6 min

Written by Claudia Pavković


The ongoing coronavirus crisis is forcing companies to continue exploring new avenues. For most industries, there is no way around embracing the massive expansion of digital processes and offerings as it’s become clear that the physical and digital world are converging. Marketers cannot dodge the pandemic-induced change in customer behavior, either. Those who still want to reach their target group in the most efficient way must make strategic adjustments. In short, the message must be quicker, of higher quality, more personalized and more digital. As a result, certain marketing trends will be particularly relevant in 2021. This article sheds light on which developments will determine what happens next. 

Table of Contents

1. Purpose and sustainability 

Purpose is one of the key marketing buzzwords in 2021. When it comes to Purpose Driven Marketing companies conduct campaigns in which they position themselves credibly, transparently, honestly and emphatically in relation to the following: 

  • What values does the company stand for? 
  • What problems does it solve? 
  • What is the purpose of the organization? 
  • How does it want to deal with customers, employees and partners? 

It goes without saying that questions like this must first be clarified internally, worked out strategically and embodied authentically. However, if this is successful, marketing campaigns can be implemented that allow for strong differentiation from the competition. Customer loyalty, employee satisfaction and a brand’s impact can also be increased through Purpose Driven Marketing. Chanel is one example. The fashion label launched a campaign in the midst of the crisis to help support the cause, with employees sewing masks instead of designer clothes. The new marketing mission statement could be summarized as putting values before growth. 

The issue of sustainability is also closely related to their raison d’être. Consumers are becoming more and more aware of this issue and it is increasingly determining their purchasing decisions. In 2021, there will therefore be an even greater focus on companies adopting environmentally friendly practices. This applies to using resources responsibly and limiting emissions, as well as practicing responsible social behavior. 

2. Marketing automation 

In the wake of the coronavirus crisis, digitalization and automation have become even more prominent. This trend will continue in 2021 – also in marketing. In general, marketing automation is about relieving employees of recurring routine tasks and ensuring efficiency. 

For example, marketing automation software is able to handle the following activities: 

  • Sending e-mails 
  • Segmenting leads 
  • Evaluating leads 
  • Publishing (personalized) content 
  • Analyzing and predicting user behavior 

3. Artificial Intelligence 

Closely related to marketing automation is artificial intelligence – another marketing trend that will help shape 2021. The relevance of AI in marketing continues to grow and the potential applications are expanding. For example, AI-based solutions help companies analyze existing data on customer behavior much better and more accurately. Its possible to improve offerings and respond quickly to changing requirements. What’s more, individually tailored product offers and recommendations can be developed automatically. The same applies to placing content and advertising measures. In short, AI can replace the scattergun approach in marketing with targeted measures but without massively increasing the required effort. 

4. Data protection and GDPR compliance 

Despite all the opportunities offered by software-based personalization, companies must not lose sight of their responsibility towards data protection. Many consumers still have concerns when it comes to their personal data being used commercially. Which is why the strict requirements set out in the EU GDPR must be observed. 

In this context, security-conscious companies should critically question where they store their data. When it comes to cloud solutions (SaaS), servers in European data centers are generally the most secure choice. This is even more true since the Privacy Shield agreement between the US and the EU was overturned last year. 

5. Content marketing: consistent, high-quality content 

Content marketing will continue to be highly relevant in 2021. However, the emphasis is shifting towards using continuous, cohesive content. The overarching goal here is to continually build trust with customers so that they become repeat users. While on this “journey”, users should continually learn from the content and gain a solid level of understanding and trust upon which they ultimately make a purchasing decision. To make this a reality, new content strategies must be developed in conjunction with all relevant departments. Likewise, content writers must be highly specialized. 

Other content marketing trends for 2021 include the following: 

  • Creating extensive, high-quality content that can be reused (see “6. Content recycling”) 
  • Increasingly using multimedia content (live videos, podcasts, etc.) across various platforms 
  • Using content generated by users 
  • Closely monitoring changes in SEO and taking them into account 

6. Content recycling 

Building longer, high-quality content is another trend for 2021. However, to keep the effort in proportion to the benefit, companies should focus on content reusability. This is also known as content recycling. In doing so, each topic is researched only once and then prepared for various marketing channels. 

In practice, content recycling can look like this: An interview with a customer is published on the blog, appears as an abridged article in an e-mail newsletter, and the key message is also used across social media. The same topic may also be used as a full-length YouTube video and podcast release. 

From a technical perspective, content recycling requires good data management. After all, it’s not just the content that has to be played out precisely in the individual channels, but it is equally important to map and efficiently manage those links. 

7. Digital Asset Management as a central content platform 

The coronavirus crisis forced entire workforces to work from home virtually overnight. Teams were suddenly separated from each other and also confronted by a decentralized IT infrastructure. For marketing departments, this presented several challenges. The first of these was to maintain communication within the team but also with external partners. This could be solved, more or less successfully, by using collaboration and meeting platforms. 

The bigger issue was granting everyone access to marketing-relevant data – especially digital assets – regardless of time or location. Although it is now foreseeable that the newly gained flexibility at work will continue to prevail after the crisis, many companies have still not found a satisfactory solution to this problem. Provisional solutions such as file-sharing services continue to be used, yet these approaches are error-prone, cumbersome and insecure. 

One of the marketing goals to be prioritized in 2021 must, therefore, be to create a central platform to manage marketing materials that can be accessed by all stakeholders. Digital Asset Management (DAM) software is best suited as a content hub of this kind. This is because DAM systems not only centrally manage all types of assets (images, videos, texts, presentations and many more), but they also make it much easier to find the right files thanks to their powerful search functions. They also ensure that regulated processes are adhered to, even in the case of decentralized teams. 

Incidentally, it’s not just the marketing team that can benefit from using DAM software, but any business unit that uses digital assets. This includes product management, sales, corporate communications and PR. 

To summarize: Focus on customer centricity and further digitization 

If we look at the overall marketing trends for 2021, the following picture emerges — Companies that put values first while also consistently focusing on their customers’ individual needs will enjoy the greatest successes. This is based on further expanding digitization measures. The goal is to automate marketing processes with the help of software and to further improve the customer experience by using artificial intelligence. Content marketing will continue to hone in on consistency, quality and reusability. Under no circumstances should companies lose sight of the trend towards working remotely. After all, the aforementioned goals can only be achieved with systems that enable smooth collaboration and conveniently provide the required data across spatial and organizational boundaries. 

Claudia Pavković

Marketing Development Representative

I always have an open ear for you. My goal is to listen to you and discuss suitable solutions together with my experience.

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