COVID-19 has upended how many businesses operate. More and more products and services have moved online and many employees will continue to work remotely or in a hybrid setting for much of 2021. Ten months of varied customer responses to the pandemic have given us insight into the digital marketing trends that are working and a glimpse of what you can expect in 2021.
Here are the key digital marketing trends for 2021 that your business needs to consider to engage and retain current customers and generate more traffic, leads, and revenue.
The Rise of Digital and Influencer Marketing Continues
Brands will continue to move their advertising and marketing dollars from traditional media into the digital sphere, which is expected to account for 51% of 2020 ad spending. Companies are still wary of losses as the second wave of the pandemic takes hold, so we can expect to see big portions of marketing budgets go toward influencer marketing, where brands get a lot of bang for their buck.
Companies of all sizes are investing marketing dollars in the migration to digital platforms, including e-commerce, chatbots, email, apps, artificial intelligence, and predictive analytics. Brands that embrace evolving technologies to create a more seamless customer experience will be in a leadership position post-pandemic.
Consumer brands have historically used social media influencers to present authentic unbiased advertising to appeal to prospects and customers. The pandemic amplified the impact influencers have on the purchase of products, due to a limited ability to shop at stores.
Social media use dramatically increased during the pandemic and there is no reason to believe this won’t be a lasting trend. A recent study found that 40% of people reported that they purchased a product online after seeing it used by an influencer on YouTube, Instagram or Twitter. As a result, there is an opportunity for brands to utilize social media influencers more now than ever.
Influencers can speak on a more personal level and give their honest opinion that resonates more with their followers compared to normal brand advertising. We expect influencers to gain even more popularity and followers and businesses to use influencers more than ever before.
Inclusivity in Marketing
When it’s all said and done, one of the most important lessons the tumultuous year of 2020 has taught us is that inclusivity matters in almost every walk of life. More than at any time in history, the news of the world is telling us the significance of inclusivity. Larger numbers of younger audiences and marginalized groups want to see a more optimistic depiction of equality in the content they consume and the brands they purchase from. The same-old, same-old, homogenous content people have been accustomed to for decades, isn’t what people want to see anymore.
In 2021 digital marketing trends include media and subject matters that cover a variety of races, sexualities, religions, etc., as well as representation for people with physical disabilities and learning disabilities. This includes the content for your imagery and videos, but also the topics you discuss on social media and blogs, or even the line of products you offer.
More Digital Platforms and Features Come and Go
TikTok experienced explosive growth in 2020, surpassing Snapchat in usage with Generation Z, and brands have taken notice. TikTok’s surge in the past year is the epitome of a digital marketing trend. Every technology or platform has its moment until something else comes along. Some have more staying power than others, but there’s almost always a “next best thing” waiting in the wings. Users are always seeking out new and engaging ways to connect virtually.
In 2021, look for leading platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to adapt by adding new features (many are trying to compete for TikTok’s market share with new, short video offerings). As long as TikTok’s young user and creator base are engaged, the app will remain a crucial tool for brands, advertisers and influencers.
Image and Video SEO for Visual Searches
Obviously you can search for images and videos by typing in keywords, but did you know that you can also submit existing images for a search, or even take original photos and search for context? As more and more users discover these visual search techniques, it will change the overall landscape of SEO in general.
To take advantage of the increased amount of visual searches, you want to make sure your image and SEO campaigns are in top shape. Some basics include:
- Always include alt text in your image descriptions
- Add images to your sitemap, or create a dedicated image sitemap
- Include your target SEO keywords in the file name of your image
- Use top-quality images and videos, including HD
It’s probably time your digital marketing team becomes familiar with Google Lens, especially for eCommerce brands. If you handle your SEO techniques right, you’ll take away traffic from your competitors when shoppers conduct picture searches for products or barcodes.
The Power of Voice Search
Voice search is currently not a part of Google’s algorithm; however, it is still dictating current search results, and will certainly be a digital marketing trend in 2021. Voice search queries often yield different results than if the user had typed in a text-based search. For SEO, it’s a good idea for businesses to be on their toes for voice search components for their consumers who are adapting and switching over to that medium.
According to experts in voice search, content must be specifically optimized for voice. It needs to be more direct and conversational so that it will accurately sync with search queries. This will help boost traffic by staying relevant and more visible to customers.
Focus on Employee Engagement
HR professionals are working overtime these days to get a handle on how COVID-19 has impacted employees and productivity. Many people are working remotely for the first time ever and are coming to grips with dealing with the distractions that working from home can bring. It’s safe to say that employee morale is suffering and productivity along with it.
What does this have to do with digital marketing trends? As a manager or business owner, it’s your responsibility to make sure your customer facing teams understand that even though you may not be at the office, you’re still all working together toward the same common goal. Ensure that you set-up multiple communication channels and be prepared to share successes with your entire team on each channel. Motivated employees will communicate better with each other and ensure better client outcomes.
Remember the Digital Marketing Trends of 2020!
This is certainly not an “out with the old, in with the new” category. Many of the digital marketing trends from the past couple of years will continue to be game changers throughout 2021. If you still haven’t implemented these marketing trends, there’s more urgency now than ever before.
* Shoppable Posts: social media posts that directly connect users to product checkout tend to increase conversions by streamlining the payment process.
* Gen Z Marketing: 2020 saw the eldest of Gen Z turning 18 and entering the workforce. If you want to infiltrate this young market, you need to understand what they are looking for and how they’re looking.
* Microinfluencers: as opposed to to premier influencers, microinfluencers are more like average people who have a larger-than-average social media following. If you attract enough of them, typically through social media contests and giveaways, you can achieve the same numbers as top-level influencers at a fraction of the cost.
While these digital marketing trends don’t represent a complete list, it’s a great place to start when planning your marketing strategy for 2021. Marketing managers can improve their chances of success by shifting more resources to social media and local search, adding more personalized and interactive content, and improving the engagement within their customer-facing teams.
Implementing these trends as part of your digital marketing plan for 2021 will help you increase your site traffic, generate more leads, and grow sales while maintaining your customer base.