Top 8 Marketing Challenges & Solutions for 2021

Jan 12, 2021 | 6  min
author Kati Fredericksen

The year 2020 has had quite an impact on many businesses. With so many unforeseen events, businesses have had to quickly adjust and make changes during an uncertain time. To help businesses better prepare, Pyxl surveyed marketing and business professionals to better understand the state of digital marketing for 2021 and provide valuable insights and predictions for what businesses can expect in the new year.

Based on Pyxl’s 2021 Digital Marketing Survey Report, we discovered that businesses will face many obstacles when it comes to navigating the uncertainty of what 2021 has in store. The results from the survey report revealed 8 main marketing and industry challenges businesses are currently facing and will continue to face in 2021.

We’ve listed the top 8 marketing and industry challenges, including some solutions and resources to help businesses prepare for 2021.


1. Challenge: Reacting and adapting to COVID-19

It’s no surprise here that when asked what the top industry challenges for businesses from 2020 continuing into 2021, 46.3% of businesses said COVID-19 had the biggest impact. Here are a few of the challenges some businesses have expressed due to the impact COVID-19 has had on their industry.

a. Concerns with budget and consumer spending
Because of the global pandemic, 2020 has been described as the worst recession since the Great Depression. And with 2021 still facing uncertainty, businesses are struggling to understand how to prepare for the new year. The economy, unemployment rates, retail sales, and the stock market have all seen a major dip in the past year due to the recession, causing consumer spending to continue to decrease. With a lack of consumer spending, businesses have either cut their budgets or are still uncertain as to what their marketing budget will be because of the continued changes in the market.

b. Difficulty keeping up with the continuous changes
COVID-19 has changed consumer behavior and therefore changed how organizations have usually managed their business. Because of the pandemic, businesses have had to react to the contrast changes and make adjustments to their strategy to accommodate. With so many changes and uncertainty, businesses have found it difficult to adapt and plan for 2021. 

When asked what their biggest industry challenge in 2020 was, one survey recipient responded, “Uncertainty about the future; agility to react quickly and have marketing campaigns that can as well.” 

c. Focus on digital marketing
Due to the increase in home-based customers, businesses have had to focus on digital marketing rather than in-person or traditional marketing efforts to reach their consumers.

However, with so many businesses turning to digital marketing methods, businesses are struggling to stand out when so many companies have started competing on similar platforms.

The digital landscape is very congested in the age of COVID. It’s more important than ever to differentiate your brand online, whether it is inboxes, newsfeeds, or websites.


Businesses must remain flexible and react quickly to changes as the digital landscape continues to shift during the recession. Businesses will need to regularly monitor marketing and business metrics during the pandemic to see what’s working and what’s not and modify or develop new assets or update messaging to reflect changes due to the pandemic.


2. Challenge: Lack of resources

Twenty percent of the businesses surveyed said their biggest marketing challenge was lack of resources. This could be a multitude of things including lack of quality talent, lack of time, or lack of money, all of which could be related to the effects of the 2020 recession.

As previously mentioned, businesses are struggling to keep up and stand out amongst their competitors in the digital world, but are also seeing a decrease in marketing budget due to lack of consumer spending. This means businesses are trying to do more with less.


Hire a digital agency, like Pyxl, to manage some or all of your digital marketing projects.

Here are a few benefits of outsourcing to a digital agency that might help with business’s current lack of resources:

1. Cost savings: The cost of outsourcing to a digital agency is far less than hiring a full-time employee who has the skill sets required to compete with other businesses. This means businesses can do more with their budget.

2. Save time: Time is a huge factor. Businesses want to do more, but usually realize they just don’t have the resources to do everything well. By outsourcing projects to a digital agency, that frees up hours that can be dedicated elsewhere within the business.

3. Team of experts: A digital agency is a team full of experts who specialize in all things digital marketing, so lack of quality talent is no longer an issue.


3. Challenge: Brand awareness

Brand awareness was the second most common marketing-specific challenge reported by survey respondents. With more businesses putting emphasis on digital marketing, consumers are seeing more advertisements than ever before, and the need to stand out and differentiate is becoming increasingly difficult for businesses.


Refresh your brand for 2021. A well-defined brand increases brand recognition and can help score more customers. For many businesses, their brand is no longer representing who they are as a company or is no longer resonating with their target customers, which is why brand awareness has been such a struggle.

Here are a few articles on how to rebrand your business to help increase brand awareness in 2021:
1. Is your brand message getting across?
2. Positioning your brand for the new year
3. Factors to consider when implementing a rebrand


4. Challenge: Prioritizing the highest ROI marketing tactics.

Another marketing challenge that was reported from the survey was the struggle to prioritize which aspects of marketing will have the greatest ROI. With so many digital strategies to consider it may leave businesses struggling to understand what direction to take with the limited resources available. Unfortunately, there is no secret formula for determining marketing success. The best way to prioritize and drive focus is to create a business strategy based on the target audience’s needs and business goals.


Here’s a step by step guide to creating a successful marketing strategy to gain insight into what marketing tactics will provide the highest ROI:
1. Identify the target audience
2. Analyze past marketing metrics
3. Perform a SWOT analysis 
4. Define your marketing goals
5. Determine your marketing channels
6. Keep in mind the lifecycle stages and marketing funnel
7. Create a marketing plan
8. Report and measure progress


5. Challenge: Acquiring accurate data

Another reason why it’s difficult to determine the most effective marketing methods is that businesses struggle to acquire accurate data.

My biggest marketing challenge is finding clean data.

Without clear data of what’s working and what’s not working, it becomes difficult to determine the direction of your marketing strategy and where to allocate limited resources.


Start by having access to reporting and analytics tools that offer easy to understand marketing and business reports and metrics.
1. Google Analytics
2. HubSpot Analytics

Also, here’s a list of the top marketing metrics to track and why.


6. Challenge: Needing good talent

The struggle to hire and acquire quality talent has been a common business challenge for years. But especially now, when businesses are trying new digital marketing tactics to compete, finding someone who has the skill sets required to do the job can be difficult to come by.


There are two solutions to finding quality talent:
1. Switch up your hiring strategy OR
2. Outsource to a digital agency

While both options are good solutions, something to note is that 46% of businesses surveyed are looking to outsource to a digital agency in 2021. Most likely to help with some of the higher-level marketing projects such as graphic design, website development, or paid media projects.


7. Challenge: Lack of industry awareness and education

Another industry challenge that was reported was the lack of industry awareness and education. With so many emerging businesses it can be hard for consumers to stay up to date with what new technologies and solutions are available. How can a business market to their target audience if their target audience doesn’t even know their business has a solution?


Understand your audience. The best way to market to a consumer that doesn’t know about your product or service is to provide content that is tailored to your key audience. What are their challenges, motivations, how do they consume information? By understanding and defining your target personas you can start to connect with your audience by answering their questions and communicating your product or service as the solution to their problems.


8. Challenge: Struggling to keep up with the changing marketing rules and regulations

It seems like new marketing laws and regulations are popping up every day, making it difficult for marketing and business professionals to keep up. And breaching these compliance regulations can result in serious penalties.


To stay up to date with the latest marketing rules and regulations, follow industry newsletters like Pyxl’s to ensure you’re receiving the latest digital industry trends and updates. Or partner with a digital agency to ensure your marketing efforts are always following best practices.

Also, here are a few resources to ensure you’re maintaining compliance right now:
1. How to Create a GDPR Compliance Strategy
2. ADA Website Compliance Regulations: What You Need to Know
3. Steps to Ensure Your Website is ADA Compliant
4. Facebook Privacy Issues: What They Mean for Consumers and Brands


Partner with Pyxl

Is your business facing any of these marketing challenges? Hopefully, we’ve provided enough resources to get you on the right track for 2021. Or if you feel like you need a little more guidance, feel free to contact us! We’re a 12-year award-winning digital agency that specializes in creative problem solving and delivering full-spectrum digital solutions to help take your business to the next level.

Want to dive deeper into the data gathered from our digital marketing survey? Download the full survey report for the marketing trends to watch out for in 2021:

What's Next in Digital Marketing 2021 Survey Report Sub CTA

Updated: Jan 12, 2021

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