Three predictions for marketing analytics in 2021

Last updated: 01-13-2021

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Three predictions for marketing analytics in 2021

The importance of value for money in marketing analytics will rise, new and better ways of evaluating the online customer experience will emerge and digital-first brands will focus in on market mix modelling.

There are three currently visible trends pointing to this:

The first is multi-touch attribution slowly disappearing as an option. Third-party cookies are being phased out (on chrome browsers) or made optional (on apple phones). It means marketers won’t be able to fully track people’s online journeys and analysts will need another method by which to establish how online comms affect sales.

What does the third-party cookie crackdown mean for marketers?

The second is that 2020 saw many performance marketers become aware of the problems with multi-touch and last-click attribution. During Covid-19 they saw huge swings in the number of sales their online communications were supposedly driving. This was not because the platforms suddenly got better or worse at marketing, it was because the pandemic changed the pattern of demand.

Finally, as online shopping replaced trips to bricks and mortar shops, ecommerce brands had a good 2020. With money in the bank and big ambitions for 2021, many will take their first steps into untrackable advertising like TV and out-of-home. To evaluate how those experiments worked, many will turn to market mix.

The kind of market mix modelling that’s evolved for evaluating TV campaigns for bricks and mortar brands isn’t an exact fit for digital-first brands. But, in my experience with brands like Asos and GoDaddy, it can be successfully adapted to become hugely useful.

When we weren’t allowed out during the pandemic, a full £1 in every £3 spent was online, and it’s likely the proportion of shopping that happens online will stay well above historical norms throughout 2021.

It’s partly because there may be more lockdowns or worries about in-person retail, and it’s partly just because online shopping is better for some people and some shopping occasions so that the changed behaviour will continue.

This means more customer experience is taking place on a computer or phone instead of in real life, and that will continue throughout the year.

There are two implications that point to a need for more analytics. First, customer experience will be much easier to track and measure. And second, businesses that knew how to do customer experience well in person, need to learn again about what good service looks like online, or via social media.

Lots of businesses have analytics that establish the likelihood of response to a particular customer initiative, it’s a practice that’s grown out of direct mail targeting and modelling to optimise CRM. This won’t be enough.

All kinds of online and previously offline businesses will need to know not only the propensity of an initial response, but also how customer experience affects sales and churn behaviour over years ahead, and how it affects the brand.

All of this will be part of the toolkit for wise brands in 2021.

There’s no doubt about it, 2021 is going to be a lean year for market research. The IPA’s Bellwether report at the end of 2020 showed 30-40% of execs intending to cut spend.

Market research spend slumps as shift to digital and Covid hit

Analytics may fare better than traditional market research, but suppliers can’t be complacent.

With reduced research budgets, marketing directors and CMOs will be compelled to get at least three quotes, and everyone will be looking for the best value way to get a decent piece of work.

Many will try smaller, independent providers that have lower overheads rather than stop at the first port of call – their media agency.


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