No one is shedding any tears over the passing of 2020. Most are relieved to be moving forward and figuring out this new norm that caters to life after the pandemic. Brands are going to have to navigate this new space with a clear understanding of where they’ve come from and where they are going.
Luke Lazarus created and sold four firms before he was 35. This self-made ambitious businessman is now offering consultations to other companies with an extremely direct approach to growth and improvement. He is looking forward to the marketing trends that are sure to be big in 2021.
Top 8 marketing trends for 2021
A big part of marketing trends in 2021 will be in letting the dust settle and figuring out exactly where we stand in the new year. After a huge online migration, the landscape has shifted. Brands will need to keep pushing for digital improvement, not take a break from it.
Smaller events: Low pressure, big names
After the acceleration of conferences hosted online, look for more intimate chats taking the center stage for 2021. These smaller events will be less pressure on the company and encourage more regular interactions from the audience (versus one big event).
Smaller workshops or chat sessions with big names can be more successful in getting attendees to sign up and show up. Companies will need to participate in the conversation and bring practical value to their audience.
A focus on combating virtual fatigue
Just a few months into 2020 had everyone tired of online meetings and conferences. Luke Lazarus says brands will now need to turn their attention to combat this virtual fatigue. Brands are now looking at their virtual events for the coming year. And while virtual will still be a big part of 2021, brands now have the opportunity to plan rather than react.
In order to combat virtual fatigue from so many online events, brands will have to do something different. The experience needs to be more personalized and engaging. It’s time for companies to look for ways to make online events unique and offering elements that aren’t feasible in an in-person event.
Faster, more accurate online experiences
During the COVID-19 stay-at-home months, brands were quickly exposed for having glitchy checkout processes or inaccurate information listed on their site. It’s become crucial to provide accurate, updated information or look like you are out of the loop. Experiences for users should be faster and more convenient, Luke Lazarus Says.
As they spend a lot of time online, visitors are going to be less patient with slow load speeds, shifting layouts and obnoxious popups that interrupt the experience. Google has even announced ranking penalties for sites that are ignoring these problems on their pages.
Polarizing politics will color every ad choice
After a hard year of politics and divided viewpoints, companies are going to have to make every choice carefully. 2021 is going to require brands to navigate a difficult social climate that has been divided by everything from racial issues to mask wearing.
Every ad dollar spent is going to say something. Everything that a brand says (or doesn’t say) will be evaluated. The marketing approach is going to have a lot of influence over showcasing what the brand stands for. Companies need to take a hard look at these potential minefields and then make a conscious decision about what they want to say. If they don’t, they may end up stumbling into something by mistake.
Marketing changes are here to stay
Online events, working from home, increased focus on offering value and support—marketing has changed for good. While some companies will fall into the trap of trying to return to “normal” in 2021, the best brands will take advantage of the changes and build on them. Marketing was already changing at a rapid pace with an increased focus on digital. Things aren’t going back, they will continue to move forward.
Personalization is becoming a must
Personalized marketing used to be a fancy little trick that marketers could pull out of their hat to snag some extra attention from their audience. Remember when brands first figured out how to add their contacts’ names to the email subject line? Now, customers expect to be catered to.
Personalization is taking the center stage as brands figure out how to target audiences for the things they care about and meet them wherever they are in the buyer’s journey. Customers tend to expect brands to already know what they’ve purchased in the past and give them relevant ideas for what they should look at next. First-party shopper data and CRM software both play a huge part of collecting data to be used for meaningful predictions and customer-centric outreach.
A temptation to slash marketing budgets
After such an intensely online year, brands are going to be tempted to cut down their marketing budgets for 2021. Luke Lazarus says this will be a mistake. With the huge ramp-up to online presence, now is not the time to slash budgets.
Digital marketing trends are going to keep ramping up, though there will likely be a trend of companies working to flatten their expense curvatures or cut budgets. Efficiency should always be a goal, but for the purpose of a better ROI, not repurposing funds to another department.
Authentic experiences over keywords
Luke Lazarus has been telling brands for years that they need to focus on value for the customer, it’s never been truer than throughout 2020 and moving into 2021. People expect brands to be more than just selling machines.
Some brands are still stuffing keywords into their content. Google has gotten smarter than this and people are tired of reading strangely worded content that doesn’t say anything very valuable. Companies have to take a customer-centric approach to their marketing or risk losing any semblance of industry authority.
For 2021, brands should have overarching themes of community, value and connection in their content and messaging. People are exhausted after a hard year. Brands can become the hero in their audience’s story.