What’s on the horizon for marketers this year? To find out, I sought insight from the following nine tech executives .
We will see fundamental shifts in how organizations approach B2B marketing. Juliette Rizkallah, Chief Marketing Officer, SailPoint
“Standard marketing models will begin to emulate more aggressive and digitally focused B2C marketing approaches, where companies leverage a variety of digital touchpoints to target an individual buyer. B2B marketing will need to adjust the B2C approaches to handle the multi-personae account buying committee and will leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to measure the progression of accounts along the top of the funnel. The second shift will surround events and the role they play in that funnel. Once largely used for high-level awareness, virtual or physical events in 2021 will instead move further down in the funnel and become more targeted to initiate engagement with accounts already active and showing commercial intent.”
In terms of digital fluency, marketers are years ahead of where anyone thought we’d be going into 2021. Alicia Tillman, Global Chief Marketing Officer at SAP
“The technology, the tactics, the flexible mindset – with these tools, disruption is no longer the showstopper it once was. As the world moves forward day by day, marketers are more prepared than ever to be agile and deliver the experiences audiences need, when they need them. Rather than months-long marketing campaigns, brand marketing will more closely mirror the way we’re living our lives as individuals. In the moment, deeply empathetic, and tuned into each other’s needs.”
We will see a stark divide in an organization’s marketing budget spend, followed by consequential impact. Jim Kruger, Chief Marketing Officer, Veeam
“With the unstable economy projected to carry into the new year, there will be a resulting stark divide in marketing budget spend. On one end, companies will look to cut back on marketing budgets because they see it as a variable cost that can be managed up or down fairly easily. On the other end, companies will increase investment in marketing because they see driving demand and building the brand as top priorities. Looking ahead, those organizations pivoting funds away from marketing will ultimately endure longer term impacts. Marketing takes quite some time to build on, and by toggling budgets up and down, past investments will begin to lose momentum. A dip in marketing spend will put these companies well behind others who continue to invest. Those who choose to navigate through this uncertainty and prepare for recovery will be far more successful in the long run.”
Verifying human engagement will be critical for marketer leaders. Dan Lowden, Chief Marketing Officer, White Ops
“In 2021, marketing leaders will be able to confidently verify engagement with real humans as they increasingly become more aware of how sophisticated bots and fraud are infiltrating their marketing spend. Marketers will partner with specialists that can help them accurately gauge if their campaigns are targeting real humans – resulting in better customer experience, ensuring higher engagement, bringing visibility to cleaner data, improving the company’s compliance position and driving stronger ROI across marketing campaigns. Marketers will be given a more critical seat at the executive table because of these insights and actions that help grow the business while ensuring every marketing dollar is effectively spent.”
Recent privacy regulations have given license for walled gardens to raise their walls even higher. Abhay Singhal, CEO, InMobi Marketing Cloud
“This is an extremely uncertain period of time, and CMOs shouldn’t have one roadmap – they should have multiple. For starters, marketing teams will need to be prepared to make the case for why consumers should opt in to data sharing within the app. On the flip side, marketers should also be prepared to potentially not have access to that data and will need to find alternative solutions or tactics to create as much of a consistent ID as possible. Without this, advertisers are at risk of presenting the same ads to consumers over and over, which compromises brand image and user experience. Having contingency plans for both scenarios will be critical, and marketers need to start setting expectations and redefining metrics as soon as possible.”
Company culture will play an even bigger role in recruiting great marketing talent. Amanda Bohne, Chief Marketing Officer at AppNeta
“Now that so many companies have proven that, for many, remote work can be as effective as in-office work, it will be hard for businesses to return to the old ways of doing things if they want to continue to recruit top talent. Top marketers will now be sought after by companies located across the country, enabling them to potentially live somewhere different or more affordable than where their current employer is located. Trying to recruit for a company where in-office work is mandated will start to meaningfully impact your candidate pool, and therefore your ability to attract the best talent.”
No matter what product you sell, what you need to market is trust. Dale Renner CEO, Co-Founder, RedPoint Global
“Consumers want trust in the product quality, trust in the organization handling your data, trust that the organization is doing what is right for the environment and social needs, trust that the organization knows and values you. Trust is ultimately driven through a series of interactions – those brands that are responsible with a consumer’s data and use it to create value for the consumer, those that provide consistent experiences, those that operate at the consumer’s cadence will build that trust. Brands unable to be trustworthy, will experience a dramatic decline in customer loyalty and brand value. ”
B2B marketers will primarily focus on strengthening relationships with existing customers. Elena Filimonova, SVP, Marketing CGS
“Marketers will evaluate their customer base to provide them with unused benefits of their service, while building out business opportunities for the future. By sharing best practices and tips for leveraging existing services with valued customers, Marketers will ensure long-term loyalty with their companies as these customers may be struggling in the current environment.”
Google and Apple have led the industry-wide clapback for transparency and data privacy. Susan Lee, Chief Product Officer, Valassis
“In the new year, it’s reasonable to assume other tech companies will put similar measures in place to further reduce user signals. Fewer precise data points from cookies and mobile device IDs means marketers will engage fewer consumers on a one-to-one or known basis. Instead, marketing teams will need to leverage advanced machine learning models and other probabilistic techniques to reach high-value audiences who look like your known customer base, maximizing scale.”
Omnipresent CX will be a game changer in defining brand loyalty. Colson Hillier, Chief Marketing Officer, Alorica Inc.
“In today’s ‘continuously-connected’ way of life, it’s not enough that brands respond to customers through multiple channels. Consumers crave effortless CX—being able to alternate quickly from different platforms, but for these channels to also be personalized, persistent and effective in solving pain points in the user experience. In 2021, you’ll see more companies stay one step (or maybe even five!) ahead of customers’ wants through advanced analytics and embedded intelligence, which in turn creates more contextual and meaningful interactions that allow brands to market, sell and serve their customers better and faster. When brands proactively ‘push’ tailored experiences rather than rely on customers to ‘pull’ from services after they’ve had a problem, that changes the nature of the relationship, offering insights for marketing teams to better evaluate evolving consumer preferences. The convergence of always-connected consumers, new platforms for service delivery and permissioned data provides the insights, context and channels that ultimately redefine brand loyalty.”
Feature Image Credit: Rainbow Bridge / Getty
As a former General Manager and CMO, who worked for nearly 20 years before getting a PhD and working as an Assistant Professor at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, I conduct research that focuses on helping the C-suite (and aspiring C-level marketers) better understand, develop, and lead marketing excellence.