Get on Board With 2021’s Top Digital Marketing Trends
As we start to see light at the end of the tunnel and businesses start to re-emerge, one thing is for sure: digital marketing is here to stay. In fact, according to a recent Digital Marketing Institute survey, brands are still increasing digital marketing spending (more than 25% of marketers are spending 90% of their budget on digital marketing).
Staying on top of the latest trends can not only help improve a business’s reach via digital channels but can also increase audience engagement. The resilience of digital marketing efforts in the face of the COVID crisis is proof that brand marketers need to adapt their strategies to meet customers where they are…and they are increasingly online.
Here are seven trends to look for:
Trends and Their Benefits
- Conversational Marketing
An interactive method that’s effective because it brings a personalized approach to doing business online, conversational marketing allows businesses to engage with website visitors and customers through real-time conversations, ideally converting leads via these dialogue-driven interactions.
One key benefit of the conversational marketing approach is that it results in a business’s ability to garner the specific information it wants and needs from online visitors. According to Forbes Agency Council, conversational marketing “is the new direct marketing,” which allows businesses to “design purposeful customer interactions that invite and welcome customers to have a conversation with your brand, and to ask questions or modify a product offering or incentive so it fits their interests and needs.”
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
No longer just the stuff of sci-fi movies, Artificial Intelligence (or AI) has become a ubiquitous term used to describe machines and computers that mimic “cognitive” human functions, such as learning and problem-solving. Many big-name brands have adopted its use in their marketing to great success (for instance, Amazon and Spotify). Consider those personalized playlists, for example. Spotify uses a predictive recommendation engine, which allows the app to curate an individual’s song preferences to literally know what you’re thinking.
This type of automation is a powerful tool, providing valuable customer insights through data collection and analysis. Many successful brands have begun to communicate with their customers through messenger apps, such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Slack. In these cases, AI chatbots are utilized to streamline the process.
- Email Marketing
With email marketing seeing an uptick given the amount of time people have been online this past year, this is one trend businesses will need to take notice of. However, you can’t just fire off a bunch of emails and hope for the best. The key, obviously, is that the recipient will open and read the email and, ultimately, take action.
Some of the email trends and techniques that marketing experts are noting as effective include authentic personalization, more customer appreciation emails, automation, and an attention to the mobile experience.
- Visual Design/Web Design
While it may seem simple, tastes and trends in color and layout play a big part in a successful digital marketing campaign. Overall trends for this year are tending to favor simple, easy-on-the-eyes design, including simple digital visualization, muted color palettes, geometric shapes and patterns, and classic serif fonts that elicit feelings of nostalgia.
As medium.com asserts, “In 2021, web designers will think outside the two extremes of dark and light. They are going with the middle ground like soft color palettes, for example, wholesome greens, pastel blues, warm browns or light pinks. These not only make website colors less jarring than pure black or pure white, they also naturally induce calm and relaxation.”
- Use of Video
Video is seemingly everywhere these days and is one of the most utilized digital marketing mediums out there. According to Wyzowl (as reported on hubspot), more than 99% of current marketers reported they would continue using video in 2021, and 96% planned to increase or maintain their spend (again, up slightly from 95% last year). What’s more, from the people who told Wyzowl they don’t currently use video, 69% surveyed said they expected to start in 2021.
Specific trends for video include the following: an increase in live stream, an increase in short-term video, more user-generated video content, an increase in online training and educational video, an increase in digital video ad spending, and more native video content.
- Virtual Events
This one should come as no surprise, as in-person events definitely took a hiatus during the COVID shutdowns. But, even as life starts to slowly get back to “normal,” virtual events have clearly shown their value, and it looks like at least for now, they’re here to stay—in some form or another.
Some trends that experts say to look for include interactivity in online events, hybrid events/micro events, and elements such as relevant educational content, webinars, online conferences, games and entertainment, event apps, and live video streaming on social media platforms.
- Social Media on the Rise
According to a recent Hootsuite social trend survey, more than half of all businesses (60%) are planning to increase their Instagram budget, and almost half are planning to do the same for Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn.
Among the key trends seen in social media marketing to attract, maintain and engage customers are good will and purpose-driven content, an increase in UGC (user-generated content), focus on inclusivity, and an increase in voice and visual search.
While this list is not exhaustive, it’s a good start to get you thinking about where your brand’s digital marketing efforts should be headed. Now it’s time to put this knowledge to use. Enhance your business by keeping these trends in mind. Start thinking about how best to allocate budgets and what kind of engaging customer experience you wish to create, all while building brand loyalty and, ultimately, converting leads into sales.