2021 Marketing Predictions

Every turn of 2020 was utterly unpredictable. Nevertheless, we feel pretty confident about the 2021 marketing landscape. We’re less than a month in, and we’re already starting to see some trends that will define the year.

In all honesty, it’s anyone’s guess as to how the next 12 months will play out, but our team has some solid theories about digital marketing in 2021. At the very least, we know this year filled with a lot of progress. Things are already rapidly changing, but we’ll be prepared for whatever the marketing industry throws at us.

Here are the trends we think you can expect to see in the next year.

"2021 Plan" on Black Letter Board



People aren’t just buying products. They’re purchasing experiences and lifestyles too.

Out of all our 2021 marketing predictions, this one is the most abstract. At first glance, “Immersion” can feel like a foreign concept, but think about Disney. It’s become less of a brand and more of a lifestyle– movies, theme parks, hotels, cruises, clothes, storefronts, and even a fresh produce line at grocery stores.

The company has successfully immersed its consumers in all things Disney. They’ve mastered the full brand experience. And we think smaller companies are going to make their mark on immersive branding in 2021. Of course, on a smaller scale.

Lights Lacquer, an independently owned nail polish brand, has found an immersive tactic hidden in plain sight. The company uses its social media to host digital movie nights, or “Lacquer Ladies Nights.” Customers get to watch women-led movies with the brand’s owner, social media influencer Kathleen Fuentes.

The company’s first product launch focused on Girl Power, and they’ve made the theme a cornerstone of the brand. Lacquer Ladies Night is the immersive touchpoint used to deepen the brand’s connection with customers and drive that theme home. Instead of just a nail polish line, Lights Lacquer has positioned itself as a relatable lifestyle brand for women, by women.


Comfortable Colors

Dark mode isn’t always the answer. Web developers will welcome new color palettes.

The dark mode trend was born out of concern for eye strain, but new research shows that dark mode may not be as beneficial as developers initially thought. As a result, the web design world is now waking up to the fact that serene colors can relieve eye strain too.

In 2021 we anticipate that web designers will opt for softer, more comfortable color palettes in direct response to the large swaths of black that overtook the internet. Many web designers are working color back into their projects and halting their dark mode projects altogether. And these color palettes are refreshing.

Don’t be surprised if you see calm shades of green, dusty mauves, and mid-tone blues within a site’s design. We also expect an influx in beige, cream, and tan color schemes, which can look quite sophisticated if executed correctly.

Cell Phone with Split Screen Featuring Dark Mode and Light Mode
Google Analytics 4 Interface


Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

We foresee a new wave of frustration and confusion among Google Analytics users.

Google Analytics 4 officially launched in October 2020 with a lot to be desired. It’s an entirely new way of tracking, measuring web and app traffic in one place. In theory, GA4 will collect enhanced measurement data like scrolling, file downloads, and video engagement. But it’s still in its infancy, and Google has left out many features that users have grown accustomed to.

“Many of the default reports that marketers have come to rely on have been removed or replaced. Popular dimensions and metrics such as ‘medium’ and ‘bounces’ no longer exist.”  Ken Williams, Senior Data Engineer at Search Discovery

Here’s where the frustration comes in. The platform is shockingly incomplete compared to previous versions, even though Google has touted it as a 2021 marketing hub. Currently, GA4 doesn’t integrate with Google’s other tracking products like Search Console or Ads Manager. It also doesn’t allow for custom metrics like pageviews per visit.

In other words, basic reporting is a challenge, but it should get easier with time. How quickly Google plans to complete GA4 is still a mystery. Either way, we expect there will be a learning curve no matter your comfort level with previous Google Analytics versions.


Instagram Reels

TikTok reigned supreme last year, but we have a feeling the app’s popularity will slowly decline thanks to Instagram Reels.

Instagram introduced Reels in August 2020, and it immediately became TikTok’s biggest competitor. Companies have been apprehensive about adopting TikTok even though the app has over a billion users. However, we predict that brands are about to take a leap of faith and head over to Instagram Reels.

We’ve seen this type of thing happen before. A few years ago, marketers felt hesitant about Snapchat even though it had a growing user base. Then Instagram launched Stories in 2018, and Snapchat took a nosedive. Within eight months, IG Stories surpassed Snapchat’s daily active user count.

Fast-forward to 2020, and 4 million businesses have an ad budget exclusively dedicated to Instagram Stories. And we’re pretty confident the social media platform will do it again with Reels, but this time, the effects won’t be so immediate.

We think influencers will stick around on TikTok—for now. But if brands do flock to Reels, Instagram will likely broaden its features, making it easier to utilize that platform and monetize content. Only time will tell what additions they’ll make to Reels, but we think more advanced features will ultimately draw Gen Z and influencers away from TikTok in the long run.

Instagram Reels Interface


Corporate Transparency

Brands will utilize social media and blog posts to better communicate with consumers.

Last year, nearly every organization put out a statement of some kind—whether about COVID policies, reflections on tragic events, or necessary information like modified shopping hours. Before, communication was limited. Few brands commented on topics like health, politics, or civil rights. But the business landscape drastically changed from 2019 to 2020.

If the past year has taught us anything about marketing, it’s that people appreciate transparency. 86 percent of Americans believe transparency is more important than ever before. And over the past few months, businesses have realized that corporate transparency is the way to create long-lasting relationships with their customers.

We believe 2020 was just the beginning of ongoing transparent communication between companies and their customers. Social media will be that initial connection between casual consumers and transparent brands. Currently, 81 percent of people believe social media has increased accountability for businesses.

We predict that brands will use social media to link to long-form content where they will let the public know about their policies and corporate news. They’ll discuss hard-hitting topics, share company statistics, and give consumers a better insight into their culture.

Dissecting marketing trends is just something that’s a part of our nature. At the end of 2020, we analyzed some of the year’s most prominent trends. Even though we want to put last year behind us, we think the best way to learn about the future is to look at the past. Our lineup may give you some insight as to what your 2021 marketing efforts will look like.

Our Favorite Marketing Resources

Apps, movies, and everything else we loved in 2020

2020 Marketing Trends: A Year in Review

A look back at the biggest trends in digital marketing