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5 Marketing Trends to Win Business in 2021

2021 is not so much a fresh start as it is a continuation of last year's disruption. The marketing key to success in 2021 will be to refine the marketing strategy you swiftly developed last year. Here are the five trends that every marketer should know (or be reminded of) as we begin this new year:

1. Double Down on Digital

The acceleration of the shift to e-commerce will be even more noticeable in 2021. According to eMarketer, US e-commerce sales will reach $843 billion this year, up 6% year-over-year. The distribution and administration of COVID-19 vaccinations has just started, but a profoundly changed public notion of health may prevent consumers from going back to how they used to shop even after the "end" of the pandemic. Every organization should transform its business model to a more digitally advanced platform. CNN Business reported that roughly 8,400 retailers and 110,000 restaurants closed in 2020. Thus, it is important to invest more in your digital or e-commerce platform and continue to digitally connect to your customers who are staying home now, more than ever.

2. Excellence of First-Party Data Collection

With privacy regulations such as GDPR, we already know that third-party cookie-based marketing will all but disappear shortly. Marketers must build compelling CRM platforms to enable a consent-driven first-party data set that allows them to communicate directly with their customers. Simply collecting basic information (e.g., name, email address) about your customers is no longer enough. According to Salesforce, 57% of customers are open to sharing personal data in exchange for personalized offers. With this in mind, conduct surveys to gather meaningful information (e.g., preference) about your customers.

3. Personalization fueled by MarTech

As previously stated, leveraging first-party data acquired through your digital platform will be even more pivotal for success going forward. The next step is to proactively mobilize personalization and amplify the business impact by enabling martech such as SalesForce, Adobe, or Hubspot. With these tools, you can seamlessly connect all customer touchpoints (owned and paid media) with personalized content in a scalable manner.

4. Focus on ROI of Digital Media

According to eMarketer, global media ad spending declined by 4.5% due to COVID-19 last year, but it will rebound this year at an expected rate of 16.4% for digital and 7.9% for traditional media. Although media budgets are increasing, marketers must pay extra attention to ROI to justify spending this year, especially as a hangover from a difficult previous fiscal year. Effective usage of first-party data with relevant, high-quality content and consistent ad optimization through testing will be the keys that enhance your ROI. It will allow you to maximize revenue while minimizing spending.   

5. Practice What Is Preached  

Many companies have taken a stand against racial injustice in response to civil unrest in 2020, and 85% of Americans expect companies to address racial inequities actively, according to PorterNovelli. Make sure to keep up your social commitments and show your customers that you carry through on promises made last year through your brand story. Customers will pay attention to which companies continue to "practice what they preach" in 2021. Remember, loyalty is solidified when trust is built. 

2020 was a year of upheaval and unexpected challenges and it is finally gone. Starting fresh in 2021, all marketers should take some time to look back and review what worked and what didn't last year. To get a competitive edge in 2021, add “lessons learned” to your business' advantage. A commitment to continuous transformation — even in disruptive times — will bring new customers and, most importantly, maximize the likelihood that existing customers will stick with you.

Want to learn more? Check out Merkle's 2021 Customer Experience Imperatives here.

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