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2021: The Marketing and Compliance Road Ahead

While there is uncertainty for what 2021 will mean for marketers, one nearly universally accepted truth is that it will be a year of change. Companies will continue to adjust to conditions outside their control, consumers will return to some old habits while taking up new ones, and fresh national leadership will have a ripple effect on data and marketing. 

It seems very likely that 2021 will end much different than it began, but how exactly to navigate the year ahead remains up for debate. Will in-person experiences make a dramatic comeback, or will “normal” emerge more slowly? Are long-predicted data regulations coming, or will we continue to see piecemeal implementation? 

Most important, how do marketers put a strategy together with so many questions floating around? 

It’s impossible to know exactly how this year will play out, but based on a number of indicators it is at least possible to get a productive look at the road ahead. 

Data Will Rule—Here’s Why 

Online marketing and shopping became unstoppable in 2020, leading to huge gains among e-commerce firms, most notably Amazon which enjoyed a $100 billion Q4. Digital marketing also saw a rise in prominence with a number of trends, like personalization, social media, and video marketing standing out as especially successful. 

For 2021, some reports show that digital leaders in various industries are anticipating an average increase of 25% towards their digital marketing. With all this digital activity, the most valuable asset for any marketer to collect, analyze, and understand is data. 

It’s going to be vitally important for marketers to have the right tools and processes in place to maximize their ability to turn their data into strategies for a better return on investment. With so much uncertainty, marketers can barely afford to invest heavily in efforts on a hunch or from outdated data. Measuring attribution of campaign efforts and other key performance indicators will go a long way towards thriving in the coming year. 

It’ll be imperative to use solutions that not only track activity and give you attribution data, but that make it easy to view trends and understand what your data is telling you. How that data is managed, and who has access to it, will also be important considerations as a leadership change comes to the federal level.

Whispers of Data Regulation and Compliance Changes 

With a new administration in Washington D.C. and a change in control of the Senate, marketers may see changes in data regulation—and certain business sectors should expect a more intense regulatory focus. 

Certain verticals, like financial services, would be wise to brace for increased regulatory attention in their industry in 2021. The Biden Administration revealed their pick for CFPB to be Rohit Chopra, a current Federal Trade Commissioner known for working with Senator Elizabeth Warren to first create the FCPB. According to Politico, the move “signals that the Biden administration plans to return the CFPB to the more-muscular posture of its early days.” 

There is more ambiguity about how the new administration may impact data privacy rules and regulations. Experts have supposed that the Biden Administration would be interested in pursuing national privacy legislation, especially since now-VP Kamala Harris had championed such causes as California’s Senator and Attorney General. It wouldn’t be wholly unexpected to see national legislation modeled after California’s CCPA. But exactly what such legislation could look like, or when it might be taken up—considering there are many arguably more pressing crises to address—remains to be seen.   

 More “New” Than “Normal” 

It’s assured that marketers will have to display more creativity and ingenuity in the year ahead. Virtual “online only” events are going to be the dominant way to connect with people for much of 2021, and after a full year of Zoom meetings and webinars it’s going to be necessary to think beyond these familiar tools. Recently, email marketing conference MailCon offered up a virtual wine tasting networking event with a winery shipping bottles directly to attendees. 

There is an expectation that marketers may want to plan more asynchronous events and educational materials—essentially putting webinars, presentations, and other useful videos online in an on-demand format. A well-constructed funnel of content that consumers can access at their own pace could be a capable substation for the in-person awareness that would typically happen at a conference or trade show. And while there will certainly be an appetite for in-person interactions to return when it’s deemed safe, it’s also likely that such video content funnels will continue to be useful. 

In short, marketers should continue to focus on strategies that satisfy the immediate needs of a socially distant consumer base, while keeping in mind these strategies should have sustainability beyond the time of Covid. 

It’s difficult to say what this year of transition can teach us. But marketers will make it through as long as they try to anticipate what’s around every corner, maintain a steady hand on the wheel, and, as always, keep their eyes on the road in front of them.

Mark Kosin was a Content Writer at Phonexa, covering topics such as SaaS technology, call tracking, lead generation, and digital marketing.

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