What Do You Expect in 2021?

After a very challenging 2020 for sales and marketing, many people are asking – what can we expect in the next year?

I’ll be the first to say that, after the year we’ve just had, it may be a fool’s errand to attempt a forecast. But, from what I’ve been seeing, a few things will be true in the immediate future, if not for the long-term in 2021.

Good Contact Data is Mandatory

One trend that started before the pandemic was the increased need for good contact and marketing data to make decisions. Nothing has been more important in the last year than having good contact data (or marketing lists) to use in marketing campaigns.

You may have been working off of an old list from a trade show or just using your hard-earned list from lots of networking in 2020. The trend (and truth) is that now many companies are utilizing services like zoominfo.com and discover.org to gain up-to-date information and navigate the org chart like never before.

New North took the plunge this year and became partners with ZoomInfo (disclosure), and we now can use this powerful data source in our marketing campaigns. If any of my predictions for the next year, I expect it to be this one: Companies will rely on lots of good marketing contact data to power their campaigns. Physical networking will come back, but until then, you’ll need to superpower your contact lists.

Now, you may be asking yourself, why? Well, the reason is that the competition is getting fiercer and we have to be more precise. We need to be more aggressive in reaching out to people when they’re interested in products and services, and to do that we need to better understand the org charts of the accounts we’re pursuing. 2020 presented a kill or be killed scenario for many B2B tech companies. The same will be true for the first part of this year. Good information is the key to winning any battle, and yours starts with contact data.

Social Media Changes in a Big Way

We’re already seeing signs of the unraveling this year, with Facebook being confronted by an anti-trust suit. But I think the biggest changes are yet to come. Social media underwent a major change in 2020, with more people working at home and the content on all channels shifting to become overly political. I think in the year to come, legislation and additional challenges may make it harder for organizations across the board to use these channels to gain attention ­– even though I think they were subpar channels for B2B purposes to begin with.

Additionally, voices and people are leaving these older platforms in droves, but you wouldn’t know that by the numbers that the platforms put out. The overall consensus on social media is that it’s noisy, argumentative, polarizing, and “not worth the time.” With all these factors poised to remain in play, I think social media continues to shift toward functioning as a personal, one-to-one connection and away from being a public broadcast channel. I also think your content on social media needs to be even more charged, accurate, and helpful than ever before if you want to get noticed.

Your Website Changes

Even though more people are working from home, we’ve seen the increase in traffic on B2B websites increase – even though buying volume hasn’t necessarily increased.

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More information searching and buying is being done online as more people are using the internet to find information, shop, decide, and buy, even in the B2B context.

Your emphasis in early 2021 should be on revamping and retooling your website to communicate your messaging and your unique selling proposition. If you have any products you can sell online, you should do it. And the ones that can’t be purchased online should be presented online in a way that’s so clear and transparent that the buying conversation is simply a matter of final steps.

The point is that your website will become the storefront for your business whether you’ve been a traditional brick-and-mortar retailer or a consultancy. Either way, your website is more important than ever in an online-first world.

Be Ready for the Pendulum Swing!

So, after all this clamp down for about 18 or so months, I suspect that by mid-year and summer, everyone will be dying to get out from behind their screens, out from their houses, and in front of one another again. With treatments, not vaccines, increasing in their effectiveness, people will have more confidence to return to normal working life by mid-year.

It’ll be advantageous to think and plan ahead for this opportunity. If you’ve been into hosting life events, start scheduling them now, and think about how you can both maintain safety for those that are risk-averse and create lots of fun for those who are just ready to return to life as normal.

Your MarTech Stack Gets Streamlined

You’ve been using more online tools in the past few months, and now you see the power of all these automation tools after being remote for so long. In the year ahead, I think most people will try to streamline their costs, because they have exploded in the past year.

If you haven’t adopted a marketing automation platform like HubSpot, Eloqua, Marketo, or Adobe Marketing Cloud, it’s well past the time.

The power of these systems can help reduce labor costs and also speed up your marketing workflow. When you couple this with good analytics and contact data, it’s a superpower. I suspect this year you’ll get a system online that’s more powerful than ever before.

Here’s to 2021

In conclusion, I’m hopeful that 2021 be a safer season of flourishing for businesses across the globe. We can be sure that those who will succeed are the ones that will keep moving forward and adapting. I hope this article helps you keep one step ahead of what’s ahead!

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