A new report from Forrester Research predicts consumers will get more emails, texts and push notifications in 2021 than ever before as brands try to develop more direct relationships with customers amid the pandemic and economic fallout.
Forrester’s “Predictions 2021: B2C Marketing” report forecasts that marketing message volume will increase by 40% next year as brands try to hold on to customers and drive new purchases. The report’s predictions outline some of the trends that may have been spurred by the pandemic but are expected to continue to affect marketing well into next year.
Consumers began to notice an influx of emails from brands and other organizations in the early days of the pandemic, as businesses sought to keep them in the loop about closures, safety protocols and programs like curb-side pickup.
But even if pandemic effects subside next year, the attempts to reach consumers directly will continue, especially in the wake of Google’s plans to end support for third-party cookies and Apple’s changes that will impact how mobile advertisers track users.
“An unprecedented pandemic rendered B2C marketers’ existing plans and strategies moot, and new announcements from Apple and Google put data deprecation on a fast track. But these trends aren’t a flash in the pan,” the report says. “In 2021, marketers must prepare for an ecosystem without third-party cookies and device identifiers, all while navigating an unpredictable economy and reduced budgets and headcount.”
The report predicts brands will spend more on loyalty and retention marketing to lean on existing consumers who may restrict spending in an uncertain time. Getting consumers to opt in for loyalty perks or shop with them directly via an app also should give marketers a way to more easily send personalized messages even after privacy changes.
The additional outreach will lead to increasingly cluttered inboxes, so expect marketers to build on their messaging programs, including text messages, Forrester analyst Stephanie Liu said.
“They’re thinking, if you’re not coming into our stores, we still need to be top of mind for you,” Liu said. “Window shopping is less of an occasion these days. So how can we remain in communication?”
Liu said brands might need to think about moving away from the more marketer-dictated messages, in which every consumer in a database gets a push notification at a certain time, a common tactic for retailers. Those can be irritating and irrelevant.
“The flip side of that is messaging that’s more responsive: ‘Based on how you’ve shopped with us before, or based on how you’ve interacted with us before, we think this kind of message will be relevant to you,’ and taking the time to build out that logic, instead of blasting your entire customer list with the same message,” she said. “It’s really like a less is more kind of thing.”
Forrester anticipates marketers will reduce budgets for traditional corporate sponsorships next year, in part since ratings around sports have been down and stadium attendance will be reduced or removed going into next year. Liu said the channel has also been more challenging for marketers to measure return on investment, even pre-Covid.
Forrester predicts some brands will reallocate budgets to cheaper opportunities like e-sports to continue reaching large audiences but with more flexible contracts.
It also said marketers will focus on marketing more on “neighborhood-level” efforts with more geographically targeted messages.
“COVID-19 has driven a surge in sales of newly built homes as consumers flock to suburbs and rural areas for more space and affordability while taking advantage of flexible working options,” the report said. “In response, brands will scramble to transition from urban-oriented messaging to more geographically targeted efforts to engage with local neighborhoods.”