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If you're like most marketers, data means everything. Stats, numbers, and trends fuel the decisions we make for our business all year long. And that’s probably why there are so many different reports published each year to help keep marketers on track. 

When it comes to 2021 marketing trends, there’s a lot of data to sift through, and not all sources are reputable. We compiled this list of reports to help save you time while still capitalizing on the data that fuels your 2021 marketing strategy. 

So here’s a list and breakdown of 7 reports that will help you keep track of 2021 marketing trends.

1. Social Media Trends 2021 Report - Talkwalker

social media trends 2021Talkwalker’s Social Media Trends 2021 report gives a list of the top 10 trends influencing social media marketing and beyond. It gives actionable methods you can take to adjust your marketing based on these trends. It also provides expert insights from various authority figures in the marketing industry. 

Download the full report here

Biggest Social Media Trend: 

Social conscious marketing matters in 2021. Talkwalker’s report clearly emphasizes that companies and brands will need to find their place and engage more with socially conscious subjects like mental health, inclusivity, and social justice. 

Social media is a great place to start this journey, but Talkwalker’s study also emphasizes that words without action are and will be meaningless in 2021. Demonstrating this commitment will matter this year more than ever when it comes to attracting new employees, converting customers, and winning over key stakeholders. 

Quick Tips: 

  1. Knowing and truly understanding your audience can help you better determine the issues that matter to your prospects, and the stances that you should take as a brand.
  2. Focus your marketing efforts on your mission as a company.
  3. Align your marketing and public relations departments, so the human side of PR can help disseminate your marketing messages.  

Other Key Social Media Trends: 

  • Rise in UGC - According to Talkwalker’s report, there will be a rise in content and larger focus on user generated content. Brands can expect 2021 to be a year of opportunities to engage with new audiences through reused and remixed content from customers themselves. Consider providing your prospects with more creative outlets, tools, and methods to create this original content.
  • Special Attention to Messaging - COVID-19 brought an emphasis on what’s called the four C’s: community, contactless, cleanliness, and compassion. Messaging and content should be focused around these key concerns.
  • Nostalgic Marketing - As people want to look back, and remember the “better days”, 2021 will bring with it an emphasis on nostalgia. This means brands will be segmenting their audiences more based on generational trends, and reaching these groups with content that revolves around classic elements.
  • Podcasts & Newsletters - Interestingly enough, the return of what’s considered more “old school” marketing has become a focus for users, consumers, and target audiences. It’s all about providing relevant information quickly. High value videos should no longer be a key focus. Podcasts and newsletters build connections quicker, and distribute information faster and more efficiently.

2. 2021 Sales Enablement Report - HubSpot 

sales trends of 2021HubSpot’s Sales Enablement Report took a deep dive into the sales industry and market report of last year, to compile the trend predictions of 2021. Surveying over 500 sales leaders across the globe, they analyzed what methods successful sales leaders are taking to enable their sales teams and increase revenue. 

Download the full report here

Biggest Sales Trend: 

Forty percent of businesses in 2020 missed their revenue goals. But the sales leaders who were quick to adopt a hybrid or fully remote sales model hit or exceeded their revenue targets. This data point was and will continue to be a big eye opener for business and sales leaders, and will signal a shift in how sales teams will be structured in the future. In fact, 68% of sales leaders plan to implement hybrid or remote sales models in 2021. 

Quick Tip:

Now is the time to transition your sales team to remote selling if you haven’t done so already. That’s why we put together this guide on how to effectively enable your sales team to sell remotely

Other Key Sales Trends: 

  • Sales Enablement - This will be critical in 2021. 65% of sales leaders that beat their revenue targets had a dedicated sales enablement person or team. HubSpot’s report makes the case that with a remote sales team, sales enablement is critical to help arm reps and managers with the tools, technology, reports, and content needed to sell more effectively. Learn more about implementing sales enablement here.
  • Sales Automation - Automating sales tasks and leveraging competitive data will be the future for successful sales teams. HubSpot’s report found that the difference between the over performing and underperforming sales leaders came down to how they used their tools. 61% of overperforming leaders used their CRM to automate the sales process, allowing and freeing up time for their sales reps to focus on selling.

3. Ultimate Email Marketing Benchmarks for 2021 - Campaign Monitor 

email marketing trends 2021Campaign Monitor puts together a list of email marketing benchmarks and trends every year. But this year’s report looks quite different from other years. 2021 was defined by rapid change and unexpected developments, and Campaign Monitor’s report shows that the way email is being used changed in dramatic ways. 

Download the full report here.

Biggest Email Marketing Trends: 

There’s quite a lot to take away from Campaign Monitor’s report, but one of the most interesting is the shift in the best day to send an email. According to data, Friday reported the highest open, click-through rates, and tied for the highest click-to-open rates. This is a significant change from previous years, where Tuesdays and Thursdays were typically the best day and time for email sends. 

The other big trend stated in the report was a decrease in mobile open rates. For the first time in several years, the proportion of emails opened on mobile devices actually dropped from 63% to 54%. 

Campaign Monitor speculates that both of these changes are due to the significant life changes individuals experienced all over the world. With more and more people home, it makes sense that mobile usage would decrease. And with nowhere to go on Friday evenings, maybe people are spending that time checking their mail.  

Quick Tip:

Use this knowledge in conjunction with the knowledge you already have of your audience. By studying your own buyer’s and when they are most active on email, you’ll come away with better knowledge on the best times to send your own emails. Test to see if Friday gives you better engagement results. But ultimately, only you can decide what works best for your targeted personas. 

Other Email Marketing Benchmarks and Trends: 

Campaign Monitor’s report lists quite a few benchmarks that are helpful when comparing your own email marketing campaigns and performance metrics. Here are a few notable benchmarks from 2020 to keep track of in 2021: 

  • Average Open Rate - 18.0%
  • Average Click-Through Rate - 2.6%
  • Average Click-to-Open Rate - 14.1%
  • Average Unsubscribe Rate - 0.1%
    email marketing benchmarks

Dig Deeper:

Email marketing has changed significantly in 2021. Learn how to conquer these trends in our Guide to Email Marketing in 2021.

4. SEO Trends 2021 - Search Engine Journal

seo trends 2021Conquering the ever changing Google search algorithm is a never ending process. If you're looking for a way to get a step ahead of the competition in 2021, Search Engine Journal’s report on SEO trends of 2021 is a great place to start. They compile a list of strategies and tactics recommended by 42 of today’s top SEO professionals. Then they break it all down in a list of 10 SEO trends of the year. 

Download the full report here.

Biggest SEO Trend: 

The biggest SEO trend of 2021 is the shift to focus on user and search intent. If you want to conquer SEO in 2021, you’ll need to transition away from the traditional practices like trying to write meta descriptions for every single page, and focus more on better understanding the searcher’s actual intent. Search engine algorithms are and will continue to get stronger and stronger. In response, SEO strategists should pay more attention to what’s showing up in the search results. 

“Google is already showing you which results it thinks serve users’ intent, use this data for your own strategy,” Andrew Dennis, Content Marketing Specialist at Page One Power says in the report. 

Quick Tips: 

  1. Cater to search intent focusing on copy that addresses your visitor’s needs and concerns, while avoiding copy that talks solely about your products, your company, or why your product is good. 
  2. Make sure your website is quick and loads fast. 
  3. Don’t make people work to find your content, house it in a clear space. 
  4. Avoid forced popups, registrations, or other interrupting ways of asking for money.

Other Key SEO Trends: 

  • Brand SERP Optimization - In 2021, Knowledge Panels will be key to leveraging your company’s brand. According to the SEJ report, entity-based searches are expected to gain traction. As a result, it’s important that Google has a confident understanding of who you are, what you offer, and what audience you serve. You can optimize your brand for this by: setting up Google My Business, ensuring a complete, correct organization markup, establishing a presence in various knowledge bases like Wikidata, and claiming your own Knowledge Panel.
  • Core Web Page Vitals & Page Experience - This year, Google is introducing Core Web Page Vitals and Page Experience as a ranking factor. Which means if you want to avoid falling behind in search rank, you have to prioritize these metrics. Here’s how to prepare for the Google update.

5. PPC Trends 2021 - Search Engine Journal

ppc trends 2021PPC is a hard trend to follow. There’s a lot of unpredictability, and a whole lot of moving parts. But Search Engine Journal’s PPC Trends 2021 report does its best to set you up for success in your 2021 PPC strategy. The report takes insights from 31 PPC experts, and highlights 10 trends to keep track of in 2021. 

Download the full report here.

Biggest PPC Trend: 

Focusing on your target audience is the future of PPC advertising. The best PPC advertisers in 2021 will take a deep dive into who their target personas are and align their PPC strategy to reach this persona in every stage of the buyer’s journey. 

“In an era where there is less control due to automation and AI, what matters is who sees your ads to ensure you’re driving qualified clicks,” Kristopher Jones, Founder and CEO of LSEO.com says in the report. 

So, it’s important to really outline your buyer’s journey and your audience before launching your PPC campaign. Think hard about who your customer is and how they decide to buy from you. 

Quick Tip: 

The following questions can help as you establish who your audience is and how you want to reach them: 

  1. How long does your purchase process take?
  2. Where do your customers interact? 
  3. What information are they looking for?
  4. What might they be searching for?
  5. What does your audience care about?

Other Key PPC Trends: 

  • Diversification is more critical - Historically, businesses plan out a PPC campaign for Google and draw the line there. But in 2021, it will be important for advertisers to be well-versed in other advertising platforms. As Google continues to move away from actionable data and move towards machine learning, advertisers shouldn’t rely as heavily on Google Ads. Moving to other platforms will give better control over spending, reach and messaging.
  • Always Be Testing - Because we’re living in such unprecedented times, testing and analyzing should be a  key focus for PPC strategists. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable in your ads approach.

6. 2020 State of Conversational Marketing - Drift

2021 conversational marketing trendsDrift's State of Conversational marketing report takes a hard look at today’s customer and how their expectations have grown. It analyzes how businesses are accelerating revenue by adapting to these changes, and how they are using Conversational marketing to offer a customer-first experience to their buyers. The report offers data from a survey done in July 2020 of over 500 B2B professionals with multiple experience levels and in multiple industries and company sizes. This information fueled a list of key findings that tell the future of conversational marketing in 2021. 

Download the full report here.

Biggest 2021 Conversational Marketing trend: 

In a noisy digital space, B2B companies need to do all that they can to remove the chaos and add clarity to the buyer’s experience. Drift found in their study that 53% of respondents felt frustrated by receiving too many irrelevant ads from B2B companies. These frustrations have significantly grown since 2019. Take a look at the numbers: 

  • Frustrations with unresponsive brands on social or email grew 5.7x.
  • Frustrations with impersonal services grew 2x.
  • Frustrations with having to deal with online forms of low quality grew 1.6x.
  • Frustrations with a lack of service outside of normal business hours grew 1.4x.

Quick Tip: 

Dodge these frustrations by coming up with a strategic plan to reach customers and affirm their confidence in their decisions at each stage of the buyer’s journey. This means focusing on responsiveness, personalization, user experience, and availability. Taking a hard look at your chat bot strategy is a great step in the right direction to conquer this 2021 conversational marketing trend. 

Other Key Conversational Marketing Trends: 

  • Immediacy is a necessity - Drift’s study found that 33% of consumers would recommend a brand that provides a quick, yet ineffective response. And what’s considered quick? 46% of respondents report that they expect a response within 5 seconds or less when using a chatbot, 43% when using online chat, and 33% when using a phone or video call. 
  • Expertise, problem solving and usability are key - These are the top priorities for users of conversational marketing solutions. According to the Drift study, 49% of respondents say the most important factor in having a positive experience with conversational marketing is getting a quick, detailed and expert solution to their problem. 36% reported it’s important to get complaints  resolved quickly, while 29% say friendliness and easy to communicate with are two important factors. 
  • Wrong information and slow response is crippling - A staggering 59% of respondents reported they would stop using a conversational marketing solution after just one bad experience with wrong information or a slow response time. Poor experiences with your chatbots or other forms of conversational marketing will not only stop your customer in their tracks, it can also hinder future business.

7. The Top B2B Marketing Challenges of 2021 - Drift

top b2b marketing challenges of 2021We can never escape challenges in digital marketing, yet every year we’re faced with new mountains to climb and hoops to jump through. A year like 2020 brings along plenty of new and unique challenges that we haven’t seen before yet in our industry. These challenges can help fuel other marketing trends, while shaping our strategy for the year. In this guide, Drift outlines several B2B marketing challenges we will face this year, while providing solutions on how we can prepare and conquer them. 

Find the full report here.

Biggest B2B Marketing Challenge: 

Being human. 

The mantra, “people buy from people”, though commonly accepted by marketers, is still challenging B2B professionals. Companies struggle with humanizing their brands, and it’s been made a whole lot more difficult as the world has turned virtual. Many businesses never successfully adopt that human centric mindset, because that’s just not how it was done in the past. By not taking the time to implement a new process, they are missing out on a vital shift in the way people do business, and just interact in general. 

Quick Tips: 

  1. Become more human as a B2B brand by encouraging employees in building their own personal brands.
  2. Support and grow employee advocacy.
  3. Highlight real people in your content.
  4. Consider having employees author blog posts, present webinars, or share company updates onto their own personal social media profiles. 

Other Key B2B Marketing Challenges: 

  • Cross company collaborations - Sure, we’ve known as marketers the importance of collaborating with the sales team. But now, we’re called to collaborate with other departments too. In 2021, it will be important to build relationships with not only the sales team, but with the product management, and customer service or success teams. The key to growth in 2021 will be aligning around the customer.
  • Virtual events - With virtual events expected to be here to stay, the challenge will be coming up with new and creative ways to keep them engaging. We’ve talked a lot about the subject. From learning how to activate your brand during a virtual event, use swag to create event ambassadors, or humanize your event, to putting together an event strategy focused on engagement - these resources will set you up to tackle virtual events in 2021.

Wrapping Your 2021 Marketing Trends List All Up

Alright, we covered a lot of topics and highlighted many relevant statistics. We highly suggest bookmarking this page and referencing it throughout the year to bolster your marketing strategies. 2021 will be an exciting year, and if we’ve learned anything from the year before, it’s that trends can change in an instant.  After deep diving into all these different reports,  one common theme arose. 

This year it’s all about the customers. 

Whether we’re talking social media, SEO, email marketing or advertising, we’ve seen the biggest trends all point towards offering an exceptional customer experience. It doesn’t matter if you’re a B2B or B2B company. The job remains the same. 

Stay relevant, provide helpful information, and be genuine. If we keep these three things at our focus, we’ll grow alongside our customers, and succeed in giving them the experience that keeps them coming back. 

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This post was originally published March 18, 2021