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Why You Should Ignore 2021 Digital Marketing Trends

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Reasons to Ignore Digital Trends Predictions in 2021

Krista Neher

Dec 14 2020

‘Tis the season for the digital marketing trends in 2021 prediction posts (ok, I’m not going to lie – I created one too).

The truth is, that I’m not a big fan of these posts. Or the “get excited over trends” thinking.

Here is why.

As marketers, we do need to stay sharp and aware of what is coming. BUT this is a going process. We should be doing this anyways. The flip of a calendar year doesn’t suddenly mean amazing new things will happen.

There are also more specific reasons that I don’t like to focus on trends.

#1. Most Businesses can grow ROI from what Already Works

The truth is that almost every business can generate positive ROI by focusing on the foundational elements of digital marketing.

These are proven things that are known to work.

Many businesses aren’t maximizing and optimizing the proven strategies and tactics that get results.

Switching gears to chase the shiny new object isn’t likely to generate better ROI.

#2. Strategy is a HUGE Opportunity

Crafting or sharpening your digital marketing strategy is always a good use of time. If new “trends” fit into your strategy – great.

Too often we hear about trends and get excited about them, but they don’t necessarily fit into our strategy.

Clearly align your goal, strategy objective and tactics to focus your efforts.

It isn’t challenging to have a great strategy but it does take some time and effort. Create or sharpen your strategy to grow your results.

#3. Most Items Stay on Lists for YEARS – They Never Catch

If you read these posts you find the same things for years, and years, and years. AR has been a “trend” in digital marketing since I got started in 2007 (remember Second Life?).

Year after year we see the same things (mobile, AR, VR, AI, IOT, blah, blah, blah) and while this generates excitement from marketers consumers don’t adapt to these things quickly.

“This year will be the year of mobile” lasted for 10+ years (I do think we are finally there).

Focus on fishing where the fish are vs. trying to make leading technologies work (especially if your customers don’t use them).

#4. Look for Innovations Where you Already Are

New breakthroughs are actually rare, and most take many, many years to catch (see #3).

Where you should focus isn’t on some revolutionary new thing – it is on what is new within the areas you focus on.

Where is Facebook evolving to? They incorporate the new trends like live videos, AI, short video and more.

How is Email evolving?

What is coming up in SEO?

Look for the innovations in the big established tools that you already use. Getting more out of something you already do can be huge.

#5. New Innovations Should Only Account for 10% of Your Budget

If you want to drive ROI you need to prioritize your resources. Marketing activities can be categorized as:

  1. Hygiene – the basics required for a business
  2. ROI Hub – the things that work
  3. Innovation – new ideas that aren’t proven

You always should be working on something new and innovative, but most of your energy should go to optimizing the hub.

With something new it is important to keep in mind that it may succeed or not. There are also fewer best practices and proven approaches to rely on , so you need to have a trial and error mindset.

As you think about what “new” ideas you have time for, remember to not over invest as your success here isn’t guaranteed.

Digital marketing investment priorities

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