Digital Marketing Trends For 2021

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2021 will be better! We all faced challenges in 2020, which were never seen before in the modern era. However, we realized what was essential and what was not. We were able to adapt and many were even able to grow their businesses.   

The world experienced difficulties affecting companies of all sizes, including digital marketers. However, Salesforce reported that digital sales during Cyber Week 2020 increased by 29% in the U.S. That’s $60 billion spent on the web alone!

Online shoppers went up by 22% as more people stayed at home and shopped online. There is a silver lining, after all, which makes me more optimistic about 2021.   

We will not return to the everyday life we were used to before the pandemic. U.S. Federal Reserve Jerome Powell stated last November that we’re going back to a different economy.  The business environment has changed and we’ll see more people working at home and shopping online.

We’ve learned a lot in 2020 and discovered better ways to do business. Now, we need to anticipate trends for 2021 to develop strategies that will help us continuously grow. Several of what you’ll read below isn’t exactly new. But, there are developments that you should consider before moving forward.

Here we go!

Instagram Reels

Launched in August 2020 to compete against TikTok, Instagram updated its UI recently, indicating that Reels is here to stay. IG also promised that the platform will be more search-friendly. 

If you already have an Instagram account, why not add entertaining and informative 15-30 second videos? Create content that’s business-related so IG can properly categorize you. Adding keywords to your profile or bio will help you rank in searches. If you’re wondering, yes, IG reels can be shared. 

Marketing on TikTok

This social network service claims that 100 million Americans use their app. TikTok used to be the domain of teens, but this is no longer the case. People of all ages are viewing and posting videos on the app.

Is your target market using TikTok? Brands like the NBA, BMW and Calvin Klein have taken the app seriously and are now racking up thousands of followers. Users can add links to their IG accounts.

Open a free account and check out what’s trending if you’re curious. This app may expand your reach and increase your brand awareness.

Google Shopping

It’s now free for merchants to sell on Google, regardless of whether they advertise on the platform. Your business can now display product listings, which will lead more people to your online assets. 

This is good news for companies that cannot invest in paid ads. For consumers, this means exposure to more options available through Google’s Shopping tab. Visit the Merchant Center and find out how this can benefit you.

YouTube Shopping

According to this Bloomberg article, Google has set the wheels in motion to make YouTube an online shopping destination. Every product you see on a video might soon be for sale. YouTube creators were asked to tag and track products featured in their clips. The data collected will then be linked to Google tools for analysis.

YouTube hopes it will soon compete against giants like Amazon. New integration with Shopify for selling on YT is also being tested. Maybe we’ll see the launch of YouTube shopping in 2021.

More Image Searches

As you already know, customers can conduct queries using pictures. If you have images and videos, do these have proper descriptions? Add keywords in the filename of your photos, which should be of high-quality.

You should try Google Lens if you haven’t.  Among its many features is its ability to provide descriptions and shopping suggestions when you point your mobile camera at an object. If you’re selling physical products, now is the time to optimize your marketing assets for image searches. 

SEO Optimization

A trend as old as the Internet itself … however, search algorithms are always evolving.  Did you know that UX or user experience is now a significant factor in rankings? Loading times, stability and mobile-friendliness are now taking center stage when websites are rated.

Google uses its search signals and Core Web Vitals to measure user experience. Use Google Analytics and its PageSpeed Insights to get an idea of how your website is faring. I would also suggest checking user behavior with Crazy Egg.  With these tools, you discover what areas of your website needs improvement.

Search Intent in SEO marketing

Anticipating inquiries that are more conversational in nature can help you rank high in searches. Natural language use is no longer exclusive to voice searches. 

Google’s algorithm can interpret unclear, grammatically incorrect and vague queries with semantic search to find what people are searching for. How is this relevant for digital marketers?

More queries now are in the form of a question.  Aside from what, where, why, when and how, Think With Google reports that “should I,” “can I,” and “do I need” queries are on the rise on mobile platforms. It will be wise to consider these in your content.

Local listing SEO search

Searches that include ‘(business) near me” are widespread now. If you serve customers in your area, I hope you have a Google My Business account set up.

Update your profile often, keep it accurate, and make it easy for customers to contact or find you. Define your service area and hours of business. You can also show promos, discounts and feedback. Let your searchers know why they should come to you.

Increased Role of Micro-influencers

Consumers today trust their peers more than celebrity endorsers. Consider partnering with micro-influencers. Check out our article talking about how to use influencers in your marketing.

Micro-influencers have followers in the low thousands but have a more engaged audience. They belong to unique niches and are seen to be honest in their advocacies. Thus, more people trust micro-influencers when they endorse a product.     

Equality in Content

The long term trend is of more customers wanting to see inclusivity in brands they support. The younger generation prefers businesses that show diversity in their marketing ads and content.

Are your blogs, images and videos, etc., inclusive? It wouldn’t hurt to tweak these to show you support diversity and inclusivity.      

Environmentally-Friendly

A Nielsen report in 2018 revealed that 81% of respondents worldwide believe that companies should help care for the environment. In the same survey, 85% of millennials and 79% of Gen X say it is “extremely” or “very” important for businesses to implement environmental programs.

It’s no surprise you find recycling logos on products, plastics and other packing materials. Also, many brands proudly state they only use natural ingredients and biodegradable materials.

Highlight features of your products that promote the environment. These could include energy savings, biodegradable packaging or products made from reusable items. Let your customers know you care for the environment.   

Privacy Regulations

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which took effect in 2018, covers all EU member nations. It also affects companies that conduct business in these countries. Take note if your reach is worldwide.

The law requires that consumers consent before their private information is used. GDPR also requires businesses to provide copies of data collected and allows users to delete the same.

Many tracking functions have been effectively curtailed as marketers can no longer monitor behavior in webpages like keyword searches. There isn’t a similar law in the U.S. and it is unlikely there will be one soon … but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t follow the emerging global trend.

Continuously assure your web visitors that their privacy will be protected. Let them know that you will abide by laws and treat their personal information as if it was your own. Finally, make sure your website is secure under the “https” protocol … it’s also becoming a ranking factor.

Content Segmentation

There are benefits when you divide your target market into smaller segments. You can group them by geographic location, spending habits or product preferences.

As an example for a product version, many people upgrade to the latest version when available, while others maximize the version they have. Also, customers usually have a budget in mind when they buy a product. They won’t go for the best unless they need it.

Certain products may not benefit people living in specific locations. Would you sell winter clothing to a resident of Hawaii?

Marketing strategies must be tailor-fit for these sub-groups. Providing specific solutions pays off as your audience will appreciate you’re aware of their needs. You can do this with segmenting email lists, advertising and the types of content and products you promote to certain visitors or certain geographical locations.  

Interactive content

You want people to spend more time on your online assets. Find out what can work for your business – a survey, quiz, poll or a short video. Most websites now have chatbots or web-assistants to answer inquiries in real-time. 

I recently came across an excellent example of interactive content. Seasonic, a reliable desktop PSU manufacturer, has a wattage calculator on its webpage. It’s convenient for those trying to determine the power supply they need. Once all data fields are filled out, a recommendation appears in seconds.

Keep your audience interested by providing interactive content. What can you provide to help your audience answer their needs in an interesting way?   

Video Marketing

You’re on the right track if your marketing strategy includes the use of videos. People still prefer watching over reading content. YouTube views have greatly increased because of the pandemic. It might slow a bit when people are no longer forced to stay at home.

However, the benefits still outweigh the costs. Video is only going to grow. As explained in our article, creating videos isn’t as complicated and scary as you might think.

Mobile-friendly

A Statista report published last August of this year revealed that mobile devices accounted for 56% of organic search engine visits in the U.S. This number will only grow. Make sure your online assets are optimized for mobile searches.

Improve user experience by providing faster loading times. Minimize pop-ups and use large fonts. How mobile-friendly is your website? Use this testing tool by Google.

E-mail marketing

Yup, boring e-mail is a trend going into 2021! E-mail open rates increased by over 30% because of COVID-19, according to Omnisend’s research. The need to stay home have people searching online for discounts on basic necessities and lower-priced alternatives, and email has always been a very reliable marketing channel to get repeat visitors to your website.

Have you checked your marketing e-mails lately? These may be outdated or out of touch. Update these and inform your audience you empathize with them during these difficult times. Don’t forget to thank them via e-mail when they continue to support your brand.

Increased e-mail automation is expected in 2021. It’s a low-cost investment with a high rate of return. With automation, you can send scheduled or trigger personalized messages to your customers in the thousands. If you want a better idea of automated e-mails, check out ActiveCampaign and Omnisend

Automated Marketing

Artificial Intelligence’s business role will continue to expand as it is becoming more efficient in responding to customer needs. According to Emailmonday, in 2019, 51% of surveyed companies are using marketing automation.

Automating some of your marketing functions allows you to focus more on other tasks. This becomes significant if you’re running a one-man operation.

Automation can enhance a user’s experience, which, as mentioned earlier, is a factor in your Google rankings. If you’re considering automation, I suggest you also look up ManyChat and Ontraport and view their offerings.

More snippets in search results

Do you notice the enclosed short text that usually appears above Google’s search results? These are called featured snippets, and include definitions, answers, lists and other pertinent data. These occupy “position zero” in searches.

Featured snippets favor long-tailed keyword searches like how-to or what is queries. According to this study, click-through rates for position one fall by 20% when snippets are present.

If many of your keyword searches have snippets, learn how to get to position zero and have Google use your information. Check out this article from Alexa for more info.

Continued voice search growth.

Will this be the dominant search medium in the future? It’s hard to say. But optimize for both typed-in and voice searches. As technology improves, expect more verbal inquiries. Here’s our guide that can help you out.

More Virtual Events and Meetings

In-person events are on indefinite hold now. Virtual events are on the rise and will be a permanent feature if your reach extends beyond physical borders. Does your strategy for 2021 include these?

We have an article on creating virtual events if you want to learn more on how to host one.

Digital Marketing and Technology

Something to look forward to in 2021 is the concept of working anywhere. So, maybe it’s goodbye to work-at-home and hello to work anywhere. Advancements in computer technology and faster internet connections will allow us to make decisions, conduct meetings and serve customers without any physical contact, anywhere in the world.

Improved machine learning will mean better customer service, inventory management and marketing with little human intervention. Is Skynet becoming real?  Fortunately, companies now are monitoring the ethical impact of AI.

Cybersecurity will include the added protection of customer info, which might affect analytics. It might get harder to gain (or hack) data because of privacy requirements.

Back home, is your PC, laptop or gadget current or outdated? Many marketers seem to ignore their equipment that may need upgrading or replacing. Don’t be left behind because your PC or laptop is obsolete. We have 5G now. So the next time you buy a mobile, keep that in mind.

You’re one step ahead if you’re prepared for 2021’s likely trends. Which of these are relevant to your business?  What other trends are you seeing? Please let us know below below!

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