ROI and 16% use social data for competitive insights.”
Maximizing opportunities with your micro-audiences can extend far beyond social. “There are lots and lots of applications of how it can work for your business, but definitely using the segmenting data that we have will make your audience segments feel heard and breed loyalty. They will be much more loyal to your brand if they feel like they're getting a more personalized experience,” as Kindra shared in a recent episode of A Little Off Topic.
Being values-based is sink or swim.
It’s tough to deny that we have a heightened social and political climate. More than ever before, consumers are evaluating if the brands they spend their money with align with their personal values. The pressure is palpable, especially with organizations like AdAge tracking which brands are speaking out.
Letting your audience know what you value will resonate with every generation but will be required from Gen Z, often referred to as social justice advocates. CNBC confirmed that authenticity matters, reporting that “67 percent of those surveyed agree that being true to their values and beliefs makes a person cool.”
Another interesting stat about Gen Z is that they are finding new brands through word of mouth and influencer marketing more than any other generation. This is another reflection of their desire for authenticity. Sprout reports, “Forty-five percent of consumers rely on suggestions in their feed and/or use discovery tools to find new accounts. But for members of Generation Z, half will find new accounts by looking to the influencers they already like and follow. For Generation X, the number one way they discover new accounts to follow comes from recommendations from family and friends.”
Tip: Check out our post about marketing across generational lines for more information on how you can reach everyone within your target demographic.
Quality over quantity.
The quality of your content will prove to be more important than ever for your search ranking. Google announced earlier on in 2020 that there would be a page experience algorithm update in May 2021. Google is regularly updating the algorithm, but it is rare to see it announced and named. This signals that they are giving organizations time to make adjustments before they are penalized. The new algorithm will take a closer look at site speed, pop up ads, and several other key factors impacting UX. Speak’s Digital Marketing Manager and SEO Specialist, David Caffey, said, “This hopefully means we are returning to a user-first focus and that Google is starting to figure out different ways to monetize and advertise that are less intrusive of the user experience.”
Google also rolled out new tools in March of 2020 to help organizations communicate updates in real-time such as curbside only dining or closures due to COVID-19. We can expect to see a continued emphasis on keeping your audience informed. Social media will also continue to help brands amplify their content showing them as trustworthy and worth engaging with. It is high-quality content that receives engagement that can produce more backlinks and ultimately help SEO. Outside the benefits of Search, Sprout’s research shows, “Eighty-nine percent of consumers say they will buy from a brand they follow on social media and 84% will choose that brand over a competitor. Additionally, 75% of consumers say they’ll increase their spending with brands they follow on social.”
Sprout also gave some great statistics on the type of content consumers are looking for:
Infographic courtesy of Sprout Social
Digital marketing budgets will expand.
Wait, wouldn't we expect marketing budgets to diminish as economic conditions continue to look bleak? Well, yes and no. Traditional marketing budgets have already been slashed. Why pay for a billboard if there are fewer people commuting to work? Why spend money on expensive event swag when there are no in-person events? The list of considerations for spending marketing dollars on traditional methods is long and makes a good case for re-evaluating how you allocate your financial resources. However, investing in digital marketing is vital. Online audiences have grown exponentially and users are looking to social platforms for information more than ever.
Hubspot quoted Bridget Perry, CMO at Contentful: "We've found a digital innovation gap between what customers demand and what brands are currently capable of delivering. That's why digital leaders across industries tell us they plan to spend, on average, 25% more on digital in 2021. And 25% is just the average — some plan to spend significantly more. CMOs who aren't scaling up their digital spending will soon be outpaced by competitors."
Tip: Check out our digital marketing investment checklist to help you assess where to invest to yield the greatest return.
Now that you know the direction that the world of digital marketing is trending, you may realize that you can’t do it on your own (or maybe you can but time is limited). That’s what we are here for! We'd love to chat with you to review these trends within the context of your data and help customize your digital marketing strategy to maximize your ROI.
Get In Touch