The year 2020 has been such an impactful year for the world that in the coming years and decades, we will be speaking of almost everything in terms of ‘time before the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic’ and the ‘time after the Covid-19 pandemic’. This statement couldn’t be truer than in the digital landscape. The pandemic has completely changed the way people search for, access, and utilize information, communication, products, and services.

 

Society and its use of technology are evolving at a rapid pace making it very difficult for marketers to predict or exploit consumer behavior.

 

Make no mistake – consumer behavior has caught hold of the technology shift and is evolving even as we speak. This shift in consumer trends is what is driving the online marketing trends for 2021.

Marketers, now cannot afford to bank purely on their past experience and old marketing strategies to work for them.

 

Here are: 

The top digital marketing trends for 2021

Build your marketing strategies around these to tap into the potential of enhanced reach and consumer buy-ins

 

1. An explosion of user-generated (& short) videos and micro-influencers

The year 2020 was a year of social distancing, lockdowns, and quarantines. It was the year when the world was literally forced to stay indoors for months. This led to a dramatic increase in the use of social media by people across age and gender. 

Video content-based social platforms such as TikTok, Triller, Byte, Snack Video, Kwai, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts took the world by storm in the year 2020.

These mobile-based social applications allow users to generate short videos, showcase their creativity, and have the opportunity to shine, to be popular among peers. This has given rise to a new group of social media celebrities – the micro-influencers!

Micro-influencers get viral traction to their casual, over-the-phone made short videos on anything and almost everything. Brands have begun to tap into this enormous opportunity and are starting to engage with these micro-influencers to market their products/services.

This trend will continue to grow rapidly in 2021. For brands and marketers, these micro-influencers will continue to be a low-cost alternative to TV and radio.

 

2. New social media networks and user platforms

This trend is co-related to the previous one. 2020 saw quite a few social media apps, gaming platforms, chat applications, and more come to life, providing opportunities to users to express themselves and communicate.

This has opened up new avenues for marketers as well, to engage with influencers, to make a proposition, and to run data-driven campaigns.

 

2021 will see brands and marketers experimenting with newer social platforms to gain an early entry advantage.

 

3. Core Web Vitals – The New Page Experience Update from Google

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) experts around the world are right now, obsessed with the impending Google update in May 2021 when Core Web Vitals will become part of Google Page Experience Score – a critical website ranking signal.

This update, perhaps, will be one of the most important ones in recent years and is aimed at rewarding websites that provide high-quality UX (user experience) with better SERP rankings and hence more traffic!

 

Core Web Vitals are a subset of all the UI/UX factors (Google Page Experience metrics) that Google takes into consideration for deriving page experience score.

 

Core Web Vitals consist of three vital page elements:

          1. Largest Contextual Paint (LCP) – this is related to page loading speed

          2. First Input Delay (FID) – this takes page interactivity into consideration

          3. Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – this is all about page visual stability

Check out your website’s Core Web Vital data in the ‘Enhancements’ section of the related Google Search Console account.

Figure out the areas of improvement and start getting your website in order so that you don’t end up losing all your website traffic to a bad user experience score!

 

4. Increase in selling on social media platforms

Social commerce or social-selling is not necessarily new but it has become all the more powerful as a means to market, sell and build brand loyalists in 2020.

The year 2020 also saw Facebook launch Shops for its social media platforms – Facebook and Instagram. Shops now allow all users to directly shop on these social media platforms.

 

Lockdown and quarantine saw a massive increase in the usage of social media platforms by people of all ages and across gender.

 

2021 will see more and more social media marketplaces come up, allowing people to buy directly from their phones, through recommendations, shared products, etc.

This also means that more and more brands will make use of social selling thereby attempting to shorten the consumer journey. Micro-influencers will also have a major role in promoting products/services and influencing their followers to buy.

Even as the pandemic recedes and the world stutters back on its feet, the use of social media by people at large will not decrease drastically and they will continue to search for information and get reviews online.

Brands and marketers will need to also invest well in social listening. They need to catch the smaller shifting interests and sentiments about their products/services or their market quickly and be prepared for their consumers.

 

5. Personalization and Hyper-targeting

For long marketers have strived to improve the co-relation between the customer data and the marketing efforts (content, ads, and other activities) in order to better understand the customer.

The aim has been and still is – to be able to deliver a more personalized experience to the customer – be it in the form of product/service and overall user-experience in return for the customer’s loyalty.

This has been fuelled more in the year 2020 when more and more people were spending more time online. This has led to a huge increase in online buying. The natural impact has been the increase in the online marketing spends by businesses looking to making the most of the available opportunity to stay relevant to their customers.

Personalization (and hyper-targeting) in paid digital promotions and content marketing is a trend that will continue to grow in 2021.

The technological advancements made in AI and real-time data gathering is giving a lift to personalized, targeted shopping experiences as well.

 

Personalization also becomes more important today to ensure that brands are able to stand out in the ever-increasing marketing noise out there and come up with ads and propositions that are relevant to the audience.

 

Recent researches prove that a good chunk of people will continue to buy from you if you send relevant, personalized marketing communication to them. At the same time if you bombard your audiences with marketing communication that is irrelevant then you risk losing them for good.

In 2021, it will be very important for brands and marketers to target their audiences with data-driven and personalized messaging (as much as possible) and targeted campaigns.

 

6. The rise of AI (Artificial Intelligence) in Marketing

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is making inroads in almost all aspects of human activities. Naturally, AI will become a major marketing differentiator for many businesses as they attempt to deliver the most relevant, useful, and in-time products or services.

Some key areas where AI is and will be a disruptor are personalized communication (through chatbots and consumer behavior-driven content feeds), product/service recommendations, email personalization, and transaction assistance. Another key use is of AI-powered voice assistants – more prominently used by mobile users.

 

Get more AI into your marketing if you want your audiences to remember you and keep buying from you!

 

Brands and marketers will have to adopt AI in 2021 into their main marketing activities in order to stay relevant to their audiences.

 

7. The acceptance of AR (augmented reality) in Marketing

Immersive technologies namely AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) have been talked around for some time now. In fact, they have started finding use in various activities that assist brands to market their products/services.

 

2021 will be seeing more and more implementation of AR executions in the field of digital marketing as more brands will find newer use cases.

 

The pandemic of 2020 has acted as the catalyst by forcing people to stay inside and avoid physical contact. This has rather challenged tech-oriented marketers to find unique ways to market their products/services to their audiences along with giving them the feel of their offerings.

AR marketing has been the solution! Few brands have dared to use AR marketing in innovative ways thereby keeping their audiences engaged with the brand. Some of the popular uses are:

  • Trying before buying
    • Also known as augmented shopping, some brands are providing their customers the feel of their products such as makeup, clothes, and more without actual physical interaction
  • Augmented Tours
    • Examples include a 3D display of a location, scanning of objects within an augmented tour
  • Augmented Assistance
    • Examples include AI-powered driving manuals in cars
  • Augmented Branding Materials
    • One can take branding to a new level by using AR on their business cards and marketing collaterals. Users can simply scan the marketing collateral or card for additional information, bringing in an element of dynamism to the overall experience

AR Marketing still remains a novelty; been used by a few of the top brands such as Ikea, Facebook, Sephora, L’Oreal, Hyundai, Mercedes, and Uber.

However; as AR technology keeps improving, we will find more brands experimenting with it in order to provide something new to their consumers in terms of experience.

 

8. Brands that have values and can be trusted

The Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 has been one of their toughest times for the modern world post World War II. Humanity has been tested in many ways in 2020, bringing values like Trust, Social Responsibility, and Humanity to the fore.

Brands that are seen to be making efforts for the world’s good, in general, are enjoying more respect and loyalty from their consumers.

 

We are increasingly noticing a trend wherein consumers are looking to associate with or buy from brands that they can trust.

 

Focusing on creating good products/services and providing good customer service is not enough today. In such a time, it is important that brands or companies focus on taking the right messages to the consumers, showcase their commitment to good causes and display that they care.

My advice is – build and enhance trust by engaging in some social cause and have a well-managed CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) program as well. You can also turn your customer support setup into a customer-oriented community where you will address all kinds of queries from your customers.

 

9. Digital ABM with LinkedIn

Account-based marketing (ABM) has been around some time now and today is one of the most sought-after marketing strategies when it comes to B2B marketing.

The very fact that ABM strategies involve building and nurturing long-lasting business relationships helps it to be among the most effective marketing strategies for marketers to crack larger deals.

 

Over the past few years, LinkedIn has become the best platform for organizations to test various ABM strategies.

 

Features like the Sales Navigator and InMail allows LinkedIn users to target accounts with highly personalized engagement. It also allows us to target multiple accounts with pre-planned offers, schemes. LinkedIn is also very useful when it comes to upselling new services/products or renewals to existing clients/customers.

LinkedIn was among the most used social/communication platform by the Sales and Marketing team alike for B2B businesses in 2020. This trend will only grow in 2021! So make sure you have it in your marketing arsenal if you are a B2B firm.

 

10. Demographic changes to the digital audience

Notwithstanding the huge success of e-commerce across the globe in the past few years; the world has been one of people-to-people contact, personalities, and tactile experience for the businesses at large.

Well, the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 has thrown the old systems awry. The world has shifted to the new reality of minimal contact (or contact-less in many cases) based existence.

This shift also forced a new demographics – the Baby Boomers to get used to the online world and even make their first online purchases (mostly out of necessity) for buying essentials and so on.

While the Baby Boomers join the Gen Z and Millennial as e-commerce customers due to the impact of the pandemic; many of them will continue to shop online for things that they are now comfortable with.

This development has presented brands and marketers an easy opportunity to access this new addition to the digital audience to engage and sell to them.

 

Next Steps

Now that you have the top 10 digital marketing trends for 2021 – make sure that you factor all those that are relevant to your market and implement them in your marketing efforts.

Not so sure about how to leverage some of these trends? Or are you looking for help in your digital marketing to meet your business objectives? Write in to us at quad@quadigy.com. We will be glad to assist!