It’s hard to believe that we’re already in the back half of 2021. Though the year still has some course to run, it’s already a much-needed breath of fresh air after the doom and gloom of 2020 — which must mean it’s time to talk marketing and communications trends.

There’s no doubt that the pandemic forced marketers to abandon their well-thought-out strategies. Uncertainty was the reality last year and panic pivots were all too common. Now that we’re on a more positive path forward and dust is settling (or at least beginning to) — Communications Strategy Group (CSG®) wants to talk about what the digital marketing trends that have our eyes.

So what’s trending right now? Here’s what we think… but if 2020 taught us anything it is to expect the unexpected — in marketing and everywhere else.

Cookies Crumble

Privacy concerns and security breaches have caught up with third-party cookies. Gone are the days of tracking consumer behavior across the web and optimizing advertising and marketing dollars with browsing data. Even Google is cashing out of cookies. The tech monolith announced that the 2022 version of Chrome will no longer support third-party cookies. This is a big deal because Chrome commands about two-thirds of the web browser market share. So if we can’t get data from cookies, how will we get data-driven intel on our target audiences? Well, simply put — ask them. First-party data collection is fueling a new wave of customer intelligence and will be a valuable asset in the months and years to come.

A/B Testing is Failing

As marketers, we have long relied on A/B testing to prove our intuitions and steer digital marketing decisions. This approach may be on the way out — and could be perceived as a waste of time and budget. With the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), A/B testing looks to be going the way of the dodo as more sophisticated and immediate tools come to market. Instead of doing things “the old way,” marketers are going all-in with AI and ML. These futuristic, high-tech tools can predict trends in real time before they happen and offer crystal clear insights without having to test a theory.

Keywords Are Not Captivating

Content marketing has become a key strategy for both B2B and B2C marketers. Indeed, it’s been a hot item in any and all discussions about marketing and communications trends for years now. About 91% of B2B marketers and 86% of B2C marketers use content marketing to reach their target audiences. But even though content creation is a go-to strategy in our marketing playbooks, most are not happy with the content they’re creating. So what’s the deal? It’s pretty obvious — keyword-heavy copy is killing content. Sure, keywords are great for Google but not for engaging customers. No one wants to read a blog, an e-book or a website that’s peppered with awkwardly placed words and jargon. Customers crave real conversations that are authentic and content that should not sound like it was written by a bot. The science of keywords needs to be tempered with the art of writing — as audiences (and search engines) become savvier and wary of content that lacks context.

Only time will tell what trends truly take hold of our ever-changing industry — and if CSG’s crystal ball is on point or profoundly wrong. Either way, the rest of the year is gearing up to be highly productive as we get back into it and move beyond the pandemic. We’re ready for what’s next in digital marketing — and to quote the poignant words of some beloved hip-hop icons, Trick Daddy, Lil Jon and Twista, “LET’S GO!”

Want to know more about what CSG does and how we can help your business? Reach out — we’d love to tell you more about our digital marketing and communications capabilities.