2021 marketing predictions and trends – summarised!

Where does marketing go in 2021? Trends and predictions summarised in 5minutes.
Marketing predictions

It is this time of year I see lots of reflective articles about how ‘2020 vision’ was lamentably absent for us all and how the word of year in 2020 was ‘PIVOT’. Then there are a plethora of articles about what we can expect from this year – possibly a little laughable given how far off the mark predictions were in Jan 2020, but we have learnt a lot of hard lessons and for those of us still standing, it is good to look ahead and see what our peers and industry bodies are thinking about for 2021.  

I have spent a fair bit of time reading lots of articles and speaking to some learned friends on the Predictions for 2021 and these are my key takeaways and musings…

Medium – 2021 B2B Marketing Trends


My 5 key take-aways from this article:

1. Show and Tell

There’s no one size fits all content format. Some people would rather read, others would rather listen, and some would rather join a group discussion. Multi-format will remain the heart, but regardless of the format, if you back up your vision with credible, engaging information, people will start to listen.

2. From One-Way to Two-Way Conversations

Conversational marketing is about context, not compulsive selling. And it’s taking place in several forms, LinkedIn for starters. Linkedin has become the Facebook for work. It’s acceptable to share and scroll on the platform every day to stay connected to the world outside your Zoom window. 

3. Who Is Looking for You?

If you sell big-ticket software, have a budget, and still aren’t using a platform that allows for intent targeting, 2021 should be the year that changes.

4. Elevating Your Brand’s Voice

2021 will bring more strategic partnerships to the forefront. We will likely start seeing more joint online events as companies team up with ones with complementary offerings. Leveraging partnerships can help reach more people than each brand could on its own.

5. Saying Goodbye to Vanity Metrics

Time to finally say goodbye to the shallow end and dive into the deep end. Many tech companies will finally abandon surface-level metrics, such as MQLs, that don’t tell them anything about the account’s quality or fit.

So what is replacing the MQL? For starters, SQAs, that is, sales qualified accounts and account-level engagement metrics such as how companies on your target list are engaging with your brand.

And from me…

The MQL is Dead!

This is a BIG one for me and a topic we will definitely dive into further – sign up to receive our blog below.

This is a great read if this subject has aroused your interest…


Back in 2017, Gartner were already predicting the MQL demise with this article:
The Slow, Necessary Death of the MQL

Deloitte logo

“Customers have made it clear they have high expectations for brands. These include solutions they can trust, a brand purpose that aligns to their values, and experiences that enable them to act as co-creators rather than recipients of someone else’s vision. In the current environment, those expectations were heightened. Companies that succeed, particularly when confronted with global disruption of business, work modes, and service delivery, act with intention and clarity in fundamental ways.” 
2021 Global Marketing Trends

WARC logo

A long and interesting article with lots of facts and stats but these are my summary points…

  • Responding to recession
  • Staying effective in the age of e-commerce
  • Engaging at-home consumers
  • Succeeding in the closed web
  • Structuring for volatility
  • Finding the white space in wellness 

Conny Braams, Chief Digital and Marketing Officer​

There was a little bit less spending in the beginning of Q2, but I think quite quickly we’ve come to the conclusion that if we are going to enter a recession then normally the brands that continue to spend come out much stronger."

“Firstly I think it has been a chance for the marketing function to evaluate the most effective tactics - not just in our new-normal but across the board. There is a natural tendency to keep on doing things just because it's expected of you. The lockdown, loss of face-to-face events and nascent online fatigue has challenged all of that. Secondly, brands that have a strong ethical core have probably weathered the storm relatively well so I think there will be a lot of retro-fitting and value-signalling taking place. Thirdly, online <> face-to-face. More online events will have attached 'experiences' in order to humanise and soften the event, and to create better engagement. Finally, things will slowly get back to as they were I just hope that we learn the lessons that the pandemic has taught us.”

smart insights logo

What was not surprising here to read was that email marketing tops the list of tactics planned for this year,  with 84% of people putting it 1st… Here are some of the other, more interesting bits…

Budgets boosted

The good news is marketing budgets for 2021 are increasing. A quarter of marketers are working with 15% or higher.


The personal touch rules

With high customer expectations in personalization, paired with ABM tools like LinkedIn InMail, which lets you specifically target key accounts and personnel,  this doesn’t really come as a big surprise. It also shows that while you are doing business with other companies, it is important to remember that you’re still dealing with people.


Video offers great engagement

The second most popular strategy for companies in 2021 is rich content video marketing. Just as with B2C marketing, video offers great engagement for B2B companies and can help with social media marketing efforts, as well as engage people more on websites and via emails.

“Empathy marketing was borne out of adversity – there has been a real shift towards genuine customer centricity.”

My Summary…

Early 2020 saw well-laid plans shredded and strewn to the ill-winds that were blowing. LinkedIn was plastered with marketing and sales professionals ‘seeking new opportunities’. By summer we were coming to terms with the ‘New Normal’ and rapidly amended (pivoted)  plans were starting to see impact. Q3/Q4 I felt saw an increase in positivity with those seeking new opps now declaring new roles (hoorah!) and budgets being released again to deliver plans (also hoorah!).

We have definitely seen a shift in style of content being consumed and a lot of my reading bares truth to that. 

My Top 5 words to describe content and approach in 2021?

  • Personalise
  • Trusted
  • Easy
  • Human
  • Relevant

If you have not read it, take a look at Gartner talking about ‘Buyer Enablement’. If your buyers journey is long, complex and requires any level of change, ‘Buyer Enablement’ is a term you should know. In a survey of more than 250 B2B customers, Gartner found that 77% of them rated their purchase experience as extremely complex or difficult. There’s a massive opportunity for supplier organizations to simplify the purchase process by providing customers the information they need to anticipate obstacles and overcome them.

These are to me are all phrases and terms that are repeated and with good reason. People buy from people that is true of any circumstance. 

I believe we’re now in a time of hybrid events with physical events returning but the accessibility of attending virtually being embraced. A world that understands remote working and the benefits that can come from that and collaboration coming to the fore – may be more joint-comms, beyond just Channel-led messaging. New marketing methods and more confidence in the technology to deliver on those – it often means more financial outlay, time for integrations, budget for training and soft-launches/ allowances to fine tune and f*ck-ups to get it right,  but the rewards for the front runners will be vast. Fortune favours the brave!

If the word for 2020 was ‘pivot’,
2021 should be ‘promise’. 

It looks ‘promising’ from where I am sat. Truth in content and ‘promising’ what your product and service can achieve for your prospects and customers and of course the promise of a vaccine to help us all.

2021? Bring. It. On!

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