10 Digital Marketing Trends for 2021
Posted by Lacey Wilcox | May 26, 2021
It’s no secret that digital marketing has seen quite the few ebbs and flows throughout the beginnings of the internet. Trends come and go, and they can present a mixed bag for marketers. If you focus too intently on the most recent marketing trend or fad, you’re going to find yourself exhausted and unsuccessful. But, if you pay no attention to what is going on in this realm, you’re going to be behind your competitors and you’re going to do a poor job serving your customers and prospects.
To help you manage that balance, we’re sharing the ten digital marketing trends we see for this year. These are things you can implement to help your brand stay sharp, keep you ahead of your competitors, and most importantly, keep you relevant with your audience.
Digital Marketing Trends
A quick Google search for “digital marketing trends 2021” pulls up some hundreds of thousands of results. With numbers like that, it’s very easy to become overwhelmed with what you need to focus on to have a successful digital marketing strategy.
There is a chance this list might seem a little hodgepodge or scattered. But the common denominator for all of these items is that they are targeted to your customer.
Video is an aspect of marketing that has steadily gained importance and traction, and it’s only going to continue that trajectory. Video continually outperforms other types of content. People enjoy watching videos that are authentic, helpful, and realistic. Whether you are creating a tutorial, troubleshooting a common problem, providing a look behind the scenes of your company, or just sharing some fun bloopers, your audience enjoys and engages with video.
It’s the understatement of the year to say that Covid shook life up a bit for all of us. It forced businesses to pivot and adapt. And while we are all incredibly grateful things are beginning to return to a semblance of normal, there are some changes that came from this season that are worth keeping for the long haul. One of these is the rise of virtual events.
We all probably prefer events to be live, but attending something in person can be time-consuming, expensive, and cumbersome. Having the option to attend virtually makes knowledge and opportunity accessible to almost everyone, and provides a fantastic opportunity for your company to connect with prospects and earn their trust.
Customers as Promoters
In the past, something that has been touched on with digital marketing is having customers be ambassadors of your brand. Usually, though, it’s mentioned as a passing thought, and more emphasis is given to your strategy than to your customers. But more and more, businesses are turning to their customers to be their greatest promoters.
You’ve probably seen this before on your social channels. Brands are leveraging relationships with influencers and micro-influencers to help spread the word about their products and services. (Note: an influencer is someone with a very large and broad following, like a celebrity. A micro-influencer is someone with a smaller following that is specifically targeted to a certain niche.) Because the customer is the one creating and distributing the content, it’s relatable and authentic, and more trustworthy than if it came from a company.
More Authentic Digital Ads
On that note, brands are stepping up their digital ad game. This is no longer an option for your marketing budget – instead, it needs to include a line item for digital advertising. But these ads need to be as intentionally designed as any content you create. Gone are the days of ads that seem untouchable or unrealistic. Instead, your audience wants things that represent your product or service in real life, as they would experience it.
Use of VR and AR
At first thought, the terms virtual and artificial reality probably don’t seem to have much to do with the more authentic, “real-life” approach brands are taking. But, both VR and AR aren’t just for gaming. They allow prospects the opportunity to experience your brand “in real life.” Brands like IKEA have implemented this, allowing customers to see how an item would look in their home. World Market created a virtual walkthrough of their holiday store display. And cosmetic brands like Tarte (and many others) allow customers to “try on” virtually before purchasing.
Care of Customer Data and Privacy
Privacy is a big deal right now, and for good reason. Your customers want to know their data is safe and secure and something they have complete control over, so give them options for how their information is stored and encrypted and whether or not their information can be shared. You’ve experienced this first hand any time a dialog box pops up on an Apple product asking if your info can be shared when something shuts down unexpectedly. The point is that your customers want to have (and deserve) control of their information and assurance of privacy.
Less is More on Social Media
In the past, many brands have felt pressure to be incredibly active on social media, often feeling the need to post multiple times a day. But the result has been a lot of burnout, and social platforms have actually tweaked their algorithm to make it more difficult for brands to gain a lot of traction without investing in digital ads.
In the future, brands are going to be more true to their identity and their customers’ needs. If your buyer persona is someone who would want to hear from you multiple times a day, then you need to go for that. But it’s far more likely that your ideal customer would rather hear from you on a consistent, highly relevant basis, leaving you more time to produce higher quality content that is more engaging with your audience.
Raise your hand if you’ve gone to a website and instantly wanted to be able to chat with someone from the company.
Oh, good. You’ve all raised your hands. Conversational marketing – which is the technical name for the chatbot on a brand’s website – is becoming more of a necessity and less of an option for businesses who want to connect with and serve their audience. When people come to your website, they will have specific questions, and they will want immediate answers. Providing an option like a chat bot allows you to serve them instantly and earn their trust and business.
More Meaningful Content Experience
Speaking of content, your audience is consuming it more than ever. But the format for that consumption has evolved. It’s no longer enough to throw up a blog post or put together an ebook. You have to offer your audience multiple content options, and you have to create an experience for them that is meaningful and valuable. If you create a blog, make sure it is educational and insightful. Include images to demonstrate your points, or incorporate gifs that are relatable and engaging. Use video throughout your digital marketing, and consider creating stories or reels that are in-depth and instructional. A podcast is a great way to enlighten your audience and build out your network. And if you’re going to create an ebook or offer, make it an experience that will stay with prospects long after they have finished reading it.
Optimize for Mobile and Voice Search
The last big trend for the year ahead is the importance of optimizing all of your digital assets to perform well on any device or with voice search. As you’re building out a website or software, it’s good practice to just assume that visitors will first reach it through a phone or tablet. This is probably not very surprising to you – marketers have been declaring the importance of mobile for years. But, Siri and Alexa have been flexing their muscles lately, and voice search has become the new must-have for digital marketing.
The main trick to optimizing your marketing for voice is to think like your customers. When they’re asking Siri and Alexa for something, what words or phrases are they using? Incorporate these into your content.
Digital marketing seems to change daily, and trying to keep up with every trend and fad is exhausting. That’s why it’s important to focus on the ones that will have the greatest benefit for your customers and your company. The 10 trends shared here will keep your company on its toes and will help you provide service that meets your audience’s needs.
Want to learn more about building out a digital marketing strategy that focuses on your customers and your goals? We can help you craft and execute a plan that will help your company grow and keep you from chasing marketing fads and trends.