Croud’s 2021 predictions

What does 2021 have in store for the world of digital marketing? 2020 was the start of a new decade, but also a year we couldn’t forget. After the doom and gloom of 2020, we asked industry experts what they’re most excited about in the digital marketing sphere for the year ahead.

Read on to discover what some of Croud’s partners and clients, as well as our internal teams, think are the biggest opportunities for digital marketers in 2021.

Change brings opportunity

“Improved search experience is one of the top trends that we’ve anticipated and will finally see in 2021. Google is improving its algorithm to understand search semantics, search intent and other key search capabilities. These improvements will make it more straight forward for marketers to create valuable, engaging content for their customers. They will also allow users to find relevant content, meaning the best content wins and organically has the most significant reach.”

Tomas Seliokas, Industry Consultant at SimilarWeb

Revolution, growth, data

“New methodologies for measuring digital performance can breathe new life into balanced media planning. More upper-funnel! Brand advertising! Growth!”

Kevin Joyner, Director of Data Solutions at Croud

Better data, please!

I’m really excited to see how marketers will use digital data in 2021. Recently, we hear more and more about JavaScript and programming (ahem, Python!) in SEO, but I think these remain rightly beyond the scope of most marketers. However, these trends point to an underlying truth: There’s a huge advantage to be gained in collecting, processing, and visualising data in any digital domain. I expect we’ll see more marketers using tools like Data Studio for analysis and reporting. I can’t wait to see what new data-orientated solutions marketers turn to, and how our occupation of the digital data ‘space’ will mature.

Rebecca Berbel, Content Manager at OnCrawl

A continued focus on data quality

I talked about this at the start of 2020 as my prediction, and I have many reasons to believe there was a real shift to ‘more investment in data quality’. We’ve seen it in CRM, more clients moving onto Salesforce and cleaning up their first-party data. We’ve seen it in a focus on data innovation, customer value and predictive modelling. And we’ve seen it in clients considering more long-term measurement strategies, rather than just a metrics bonanza! In 2021, I definitely predict more of the same.

Kris Tait, Managing Director of Croud US

More change ahead

2020 has accelerated consumers to become ‘all digital’ customers. The digital customer moves across online channels, apps and experiences, that blur the lines between marketing, commerce and service. Marketers are right in the middle of this digital transformation. To be effective, they need to unify data from all their activities to deliver personalised customer experiences and to optimise every investment for budget efficiency and growth. Agility will be key in 2021 to capitalise on these new consumer behaviours and digital budget shifts, and marketers equipped with the right tools for data analytics and measurement will find success.

Jonathan Beeston, Product Marketing Director at Salesforce Datorama

Unprecedented digital growth

With more talent than ever in the digital world, and with consumer behaviour that has shifted towards digital, I can only expect brands to react in the same way. This means a digital-first approach for most companies, and it means a total change in focus in terms of how brands need to be built (and where to spend their budget).

Alberto de la Vicente, Biddable Director at Croud

Relevant, conscious & consistent

In 2021, we can expect to see a continued decline in in-person gatherings, so we must continue to offer effective alternatives that allow people to connect. Additionally, users have become much more demanding with brands, in terms of sustainability. This is where contactless and conscious marketing will come into play. Whether it’s equality, inclusion, healthy eating or climate change, consumers are asking brands to be more conscious of their decisions and preach by example. To that end, brands that are not socially responsible may see a decline in consumers more progressively.

Fernando Angulo, Head of Communications at SEMrush

Digital advancement in Asia

The fast development of China’s tech and business environment leaves the Chinese speaking community craving for more advanced content and new perspectives. To that end, more and more English publications will look to localise for the Chinese community and gain value in 2021. Publications like Vogue Business, Business of Fashion and the Economist are already leading the game.

Ada Luo, Regional Account Director at Croud

Collaboration, innovation & inspiration

Personalisation is the holy grail. The biggest challenge but biggest prize for marketers is to really master all the data they can glean about their customers and use that to deliver relevant messages, information and solutions at exactly the right moment and place for their customers. Automating as much as possible to free up time and resources to focus on the quality, creativity and tonality of their messaging, is how brands will build genuine and lasting loyalty.

Jude Bridge, Managing Partner at Oystercatchers

Demand for brand transparency

I think many marketers have learnt that businesses need to have a more distinct voice, one similar to a person. Content marketing is more important than ever before because consumers are making purchase decisions based upon whether they like your brand, not just your product.

Kerstin Allin, Senior Content Manager at Croud

Technology, automation & connectivity

Customers will appreciate companies who thrive by being honest and telling the truth. Lifelong followers will be acquired by companies who have positive commitments and choose transparency. Less transparent brands will lose an opportunity to acquire new customers and in the long run, will start losing their audience.

Maxime Rouison, Business Development Manager at Croud

New normality, digital transformation, rejuvenation

Understanding the intent of our customers and targeting them at different moments in their customer journey has always been a top priority for advertisers. With artificial intelligence and machine learning, these capabilities are only increasing. With our rich first-party data called the Microsoft graph, we are able to connect advertisers with customers throughout different touchpoints. First-party data will be the key to success in a cookie-less world. In addition, creating an omnichannel experience will be a must for 2021 if you want to be successful in your customer experience journey.

Sophie Sarin, Strategic Sales at Microsoft

Technology, automation & connectivity

Success will rely on digital performance more than ever in 2021 for many businesses, accelerated by the events of 2020. As such, it’s never been more important for brands’ digital properties to be optimal, therefore this year we’ll see marketing and technology infrastructure towards the top of the priorities list for investments, finally getting the attention marketers have been craving for.

Chris McIntyre, Head of Client Strategy at Croud

High-efficiency, automation, breakthrough

The cruel situation of this epidemic has brought some impact to all walks of life but also forced more industries to go digital. Digital marketing, with technoloogy at its core, shows more surprises and possibilities. This year, we’ll see more marketers use advanced technologies, such as big data and AI, to innovate their enterprise strategy and comprehensively improve the operational efficiency of their business. Digitalisation has become the core competitiveness of enterprises and has risen to an unprecendented height, and digital innovation will also become the key field of enterprise competition in the future.

Grace Gu, Digital Advertising, Paid Social & Display Marketing Manager (China) at IWG plc

Consumer behaviour shifts

I think we’ll see a huge change in sustainability, especially for younger consumers. Knowing that a product is not going to arrive wrapped in excessive plastic packaging, or from a factory with an unfair wage, is becoming increasingly important. In many cases, sustainability means more expensive, but I think brands will soon be expected to provide sustainable products without the unaffordable price tag.

Beth Mellor, SEO Executive at Croud

Standardisation of ad censorship

Thanks to the development of technology and machine learning, digital advertising platforms are becoming more and more intelligent, which is greatly facilitating our ads management and optimisation work. Also, we can expect Douyin live commerce to be more fruitful for advertisers.

Zhifeng Qiu, Operations Executive at Tencent

The new normal, cookieless & connected

Since Google announced plans to phase out the cookie, there has been a significant shift in the industry towards identifying solutions to replace the cookie. Effective utilisation of these solutions is going to be imperative to the future of addressability in digital. As addressability becomes more difficult, I expected to see a further rise in the use of emerging channels such as connected TV, programmatic DOOH and audio. Connected TV, in particular, has begun to gain some real traction in the US, and I expect this success to be replicated across Europe in 2021.

Omri Kedem, Programmatic Media Director at Croud

To find out more about how Croud can help you achieve your 2021 digital marketing goals, get in touch.

by Croud
5 January 2021



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