Predicting Marketing Communications Trends for 2021 May Seem Impossible...
Last year WVU Marketing Communications produced a piece predicting the biggest marketing trends to come in 2020, before the year took a dramatic turn. In light of many unforeseen events, the biggest trends of the year drastically changed. COVID-19 and other events pushed marketing communications professionals to test their creative capabilities and ability to pivot, forever changing the industry.
After a highly engaging Integrate Online session with industry experts, WVU Marketing Communications presents predictions for 2021 marketing communications trends.
What to Watch for in 2021
- Hybrid Experiences
- Culture-Driven Marketing
- Traditional Tactics
- eCommerce & Social Commerce
Moving into 2020, marketers predicted that it would be a year filled with high-touch, in-person immersive experiences. However, in the face of social distancing and health and safety guidelines, in-person experiences were halted, postponed and pivoted to virtual experiences.
As we move into 2021, there is a potential for in-person events to resume and return to “normal.” However, virtual events are not expected to disappear. Virtual events have expanded the reach of brands, increased accessibility and offered unique opportunities for relationship building. Hybrid events, experiences that combine a physical event with a virtual component, are expected to take over the events landscape in 2021. These tactics will leverage the “best” of 2020’s virtual events trend with consumer desire to return to physical experiences.
Benefits of Hybrid Events:
- Greater Flexibility
- Increased Reach and Attendance
- Reduced Execution and Travel Costs
- Ability to Collect More Data
In the past, pop-culture and trends were driven by brands and marketers. These experts were the ones shifting conversations in society and driving consumer behavior. However, as the use of social media continues to rise and influencer culture takes over, the audience is now the one setting the stage for marketing trends and tactics.
For example, platforms like TikTok have allowed for consumers to create the biggest media trends. Anyone with a smartphone is now able to create the next viral video or content piece in just 30-seconds. Brands and marketers must keep up with what content “ordinary” consumers are producing in order to stay relevant in the media landscape.
Tactics to Consider:
- Social Listening
- Micro- and Nano-Influencer Marketing
- Short Form Video Content
- Brand Ambassador Programs
Back to Basics: Traditional Tactics
While the popularity of digital media and marketing tactics continues to soar, it is important that brands remember the importance of a media mix including “traditional” channels. Not all consumers have the access, resources or interests. With budgets slashed by the unforeseen events of 2020, brands should prioritize understanding what channels their specific target audience is actually consuming.
For example, many industry professionals are talking about how consumers are “cutting the cord” and moving away from traditional radio and TV consumption to streaming service, but this isn’t true for all audiences. For brands targeting an older population, many of these individuals are not consuming content from social media or entertainment streaming services. Allocating restricted marketing funds to digital resource would be a waste for this population when they are still consuming radio, TV and print content.
Tactics to Consider:
- Radio Spots
- Print Brochures
- Direct Mail Campaigns
eCommerce and Social Commerce
Many social media sites are beginning to move towards adding shopping capabilities to their platforms. For example, in July 2020, Instagram began to roll out its new app design that highlights the Instagram Shop feature.
Consumers are reporting that they are likely to search for new products on social media and are likely to explore new products when they see them recommended by others on social media. By allowing consumers to directly learn more about a product or purchase it without moving to a different website, brands are able to speed up the purchase decision process for consumers.
Benefits of eCommerce/Social Commerce:
- Increase Ability to Collect Data
- Improve Search Engine Rank
- Create Brand Recognition
- Improve Customer Service