What can marketers expect in 2021?

We won’t ring in the New Year and step into a new world of marketing, although there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic. Especially when the bar has been set so low the past 12 months. eMarketer projects total media ad spend in the US will be down by 4.1%, but will rebound in 2021 thanks in large part to digital media.

The Year of eComm and Conversational Commerce 

One 2021 marketing trend we can expect to see is significant eCommerce growth as more people acclimate to online shopping through the holiday and brands tap into new ways for their customers to complete purchases. Facebook Shops, for example, should grow in popularity.

According to eMarketer, ads on ecommerce platforms such as Amazon and Walmart increased 39% in 2020 and will grow another 30% in 2021. This accounts for 13% of total U.S. digital ad spend. As third party cookies are eliminated, it will be crucial for brands to gain a deeper understanding of their customers and ecommerce platforms already know plenty about them.

Conversational commerce, such as SMS and chat, will improve and create more ways for brands to engage with customers. In Delivering Happiness, the late Tony Hsieh describes the power of the telephone. As marketers we spend so much energy pushing messages out that we perhaps neglect the time it takes to optimize customer interactions once we gain their attention. To that end, chatbots, AI and predictive intelligence will continue to gain traction in 2021 in service of the customer experience.

Needless to say, after 2020 we all crave connection. 

What marketing channels will dominate in 2021?

Connected TV, OTT and digital video consumption–and buying, as a result–will keep rising in the wake of the pandemic. In fact, according to eMarketer, they are projected to be the top media priorities in 2021. 

Google and Facebook will keep their strongholds, particularly as Google works toward eliminating the third party cookie on Chrome by 2022 and marketers tap into “walled gardens” as alternative  targeting solutions. Despite Facebook’s antitrust case, analysts at Morgan Stanley forecast a 27% growth in 2021 for the social networking giant.

Influencer marketing won’t be going away as an important marketing channel for ecommerce and retail efforts, particularly the use of live streams to promote products. 

TikTok has entered the consideration set for marketers and we’ll likely see eCommerce integrations as well as more short-form content from brands. Creators tend to focus on platforms where they receive the most engagement, so if TikTok keeps its audience then brands will follow. 

Podcasts will become more mainstream as more brands produce episodes and people start to commute again. 

What are some positive takeaways from 2020? 

Virtual communication and remote working are the new norm. Many events and conferences may continue to be virtual while working out the kinks in the coming months. Video conference calling such as Zoom isn’t going anywhere either. 

The ability to pivot in terms of media buys, messaging and customer experience likely improved out of necessity this year. 

Consumers feel more social responsibility than ever and want to feel that brands care, too. It’s likely they’ll  hold them more accountable in the future. In response, inclusive and values-forward messaging will increase in 2021. 

Casual culture, or sweatpants, is projected to trend its way through to 2021. Many people will be happy to hear that.

For more information on navigating and succeeding in the 2021 marketing landscape, contact us today.