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6 things marketers need to know for a successful 2021

By Richard Jones | Executive creative director, EMEA

Cheetah Digital


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January 28, 2021 | 7 min read

With all that’s happened in 2020, consumers are looking to interact with brands that can personalize their experience, while still respecting their privacy. Personalization is THE thing we think everyone will be talking about this year. Here are 6 things we here at Cheetah Digital expect to play a role in the marketing landscape of 2021.

No cookies, no problem!! 25% of CMOs Adopt Zero Party Data Strategies in 2021

As more browsers and platforms do away with cookies, it becomes more vital for businesses to interact with customers one-to-one, garnering their trust and, as a byproduct, their contact information. Enter zero party data. Earning zero-party data means encouraging customers to share data directly in exchange for something of value. When this information comes from the customer, marketers don’t have to guess what their customers want — they just have to ask.

6 things marketers need to know

No cookies, no problem!! 25% of CMOs Adopt Zero Party Data Strategies in 2021

In order for brands to prepare for a cookieless future, you should start asking consumers questions in whatever data collection tool you use. Either way, getting to know the consumer through first- and zero-party data is going to be the best way for brands to avoid the scramble to find better identifiers once cookies go away.

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If Content is King, in 2021 Context is Queen

If Content is King, then Context is the Queen of the marketing chessboard. Having a more detailed understanding of your customer, from zero-party-based interests to a more detailed view on customer interactions, makes next-generation personalization all the rage. Applying machine learning and analytics to your personalization strategy will allow marketers to drive efficiency, effectiveness, automation, and optimization. In a remote-first, socially distanced world the future of the customer journey and personalization doesn’t look the same as it did a year ago. By leveraging machine learning and analytics, you can better understand customer context to increase marketing effectiveness.

The traditional concept of ‘Offer Management’ turned on its head in 2021

Marketers want to deliver better and more relevant content to their customers to increase marketing effectiveness. In order to deliver this, the traditional concept of ‘offer management’ needs to be turned on its head. In today’s day and age, offers can be messages, images, content, programs, coupons, ‘thank you’ messages, and various other key customer engagement mechanisms that are deployed in real-time. It’s all about enabling the value exchange with your customers. The key enabler to this is intelligence and letting the machine do the heavy lifting of content and offer optimization and letting marketers focus on what they do well, driving strategy and fostering creativity.

The Reinvention of Personalization

Gartner notes that 27% of marketers believe data is the key obstacle to personalization, revealing their weaknesses in data collection, integration, and protection. Personalization is all about the data; batch, streaming, structure, or unstructured, you need it in one place to aggregate, analyze, and activate. Personalization as a strategy, personalization as a technology, and personalization as a market are ripe for reinvention. As Seth Godin noted in the opening keynote of Signals20, it's not as much about Personalization as it's about being “Personal”.

The next generation of personalization is not about cookies or 3rd party data, it's not about merchandising, and it's not about guesswork. The next generation of personalization is about relying on deep data insights, first and zero-party data, and using machine learning to derive not only the right content, not only the right offer, not only the right channel but the right sequence of events that leads to an automated path to conversion.

The next generation of personalization is about providing a value exchange for consumers in the “moment” when you have them on your mobile app, on your site, in your store, how can you provide them something that will generate trust and affinity with the brand?

The Social Media Quagmire Gives Marketers A Social Dilemma

The success of The Social Dilemma on Netflix was a pivotal moment for marketers. The film explores the rise of social media and the damage it has caused to society, focusing on its exploitation of its users for financial gain through surveillance capitalism and data mining, how its design is meant to nurture an addiction, its use in politics, its effect on mental health (including the mental health of adolescents and rising teen suicide rates), and its role in spreading conspiracy theories such as Pizzagate and aiding groups such as flat-earthers.

With a growing backlash against the ‘attention economy’ and the way social platforms try to make us addicted to them, the social quagmire will get much murkier for marketers in 2021

Surge In Loyalty Marketing In 2021 But With A Twist

In times of recession, it is always easier to focus on getting more revenue from existing customers than trying to buy new ones. This puts the focus on marketers to invest in loyalty programs in order to optimize customer lifetime value. Original research from eConsultancy, sponsored by Cheetah Digital, showed already by March, as the COVID pandemic started to hit, that 9X as many Americans were looking to increase their participation in loyalty programs than decrease involvement. But increasingly marketers will construct true loyalty strategies versus reward programs, where advocacy and engagement are as important as points for purchases.

In 2021 it will be important for marketers to move from a rewards program to a loyalty strategy in order to optimize customer lifetime value in a tough economic environment.

As part of our Predictions event taking place 25 - 29 Jan, we held a fireside chat with Cheetah and Vodafone exploring how marketers can get personalisation right in 2021. You can watch the fascinating dicussion here.

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Cheetah Digital is a cross-channel customer engagement solution provider that powers direct-to-consumer relationships across the entire customer lifecycle from acquisition to loyalty in order to deliver growth in customer lifetime value. The Cheetah Digital Customer Engagement Suite enables marketers to create personalized experiences, cross-channel messaging, and loyalty strategies, underpinned by an engagement data platform that can scale to meet the changing demands of today's consumer. Many of the world’s best brands, including Bloomin Brands, Hilton, Walgreens, and Williams-Sonoma trust us to help them drive revenue, build lasting customer relationships, and deliver a unique value exchange throughout the customer lifecycle. To learn more, visit

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