The Top 10 Digital Marketing Articles of 2021

"2021 trends" inscribed into wooden building blocks.


Marketers face the prospects of complying with existing consumer data privacy laws, grappling with new ones expected in 2022 and managing customer data — all while dealing with forces like third-party cookie tracking fading away. About 61% of high-growth companies are shifting to a first-party data strategy, while only 40% of negative-growth companies say the same, according to a 2021 Deloitte Insights report.

That said, 2021 left its mark on digital marketers, with plenty of lessons to be learned. We captured some of those trends and lessons in our coverage this past year. And without further ado, here are the top 10 digital marketing articles on CMSWire for 2021:

AR-based product visualization can be used to deliver interactive advertising experiences that connect with customers on a deeper level than traditional advertising. Opportunities are available for marketers to connect with potential customers using technology that allows customers to try out products from the safety and comfort of their own homes. Without the limitations of more mainstream advertising models, has augmented reality finally come of age for marketing?

Imagine if your digital marketing tools had the capacity to predict the future. What would you do with that crystal ball? How about quoting the most likely price to incentivize a purchase? Or providing each user a set of search results that have shown to be the most likely to yield a conversion? Recommending a product through a web campaign that can be most effective to prompt an engagement? How about selecting the best ad for a specific user with the highest propensity for clicks?

This is where artificial intelligence is most effective for digital marketers.

Major tech companies like Apple and Google are notorious for making updates to their systems that leave marketers scrambling to adjust their advertising and marketing strategies. On June 7, Apple announced the latest update for iPhone, iOS 15. As usual, Apple has made updates geared toward the consumer, promising new features that enhance FaceTime, providing redesigns to Weather, and updates to the user interface that make managing notifications easier. 

However, the update also has a few changes that marketers need to be aware of, especially regarding user privacy. We spoke to marketing experts to learn more about these latest updates and their impact on marketers.

The COVID-19 pandemic has thoroughly disrupted many things, including the digital world. Every industry and consumer now recognize the importance of digital channels and experience. Zoom has become our default handshake and remote work is now a mainstay. However, because of its continuing impact, little mainstream emphasis has been given to the death of third-party cookies and how that will change the $500 billion digital advertising industry in perpetuity.

We live in a world where our every digital interaction is recorded, sometimes with our consent and other times without our knowledge.

Over the last few years, tech behemoths like Facebook and Twitter have come under increasing scrutiny from regulators, pushing them to strengthen their security and privacy controls and be more transparent about how they handle customer data. Legislation, such as GDPR and CCPA, have emerged to protect customer data and give consumers control and transparency over how companies store and use their information. 

These are all steps in the right direction. But what comes next for the industry?

Those crafting B2B social media marketing programs should consider employee branding, showcasing C-Suite executives and connecting social media and Account-Based Marketing (ABM) efforts. Those are some of the hot-ticket trends in the business of business-to-business social media marketing, according to Carter Hostelley, founder and CEO of Leadtail, a B2B social media consultancy.

“When I think about B2B social today, companies are very active on social,” Hostelley said. “And the thing I always used to say, and I think it still holds true, is the B2B social side tends to follow by a couple years the B2C side. … Social is discovery driven. It’s really about moving folks from discovering a brand to having interest in brand and then finally having intent around the brand.”

Every marketer and their mother wants to know: What will the industry look like in 2021?

As the pandemic drags on, some bets are safe: Digital channels will be crowded. Most marketing events will continue to be held virtually. But other marketing trends aren’t so obvious.

So what do marketing experts see coming? 

The « social » part of social media took on a whole new weight in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic restricted people to small groups and away from indoor venues.  That meant a switch to more social media activity online, and a shift in behaviors — some expected and some unexpected. If you manage a social media account, you may certainly feel like your wheels are spinning to move towards the right audience.

Considering last year’s trends, we thought about what concepts are worth investing in, anticipating better engagement with customers through a difficult time from the pandemic. We think the following trends are viable for 2021.

Content marketing has played an important role in the marketing mix for both B2B and B2C marketers for a while now. Ninety-five percent of B2B customers view content as a marker of trust when evaluating a business, which makes it indispensable for B2B marketers. While consumer marketers had to make drastic changes to their content marketing plans as a result of the pandemic, the importance of content grew as more people turned to digital channels for information than ever before. 

How has the pandemic changed marketing? What has shifted and what has stayed the same?

Results from the 26th edition of The CMO Survey published in February 2021 and the Special COVID-19 version published in June 2020 reveal several important trends.

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