If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that predictions are best guesses — not guarantees. But even so, for marketing teams who want to stay ahead of the curve, it’s helpful to look at what marketing trends are emerging.
That’s why we’ve created this resource. We’ve scoured research and reports to pull together a list of 2021 marketing trends to look out for across a variety of areas. Use these marketing trends to plan ahead, with the understanding that things can always change on a dime.
Why do marketing trends matter?
Think of how much marketing has evolved in just the past few decades. It’s hardly recognizable.
If marketers hadn’t stayed on top of trends, they wouldn’t be present and active on social media. They wouldn’t be leveraging influencer marketing or podcast sponsorships. They wouldn’t be using retargeting or paid search. There’s a whole slew of modern and effective tactics that wouldn’t even be on their radars. Marketing is an essential part of business success, and as a professional service, it's important to always stay on top of trends in professional services industry.
That’s the long and short of why digital marketing trends matter: They help marketers and brands stay on the cutting edge and use strategies that are most effective — and sometimes those strategies didn’t even exist last year.
Should I still pay attention to current marketing trends?
Absolutely! Marketing trends can be helpful for guiding your decisions about where you should invest your attention and resources as you hash out your marketing plan.
However, there’s one caveat to be mindful of: You don’t need to do something because it’s a trend. As always, it’s important to monitor your efforts and understand what works well for your audience and your business.
Check out the emerging trends of 2021 that could guide your marketing strategy.
Content marketing trends to look out for in 2021
1. Video content stays strong
Content marketing doesn’t just mean blog posts. Video content is part of any content marketing strategy, and videos — particularly live videos — will continue to play an important role in 2021. From short tutorials to live webinars, expect to see even more video content in the coming year.
2. Content marketing is high-priority
Content marketing has been a point of focus for a while now, with one Association of National Advertisers study showing a 73% average budget increase in content marketing over a two-year period. That growth won’t slow down this year, with many experts predicting that content marketing professionals will have more to do than ever.
3. Personalization and user journeys are paramount
Personalization isn’t new, but today’s consumers expect more targeted and relevant content than ever. In fact, 66% of consumers say encountering content that isn’t personalized would stop them from making a purchase, and 42% of consumers are annoyed when content isn’t personalized. As a result, hyper-personalized content that meets somebody at their exact point in the buying journey is quickly becoming a must-have.
Social media marketing trends to look out for in 2021
1. Short-form video in the spotlight
With the rise in popularity of Instagram Reels and platforms like TikTok (which went from 500 million users to almost one billion in just one year), experts predict that short-form video is here to stay. These quick videos are great for holding the notoriously short attention spans of today’s customers.
2. Transparency and authenticity are key
Polished posts and perfectly-curated aesthetics might be on their way out, with more and more people expecting authenticity from the brands they follow. Consumers want a peek behind the scenes and to feel a sense of human connection with businesses. In fact, 91% of consumers are willing to reward a brand for its authenticity by making a purchase.
3. More shopping is happening on social
Social platforms have been rolling out shopping functionality for a while now (with things like Facebook Shops and Instagram’s shoppable posts). Even Snapchat and TikTok have gotten in on the trend. Many experts predict that we’ll see social media integrate with e-commerce even more in 2021.
SEO trends to look out for in 2021
1. Featured snippets take the cake
Longer-form content is still important for securing a coveted spot in the search rankings. However, more marketers have turned their attention to the featured snippet — which can drive an impressive amount of traffic. To snag the snippet, marketers should focus on answering commonly-searched questions with short, helpful answers.
2. Search intent matters most
Long gone are the days of keyword stuffing and other dicey strategies intended to boost search rankings. As search engine algorithms have become increasingly smarter, today’s marketers need to focus on the end user and their search intent. That means creating content that satisfies the user’s search query rather than trying to outsmart the algorithm.
3. Mobile-friendliness is non-negotiable
We’re doing more and more searching on our phones, which means having a mobile-friendly search experience is critical. From quick load speeds to responsive websites, marketers need to make sure that what’s turning up in search results isn’t just ranking well but is accessible to users on their mobile devices. Google has a tool to help test how mobile-friendly your site is.
Email marketing trends to look out for in 2021
1. Less focus on open rates
For marketers who want to track the performance of their email marketing campaigns, experts predict that there will be less emphasis on open rates (which have become notoriously unreliable) and more focus on other metrics and KPIs like engagement and click-through rates.
2. Personalization is crucial
Much like with content marketing, customers expect a high level of personalization in the emails they receive from brands. Yet, 96% of customers say they’ve received mistargeted information and promotions. And when they do, they delete, unsubscribe, or even categorize the emails as “spam.” The most effective email marketing messages will need to prioritize personalization.
3. Privacy still matters
Recent years have seen increasing regulations concerning data and email privacy. Marketers will need to balance the demand for personalization with legislation and best practices for storing customer data. That’s increasingly important as customers lose faith in a brand’s ability to do this, with only 8% saying they trust a brand to keep their personal information safe.
B2B marketing trends to look out for in 2021
B2B isn’t an exception from many of the marketing trends — from personalization to user experience — that we’ve already discussed. But, there are a few more that B2B marketers should be aware of.
1. Virtual events are here to stay
If industry conferences and tradeshows were where you closed most of your business deals, prepare for that model to shift significantly. Events had to go virtual as a result of the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean the switch will be flipped back when the world returns to a little more “normalcy.” 80% of people in one survey said that they believe in-person and virtual events will co-exist in the future.
2. Greater focus on retention marketing
Getting a new customer is exciting, but B2B marketers need to prioritize keeping existing customers just as much as (if not more than) acquiring new ones — especially when research shows that a 5% increase in customer retention can boost profits by 25% to 95%. We’ll likely see retention marketing become a bigger focus area this year.
3. LinkedIn remains the place to be
When it comes to B2B, it’s hard to top LinkedIn. Some estimates say that 80% of B2B leads are generated from LinkedIn. As LinkedIn rolls out more features, it will continue to be the leading platform where B2B marketers invest time, effort, and energy.
B2C trends to look out for in 2021
Again, so many of the above recent trends in marketing apply to B2C marketing. But, here are a couple more that marketers should keep their eye out for.
1. Rise in local marketing
Move over, broad and global strategies. It’s time to make room for local marketing. Research from Forrester predicts that since many people have dispersed from larger, urban areas as a result of the pandemic, brands will need to zone in to target their marketing efforts to smaller communities and neighborhoods.
2. More chatbots and instant messaging
Customers want answers, and they want them now. That’s why we’ll see more immediate communication methods — like chatbots and instant messaging — become more and more prevalent for interacting with consumers.
Marketing management trends to look out for in 2021
Plenty will continue to shift as brands and marketing teams figure out the best way to reach their customers and drive sales. One of the most notable marketing management trends for 2021 has to be this: marketing teams will need to be more agile and flexible than ever.
Look at the COVID-19 pandemic as one example. Research from Deloitte found that 58% of respondents could name a brand that was able to nimbly switch offerings and respond to the “New Normal.”
It’s proof that marketing teams need to remain adaptable so they can shift their messaging and meet customers where they are — even when things rapidly change.
Why Wrike should be the center of your marketing campaigns
Successful marketing campaigns require careful planning and organization. Wrike helps marketing teams break down silos, track every piece of their campaigns, monitor progress, and receive real performance insights.
Wrike is everything that marketing teams need to succeed. Whether they’re testing out a recent trend or sticking with something tried and true, Wrike is the solution for implementing your 2021 marketing strategy.
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