Trends to Watch for 2021: Top 5 Digital Marketing Predictions

Eva Maria Schmidt
December 8, 2020

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that no one has a reliable crystal ball. Following a challenging, “unprecedented” (can we vow to never use that word again?) year that brought massive global changes in consumer behavior, with a huge impact on brands and companies across multiple sectors, it’s hard to imagine what 2021 might bring. Nevertheless, we’re looking ahead, from a digital marketing perspective. Here are our Top 5 Digital Marketing Predictions for 2021. These are some of the most critical areas marketers need to keep their eyes on – with many of the trends or predictions being a direct result of the impact of the global pandemic.

Zero-party data strategies will allow digital marketers to drive relevance.

As third-party cookies go away in 2022, digital marketers need to build trust with consumers by understanding their needs and preferences more closely. We’ve seen the rise of a privacy-led digital culture today, with consumers being more aware of data protection policies like GDPR and CCPA. 2021 will see brands collaborate more closely with consumers to create a more personalized online experience, combined with greater control and respect for privacy. More importance will be placed on transparency in what data brands wish to capture from consumers, with a focus on offering a value exchange.

Seamless omnichannel experiences will define the next era of consumerism.

Consumers are relying on digital more than ever, with 29% saying their buying behaviors have permanently changed since the pandemic, according to Selligent’s third-annual Global Connected Consumer Index. Many are planning to shop more online in the future, so brands that can adapt and offer seamless digital and real-life experiences – removing friction and offering greater convenience – will thrive. This is where mobile channels punch well above their weight class, as they remove friction from logins, payments, check-outs, order management, and other useful features.

Contactless shopping will be the new standard customer experience.

64% of consumers want mobile and contactless pick-up or check-in options in the wake of health and safety concerns. And 86% intend to maintain social distancing measures after the pandemic is over. Accessible shopping will become the standard, as a critical part of the seamless, efficient, and flexible omnichannel customer experience.

AI will adapt to help make technology more human and customer centric.

AI will better determine customer signals, predict intent, and help marketers build strategies to individualize each customer interaction at scale, creating authentic, human-like experiences that drive engagement. The global pandemic made trust, transparency, and empathy key factors in driving customer loyalty and engagement. With 69% of consumers preferring chatbots because of their ability to provide quick replies to simple questions, Conversational AI will be at the forefront in 2021. Conversational AI uses targeted messaging to better serve website visitors with relevant information in real-time. Digital marketers will turn to conversational marketing to build relationships and create authentic, human-like experiences that drive engagement.

There will be a renewed emphasis on retention and loyalty-based marketing.

Acquiring a new customer can be five times more expensive than retaining an existing one. In tough economic times, marketers are more likely to invest in maintaining the loyalty of existing customers and encouraging repeat purchases in order to achieve their business objectives. With an increase in retention and loyalty-based efforts, a key challenge for marketers will be standing out in crowded inboxes. Marketers will need to adapt to better anticipate the needs of their customers to be more contextually relevant.

Clearly, those marketers who are able to adapt to changing times and evolving consumer behavior are the ones poised to thrive in the years to come. To learn more about adaptive marketing techniques for a changing world, download a copy of our white paper Adaptive Marketing Techniques for Post-Pandemic Messaging, using the button below. At Selligent, we’re here to help you prepare for these and other critical digital marketing trends in 2021 – and to help you make marketing personal.