There is always a huge interest in digital marketing trends and innovation in marketing at the beginning of the year. And rightly so, since reviewing innovation in digital marketing, technology, and platforms for the year ahead can help marketers identify new opportunities that agile businesses and marketers can tap into… if they’re looking in the right place and know the right questions to ask…
Each year, for the last ten years, I have assessed the digital marketing landscape to help give recommendations on the digital marketing trends marketers should focus on in the future.
In this year’s guidance on the Smart Insights blog I will cover what I see as the main trends across our RACE customer lifecycle framework which defines 25 key digital marketing activities that can be harnessed by businesses to drive growth through:
Our Managing digital marketing research 2020 shows that many businesses don’t have a planned approach to take advantage of the latest and evergreen digital marketing techniques. Our RACE digital marketing process gives a simple way to structure a digital marketing plan.
I believe it’s important for all businesses to review how they can harness the latest marketing trends so they can apply the latest innovations through the 70:20:10 rule of marketing focus. Google’s digital marketing evangelist Avinash Kaushik has explained the benefits of this mindset :
70% of the time we’re going to focus on things that we know that are very core to our business. 20% is where we’re trying to push the boundaries. You get into the known unknowns. And the last 10% is a true crazy experimental stuff. Trying to figure out how to do uncomfortable things that we’re going to fail at more than we will succeed at. But with every success, you build a competitive advantage.
So evaluating innovations can help you push the boundaries, but also improve your digital marketing activities.
Truth-be-told, at a high-level, the trends across digital marketing tactics are similar each year – with a lot of the interest in search, social and email marketing, and new web design and content marketing techniques to engage and convert our audiences. Traditionally, technology innovations are the drivers of trends in digital marketing including changes in:
Normally the trends are independent of economic factors, but that’s not the case this year. Of course, the big difference affecting changes in marketing investment in 2021 is from the havoc that COVID-19 has wrought around the world. Although there have been winners in some sectors where demand has held up or even increased, many have fallen. Regardless of sector, low-cost or no-cost methods of growth are more important than ever. This perhaps explains why our research shows that the AI-based techniques which I will cover throughout this article are relatively unpopular.
Across all digital platforms and marketing cloud services, the trends are well documented by Gartner in their digital marketing hype cycles which I summarize each year. Here is the latest visual from Gartner of the 2020 digital marketing hype cycle.
From reviewing the latest hype cycle, and from my recommendations on innovations in this post, here are the core marketing themes that I think will be most significant for marketers considering their adoption of digital technology in 2021 and beyond:
Right, let’s get to the detailed recommendations on innovations which I have grouped by the RACE customer lifecycle activities to show how new techniques can be applied to marketing activities.