Skip to main content



Published on

December 18, 2020


artificial intelligence, data, digital marketing, technology, trends

If we learned anything from this unexpected year as digital marketers, it’s the need to adapt our marketing strategy. The customer experience is changing and savvy marketers must follow suit. As we wrap up an interesting 2020, we look to digital trends and lessons from this year to help guide our marketing activities and digital marketing strategy into the new year. From creative ways to interpret data to new developments in automation and marketing technology, our digital marketing experts put their heads together to predict the biggest digital marketing trends for 2021.

With brand awareness and customer retention at the forefront for most brands next year, the same old won’t do. Follow the ever-changing customer journey and ring in the new year with insights from the best. Here are the top digital marketing trends your brand should keep an eye on. ?

Globe with city lights

Related: How to Navigate Social Media During COVID-19

Nimble Organizations Will Survive

As we’ve seen in 2020 and will continue to see in 2021, the only thing that is certain is uncertainty. Digital marketing during a crisis has shown the need for hyper-agility in companies that want to survive — and if done well — thrive. Marketing Operations (MOPs) is well positioned to help companies and CMOs develop responsive, agile marketing programs to optimize and drive revenue during this tumultuous time.

As budgets become tauter and teams get leaner, nimble organizations and teams will need to rely on MOPs teams to eliminate waste, streamline processes, and scale programs through marketing automation.

When implemented correctly, MOPs has the potential to help organizations stay nimble through aligning marketing and sales, scaling marketing programs, and helping achieve revenue goals. In order to take advantage of these opportunities, teams must be agile, cross-functional, and strategic. To meet these expectations, MOPs teams must work to identify and prioritize projects that will help the company stay nimble and ultimately make an impact.

– Katherine Oxenreiter | Director, Marketing Operations


Machine in front of red lights

Related: How To Track Social Media Metrics Using Google Analytics

 A Continued Increase in Using Google’s AI

The future of AI and machine learning in marketing is already here. For paid ads and search, we anticipate an increased focus on utilizing AI and automation with Google Ads. Over the last few years, Google has expanded their AI-based ad products and tools — including responsive ad units, automated bidding strategies and custom intent targeting. Many of Google’s marketing automation capabilities have been adopted into best practice. However, they first had to earn the trust of PPC marketers, who have had to give up some control to the platform and algorithms.

Google’s recent update to the search query report reduces visibility into user queries and granular keyword performance. This update to the search engine reinforces Google’s prioritization of automation over manual optimizations, in addition to de-emphasizing the importance of keyword-based targeting. As making optimizations based on specific search queries becomes more limited, we foresee the use of intent data in paid search to become a digital marketing trend. Layering data such as 1st party CRM lists and retargeting lists for search ads, or lookalike audiences, onto paid search campaigns provides another way to ensure you are bidding most aggressively on the search engine for high intent users.

Jillianne Ferullo | Digital Marketing Manager


Laptop in the dark

Related: 9 Steps for Creating An Engaging Social Media Content Strategy

Increasing Data Privacy Regulations

In the last couple of years, we’ve seen the impact of increasing privacy laws in digital marketing with GDPR and CCPA. As AI tools continue to use big data for predictive analysis and modeling, data collection and its role in marketing has evolved beyond marketing insights. With a surge of internet users and dramatic changes in online behavior trends this year, today’s tech-savvy customers are more aware of how their data is being used — bringing ethical data collection to top of mind for brands looking to keep existing customers in the upcoming years.

Big players in the digital realm such as Google, Facebook and Apple have already announced developments regarding privacy. These changes might have impact not only on analytics tracking capabilities, but on personalization as well. As marketers, we know our target audience is more likely to engage with messages tailored to their interests but growing concern about data privacy hinders a digital marketer’s ability to do so. As optimizing for conversion via personalization and other tactics become more challenging, businesses will have to adapt to the changing digital marketing trends to ensure they’re adhering to local and international privacy regulations. Additional strict regulations are already underway. Providing transparency about how data is being used will reassure your audience about their privacy as demand for safer digital landscape continues to grow.

– Sandra Todic | Senior Marketing Analyst


Computer with data

Related: An Intro to Data-Driven Content Marketing

Find New Ways To Interpret Data

As everyone knows, 2020 was full of ~ unprecedented ~ times. In past years, we have used historical data to help inform next year’s planning. Unfortunately, these unpredictable times do not lend themselves well to prediction modeling.  Traditional marketing planning for setting new goals will no longer suffice. Your brand must instead reassess more frequently (quarterly or even monthly) and set budgets and plans that allow for flexibility and modifications. Teams that consistently monitor, evaluate, and adapt plans will maintain greater agility, reduce risks, and be more efficient and successful in responding to change.

– Katherine Oxenreiter | Director, Marketing Operations


Purple light bulbs

RelatedThe 360 EP 06: The State of Influencer Marketing

Go Wide or Go Deep?

Early in your career, being a specialist in one area of marketing might get you in the door but having additional skills outside of your core competency will get you promoted. In 2021, you will notice the continuation of needing to go both wide and deep in skill sets. Some call it the T shape, and some call the executive version the X shape. Whatever you call it, here are three benefits:

Welcome To a Lifetime of Learning

No one ever regrets a new skill. Whether you’re a B2C or B2B marketer, prepare yourself for a life-long commitment to learning if you want a long-term career in marketing. Digital marketing trends change too fast. Customer motivations, interests and needs change too fast. The only way to keep up — just keep learning.

You’ll Be an Empathic Communicator

Imagine your WordPress developer tells you something will take two weeks, but you want it done in two days. If you had taken online classes and built a couple of WordPress sites on your own, then you would know if this is a ridiculous timeline or not. You can ask questions, see where to meet in the middle, and adjust timelines or expectations as needed. This allows you to build or maintain a relationship of trust and respect.  Bonus: You learned the beginnings of a new skill set, which could turn into something bigger!

Room To Move About Your Career

Continuing to go wider and deeper while honing your leadership skills will keep you moving up in your career. Better yet, it might put you on a different path than you could’ve imagined —keeping you engaged, satisfied and reducing the risk of career burnout. All of this will lead to better relationships with your team, audience, or clients.

I hope 2021 is the best year of your career yet.

Leslie Myrell | VP, Strategic Integrated Accounts

Final Thoughts

These digital marketing trends will be hard to ignore in 2021. Preparing for the unexpected is now on top of all smart marketers’ lists. As this year closes, make sure your marketing effort in 2021 is informed with these digital trends. Take the time to evaluate next year’s goals and ensure your marketing strategy is setting your brand up for success. Already have a strategy that needs refining? Review the above insights and decide which marketing trend can give your brand that competitive edge.

Check out more of our marketing predictions for 2021:

Looking to review your online channels and bolster your digital marketing strategy? Get in touch today.

Get in touch