CMO Predictions for 2021: 5 Trends That Will Simplify Marketing

Acquia CMO, Lynne Capozzi shares 5 predictions for 2021 that will help marketers improve performance, leverage data and simplify customer experience.

There’s a misconception among marketing leaders that delivering better customer experiences means always doing more; sending more emails, spending more on advertising campaigns, producing more videos and buying more complex marketing tools. However, just because a brand is producing a high volume of content doesn’t mean any of it actually sticks with their customers.  

With every business now doubling down on their digital strategy and making more noise, marketers need a more authentic approach to connect with customers. The push for simpler and more agile marketing starts from within. CMOs will need to arm their teams with the right tools to help them work more efficiently and demonstrate value across the entire organization. 

As we head into 2021, many of us are dealing with uncertainty and burnout in other aspects of our lives. The brands that can cut down on complexity will earn customer trust and loyalty At Acquia, we predict these strategies will be key to creating an open and unified approach to digital transformation. 

1. Marketing Messages Will Lose the Jargon 

Many marketers have a bad buzzword habit. Falling back on popular phrases can annoy your customers and distill brand reputation by making you sound just like everyone else. When your marketing lacks identity, it feels both uninteresting and insincere. 

In 2021, marketing language will see less use of jargon and be more genuine. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has taught marketers the value of straight talk and the appreciation of value-based messaging. Consumers face a barrage of messaging from a variety of sources and that has led to shortened attention spans and COVID fatigue on generic terms like the new normal.” And marketers are pretty tired of using them, too. Going forward, CMOs should embrace creativity and ditch the clichés. We expect to see more marketers pushing out shorter, more personal pieces of content and communications that feel more authentic and connected to their brand values. 

2. The Pursuit of Better Customer Data Will Cause Martech Consolidation

For years now, marketers have been obsessed with customer data and trying to execute a strong data-driven marketing strategy that will take the guesswork out of what their customers want. But while data should make things easier on marketers, the huge spike in the number of digital channels paired with the explosion of different data management and analytics tools has left many organizations struggling. According to Scott Brinker’s research, today’s martech stack is 13.6% larger – and that is a problem. With so many disparate systems and platforms that don’t talk to each other, it’s nearly impossible to get a unified view of your true customer. 

In 2021, the martech market will see a consolidation of some smaller analytics players. Rather than waste money and effort on a handful of business intelligence tools that all offer different reports, organizations are moving toward a single source of truth. Marketers’ need for consistent data will be a major tipping point for consolidation among many of the vendors in the field, and hopefully we can say goodbye to fragmented data silos.  

3. Marketer-Friendly Tools Will Shorten Digital Transformation Timelines from Years to Months

A strong, well-thought-out digital transformation strategy will be a necessity for the new year. Prior to COVID, organizations saw digital transformation as a multi-year endeavor. The pandemic has accelerated the need for the pivot to digital and brands are quickly realizing they need to “adapt or die,” a message that has been supported by Gartner research. In 2021, much of this transformation will fall into the hands of the CMO.

Marketers are not necessarily technical, so they will look for low-code and no-code tools that provide ease of use and can be sold to the C-suite in a simple and straightforward way. Marketer-friendly technology also takes the extra burden off IT teams so they can prioritize larger scale digital initiatives. Low code and no code will be the secret weapon to helping both CMOs and CIOs meet their goals, resulting in accelerated digital transformation across the entire enterprise.   

4. Machine Learning Will Go Mainstream 

Artificial intelligence and machine learning help marketers work smarter and faster. As Gartner notes, one of the mega trends businesses should pay attention to is the “democratization of AI.” People are seeing that AI and machine learning are no longer just for data scientists. 

When marketers can automate tedious data hygiene tasks, they have more time to prioritize high-value projects. Practical applications of AI and machine learning will take off in 2021, as marketers develop higher volumes of content targeting each stage in the customer lifecycle. Machine learning will help tailor the delivery of relevant content at scale for each customer's unique needs, at each point of their customer journey. By automating time-consuming work, machine learning allows marketers to personalize experiences for thousands of customers and anticipate future behavior. In 2021, we expect more marketers will recognize the substantial opportunity in machine learning models for optimizing things like customer lifecycle management, promotional efficiency and marketing spend efficiency. 

5. Open Marketing Will Triumph Over Closed Marketing Clouds

Being able to bring effortless digital experiences to customers will require a flexible approach to marketing technology. One major blocker to creating fully integrated customer experiences stems from limited technology options that cannot adapt to future priorities. Without the ability to bring together all of their sources of data and embrace new technology when needed, marketers won’t be able to keep up with new patterns of customer behavior and will fall behind the innovation curve. 

In the past, it may have been acceptable for marketers to use disparate solutions to solve a problem, but now the need to consolidate data will create a forcing function for more vendors to open up their APIs and data so that it can flow freely from one system to the next. Marketers will need all of the tools in their stack to interoperate with one another in order to accelerate their pivot to digital. This new “open marketing” approach will be critical to creating experiences that resonate with customers from one action to the next. Open marketing will help brands develop deeper customer relationships over time and help brands have ongoing, authentic conversations with their customers rather than talking over them.  

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