2020 is not a year we’re going to forget in a while. The COVID-19 pandemic influenced everything, from the media to politics, to the economy and the jobs market. It also had a massive impact on digital marketing, which will be felt throughout 2021 and beyond.
This year showed us what people value most: trustworthy information, social and ethical responsibility, human connection and having the ability to do things easily online. The marketers who recognise these key needs and use them to inform their marketing strategies will be the most successful going into the next year.
We’ve put together this list of digital marketing trends that we’re expecting to see in 2021, together with some actionable tips you can follow to impress your customers, attract new users and cement your brand as a valuable resource.
Inclusivity and social consciousness
COVID-19 highlighted a lot of existing inequalities in society, and coupled with this year’s global protests against racism, brands came under the spotlight to do better. Driven by the coming-of-age of Gen Z, consumers are realising that they can put their money where their mouth is and use their wallets to show their support for businesses who prioritise inclusivity and social good.
Take a step back and look at your own company – is your team diverse? Does your messaging appeal to everyone? Do you practice sustainability? Are you committed to making your business and your wider community a better place for less represented groups? Put effort into making your brand a force for good, and your customers will reward you for it.
Another switch in consumer habits came out of the lockdown restrictions and the increased interest in small, independent and local brands. Many people turned to shops and businesses within their own communities as opposed to the big, market-leading corporations.
To get your brand on the radar of consumers who are near to you, think about stepping up your local SEO game. To start with, make sure to set up your Google My Business listing, and give as much information as possible regarding your contact details and opening hours (which have likely changed a lot in lockdown). For our digital marketing clients, we’ve seen success in mentioning relevant location keywords to bring interested customers to their sites.
User experience has been a key part of digital marketing for years now, but it was given even greater relevance in 2020 as people had to rely on the internet to do things more than ever before. Unable or unwilling to venture out to the shops, many people’s purchasing habits changed to favour online shopping.
Research shows that even if Product A is better, people are more likely to choose Product B if it’s quicker and less hassle to get to the point of purchase. This has made it essential for ecommerce brands to make their journey to basket as simple as possible for users, and to keep on top of stock levels to ensure happy and returning customers.
In a year where human connection has been so important, it’s become clearer than ever that what people definitely don’t want is faceless businesses and irrelevant advertising. It’s essential to humanise your brand in 2021, creating a distinct personality through your marketing that your audience can get to know.
90% of consumers say they find personalisation appealing, so use the data you’ve collected to understand your users and their unique needs. You can then create targeted campaigns that will provide relevant information and valuable suggestions that your customers will genuinely appreciate.
A great way of standing out from the competition and getting your audience to engage more with your marketing is to create interactive content. Things like quizzes, polls, calculators, customisable infographics and contests are highly effective at piquing your users’ interest and encouraging them to stay for longer on your site or social media platform (especially when working from home!).
Interactive content is also really useful for gathering valuable user insights. When you offer people something fun and unique, they’re more likely to provide their information, which will make it easier for you to target them with personalised content based on their interests.
Visual search technology has been around for a while now, but we’re still yet to see brands use it to its full potential. Google Lens is a great example of how impressive this technology can be, allowing users to point their phone at a product while out shopping, and immediately find out what it is, see reviews and see similar items.
35% of marketers have plans to optimise for visual search in 2021, so make sure you’re not left behind, especially if you’re an ecommerce business. Some good practices include always using quality images, including alt text in their descriptions and using your target SEO keywords in their file names.
The demise of third-party cookies
We’ll start to see the beginning of Google Chrome’s ban on third-party cookies in 2021, which will significantly change the way marketers use digital advertising. There are still a lot of unanswered questions about what the effects will be, so now is the perfect time to get yourself educated on how this change will be rolled out and what you can do to prepare.
Your best course of action is to review how you collect your first party data and how you use it, as this will need even more attention once third-party cookies are no longer supported. We can help you to track how your audience is using your website, and identify the best ways to retarget them and turn them into paying customers.
2020 saw the explosion of TikTok and the introduction of Instagram Reels, both of which allow users to create less-than-1-minute-long videos set to music. Although both have been defined by their mostly teen users, don’t dismiss the short form video as solely a Gen X thing.
Mobile video consumption rises by 100% every year, so you’d be silly to miss out on utilising it for your brand. Short clips are also more accessible for watching on the go, and are great for giving your audience small bits of information to hold their attention. Get in touch with the Fanatic team to find out how we can use video marketing to amaze your users.
Our Digital Marketing team would be happy to help your marketing strategy shine in 2021. Please don’t hesitate to contact us.