Digital marketing is becoming more important than ever for businesses, big and small, that want to grow and thrive. And this is because more of our lives, activities, and shopping are happening online than ever. Luckily, there are more powerful tools to reach your potential customers – as well as an ever-changing marketing environment. Things move fast online, which is why today’s blog post will guide you through the 10 biggest digital marketing trends you’ll see in 2021.
We’ve got you covered so you can stay on top of what’s happening and help your business succeed.
Top Ten Digital Marketing Trends for 2021
1. More Online Events
Yes, the coronavirus pandemic might be coming under control and allowing us to leave our houses more often this year than last. However, this doesn’t mean big, expensive in-person events will come roaring back right away. It’s partly due to continued safety restrictions, but also a reflection of several new realities.
The fact is, people got used to the convenience of gathering online during lockdowns and quarantines. Instead of getting on a plane to spend a week stuffed into a conference center or hotel room, we could suddenly attend events right from our home offices. And some events were even available after the live portion ended. As a result, people could get information when they wanted it instead of on someone else’s schedule.
This means that online events will continue to grow as a marketing trend for this year certainly, even if they aren’t the only way you plan events going forward. You don’t need to write them off – just figure out how to do them well. This could mean adding in more sophisticated live video tools. Or maybe even experimenting with augmented reality as part of upcoming online events to build stronger connections with your audience.
2. Increased Online Shopping
This has been an increasing trend in the past decade, but it’s only accelerated in 2020 and now again in 2021. Consumers are getting very accustomed to buying nearly anything they want online.
You might think your business isn’t ready to offer ecommerce options. Perhaps it’s because you think your industry isn’t affected, or your customers don’t actually expect it – but you should think again. If they don’t already buy your products or order your services online, they will want to in the near future.
Businesses who ignore this any longer do so at their peril – your competitors are figuring out how to do it right now, if they haven’t already.
And what goes with more spending online in 2021? Spending without actually having to touch anything! Voice searches are now syncing with accounts to get all those pesky errands out of the way.
Smart devices like Siri, Alexa, and Google have consistently grown in popularity and offer consumers a unique method of searching for information.
As we know, in the “old days” when a person conducted an online search, they would see several pages of results. So, for businesses, landing on the first page was key, especially ranking in the top three.
Now, with voice searches consumers are given fewer choices, if not just one. So, staying up to date means your company needs to begin this as soon as possible, so it’s important to know how. Becoming the 1st or 2nd option in the search means rewriting meta-descriptions to sound better when spoken, and the right keywords people are searching for.
3. Higher Digital Experience Expectations
Along with increased use of online shopping, customers are also raising their expectations for a digital experience. It’s no longer enough to have just a basic website with a few simple functions. Today you need a complete digital presence with a great user experience to keep up and stand out.
Customers have grown very used to the effortless, easy online experiences of companies like Amazon, Airbnb, and Uber. It’s what they want from all business websites these days – complete with a fast site speed and excellent website performance. A homemade-looking website just doesn’t cut it for businesses that want to be taken seriously.
Looking for help designing this up-to-date and delightful digital experience? Think about hiring a web development agency to help you do it the right way.
4. A Different Sales Process
The way people buy has changed pretty significantly over the last five years. It’s not just the move to more online purchases, though that’s certainly an important factor.
It’s also that the entire buying process has changed. Customers can now do their own research and look for product and business reviews and demos online. And they even check out social media channels and review websites for opinions before they ever talk to a salesperson – if they ever talk to one at all.
This means your whole digital marketing strategy needs to be designed around this new buyer-centric sales process. If you’re trying to withhold any info to force potential customers to talk to a salesperson, don’t bother. Doing so will only annoy them and you’ll potentially lose their business. A better method is to shift your selling approach instead.
In fact, customers are so used to the seamless and nearly touchless sales experience they get from other sellers across industries that you want to try to remove all possible friction from the buying process. This will look a little different for B2B businesses than B2C ones, but the basic principle is the same – make buying easier.
5. A Changed Marketing Funnel
Going hand-in-hand with the new buying trend is the fact that customers today aren’t neatly entering your marketing funnel at one carefully designed spot. Hence, they’re coming in at all points of the buyer journey.
Perhaps they appear on your website ready to buy, because they watched a whole bunch of YouTube videos about your products or services. Or maybe they just browse around for a long time on your blogs, seeking tons of info before they think about making a purchase.
Your customer journey map might need to shift a bit to reflect this new marketing funnel, which has sprung a few leaks. It’s time to invest more in nurture marketing techniques, like email marketing. Doing so could pay off as you nurture prospects through the marketing process no matter where they come in or their initial readiness to buy.
6. Super-Charged Social Media
Social media has its share of downsides to be sure, but that hasn’t stopped it from growing in popularity every single year. If you were hoping it was a passing trend your business could simply avoid, think again. Being active on at least one social media channel that works for your target audience is essential. It’s how you build an authentic connection with your customers outside of the purchase experience.
Social media can be a powerful selling tool as well. As more and more brands pop glossy advertisements onto social media feeds, people have grown distrustful of them. It’s harder to tell what brands are authentically good, and which just have good-looking ads.
And this is why influencer marketing has really taken off, as part of the latest digital marketing trends. It’s people with a large, committed audience that trusts them selling a select few products.
Even small businesses can get into the game with micro-influencers, who have smaller followings but highly engaged audiences. Done correctly, social media marketing can significantly build your brand awareness and your business, so don’t ignore it any longer.
7. Customer Centricity is Everything
Consumers these days are absolutely spoiled for choices when they’re looking to buy almost any kind of products or services. That means it’s harder to stand out just by having the newest or most advanced products or hottest services. Hence, you also need to have an exceptional customer experience. And that begins with putting the customer first in everything you do.
This trend goes beyond just providing great customer service when something goes wrong, although that’s always important.
Real customer-centricity means putting the customer first when you do anything:
- design a new product
- update a service offering
- change your billing process
- launch an ad campaign
- promote a new online event
- anything else related to your digital marketing strategy
You need to think about the needs, desires, interests, and fears of your customer before you think about how a change or new approach will affect your company. Even highly successful but stodgy older corporations, like insurance companies, are finding they need to think more proactively about customers or they will lose them due to increased industry competition. In other words, you don’t want to get left behind on this trend.
8. Storytelling Takes Off
Marketers certainly have known for a long time how powerful a story is to sell a product or bring customers into a business. But in a world where marketing noise is getting louder – and consumers are learning how to tune it all out more adeptly – you need a way to get remembered more than ever. That’s where really strong storytelling comes in.
Connecting with potential customers by weaving compelling stories about your business, your brand, and the products or services you offer can increase your brand awareness and make your brand image seem more authentic. It’s not enough anymore to just present what you sell and hope customers like it – you need to tell them a story or two to get them to pay attention long enough to make a purchase.
How can you incorporate this trend into your own digital marketing strategy? Explore new avenues for telling your brand and business story – maybe venture into video marketing, or update your blogging and content writing strategy to reflect your stronger storytelling.
Social media is also a great way to tell stories to customers and prospects alike online. The great news is that in 2021, there are more ways than ever to share your brand story, so get out there and start experimenting.
9. Spending Will Increase
Spending on digital marketing trends has been steadily growing as a share of the overall marketing industry for years now. And in 2021, that trend will certainly continue. Even old-school corporations, who typically spend mostly on traditional advertising, are getting into the digital marketing game.
Unfortunately, many businesses will make the mistake of pulling back their marketing budgets in these still-uncertain times. This is a major mistake because those companies will start falling behind their competitors, and have to make significant efforts to catch back up when the economy is surging again.
Slashing marketing budgets might help your business in the very short-term, but it will stunt your long-term growth quite a lot. And that’s something you just can’t afford in this highly competitive environment. Consumers have short memories for brands, so stepping back for a few months or a year can erode any brand awareness you’ve worked hard to build.
Instead, try to make sure you’re investing in digital marketing as effectively as possible, without any waste. Experiment with some conversion rate optimization for your online ads, email marketing or website updates, for example, so the time and effort you do spend on your marketing are working as hard as possible for your business.
10. Content Marketing Gets Smarter
Content marketing used to be a pretty simple but effective exercise for businesses – get some basic SEO knowledge, do a little keyword research, and write a blog post based around a popular keyword or two. And then you’d watch the Google search results roll in.
But these days, those keyword-stuffed content items like blogs and ebooks aren’t enough to bring in and keep lots of customers anymore. For one thing, search engines like Google have gotten much more sophisticated about determining what kind of content is actually helpful for their searchers. And that trend is only going to accelerate as other digital marketing trends in 2021, with the AI tools search engines use becoming smarter and savvier.
Good content marketing in 2021 will be all about writing for people, not search engines. That means your content needs to be well-written, interesting to read, and offer actually valuable information. Your content also needs to be thoughtfully targeted to what your ideal audience is looking for when they search the internet, not just based off trending keywords.
Plus, there’s just so much basic content on the internet these days that writing posts on popular or over-used topics is not going to get you organic traffic unless you’re one of the biggest sites in the world. Focus on your authority within your industry, and write what your audience really wants to know about – not just what a keyword research tool says you should create.
We Use Updated Digital Marketing Trends
Staying on top of the latest digital marketing trends can be complicated – yet, you know your business will be better for it. At Content First Marketing, we provide data-backed strategies based on the latest best practices and trends, compelling writing from our expert writers, and real results you can measure.
Don’t miss out on the power of digital marketing. Call us today to learn more about how we can help you keep up with the trends and pass up the competition.
Schedule a free business review here to find out how we help businesses grow. You can use these insights for inspiration, and let us do the marketing for you.