As the world comes out of the global pandemic, one thing is clear — the way we imagine our future will no longer be the same. Marketers, specifically, struggle to get a grip on new ways to reach audiences, as uncertainty and caution dominate the market.
Most changes we are facing are predictable and rooted in history. The high rate of digitization seems unprecedented, but it isn’t. In fact, the 1918 pandemic helped foster the adoption of the telephone and the Vietnam War — a notable time of crisis — fueled the growth of television. Thus, it’s no surprise that, when tradition fails, technology takes off to support and advance industries.
With that in mind, what conclusions can digital marketers derive from the past? What technology are we paving the way for and will we use in the future? This post is a reflection of key marketing technology trends for 2021 and beyond.
1. Focus on data privacy
Over the course of the pandemic, privacy has been among the biggest trade-offs. As lockdowns restricted populations and called for strict surveillance, people had to concede a degree of their freedom to governments in exchange for staying safe.
As a result, the general public is not into data privacy outcries. The opposite is true — 80% of Deloitte survey respondents still don’t read Terms and Conditions before accepting them. Since we own many more smart devices than ever before, data sets will continue to get richer, fueling the growth of customer segmentation and the efficiency of marketing campaigns.
Does this mean that modern marketer teams should stop being privacy-conscious? Not at all. With other things on their mind, regular customers might be not as concerned about where their data goes, but governments are.
The US recognized the need for privacy legislation as a “security imperative.” China has long been first on the ball in limiting the reach of corporate data gathering. The Personal Information Protection Law requires the biggest local tech players — WeChat, Taobao, and others — to form independent committees for monitoring data processing.
For marketers, the tightening of regulatory grip sets several vectors for reflection:
- Finding alternatives to cookies and other types of behavior-tracking that regulators are likely to disable.
- Strengthening data storage security to protect sensitive information from attacks.
- Assembling technology for data processing and analysis to make the most out of insights available, rather than asking users for redundant information.
2. Increased demand for chatbots
Automation has been riding high since the start of the pandemic. With the need to protect residents and employees, governments and businesses turn to technology for handling tasks like customer support, product shipping and delivery, and more.
In marketing, chatbots are the pinnacle of automation. Statistically, by 2022, AI and learning systems will become among the driving forces of customer relationship management — the projected market value is expected to reach $77.6 billion.
The US is expected to have the highest share in conversational AI adoption while Pacific Asia will likely lead the race for the fastest adoption rate. Marketers and business owners will deploy chatbots to cover a wide range of tasks, including:
- Customer communication, specifically in fields that carry the burden of the pandemic — healthcare and education.
- Consulting, estimating, and planning in finance and banking — chatbots will be able to accurately project service costs and mitigate objections.
- Internal communication and operating cost reductions — chatbots are expected to cut operating expenses by 30%.
3. Voice technologies are on the rise
For the rest of the year and beyond, voice recognition will disrupt industries. Natural language processing will empower a wide range of applications, from virtual assistants to enabling telehealth and convenient customer support.
Business owners, marketers, and customers unanimously agree on the benefits of adopting voice recognition:
- Making marketing interfaces faster and more intuitive to facilitate digital transformation and increase decision-making speeds in B2B.
- Higher customer engagement; dynamic and personalized customer journeys.
- Streamlined research and data analysis fueled by the adoption of voice-to-text transcription tools.
- Improved sanitation — 31% of users recognize the benefit of not having to touch high-traffic surfaces brought forth by the adoption of voice technology.
While the path for voice technology adoption in marketing and other industries continues to be paved, the road will not be without its bumps. Security concerns for passive listening and privacy are dominant among users, according to the Microsoft Intelligence Team.
4. Video chat tools integrate deeply into sales and marketing
The shift to remote work, education, shopping, and other processes has exposed the need for efficient and scalable video communication.
The teams behind conferencing tools like Zoom or Skype faced unseen challenges — high traffic flows, security concerns, and the need to extend the infrastructure beyond enterprises, becoming a reliable backbone for vital industries like e-learning and telehealth.
As a result, we are going through 2021 with higher-capacity digital tools than those teams have ever seen before. Marketers should and will take advantage of improved quality, reduced resource consumption, and lower prospect resistance to video communication.
Specifically, we leverage video conferencing to accomplish the following:
- Create high-engagement customer interactions, for example, personalized Zoom conferences, virtual meetups, etc.
- Reach wider audiences: streaming or hosting events online helps marketing teams transcend distance and improve exposure.
- Adjust internal communication policies and adapt decision-making to the constraints of video conferencing.
It is not far-fetched to imply that the growth of real-time communication could, to an extent, rival traditional ways to share video content — social media, streaming platforms, and others. The key reason is that, over time, customers will fight the resistance to proactively join discussions — and most will prefer active interactions over passive forms of engagement.
5. Growing demand for social media marketing
The growth of social media marketing has been setting trends in marketing technology for years — and 2021 has been no exception. The playbook that marketers previously used to connect with audiences has changed, introducing unique tendencies:
Key objective of social media — customer acquisition
According to a Hootsuite report, almost 75% of marketers ranked social media as their top customer acquisition channel. Teams see engaging experiences as a cost-efficient and effective way to drive customer acquisition.
Less is more: brands need to learn to keep their 'distance'
Through the course of the pandemic, people turned to social media to find meaningful conversations and support workplace interactions. Hoping to primarily connect with each other, many were annoyed with interference caused by branded posts.
That’s why conscientious marketing teams shifted their focus to customer support and valuable content instead, aiming to become a seamless presence for their communities.
Using social data for prospecting and data gathering
The pandemic contributed to the collapse of multiple traditional customer acquisition tools, like events or face-to-face meetings. To keep connecting with new leads, marketers started to rely heavily on social media data.
In 2021, integrating social media data sets into CRMs and BI tools has been one of the most popular current trends in marketing technology, as it helps teams to proactively anticipate customer needs and predict market fluctuations.
6. Martech consolidation
In the discussion of latest technology trends in marketing one should pay attention to the exponential growth of tools that are being continuously shipped to the market. Where, in 2014, there were less than 1,000 martech products available, now teams can rely on over 8,000 solutions.
The need for new marketing technology stems from rapid market changes. In 2020, we saw, time and time again, how important a reliable stream of real-time data is to teams and end-users.
As marketing teams shifted to remote work, the need for workflow streamlining tools has also surged. Team leaders have had to find platforms that eliminate bottlenecks in brainstorming, inefficiencies in content management, and gaps in both internal and cross-department (e.g. marketing and sales) communication.
Out of the top martech trends, the one that will persist through the year is the need to unite the martech stack. The number of integration marketing automation tools provided will be an important selection criterion since it’s more crucial than ever for marketing teams to see the bigger picture of the market, as well as the impact of each campaign.
7. Deeper personalization of customer experiences
In 2021, marketers will keep seeing hyper-personalization as a new trend in marketing technology, with customers taking tailored experiences for granted and expecting brands to understand their wants, needs, and concerns.
In fact, the pandemic strengthened people’s longing for human interactions and fortified the belief that brands and marketing organization leaders should prioritize connection over efficiency.
Luckily, marketers are not short on tools that help enforce hyper-personalization. Over the next 2-3 years, we can expect a widespread integration of the following solution types in the martech stack:
- Recommendation engines that predict a prospect’s needs based on behavior data.
- Dynamic pricing tools that adapt the offer to a customer’s needs and marketing budgets.
- Service chatbots that rely on deep learning to mirror a customer’s tone of voice and help build trust.
- Databases and AI tools that help manage customer interactions across different platforms.
- Personalized real-time notifications that help marketers reach customers in the right place at the right time.
8. ‘No-Code’ Era
Forecasts predict a bright future for no-code and low-code apps. According to Gartner, 65% of all apps developed by 2024 will be 'no-code' or 'low-code' products. Driven by the need to build products quickly and cut operating costs, teams look for ways to bypass the need for hiring.
Another trend contributing to the development of no-code is the widespread talent shortage in IT. Statistically, hiring a software engineer takes over a month — while teams are struggling to close job openings, they risk missing out on lucrative opportunities.
In the future, no-code marketing industry trends will have a wide range of applications, namely:
- Helping project managers streamline workflows.
- Building custom workflow automation tools.
- Reducing the time needed to develop a full-fledged martech platform (statistically, no-code development practices cut time-to-market by 90%).
9. Data analytics will be a top priority
If 2020 was the year of pivoting, forcing companies to move away from brick-and-mortar stores and in-person workflows to digital infrastructures, the key objective for 2021 is to find your niche and customer base in an increasingly competitive market.
How can teams gain a competitive edge in a cutthroat fight against competitors? Data analytics is the key strategy to embrace and leverage. According to Deloitte, marketers can take control over their activities by designing robust customer data platforms.
These tools will aggregate insights from all available sources (website, social media, email) and process them to give marketers a bigger picture of what audiences expect and ways to meet these expectations.
Generally, data analytics in marketing will have a predictive property, anticipating needs and concerns rather than reacting to them. To that end, teams deploy a wide range of tools, including:
- Social sensing platforms.
- Social CRM ecosystems that help discover and manage agreements with influencers.
- Event processing and simulation tools for prescriptive analytics (a way of analyzing the problem and answering the question: “What should be done?”).
- Campaign efficiency monitoring software that captures and processes email, content, and social media marketing metrics.
10. Mobile-First Indexing
Google’s shift to mobile-first indexing is no surprise — in fact, the Google development team announced it back in 2016. The rationale behind the decision stemmed from the fact that most users choose smartphones for Googling, thus, it makes no sense to prioritize desktop page versions for indexing.
In March 2021, Google moved all websites to mobile-first indexing. The shift has drastic implications for marketing teams, namely:
- Mobile-friendliness will be among the key factors that determine a website’s SEO ranking.
- Marketers need to make sure they provide uniform mobile and desktop experiences.
- Page speeds stay relevant for mobile-first indexing, as confirmed by the development team in 2017.
Importance of Using New Technologies in the Marketing Industry
According to Martec’s law, organizations tend to change at a considerably slower pace than technology does; however, in the case of economic turbulence, the two tend to catch up in order to navigate the uncharted territory of change.
We saw how the latest marketing tech trends helped teams gain a competitive edge throughout 2020. By the end of last year, the benefits of integrating technology into marketing benefits were clear and non-negotiable.
Specifically, marketing teams linked the implementation of technology to:
- Improved ROI and productivity. As soon as teams were ready to invest and commit to digitizing marketing, they discovered the impact martech has on increasing efficiency — sales productivity improved by 14.5%, marketing overhead dropped by over 12%.
- Higher priority on system integration. Contemplating the idea of building a martech stack encouraged teams to unite workflows and processes in large-scale umbrella tools. By connecting all platforms they use via custom or built-in integrations, teams can see the impact of their efforts clearly, easily track sales pipelines, and streamline internal workflows.
- Being able to work with the full customer journey. Martech tools provide visibility into customer-brand interactions on each stage of the sales pipeline: from discovery (analyzing on-site behavior, generating personalized offers, etc.) to retention and loyalty programs (real-time support, gathering and monitoring feedback).
- Merging marketing with other operations. Marketing technology helps teams derive insights from the work done across the organization. Through project management platforms, they can collaborate with product developers and offer helpful suggestions on improving the interface and user experiences. CRMs give marketers insight into strategies salespeople rely on and requests customers share with customer success teams. This data is tremendously useful when planning content, segmenting audiences, or prioritizing distribution channels.
- Remains relevant among the competition. Through martech adoption, teams increase the speed of decision-making. Leveraging real-time customer feedback helps marketers quickly prototype new offers and adapt to changing needs and expectations. Another way to gain a competitive edge through martech integration is by leveraging added productivity and cost reduction fueled by the introduction of no-code platforms and automation tools.
Since our team focuses on helping marketers integrate technology into their processes, we are carefully watching the martech industry trends. At WTT Solutions, we believe that, in the future, martech will become even more impactful, with teams using dozens of tools to streamline processes.
Our team already contributes to fostering martech innovation. For one, we helped optimize Pitch59 — a platform that helps business owners and salespeople streamline pitching. By publishing minute-long elevator pitches on Pitch59, team leaders can discover networking opportunities, attract referrals, and raise product awareness.
Our team improved performance via SQL query optimization and reduced the application size to 2 MB. These technical tweaks made the platform more accessible and helped users save time when uploading elevator pitches.
In 2021, it became apparent that integrating technology into marketing is no longer optional. With businesses going digital and teams switching to remote work, the need for a reliable tech infrastructure is now more pronounced than ever.
In the future, the approach to anticipating audience needs and customer communication will be even more proactive, with predictive marketing taking the lead. Most marketing workflows will be heavily automated, supported by chatbots and no-code apps.
To make sure your company stays relevant amidst an ever-changing marketing landscape, it’s important to build a flexible marketing technology stack. At WTT Solutions, we carefully analyze business objectives and rely both on historical data and experience to build a scalable martech stack for all-scale companies.
Discover which tools your team needs to reach its peak efficiency — get in touch with our team by filling the form in the top right corner of this page!