The Best Marketing “Tricks” and “Treats” of 2021

This year, marketers faced challenges unlike any they’d probably ever encountered before.

And while that might have caused some stress from time to time, it also allowed experts to flex their creative muscles and learn a few new tricks. And with Halloween right around the corner, it seemed like the perfect time to share those insights.

Below, enjoy our roundup of the top marketing “tricks” and “treats” of 2021:

TRICK: Digital fatigue. Though we’ve all acclimated well to e-commerce, video conferencing, and balancing work-life screen time, there’s been a downside for marketers: exposure fatigue. In the past, some companies might’ve allocated a little marketing budget to digital advertising, but at the beginning of the year, this space became oversaturated as most companies began to invest all of their marketing resources online. But not everyone knew how to do this effectively; for example, not everyone was running demographic-specific, well-researched, targeted ads. So individuals were often being inundated with pushy, noisy, generic content. For a time, it seemed like people were starting to gloss over digital ads and block them out. Thankfully, tools and resources became available to help newcomers navigate placement for paid ads, even if it was just segregating campaigns by social media channel or honing in on branded keywords. Plus, companies began to staff up with experts in these spaces, rather than relying on generalists to manage specialized digital outreach. This meant that consumers went back to seeing content that matched their own interests—improving engagement, clicks, and conversions.

TREAT: Improved privacy. Governments around the world have been working to draw the line when it comes to ethically grabbing people’s data from the internet: how it can be gathered, how it can be stored, and how it can be used. Why is this a treat for marketers? Well, people are more knowledgeable about what they’re signing up for—which can mean improved engagement from those who do opt into your newsletters, notifications, etc. Additionally, because people are so used to accepting cookies and agreeing to privacy policies before they enter a website or complete a transaction, we can be a lot more clear-cut on our ability to legally and ethically collect leads, nurture engagement, and communicate with our audiences—taking all of those concerns off us, and allowing us to focus on delivering the actual information, advice, and updates that will help them make decisions and complete transactions that are best for them.

TRICK: Delayed shipping. While the world came to rely more heavily on e-commerce during the pandemic, all of the sudden we faced global manufacturing and transportation congestion caused by the pandemic, environmental factors, and even sociopolitical change. That made on-time deliveries less reliable and frustrated customers who’d become used to last-minute, rapid order fulfillment. This often detrimentally impacted sales and overall customer experience.

TREAT: Competitive pricing. Whether an industry suddenly boomed during the pandemic, or perhaps if it faced shortages, there were many factors that drove competitive pricing. For many marketers, that became an asset. For example, it was a great time to renegotiate contracts or look for new technologies that would make work more efficient. We saw remote-work technologies, like webinar platforms and presentation software, cut their prices, boost their services, and otherwise compete for our attention.

TRICK: Remote work. Around the world, many companies adjusted to having their workforce meet online instead of in person. Commercial properties sat empty, impacting local economies. Employees began to miss interpersonal connections that took place at the office. Plus, they often lost access to vital resources, like conference rooms, free utilities, printers, and office equipment. Marketers needed to think about how to reach people at home, or on-the-go, instead of on their commutes or following a conventional weekday work schedule.

TREAT: Remote work. On the other hand, many companies adapted well to performing remotely, and many are committed to embracing a permanent hybrid model. In some cases, the expense of renting a massive office space was reallocated to new buckets—like marketing and employee morale initiatives. Because people felt like they gained greater control over their own time during the weekday, and had more flexibility, they often generated higher amounts of output and better overall work. Many marketers excelled by understanding people’s current situations and embracing that “new normal,” such as re-exploring successful email delivery days and times or even simply asking how, when, and where people would like to be reached with opportunities. That e-blast that used to perform amazingly when it hit people’s work inboxes on Fridays at 3pm—when they were zoned out at work and looking for easy distractions carry them into the weekend—but not be as successful anymore, when people can just choose to put on the television, walk the dog, or even leave their computers a little early if they’re feeling zoned out. Those who are succeeding in this space are understanding and embracing the realities of their consumer and client base, which has been greatly impacted by major lifestyle changes like working from home.

Do you have any to add? We’d love to hear what you’ve learned and how you’ve overcome obstacles in the past year. Then, let us know how we can help you prepare for 2022!

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