Digital Marketing Predictions

5 Digital Marketing Predictions from Gartner for 2021 and Beyond That You Need to See

By Karen TaylorJan 7 /2021

Every year, Gartner makes predictions on what factors will become critical in the face of ever-changing technological advances — including how organizations must be prepared to adapt to the new trends. Several of its predictions are directly related to digital marketing.

Of special note is the fact that, more than any other recent year, 2021 will require organizations to find nontraditional ways to move forward due to the COVID-19 crisis. To rebound will require organizations to embrace innovation and efficiency in digital marketing.

The Gartner’s predictions that will impact digital marketing in 2021 and beyond include:

  1. The Internet of Behavior
  2. AI-driven ads
  3. Customer analytics
  4. Malicious content monitoring
  5. Subscription-based e-commerce

Prediction 1: Internet of Behavior Will Link People and Actions

By 2023, individual activities will be tracked digitally by the Internet of Behavior to influence, benefit and service 40% of people worldwide.

You’ve heard of the Internet of Things (IoT), but what about the Internet of Behavior (IoB)? The concept means, simply stated, that companies can know a lot about a person from data collected from connected devices, including their interests, likes and dislikes, and how they make purchases. They can then employ this insight to influence behavior, such as activating and engaging prospects, personalizing content and testing campaign effectiveness.

Ideas For Employing IoB

  • Understand the customer journey from the moment a prospect takes an interest in a product up until the point of purchase.
  • Improve the buyer’s journey, such as adding more touchpoints for positive customer interactions.
  • Find new ways to communicate with prospects to create connections with the brand at the earliest stage in the journey.

Prediction 2: AI Will Help Create Emotional Ads

By 2024, AI-driven identification of consumer emotions will influence more than half of the online ads.

During the 2010s, the marketing industry gained a deeper understanding of the role that emotions play in consumers’ actions. Now, advances in biometrics and AI are making it possible to detect emotions and use this insight strategically. In this way, AI-based advertising is poised to be the next frontier in consumer understanding and engagement.

Emotion detection and recognition work through a combination of facial recognition, voice patterns and deep-learning analysis technologies — all of which are still in the early development stages. However, they are poised for rapid growth. By 2024, the global market is expected to be worth nearly $25 billion.

Companies such as Amazon, IBM and Walmart are already researching ways to combine biosensors with artificial emotional intelligence (AEI) to detect sentiments that might influence consumers’ purchasing decisions. Publishers like ESPN, The New York Times and USA Today are developing and distributing advertising tools for matching ads to consumers’ moods.

Ideas For Using AI in Advertising

  • When a consumer purchases a product or service, AI could, theoretically, track their facial expressions, body movements and online comments, to gauge their interest in receiving a related ad.
  • AI tools could help marketers avoid insensitive promotions, such as sending customers an upbeat personalized ad when they might be sad.
  • AI could be deployed to help brands detect and respond when customers seem irritated with any aspect of their purchase experience.

Prediction 3: Customer Analytics Will Deliver Wide-Ranging Insight

By 2021, more than 40% of all data and analytics projects will relate to customer experience.

Customer analytics includes a range of tools that extract insight from customer data to improve customer experiences and reach business goals. Given the large amount of data processed by digital commerce platforms and the short window of opportunity to convert shoppers, customer analytics plays a critical role in digital commerce.

These metrics deliver several uses. For example, they can be used to define the rationale for previous investments, validate whether improvements have taken place, set goals for future improvements, and intervene when remedial action is required.

The Primary Metrics for Capturing Customer Analytics

  • Customer satisfaction (CSAT): CSATs are the most traditional metric. They can involve either capturing explicit insight such as survey questions about consumer satisfaction, or implicit insight such as product review ratings, delivery timeliness or mystery shopper scores.
  • Customer loyalty, retention and churn: These metrics include factors such as purchase frequency, channel use, average order size and return rates. They can be used retrospectively, such as time to purchase, or more predicatively, such as to determine the likelihood that a customer will remain a customer.
  • Advocacy, reputation and brand: These metrics include calculating how willing customers might be to recommend a brand or endorse the product. Good examples include trust ratings, price sensitivity, event participation and sentiment scores on social media.
  • Quality and operations: These measure customers who are impacted by a poor product or service experience no matter what actions an organization takes to remediate the problem.

Prediction 4: Brands Will Neutralize Malicious User-Generated Content

By 2024, content moderation services for user-generated content will be a top CEO priority for 30% of large organizations.

User-generated content (UGC) has been a Holy Grail of sorts in the marketing world. As part of the whole new era of self-expression on online platforms, UGC has been viewed like a virtual word-of-mouth opportunity to share users’ positive feedback about brands. According to Adweek, 93% of consumers stated they found UGC helpful when making purchasing decisions.

However, as social media has matured, UGC has sometimes become more contentious, with consumers sharing comments that are malicious on blog comments, videos, live streams and social media. What’s more, scammers are inserting malicious content to push their agendas.

Today, any organization that has an online presence faces the challenge of how to deal with malicious content, including harmful links, explicit material, targeted harassment and scams. Marketers must find ways to neutralize polarizing content to avoid a tarnished image. This often involves investing in content moderation services.

Examples of Malicious Content Moderation

  • Pre-Publication Moderation: Handpick the content you allow to be published, ensuring all content posted on your platforms meets your brand’s standards and goals.
  • Real-Time Moderation: Scout user comments for any malicious content posted. Delete the content and block scam accounts.
  • AI Moderation: Algorithms programmed to find malicious content. Currently, they come in two options, generic or custom-tailored to one organization.
  • Full-Time Human Moderation: Employing a well-trained live moderator who will understand the context, can read all types of content and interact with content owners if necessary.

Prediction 5: More Organizations Will Embrace Subscription-based E-commerce

By 2023, 75% of organizations selling direct to consumers will offer subscription services, but only 20% will succeed in increasing customer retention.

If you’re like most people, you have a recurring billing account for multiple items on your credit card — including everything from Netflix to dog food delivery. Organizations benefit from the recurring subscription-based e-commerce payments with repeatable and predictable revenue. Customers like the convenience and cost savings.

Another benefit for organizations is gaining the ability to predict customers’ lifetime value (LTV) because subscriptions help them retain customers and predict future business potential. Further, marketers gain sharper insight into customers who purchase subscription services.

Best Practices For Subscription-based E-commerce

  • Create a Subscription Marketing Strategy: A successful subscription model needs to stand out from other marketing strategies, including social media and email marketing campaigns.
  • Create Buyer Personas: This will help ensure you promote what customers need, not what you sell.
  • Feature Your Unique Qualities: To commit to regular payments, consumers need to understand what sets you apart from competitors. So, demonstrate what makes your brand different.

Prepare for the Future of Digital Marketing

Along with delivering leading-edge insight, Gartner predictions also give organizations the opportunity to see into the future and lead the pack on the next great development in marketing. Taking a leadership position on the latest and greatest marketing development delivers its own unique value proposition.

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Karen Taylor
The Author

Karen Taylor

Karen Taylor is a professional content marketing writer with experience writing for over 100 companies and publications. Her experience includes the full range of content marketing projects — from blogs, to white papers, to ebooks. She has a particular knack for creating content that clarifies and strengthens a company’s marketing message, and delivers optimum impact and maximum results. Learn more at