What Marketing Leaders Are Investing in This Year

In an ideal world, marketers would have limitless budgets to invest in experimental initiatives and new programs. After all, the customer acquisition and retention landscape are evolving faster than ever. The challenge, however, is that marketing budgets are often limited around what's proven to work — which tends to look different from company to company.

That's why it's so important to have access to industry data. By knowing where we stand against our peers and competitors, we're better positioned to uncover areas of opportunity. And, given that overall marketing spend is expected to grow by 14% in 2021, you definitely want to know what your competitors are doing.

In this post, we'll discuss data-backed areas that marketers are focusing their investments in 2021.

What Marketing Leaders Are Investing in This Year

Growth Marketing

The HubSpot Executive Marketing Leadership Survey posed the following question to respondents: “What areas of your marketing do you wish your team invested more in 2021?” Most respondents said they wanted to spend more time on growth marketing.

In brief, growth marketing describes the experiments and resulting processes that businesses used to build and retain a customer base over time. This can involve running A/B tests to ensure that all of your marketing efforts directly result from data that clearly explains your best practices in terms of converting and retaining customers. It's closely related to conversion rate optimization, where you're updating your content to increase acquisition.

Growth marketing can also involve using design elements and unique content to connect your brand with your audience to help you stay adaptive, consistent, and recognizable to your target market.

Featured Resource: A Data-Driven Approach To Growth Marketing

Reacting At Speed

63% of marketing leaders say that the coronavirus pandemic has impacted their teams' productivity and responsiveness, and 11% say that responding to global environments is a barrier to productivity.

Because of this, marketers report that they will be investing more time in 2021 in being able to adapt and react at speed. Not only to changes within their industry but also to global challenges, which has proven to be more critical during the current pandemic.

Marketers say that the main issues to reacting at speed are developing unique, creative content at a fast pace and adapting quickly to trends.

They say they'll combat this issue by taking stock of their current content and coming up with an action plan for future adaptations, interviewing their audience about their struggles, restructuring teams, and simply being ready to making changes when issues arise, even at a moment's notice.

Investing in Marketing Technology

60% of marketers indicated that they are set to increase their marketing technology spending in the next 12 months. Investments in marketing technology are directly related to the above marketing trends of reacting at speed and growth marketing, as it will help marketers retain and delight their audiences and react at speed when necessary.

As a refresher, marketing technology, often referred to as martech, is a term used to describe the software and technology used to attract and retain customers. As of 2020, there are 8,000 different martech tools to choose from, ranging from data analytics platforms to CRMs, to internal team collaboration tools.

Regardless of the tools they use, a martech tech stack helps marketers streamline their processes and take a systematic approach to their day-to-day activities. And, as remote work becomes more commonplace, access to these technologies makes it easy for teams to work together, regardless of physical location.

Featured Resource: How to Stay Current on Emerging Tech

Continued Investment in Diversity Marketing

Early 2020 brought many businesses to a reckoning, as increased attention to social justice issues was at the forefront of conversations during the first few months of the year.

Consumers care now more than ever about the stances businesses take on public issues, demanding change and awareness from brands on diversity, equity, and inclusion. One of the ways they want to see this represented in businesses is diversity marketing.

It's an effective practice for marketers to commit to, especially considering that people are more likely to consider a product after seeing an ad they think is diverse or inclusive, and 64% actually take action after seeing an ad they believed to be diverse and inclusive.

Thus, marketers will make a continued and improved effort to focus on diversity marketing in 2021 and be representative of the communities they serve that drive their revenue and keep their businesses afloat.

However, in the same vein, it's even more critical that businesses are genuine about the diversity measures they take. Consumers can see through the fluff, and a recent survey found that 59% of consumers think that companies need to follow up on their statements on diversity with concrete action, or they risk being seen as exploitative and opportunist. Read this post to see examples of businesses that have exemplified the practice of inclusive marketing.


Personalization is the way you interact with your audience and customers in a way that feels individualized, as you use data and buyer personas to create content that tailors to their likes and interests.

While 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalized experiences, marketers like the practice; 96% of them say it helps advance customer relationships. Given this, Think With Google names personalization as an area of focus for marketers in 2021.

How can marketers prepare? By leveraging the other trends on this list — investment in marketing technology that helps you with personalization, like powerful data analytics platforms to learn about customer preferences and email marketing services that help you personalize the messages you share with customers. In addition, a focus on and commitment to diversity marketing also ensures that your audiences are interacting with material that they can relate to and is relevant to their interests.

Join other market leaders in leveraging these trends.

Although not an exhaustive list, marketers are focusing on and investing in the trends mentioned above for 2021. Understand how each one will affect your business, and join other marketers in these investments.

To learn more about the state of marketing in 2021, read this post to hear directly from marketing experts about trends they expect to see throughout the year.

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