As a digital marketer, you need to invest in what’s working and integrate new channels and platforms that will make your marketing more effective. So, for businesses that wish to be competitive and constantly acquire and retain customers, it’s important to know the digital trends of 2021.
It’s safe to say that digital marketing has considerably evolved over the past year and a half. Technologies that were only in the periphery have become mainstream and unavoidable now. Artificial intelligence (AI) and social commerce were discussed mostly academically until recently. But now they’ve become crucial to the success of digital marketing campaigns.
To make it easy for you, here’s EasySignage’s definitive list of the top 15 digital trends of 2021. These will help you identify unique and effective ways to widen your reach, convert users, and get more out of your marketing dollars.
15 top digital trends of 2021 for marketers
1. Optimization through AI
AI isn’t something we will discover in the distant future. It’s already here and changing the way companies find and engage with audiences. Its presence is being felt across all parts of software development, rollout, and usage. Those firms that are quick to adapt to the potential of AI stand to benefit immensely.
AI can easily find patterns and analyze consumer behavior. It uses data to reveal how users find services and products. More than that, AI will play a key role in identifying the right keywords, something that will be crucial for audiences to find your product or service.
AI will show what keywords are likely to rank higher on page one, the word count that will work, and give feedback on its ease of comprehension.
2. Programmatic advertising
Media buying used to be a tedious process without the backing of accurate data. Although digital marketing has brought in much-needed accountability, the one big problem has been the time lag. Programmatic advertising is the answer to that.
It uses AI to automate ad buying. This will enable marketers to target audiences based on specifically defined parameters. Since it’s based on real-time intelligence, this will make ad display fast and productive. Your digital marketing campaign can now be shown to audiences that are, according to their insights and usage patterns, more likely to buy your product or service.
This will improve your conversion and bring down your cost of customer acquisition since you don’t have to needlessly display your ads to users who have little inclination to buy from you.
Chatbots are already a part of our lives and despite the initial hesitance from some corners, consumers are now used to them. It’s estimated that soon, 85 percent of all customer service interactions will be powered by chatbots.
Customer service can now be a 24/7 function that will improve satisfaction and loyalty. Moreover, there will be immediate and accurate responses, especially to frequently answered questions. Increasingly, chatbots would learn from a customer’s buying history and preferences to provide customized communication.
Instead of being robotic, chatbots will soon have more empathetic and engaging conversations that would make customers believe that they’re talking to a human.
4. Conversational marketing
Currently, the role of chatbots is limited to problem-solving and what can be defined as “reactive marketing.” But this will change soon. As customers get comfortable with the tool, we will develop conversational marketing.
This would be a direct, customized, and relevant conversation between a company and an existing or potential customer. People would be able to know more about a product or service through such conversations and the software would provide relevant information to interest the user.
This will dramatically enhance user experiences as the software would learn more about the customer with each interaction, which will further customize its response.
5. Personalized communication
Spam can be referred to as mass-market advertising without any personalization. Why would a user be interested in an email about an African safari just because they once booked a flight from New York to Detroit? That kind of generic direct advertising will soon end.
With AI, companies will have more relevant and actionable insights and information about a customer. Emails will be personalized not just according to a one-off past purchase but recent actions and future intent.
What Amazon Prime and Netflix do through their recommended videos will soon become an industry-wide trend. This will cut down marketing costs for companies.
6. Video marketing
Video is the king of content. A user doesn’t have to exert any effort to watch a video and it can be easily shared in their networks. It’s mobile-friendly and extremely engaging. If your website has video, your visibility through organic search jumps 50 times.
Marketers can create videos on brand identity, promotional offers, infographics, user manuals, and even repurpose blogs into videos. Being the second largest search engine, YouTube will remain a crucial platform for digital marketers.
Brands will have to focus on video through not just recorded content but live streaming on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Companies that successfully acquire customers and get them to spend more will be those that consistently use the power of video to drive their digital marketing campaigns.
7. Influencer marketing
Brand endorsements used to be the domain of a select few brands until a few years ago. Social media has changed all that. Using influencer marketing, companies can find either celebrities or relevant social media personalities to amplify their marketing reach.
If your marketing budget doesn’t have room for a celebrity, the trick is to identify a Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube personality with a sizable following. AI is making it easier for brands to find such individuals. This will lower the cost of your marketing and make it effective and credible.
8. Social messaging apps
Users send around 55 billion messages through WhatsApp every day. Facebook sees around 10 billion messages every month. These numbers show that social messaging apps are becoming the primary channels of communication in a digitalized world.
Brands have been taking notice. They have been using it for everything from customer service to promotional offers to event announcements. Increasingly, such interactions would be customized and social in nature.
These channels will become a regular point of contact for customers which might negate the need for large customer service departments.
9. Social media stories
What Snapchat started with “My Story” has now been duplicated by Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and WhatsApp. These are videos that disappear after a specified period. As the social media platforms have found out, these are compelling propositions for people who wouldn’t want to miss out on these short-lived forms of content.
Brands can use stories to engage with their followers and drive visitors to their website. These can also be used to reach location-specific audiences through the use of geo-filters.
10. Social commerce
One of the joys of shopping was its social element that the internet did away with. But it’s back through social commerce. Users can now buy products or services from the social media channels of brands. This significantly reduces the distance between desire and purchase.
Interactive e-commerce ads that enable people to buy will see a big uptick this year. This will be the next big evolution of marketing where brands may not have to rely on online marketplaces or their websites. They will be able to launch or showcase products with limited-time offers and encourage customers to checkout through the same platform.
11. Omnichannel marketing
While the pandemic did slow down its growth, omnichannel marketing is back again. Put simply, omnichannel marketing involves reaching out to customers across all touchpoints. These include physical stores, websites, social media channels, blogs, email newsletters, and apps.
Since customers could choose to engage with a brand from any platform, marketers can’t afford to ignore any. Customers would also expect to initiate transactions from any of these touchpoints with ease. Some of these platforms will also have category biases with certain categories focusing more on them.
12. Community marketing
The focus over the last few years has been on building communities around brand beliefs and experiences. This is a significant addition to the direct relationships that companies have been building with customers. Brands will now accelerate their efforts to form communities around their followers on social media channels, website visitors, and email subscribers.
The members of the community would have bought from the brand or would be eager to know about other products or launches. Through constant engagement and value addition, brands will need to build such groups and offer them exclusive offers and value-added experiences.
13. Long-form content
Social media, by design, used to be for short-form content, images, interactive content, and videos. While this suits several categories, some would need long-form content. That’s primarily because search rankings now take into account the credibility and authority of a website in its category.
This means longer blog posts that add value to your users’ lives. Google prefers content to have more than 2000 words, with those with 3000 words performing best to get traffic. Brands can also repurpose these blogs into videos, emails, and short-form blog posts.
14. Email newsletters
One of the most underrated digital marketing tools has always been the good old email. Consumers are reticent to engage with most because a significant proportion of them come across as spam. But those brands that do get it right use emails as an effective channel to build a community and acquire and retain customers.
Emails are also exceptionally cost-effective to launch new variants, offer exclusive discounts, and sneak peeks of upcoming product launches. They’re also the preferred medium to build content credibility and authority.
15. Digital signages
Once the exclusive domain of bigger brands, digital signages are becoming an important tool for small and medium-sized businesses, retailers, and organizations. They’re a cost-effective medium that marketers can use to communicate and interact with audiences in specified locations.
Since they can display everything from videos to infographics to social media feeds, digital signages are an exceptionally dynamic medium. Retailers can use them to offer exclusive time-bound deals and for wayfinding. Companies can also use them to engage with their internal audiences to boost employee engagement.
Even if you don’t actively invest in all these digital trends of 2021, it helps to be aware of how digital marketing will evolve over the next year or so. As marketers know, identifying what works best for you is one of the most important steps in marketing.