What Should CFOs Invest in for Marketing in 2021?

By Ryan Jenkins

2020 has seen a rush to the digital marketplace for businesses who sought to reorganise in the wake of social distancing policies implemented by governments the world over, forcing many to reimagine how they do business.

This record-breaking speed of digital take up has only further accelerated the rise of new digital channels, a pace that is unlikely to slow in 2021, and will likely see CFO’s pressured to release money for further investment across these digital channels.

Raising the question of how to ensure maximum return from this investment, in what is a difficult, and complicated global marketplace.

Understanding why and where investment has been placed through 2020, and where the money is heading in 2021, is critical and one key to note is that in the digital market we have seen a mammoth growth toward marketing campaigns (like content and video) to three influential fields:

  1. Real-time marketing
  2. Automation
  3. Content marketing and distribution (including video)

With the average business in 2021 expected to spend half its marketing budget on digital tactics alone, there has never been a more important time for those charged with keeping the books stable, to get their heads around what the digital outlook is for 2021.

As we all know the world has changed over the past 12-months with brands having to adapt to online modes of business to keep their doors open during COVID-19.

So, where does this leave us as we head in 2021?

2021 will be all about real-time, automated, value-driven marketing driven through the introduction of wearable technology, combined with the demand for instant information that’s helpful, authentic and packed with value.

This means skimping out on quality-orientated experiences is no longer an option for any brand.

During COVID-19’s peak period in 2020, relationships between brands and consumers were amplified, with those who took the time to engage and nurture their prospects with care and empathy flourishing and those that didn’t shift their thinking to suit the times meeting an unfortunate end.

This shift will continue in 2021, and that means the way you invest in marketing overall is more important than ever.

If you had previously relied on a one-channel approach (be it social media marketing, search engine optimisation or just pay-per-click platforms), it’s likely this will not deliver the value your audience is looking for this year.

Consumers are savvy; they know what they want, with little time to find the solution they seek, so make it easy for them through using the three dominatingchannels of real-time marketing, automation and content marketing, all of which must be at the centre of your digital investment.

Embrace real-time marketing

As consumers, whether we’re looking for an answer to our questions or a recommendation on products, we look to digital platforms to placate us.

For the most up-to-date headlines and news, we seek out the words of others. This is the influence of real-time marketing and when you get it right you will then see the uptick in your conversion rates.

The majority of marketing tactics in this field are driven by social interactions and influence. That is, what audience say and do online is the determining factor of how you conduct a certain campaign.

Modern businesses must be able to think on their feet and market in real-time, allowing them to react instantly to what’s going on in the world around them.

COVID-19 is the perfect example, with brands having to act in the moment, rather than planning a strategy ahead of time and locking it in place.

Such spontaneity is evolving quickly and with COVID with us for some time, will be a key component on decisions around investment for senior management and marketing teams through 2021.

This is because there has never been more ‘unknowns’ than right now, at least not in living memory, as we cannot always predict what the future holds, with real-time marketing in place, you can ensure that you have a contingency plan to react and engage with the trends as they arise.

Use automation to save on time, money and resourcing

We live in an age where we no longer need to lift a finger for absolutely everything we’re tasked with, whilst the robots have not quite taken over yet, we are seeing the widespread introduction of automation in the marketing sphere, bringing with it plenty of relief.

In its absolute best form, marketing automation allows brands to ensure their campaigns are more accurate than ever before, bolstering and empowering their sales teams as well as delivering qualified leads.

This automation also provides the opportunity to collect a bigger ROI and nurture audiences through segmentation.

Automation has let companies cut costs and enjoy all-in-one solutions that don’t require a human hand (for the most part), which when you’re lacking the ability to hire more resources, is a godsend.

With automation comes personalisation – something consumers not only crave but expect brands to meet this need, which is why investing in platforms that deliver on personalisation and customisation is crucial for 2021.

Stop ignoring content marketing

Content marketing has long been avoided by plenty of brands and marketers, mostly because it is not an instant technique – like ‘Pay Per Click’, nor the sole driver of rankings in SEO.

However, when you combine content marketing with all of your other channels, you get a powerful suite of campaigns that covers all bases.

Consumers expect valuable content to satisfy their needs, and those that deliver it are typically rewarded for it – be it in conversions or rankings, which should tell you that building quality content for your audience is vital.

In 2021, it’s expected that 84% of marketers will have a solid content marketing strategy in place, whilst 50% said that their content efforts were more successful in 2020 than they were in 2019.

This is because people need valuable, nurturing content to help them feel at ease in a world that is so uneasy.

2021 will see content marketing continuing to change and evolve, with the prime shift seeing brands investing in the decentralisation of content, rather than sticking to their website as the main platform. External channels – like YouTube, TikTok, social media, forums and guest blogging channels will be a big investment for marketers through 2021.

These three channels are only the tip of the iceberg. Like real-time marketing, the investment choices of brands will fluctuate as new platforms come to the forefront.

If there was ever a time to ensure all bases are covered – with as much help as possible – it’s now.


Ryan Jenkins, Founder & CEO of Digital Eagles – Australia’s fastest growing Digital Marketing Agency