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Five Things Marketers Should Stop Doing in 2021


Summary: In 2021, marketers need to stop focusing on old marketing strategies like one-size-fits-all content, manual journeys, and "you might like" algorithms. Today, it's all about providing a value exchange, automating journeys, applying decisioning, and creating customer empathy.


I’m not the first person to be ecstatic about leaving 2020 behind us and moving forward to brighter days in 2021. The global pandemic tested our will, forced us to change how we work and live, and really opened up new opportunities to focus on digital transformation and re-write the playbook for marketing and customer engagement at large.


As with New Year’s resolutions, I often think about things I’d like to be doing better in 2021, whether it's work, home, family, health, or life in general. I will certainly be contemplating what that looks like in 2021. Since 2020 was such a trying year, I want to leave you with 5 key things that we learned you should stop doing in 2021, and 5 new ways you can progress your marketing programs moving forward.

  1. Stop recommending products, start providing a value exchange. Get to know your consumers, their interests, and preferences. In this COVID environment, nothing is worse than a blind offer that does not relate to the needs or interests of consumers. You can do this by asking consumers simple questions, conducting surveys, and providing quizzes. Make it fun, offer something in exchange for consumer info. Only then will you earn the right to engage consumers with tactics that will help you drive more revenue and retention.

  2. Stop creating manual journeys, start focusing on automation. Journeys are ripe for reinvention. They have really evolved beyond the simple drag-and-drop email workflow tools we know from the past. Tap into analytics and tactics like machine and deep learning to help you automate the journey work and drive efficiency into the process. Machine learning can help you choose the right journey or path to send customers on, and deep learning can help you optimize the content and copy. More time can be spent on strategy and being a great marketer!

  3. Stop one size fits all content, start applying decisioning. We all know content is King, but Context is Queen. Just like we saw in the Queen's Gambit on Netflix, the Queen (Decisioning) can go anywhere on the board, but deciding the what, when, where, and how is the real advantage in customer engagement. The content (King) can be sliced and diced and re-used for optimal presentation in various touchpoints and formats.

  4. Stop guessing about personalization and start learning. Anonymous-based web content recommendations were all the rage 20 years ago. Cookies are going away and with increased privacy regulations, knowing the first- and zero-party customer is more important than ever before. Start providing real individual-level experiences based on previous clicks, opens, purchases, and history, not "You might like" algorithms.

  5. Stop selling and start creating customer empathy. Lastly, I think we can all relate to the need to create more customer empathy in 2021. This means acknowledging the climate we are all in right now, the challenges we all face, and the new reality moving forward for brands and consumers. It means ensuring brand touchpoints are respectful, timely, relevant, and not creepy. It means giving consumers more time to make decisions, remove friction, and become more helpful in the customer experience.

What are your big marketing New Year's resolutions? What have you learned from the past year that you want to improve in 2021? Ping me on or Twitter, and let's chat.


This article was first published by Cheetah Digital. Permission to use has been granted by the publisher.

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