Five CMO Marketing Predictions to Optimize 2021 Planning

Jennifer Meech
December 7, 2020
Last Updated On
Close up shot of a glass building

2020 presented both challenges and opportunities for CMO marketing initiatives that many had never encountered before. E-commerce growth accelerated at a pace expected to take five years in a matter of weeks, working from home and virtual events quickly became the new norm, and consumers embraced new trends. Marketing executives across industries were forced to ditch the status quo and embrace technology, innovation, and transparency. Agility and forward-thinking separated the leaders from the pack in 2020 and the same will ring true as brands look towards 2021.

Consumer behavior shifted more than ever this year, making it critical that brands step back and evaluate their values, CSR initiatives, and brand purpose. Marketers need to have a grasp on who their target audiences are and what they care about more than ever. As more brands invest in social media marketing and e-commerce, digital spaces are reaching peak saturation. To be successful in 2021 and beyond, leaders need to harness the power of data to make informed marketing decisions and drive long-term business growth.

Let Dash Hudson’s CMO marketing predictions for 2021 planning guide you in decision making for the next year and help optimize your strategies for success.

1. Personalization Will Be Critical to Conversions

2021 is the year to double down on data. As industries move further away from traditional marketing practices and embrace new digital channels, brands need to put forward content that will make an impact every time. The customer journey has evolved and brands need to transform their approaches to content creation to optimize every digital touchpoint. High-level data doesn’t cut in today’s digital spaces. Marketers need to get granular when it comes to consumers’ tastes and preferences to put forward campaigns that resonate. Invest in technologies that will equip your team with actionable insights and real-time analytics to create a personalized customer journey for your target audience with content that inspires action.

2. A New Era of Purpose-Driven Marketing

66% of consumers say they prefer to shop from transparent businesses and 50% will pay more for products from socially responsible and environmentally conscious brands. 2020 was defined by the Black Lives Matter movement and a global pandemic, heightening the expectations consumers hold for the brands they interact with. Consumers not only expect brands to strengthen CSR practices and commit to meaningful organizational change, but they expect ongoing conversation and accountability. Brands need to understand why they exist and who they serve to find a place in today’s marketplace and cultivate emotional connections with consumers.

2020 proved that consumer values shift over time. Marketers need to keep a pulse on how these values evolve and understand how to authentically weave brand purpose and values into an engaging narrative. And it can pay dividends for brand awareness—79% of respondents recalled instances of brands supporting customers, workforces, and communities in the midst of the pandemic. From supply chain to products on shelves, future marketing leaders across industries will be those that incorporate sustainable practices as a key pillar in their brands. Let your brand purpose and values anchor your marketing strategy this year.

3. Taking Risks Will Pay Off

Marketing leaders can no longer afford to sit back and let other brands test the waters with new social media channels and e-commerce platforms. The first-mover advantage is stronger than ever in the era of TikTok and Amazon. Leverage the power of today’s digital spaces to take risks, test new channels, and experiment with different features. Consumers value brands that meet them on their channel of choice, whether it be for online shopping or content consumption, and it’s a valuable opportunity to move consumers further down the marketing funnel and capture younger audiences.

4. The Evolution of Experiential Marketing

Just as experiential marketing gained traction, marketers were forced to transition to virtual events and digital experiences to bolster community-building efforts. It goes without saying that conferences, influencer events, and press functions are off the table this year. Before you scale back your marketing budget, reevaluate how to build and nurture your brand’s community. 49% of brands increased digital events and workshops in the midst of the pandemic and were able to quickly understand what worked and what didn’t. As CMO marketing strategies enter the 2021 planning phase, leverage those learnings from early on in the pandemic to build out an impactful community strategy that you can bring to life online. Webinars and live events are more accessible and proven to foster real connections. Consumers crave interaction and community more than ever right now. Instead of ditching experiential marketing tactics, embrace new digital mediums.

5. Agile Digital Playbooks Will Drive Long-Term Brand Growth

Brands raced to build a digital ecosystem in 2020, but CMO marketing strategies in 2021 need to maximize existing infrastructures and allow for pivots. 58% of consumers were able to name a brand that pivoted its strategy to meet consumers’ new needs. Fluid content calendars, adaptable digital footprints, and flexible budgets are critical. Brands that planned marketing calendars out months or even years in advance, and solely relied on photoshoots to fill content needs, were already behind pre-pandemic. The marketing landscape is moving faster than ever. Swift decision making is what will differentiate the brands that capitalize on this market shift and the brands that fall behind as a result. Developing a strategy that allows your team to be able to react quickly to customer needs will set your brand up for success in 2021.

Put Your 2020 Learnings Into Action in 2021

After an unpredictable year, senior marketers are entering 2021 with a stronger grasp on the importance of fluid marketing calendars and frictionless e-commerce experiences. CMOs have more on their plate than ever before as business growth relies on robust digital capabilities. Leaders invested in new technologies and digital channels in 2020 but, to stay ahead of the market in 2021, a renewed focus on data and personalization is critical. A deeper commitment to cultivating an online community and strengthening your brand purpose and values are non-negotiables in any industry.

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