2020 has been an unusual year in many ways, to say the least. Covid-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives. From how we behave socially, to how we work and how companies operate all over the world. Migrating to a digital environment has become the only viable option to stay on the map for many businesses, and this has greatly impacted on digital marketing strategies.
The forecast for, at least the first quarter of 2021 is not all that different. More and more companies will have to move online and employees to keep working remotely. This “new normal” makes digital marketing the life saver for businesses to stay afloat, gain new customers, retain current ones and generate revenue.
Here are the top 9 digital marketing trends for 2021:
1. Allocate some budget to cookieless awareness campaigns to reach new audiences
For a big portion of 2020 people all over the world were under mandatory lockdown. This means, not going out, no malls, no stores: no window shopping of any kind for a long time. Customers lost the possibility of looking around stores and discovering products they didn’t even know existed and less that they wanted them.
During lockdowns, shoppers probably received tons of retargeting advertisements showing them offers and deals on products they expressed interest in based on their browsing history. But what about new products? What about those specific articles they don’t get the chance to discover anymore? Additionally, what about those users who never allow cookies?
With non-personalised ads (NPAs) you have the possibility of creating brand awareness amongst users that didn´t know your business. You can reach new audiences showing customers products they weren’t aware of before, but that could still interest them, thus increasing your potential customer base. Additionally you will have the possibility to reach users who block cookies.
Usually, non-personalised ads have lower conversion rates. But at this era of lockdowns when the digital ad inventory is larger than ever, you might want to allocate some budget on them to test. In 2021 it will be more important to keep testing and measuring different types of campaigns and channels. As a digital marketer it is important to keep trying new (and old) alternatives, measure their profitability and find a sweet balance between both.
2. Cutting back on social media platforms in 2021
It seems that a new social media platform is born every other minute. Nobody knows what the next big thing will be, and even when we don’t expect it there’s another channel with millions of users that brands have to be present on.
Designing and creating fresh, valuable content for each social media platform with a constant publishing flow can be draining and an uphill battle for brands, especially small ones. Digital marketing trends for social channels in 2021 suggests brands stop trying to maintain presence in all platforms and focus their efforts on a more sustainable way.
Businesses need a mindset change and start prioritizing their social media. Dedicating more resources to their strategy, doesn’t necessarily mean hoarding platforms. It means to work more efficiently and intelligently on the specific social media channels where their audience is in. It’s better to have a strong presence on 3 or 4 platforms than a weak one in all of them.
3. Optimizing social media shopping in 2021
If normally people spend a lot of time of their days on social media, during 2020 that time has exponentially increased. According to Whatagraph:
In 2018, the average time spent on social media in a day by an adult was 142 minutes, which rose to approximately two and a half hours in 2019, followed by 3 hours in 2020. This is bound to increase as more than 3 billion people are expected to access social media sites by 2021.
That means businesses have more chances to make a sale if their product is available on social media platforms. That’s where the users are, and shoppable posts make the process so much easier for them. Facilitating discovery, personalization, payment and delivery is so important for users. Brands need their product to be where the users are. Just having a Shopify, Woocommerce or Prestashop online store is not enough anymore.
Social media platforms are helping marketers make their products more accessible to people. They are including features that make it easy for brands to upload and showcase their goods, and for customers to purchase items without even leaving the app. This is a trend that will keep on growing during 2021 and it’s a wave retailers should ride.
Creating a store with social media is free and easy. Brands can choose what products they want to showcase, personalise their listings with photos, different colors and fonts. Facebook Shops even includes the Catalog feature where you can group products in different categories making it easier for customers to browse the store.
New features even make it possible to showcase products during live streamings for viewers to purchase directly on Instagram, and for businesses to connect and keep track of their loyalty programs on the app.
4. Interactive content in 2021
With users spending more time browsing the internet every day, it’s important to offer them a valuable experience. You want to connect with customers, and the way to do it is with interactive content. It doesn’t just encourage engagement, it offers entertainment.
Content marketing has been a trend in the digital world for a while. However, for 2021 digital trends, is considered more of a best practice. Providing interactive content is a tendency that moves along personalization.
Some of most popular interactive content ideas are:
- Interactive videos
- Calculator widgets
Including one, or a mix of these strategies can do wonders for your business. On top of enriching users’ experience with your brand, you’ll increase the time they spend on your site engaging with your content.
5. Sharp local SEO in 2021
Small business owners must know that it’s extremely important to keep their digital presence strong on SERP (Search Engine Result Pages). If you own a store, you are probably aware that most of your customers are drawn mainly on a local level. The most important thing you can do is to ensure that your store appears on “near me” Google searches.
Google constantly updates their local SEO algorithm and you should update your local business information as well. Tools such as Google My Business offer extremely valuable information for customers, but it’s up to you as a local business owner to keep it up to date for them.
Claim your business property and get verified by Google. Then you can provide information about your business such as: opening hours (that are constantly changing due do Covid restrictions), geographic location and services.
6. The boom of voice Search in 2021
Voice search commands have been around since 2011 with the appearance of Siri. More recently, with the introduction of devices like Google Home and Alexa into our living spaces, users are becoming more accustomed with requesting information using voice search. According to Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai, 20% of search queries are done by voice.
As this tendency grows, businesses need to start considering optimizing their content and including voice search into their digital marketing strategies. The first step is to create content that adopts a more “conversational” and natural style that matches how consumers ask questions. Creating queries into questions and having a mobile friendly site are key as well.
Voice search optimized content gives businesses the opportunity to reach new audiences, given that the results are often different than if the users typed in a regular text search.
7. Optimizing Digital Marketing with Artificial intelligence
Digital marketing strategies can be greatly optimized and improved with the correct use of Artificial Intelligence. AI offers marketers the power to collect valuable insights on user behaviour, campaign performance and analysis they can use to optimize their digital marketing campaigns and overall communication with customers.
Once all the data is collected by AI, it can react to it. This makes it possible to provide a better customer experience with personalised content. E-commerce sites can benefit from artificial intelligence by showing users products that are relevant for them based on their previous behaviour, such as searches, purchases and views.
For example the use case of Frizbit, one of the major European marketing platforms in Europe providing web push notifications, is quite an interesting and useful form of AI. They collect all behaviour data while users are browsing, then process it and trigger automated push notifications with hyper-personalised content based on user behaviour.
Once a user accepts to receive them, they’ll get messages specially designed for them based on their behaviour in the site. If they browsed a category, product or added an article to their shopping cart a message will be delivered with specific information regarding what they liked.
Thanks to AI, marketers can make product recommendations to users, hyper-personalisation of messages, optimization of display and search ads, email marketing and even content marketing by discovering what works better and what type of content is more effective.
8. Video marketing & Webinars in 2021
Audiovisual content is a powerful tool that easily grabs attention and engages viewers. It offers the possibility to share lots of content in a short amount of time using a very dynamic format.
These inherent qualities of videos make them more relatable for everyone. Most of us prefer to watch a short video than to read long articles or posts. Social media is a great channel to share video content since all platforms have included features to create and share short videos like stories and reels.
Covid pandemic has also contributed to the raise of video marketing as a key element on any digital strategy. Webinars, for example, have become necessary to substitute face-to-face events in all industries. 2021 trends aim that this isn’t going to be a temporary thing and marketers should include video content as a regular on their digital marketing mix.
9. Automated Smart Bidding Strategies in Google Ads
Automatization is the future in many digital marketing strategies. When running a Google Ads campaign, marketers spend lots of time and resources manually optimizing their keywords and bids. On top of being very time consuming, there could be lots of speculation that could be detrimental to your campaign.
Automated bidding on Google Ads takes away all that guesswork and helps businesses achieve their goals more efficiently. Google takes care of analysing all the data and adjusts the bids accordingly to improve your campaigns performance.
Even though automated bidding isn’t all that new, Google has improved a lot in the past year, making it essential for digital marketing strategies in 2021. Marketers can rest assured and dedicate their valuable time on optimizing other aspects of their marketing mix.
In a few words…
The truth is that, even with our best efforts, we can’t really anticipate what the future of digital marketing in 2021 will look like (marketers thought they could earlier this year, and look at what happened). The year 2020 has been a disruptive one in many ways, and that has brought us down to earth and hit us with the reality that we don’t know what’s going to happen.
Digital marketing trends for 2021 move towards automation and personalization. The tendencies are aiming at offering users super personalised content and to alleviate the pressure on marketers to do so thanks to automation tools powered by artificial intelligence.
Brands should focus their efforts on creating customer-centered marketing and content strategies that connect with users. This has been a trend in digital communication for a while now and is the trend that won’t die, especially during uncertain times.
What are your thoughts on digital marketing trends for 2021?
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