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Growth marketing strategy & trends to watch in 2021

Sam Huston
Sam Huston
CSO of Growth, Americas
4 min read
28 January 2021

The challenges and opportunities for CMOs and forecasting

This forecasting theme clearly surfaced in our 2020 B2B growth marketing report, based on a survey of 500 CMOs. In that survey, taken a few months after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, CMOs listed resource allocation (23%), budgets (18%), and planning (12%) as their biggest challenges. As we move into 2021, we anticipate the issue to persist, and as a result, that strategic, agile planning will become a critical skill for marketers, as the lack of stable year-over-year numbers will increase pressure for CMOs to move to more sophisticated modeling methods. In today’s environment, marketers can no longer afford to rely on historical data to make sound decisions — they need to pivot and capitalize on day-to-day insights and real-time data modeling to break through and lead.

And at a time when budgets are tight, and resources are thin — whether running marketing programs in-house or through agency partnership — CMOs have options beyond hiring full-time employees to build proprietary forecasting models. In 2021, agencies will be increasingly called upon to either provide standalone forecasting or integrate forecasting models into campaigns already underway. Agencies also have the advantage of a breadth of data that gives CMOs insight into the full competitive and macro landscapes, not just their own company outlook.

If there’s a silver lining, it’s that CMOs are largely in the same boat. This not only drives the opportunity to make new connections and learn from others — something so important at a time when face-to-face interaction is lacking — but also to identify and partner with like-minded brands to make strategic, nimble partnerships. The current environment has introduced disruption — and opportunity — for all, and such partnerships can lead to a strengthened service offering that meets a holistic market need or to the development of new, digital technologies that allow for cross-channel forecasting based on real-time models vs. static benchmarks.

The new reality with Connected TV Advertising (CTV)

In addition to redesigning an approach to planning, with budgets in flux and consumer behavior changing seemingly by the week, many CMOs are more or less forced to double down on performance management, stalling proactive, long-term growth planning (47% of CMOs reported ‘company survival’ as a top concern in our 2020 B2C growth marketing report).

So, what happens in 2021? How can CMOs in B2C and B2B categories seize the long-term opportunity left largely untapped over the last year? Start at the top (of the funnel).

Programmatic advertising options, led by the accelerated emergence of Connected TV (CTV) advertising, are among the immediate expansion areas CMOs should explore in 2021. Over the past year, CTV has burst onto the scene on the strength of two factors: a COVID-related surge in screen time (media streaming increased by 37%, while the average American spent 20% more time on their phones), and the development of robust measurement capabilities, which allow advertisers to more precisely understand CTV’s value as part of the full customer journey. Despite the disruption introduced in 2020, a massive opportunity — and channel — was born out of CTV, creating a blank space of opportunity for all marketers to reach audiences in new ways on the channels they increasingly live on.

And CMOs willing to test into CTV will reap the benefits — as more marketers open their eyes to the opportunity, adoption (and costs) will swell, meaning those that get in the door early will have the advantage to build brand awareness and access a new base of users — sooner rather than later — that will pay off down the road.

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