We’re going to see more marketing messages in our inboxes, along with more texts and push notifications from brands next year than ever before, according to Forrester Research.

The reason for the upswing is that brands will concentrate their B2C marketing on localisation and customer retention, say the authors of Predictions 2021: B2C Marketing, a new report which forecasts a 40% jump in marketing message volume in 2021.

The report notes that frequency and volume of emails from brands picked up early on in the pandemic as businesses tried to keep customers up-to-date with a rapidly developing situation that meant new safety procedures, changes in which services were being offered, and a host of other issues as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Messages also sought to reassure and explain how brands were protecting their own staff and their customers.

This reassurance messaging from brands is likely to continue into 2021. Even as economies gradually recover from the pandemic’s fallout, many consumers will be highly selective about how much they spend and on what, says the report. That means brands are likely to place greater emphasis on loyalty and retention marketing to keep and encourage those customers they already have.

Forrester analyst Stephanie Liu told CNBC brands were thinking, “If you’re not coming into our stores, we still need to be top of mind for you.”

“Window shopping is less of an occasion these days. So how can we remain in communication?” Liu said.

Instead of blanket messaging of everyone in a brand’s database, which is a common tactic, future messaging is likely to be far more bespoke. “Based on how you’ve shopped with us before, or based on how you’ve interacted with us before, we think this kind of message will be relevant to you,” she explained.

Successfully tailoring messages, their tone, and content emerged as a key challenge for brands early on during the pandemic (as discussed in this WARC article: Finding the right tone of voice during the coronavirus crisis.) Marketers faced a balancing act of keeping a brand top of mind with consumers, while at the same time not annoying them with bland messaging, or worse – being seen as bandwagon-jumping. That challenge is likely to be ongoing.

Local-first marketing strategies will be another trend next year, predicts Forrester: just as consumers have dispersed because of the pandemic, so will brands redefine neighbourhoods and “take more neighbourhood-marketing approaches and use tactics like search to target smaller communities, rather than broad, urban-based marketing”.

Forrester also forecasts renewed attention on campaign optimisation, as marketing departments balance efficiency with the lower headcounts that are one result of the pandemic.

Sourced from Forrester Research, CNBC; additional content by WARC staff