Brands will be pouring time and money into martech in 2021 as they absorb the changes that hit them in 2020, judging by 2021 Marketing Trends: Dissecting the Unexpected, a study by Iterable.
Of the firms polled, 83% will include artificial intelligence in their marketing strategy, and 84% are developing or planning to develop AI capabilities in-house.
AI will help them “automatically calculate and classify customer sentiment to deliver effective messaging at scale,” the study says.
Of course, efforts to build AI in-house may be hobbled by the fact that, “Given the high shortage of AI talent, hiring an in-house expert comes at a steep price.”
The respondents expect to add platforms in these areas: automation, data warehouse/customer data and data analytics, all of which would facilitate personalized email marketing. Indeed, email deliverability technologies also make this list, although they are fifth.
In line with this, 78% will use zero-party data — data provided by customers themselves — to drive personalization.
This could also denote a turn from third-party data, a move that would reduce their compliance concerns.
Iterable reports that 60% of marketing budgets increased or remained the same in 2020.
Email is the most popular channel, used by almost 90% of the brands polled. Social media is second, while SMS is third and direct mail is fourth. Moreover, almost 70% of brands plan to use email next year. But in-app will jump into third place after social, beating SMS.
However, direct mail and email are most likely to be reduced next year.
At the same time, companies apparently are returning to customer acquisition after a seeming period of focusing mostly on retention. Their top three martech business priorities are:
The move to acquisition could reflect more business confidence in light of COVID-19 vaccine development. But that is not totally clear.
The study notes that COVID-19 concern are “not going away.” And this is reflected in the top business concerns cited by marketers:
In addition, over 60% have a mobile app, and 28% plan to develop one next year. Only 11% have no interest.
Meanwhile, brands plan these changes YoY:
The emphasis on in-app and push notifications further solidifies marketers’ plans for AI and zero-party data in 2021.
Iterable surveyed 500 marketers in the U.S. and UK.