Digital Marketing Trends for 2021
Updated: Oct 27, 2020
Digital marketing is a rapidly evolving field, increasingly dominated by two factors. On the one hand, we have advancing technological capability, helping businesses to do more online. On the other, we have an increasing focus on customer experience and user interaction, and businesses place the end user at the heart of the digital strategy.
With this in mind, what digital marketing trends can we expect to see as we move through 2021 and beyond?
Digital Marketing Trends for 2021
Consistency in quality and structure
Digital markets are becoming aware of a need for consistency across their whole web architecture. A single page that is not linked in the correct way, or that is not optimised, can cause a site-wide SEO hit.
Urgency and authority
Recent updates to Google's algorithms have pushed the importance of page authority even higher. This is particularly true for content classed as Your Money or Your Life (YMYL), such as health and medical sector content. This content needs to be authored by recognised experts in the field.
An awareness of technical SEO
Technical SEO aspects such as internal linking and metadata are more important than ever under the new algorithms, and markets must remain aware of this.
Targeting structured results on Search Engine Results Pages
Google's SERPs can now present different types of results, from business profiles and Q+A answer snippets to map results. Marketers will need to target the type of structured result they want to achieve for each search.
A cautious approach to voice search
The growth of voice search is still slow. While it is important for marketers to be aware of its potential, this should not be the core focus of your search optimisation efforts.
SMART Google services
SMART Google Ads uses machine learning to make the paid advertising process more simple and inclusive. However, they also remove an element of control and autonomy from the process. If you have the expertise to handle Google Ads yourself, it may be worth avoiding SMART services.
Better testing for digital ads
A/B testing has always been a big part of digital advertising, but this has become more sophisticated. A variety of options – from Instagram Stories, TikTok displays, and Facebook News Feeds – means that marketers need to be updating their testing to ensure ads are appearing in optimised positions.
A new social media landscape
TikTok is a great example of a social platform that came out of left field and took over the world. Today's social media landscape is more diverse, so marketers need to expand their social approach.
Strengthened engagement over messaging platforms
There are now many ways for marketers to reach leads and customers, not least through dedicated messaging platforms. Dedicated platforms such as WhatsApp and social platforms such as Facebook Messenger provide great opportunities for engagement, so marketers need to review how they are connecting with users.
Navigating privacy protections
Operating system updates are increasingly focusing on user privacy and tracking, including Apple's iOS 14. This may have a big impact on digital marketing as Facebook and Google's tracking capabilities may not adhere to new OS rules.
Honing the content marketing strategy
If content marketing efforts are not engaging with leads and customers, the approach may need fine-tuning. Content needs to be focused on customers, providing initial engagement and then nurturing the customer relationship through the sales funnel. Customer-oriented content is a must in 2021.
Considering influencer marketing
Influencer marketing is playing a growing role in customer interaction. Marketers are turning their attention towards micro-influencers who provide specific engagement with customer segments on key issues, as well as building long-term relationships with the right influencer partners.
A more structured approach to testing
Too many businesses are failing to adopt a continuous and structured program of testing for their marketing campaigns. Instead, they rely on occasional testing or even fail to test at all. Successful marketers will adopt a more structured approach in 2021 and beyond.
Variation within conversational marketing
Chatbots have a role to play in customer engagement and conversational marketing, but they need to be used carefully. Marketers need to consider what their customers expect from their interactions, and decide how these expectations can be realised. For simple interactions, a chatbot may suffice. But for more sophisticated queries, human assistance is still necessary.
Ethical and legal considerations
Marketing is a discipline that targets maximum revenue from customer interactions, but there are ethical and legal considerations here. How marketers gain extra revenue from customers will be a key area of examination in 2021 and beyond. And it is up to marketers to stay on the right side of ethical and legal boundaries while still achieving high ROI.
Moves towards increased personalisation (big data)
Customers expect personalisation from the websites they visit, as well as a personalised experience. This means marketers must draw upon big data and analytics as they draft increasingly sophisticated customers profiles, and then tailor experiences towards these profiles. However, this approach must be accompanied by a robust approach to data privacy – something that is also high on the customer agenda.
Diversified commerce channels
There are many ways in which businesses can sell to their customers. Ecommerce platforms help to expand reach, while in-house webstores strengthen brand identity and personality. Social media can be used to both advertise products and sell them directly. All of this means that marketers need to be acutely aware of increased diversity in digital channels.
Understanding the user journey
It is important to understand the motivation of the customer at each stage of their journey. As we move into 2021, there are a number of different techniques that are used to achieve this, but one of the most effective is to gauge the opinion of the customer via customer surveys and their net promoter score.
Providing community support with the right platforms
Businesses are increasingly developing consumer insight panels that provide support communities for users. There are a number of platform options for developing these panels, including Qualtrics and Vision Critical, but business owners need to make sure they are working with a platform that is relevant to the audience and market.
Segmentation within email
The emails marketers send out to leads and customers are critical in nurturing a long-term relationship. In 2021, we can expect to see increasing segmentation along the buyer journey, as marketers adopt sophisticated email nurturing campaigns that target very specific steps along the way to conversion and beyond.
Digital transformation planning
Many businesses are looking forward to digital transformation programs as they move into 2021 and beyond. Where does marketing fit into this program of transformation? Businesses must draft a unified plan that covers all elements of the organisation, including marketing, and that ensures a harmonious and comprehensive navigation of the digital transformation process.
Machine learning and engagement
Machine learning gives marketers the opportunity to increase engagement exponentially. We are likely to see increasing adoption of machine learning in customer-facing AI applications, enabling these applications to use specific kinds of emotional language to elicit different responses from users.
Taking the Right Steps in 2021
Perhaps not all of these trends will apply directly to your business. Or maybe you are finding that customers in your industry are reacting differently to certain prevailing factors in marketing.
It's up to you to take a considered approach to marketing your business. Stay aware of the trends and keep on gauging the opinion of your users. This will give you the insight you need as you decide what changes to implement within your own organisational structure.