Predictions 2021: Digital Marketing


2020 has been a year of accelerated digital transformation for practically all organizations.

Restaurants joined marketplaces and/or launched their own digital shops in matter of days or weeks trying to stay afloat while transforming into pickup points or starting delivery services. Boutique fashion shops massively stepped into social ecommerce through channels like Instagram, still able to show their products while taking orders via their own new shops or via social marketplaces.  

2020 was disruptive and forced organizations to pivot on a dime implementing new technologies helping them to stay in business. Luckily technology has become so accessible that you don’t need months of implementation and endless project meetings to get your business online. 

In ecommerce we have seen a decade of change in just 12 short months, although it wasn’t an easy transition for most, in the long run it might show that this change will be good for business. As McKinsey shares that organizations that are digitally mature are up to 5x more successful than their digital laggards. 

In this blogpost we dive deeper into 3 predictions for next year(s) that have Digital Marketing in its center. Not surprising is that customer experience and ecommerce success are recurring topics.  

Also don’t miss our other Predictions 2021: 

→ Predictions 2021: Ecommerce

→ Predictions 2021: Product Information Management

→ Predictions 2021: Content Management

Predictions 2021: Digital Marketing 

Digital Marketing these days relies heavily on tools and solutions that help drive business for any organization. Email marketing is available free of charge, setting up a website doesn’t have to take more than an hour or so from a technical point of view, but doing digital marketing right requires more than just tools. The right data governance, strategy is needed to make decisions that will influence how you build your marketing technology stack. What are the desired outcomes, what features are must-haves and which ones are nice to have. Are you going Digital Experience Platform, or do you build your own based on best-of-breed solutions? (including the monthly recurring cost, the implementation costs, not to speak about potential hiring of a specialist to make sure you get your money’s worth out of the solution).  

Digital Marketing Prediction 1: Digital Transformation 

With new marketing technology entering the market by thousands of solutions a year it shows that martech market is still very much in development. Any challenge or idea you have and I’m sure there is an app or technology for that. 

The availability of software solutions, apps, tools for just a low monthly subscription has made it possible for even the smallest of businesses to try and create a positive brand experience.  

Now Digital Transformation surely isn’t something new. It is a transformation that has seen growth for well over a decade. And this growth has been accelerating year over year which can be seen in the growth of available solutions, just check chiefmartec’s marketing technology landscape and its growth over the past 10+ years. The future growth will be fueled by three, maybe four major topics: 

  • No code or low code integration 
  • COVID as an enabler 
  • More options in different price categories 
  • The fight for the customer 

No code or low code integration – with solutions becoming easier to integrate either directly or via middleware as Zapier even the more complex best-of-breed solutions become available to most organizations that before would be put off based on implementing and integration complexity. And the ease of integration will make it possible to fuel a better customer experience as different technologies can be chained together in offering a seamless off- and online experience. Of course the other direct recurring costs from different best-of-breed solutions with or without a dedicated specialist will be something to plan for.  

COVID as an enabler – for many organizations digital transformation became a necessity to stay in business. It forced people to look into ecommerce options, while also taking a good stab at improving the digital customer experience. Smaller businesses can move very rapidly and develop fine plans as they are less challenged by bigger organizational processes and ego’s that everyone needs to be involved.  

COVID speed up this transformation for businesses that otherwise would have never even considered making a move into the digital age.   

More options in different price categories – with the massive number of solutions out there available it is usually worth checking what features are must haves and which ones are nice to have and then to search what options are available. Sometimes similar solutions can have a price difference of 5-10x easy. You might need to let go of some features or some fancy brand or UI, but your marketing budget will thank you! 

The fight for the customer – with everyone going digital it becomes a fight for the customer on the digital playing field. Not only do you need to have an attractive digital storefront, or have a speedy website, you need to offer the best digital customer experience possible. And to do that you need to have as much data available as possible. When a previous non-converting shopper comes back, apply homepage personalization showing products the person has shown an interest in or related products that increase the chance of conversion.  

When in B2B have all this data available in your CRM, or your Digital Experience Platform, so you can use behavior-based triggers firing of the right message at the right time, making customers out of browsers.  

Digital Marketing Prediction 2: Social Media 

With COVID reducing the normal available marketing and sales channels people have taken to social media more than ever before. It is one of the few channels that will allow you to reach out and connect directly with the right person not hindered by any gatekeeper or overflowed, and easy to forget, inbox.  

Social Media is part of almost any business. Ranging from the most minimalistic way where a business just has a Linkedin or Google Company page to organizations that do all their business through one or more social media channels. 

In B2C Ecommerce social ecommerce has taken flight in the past years where boutique businesses were enabled to offer their products through Instagram. Show in livestreams every possible angle and movement of the product, convincing shoppers based on a great digital product experience that this is the product for them.  

In B2B and B2C Ecommerce Linkedin has a strong position. It allows marketing to promote products, increase brand awareness and it enables sales to check out who interacted with the company’s content or find the right person as part of the Account Based Marketing approach and try to get a foot in the door with the right person at the right time. But let’s all not forget that this is social media, so let’s not kick in the door and ask for a 15 minute call in the 2nd or 3rd sentence.  

Digital Marketing Prediction 3: Video 

As covered in the Content Management predictions blog, video will also get its own place in the Digital Marketing predictions post. Video in digital marketing will continue to develop in different formats.  

In livestream format in B2B video is applied to either show the human side of business and/or to dive into specific topics. Either with your peers, or with topic specialists. During a livestream, that can take anywhere between 15 minutes and 90 minutes max, topics and insights are given by industry experts.  

Livestreams in Ecommerce, both B2B and B2C, allows the viewer to get the most of the product. How does it operate, how does the fabric move, ask questions that the presenter can cover. Livestreams in Ecommerce have seen growth in recent years already, but 2020 took this to the next level and it will continue into 2021 and beyond. 

Video in Ecommerce has seen growth as well, but is still not a common media type seen in most webshops. In fashion video can play a major role showing how something fits and moves in real live, where in B2B it can go deeper into the complexity of the product offered, showing its features, behavior and more.  

Video in the way of webinars. With physical events barely happening, everyone seemed to have taken to webinars. Some try to mimic the event experience, where others embraced the webinar format to its fullest potential, including On Demand, re-usage of the webinar content and snippets of the available video.  

And in B2B sales personalized video is coming up as well. Currently these are mostly videos that are quickly created by a sales development representative. But I’m curious and looking forward where this can use modern technologies and help automate and scale this. As video applied in this way is still relatively fresh it gets a decent open and attention rate, if you are able to scale this via computer generated video the sky is the limit.  

And last but not least, video calls. With everyone working from home we try to keep the office-like human connection by activating webcams and moving social chats to Teams and Zoom. Which sometimes drives Zoom fatique, but also drives an important human connection element of working in a team.  


In a nutshell it is that marketing technology will continue to grow in the pursuit of offering better, personalized, engagements. Technology is more accessible than ever before and allows almost any business to scale its marketing efforts and grow bottom-line results. 

New features in established social media channels allows the marketing and sales department to engage in optimal ways with its target audience, increasing awareness and demand generation results.  

And as we are talking about established methods, content categories like video continue to see development in applying something old like video in new ways like personalized video by SDRs all to create the best way of being noticed and getting your foot in the door.  

All these developments are exciting to keep an eye on, but the overall goals of offering better digital customer experiences and to scale ecommerce success are still the goals we are all after.  

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