Like any innovative industry, digital marketing is always in flux.
Breakthroughs in technology and how consumers consume content demands that marketers stay agile and always two steps ahead of the next big marketing trend.
As customers continue to grow comfortable with digital marketing trends like automation, personal smart technology tools, AI, and voice activation, digital agencies need to go even further, meeting their customers not where they are but where they’re going to be.
Naturally, technological development is a game of attrition.
Only the strongest, most powerful tools and services survive. And that’s been vividly clear this year in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Marketers and consumers live their lives online now more than ever as the outbreak has forced people to work from home, social distance, and generally avoid one another.
But with this strange new world has come enormous opportunities for digital marketers to get creative. Here we’ll pull out our crystal ball and look at 8 digital marketing trends that will dominate 2021.
1. A Renewed Interest in Branding
The pandemic has made for a tougher marketplace for many brands. Forced closures sent businesses scrambling this year and many are still far from recovered. But on the bright side, with the lockdowns have come increased eyeballs online.
As companies adapt to the pandemic consumer’s needs, they’ve realized that they need a new way of doing business online. Beyond creating e-commerce solutions where there once were none or helping businesses get a website up and running, digital marketers have a great opportunity in 2021 to help businesses see the power of branding once again by focusing on an “in this together” attitude.
A perception of honesty and trustworthiness has never been more critical and good branding can bolster that feeling heading into the new year.
2. Growth of TikTok and Reels
Social networks come and go. But this seems to be here to stay: TikTok consolidated itself in 2020. During the quarantine, in the first quarter of the year, it was the most downloaded app in the world, with 2 billion downloads.
The growth of TikTok is one of the main trends in Digital Marketing to keep an eye on in 2021. Unveiling the TikTok algorithm and understanding how to go viral is one of the challenges for the coming year. Besides, new forms of advertising and partnership with content creators of the platform can come into your sights.
Some brands have already stepped up to this trend and anticipated to promote content on TikTok.
The success of the social network in 2020 was so much that it caused reactions. On Instagram, Mark Zuckerberg added a new feature similar to TikTok (not to mention the same), called Reels.
We expect reels to be closely monitored in 2021, as it also tends to grow. After all, the tool has a user base already on Instagram and spends hours of their day there.
Even more important than being on TikTok or Reels is understanding the content language that these platforms are consolidating.
These are fast videos, which care little about professional quality. They seek to explore the effects and tracks to create creative content that goes viral. They serve to laugh but also to educate and inform, always with a touch of humor.
3. Authentic Human Connection
Connecting with real humans is essential in today’s digital world. As COVID-19 forces us to stay home and keep social distance, we crave human interaction. Unable to spend quality time with friends, family, and colleagues in person, we’re turning to technology to bridge the gap.
According to Deloitte’s 2021 Global Marketing Trends report, people seek more human-centric businesses and leave the companies that don’t value authentic connection. More than 70% of those surveyed said they appreciate digital innovations that have deepened their relationships with others during the pandemic.
Marketers should capitalize on the opportunity to develop real relationships with customers. You can start by rethinking your company values, mission, and operations. Start with your value system, which drives your business. When your values align with your clients’ – connecting with their emotions and aligning with their actions – you’ll form deeper connections.
4. Mobile Apps will be Key to Business Growth
The big media consumption story in 2020 was time spent on mobile. Globally we spent over 1.6 trillion hours on our phones in the first half of the year. And in the third quarter, apps usage surged by 25% YoY, with 180 billion hours each month spent on apps. The same research highlights that categories expected to benefit from this rise in app popularity include food delivery, games, online learning, entertainment, and shopping.
As we look towards economic recovery post-COVID, 30% of consumers believe shopping experiences will never go back to the way they were. This makes it increasingly important for retailers to capture this new growth opportunity on apps.
Downloading an app is in itself an indication of affinity for a brand. After all, app users tend to be more loyal customers. For retailers, app users spend three times more than other mobile customers. As this trend continues into 2021, businesses prioritize their app strategy and ensure it’s a value-add channel for their customers.
5. Businesses will be Forced to Embrace the Digital Transformation
Coronavirus has forced brands to adopt digital channels for product and service delivery as well as marketing.
“Digital transformation” has become a popular buzzword since March 2020, and companies of all sizes are investing significant dollars in the migration to digital platforms, including e-commerce, chatbots, email, apps, artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, omnichannel marketing and augmented and virtual reality.
Brands that embrace evolving technologies to create a more seamless customer experience will be in a leadership position post-pandemic.
One key element in a successful digital transformation is developing omnichannel marketing in the new digital age, especially channel use and preferences change.
6. eCommerce Keeps Growing
The pandemic has increased the demand for eCommerce. According to GlobalWebIndex, 49% of all internet users plan to shop online more frequently once the pandemic is over. The biggest change has been amongst consumers who were already shopping online.
From consumers who didn’t shop online before lockdown, 31% say they have begun online shopping during the lockdown and are planning to continue doing so afterward.
Social media platforms are also putting effort into making in-platform shopping more effortless, with Shops on Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat building integration with Amazon.
7. Voice Activated Search Becoming The Norm
This trend pays tribute to our most famous virtual assistants: Siri, Google Home and Alexa. Over the last few years, people have been using digital voices to assist them with nearly everything: playing music, checking the weather, setting alarms and getting directions.
Voice search has also been integrated into many of our everyday tech devices like smartphones, laptops, tablets and more. Thanks to the ease and convenience it provides, the voice-activated search is predicted to further hit a high in 2021.
In line with this trend, there lies a great opportunity for digital marketers, who must look at stepping up their business’s SEO game.
If we consider the fact that the future of search is voice, then marketers must be cognizant of this trend and choose keywords for SEO optimization that are compatible with what people are accustomed to asking a virtual assistant.
Text-based search will be a thing of the past soon, so to ensure that your content is visible, one must ensure it is optimized for both voice and text search.
8. Social Media to convert into Commercial Portal
Stay at home and work from home aided a lot for online purchases in 2020.
Social Media platforms have caught the attention of potential customers and made better sales. Businesses are working rigorously to make their online presence more appealing and attractive.
The shopping Tab on Instagram has replaced the original position of Like Tab, which is evidence for Instagram to become an eCommerce platform.
In 2021, social media platforms can convert themselves into commercial platforms.
Of course, these trends aren’t certain, but they’ve definitely been on the rise towards the end of the year, and we expect them to keep peaking.
It’s important to check sites such as Search Engine Journal for your everyday marketing news to see what sort of changes are going on in the digital marketing industry.