9 Digital Marketing Trends That Will Dominate in 2021

Last modified: 28/01/2021
Reading time : 7 min

The changes our society has undergone in the last 12 months or so have forced many companies to accelerate their digital strategy, and countless others to haphazardly devise one. Now that 2020 is behind us, it's time to focus on what tomorrow holds for the digital marketing world.

And from what we see, the future revolves around customer experience, machine learning and brand ethics.

The average Internet user is well versed in online research and doesn't just look at a company's website and a few Google results on the first page to find what they want to know about a company.

To build a trustworthy name and increase profits, a brand today needs a solid online presence, cutting-edge real-time analytics and responsive marketing tactics.

In this article, we'll focus on the emerging digital trends that the marketing community predicts will be dominant in 2021 and cite several of the golden rules that still apply, but with a new twist.

Read on to learn how to make your brand shine on the digital stage in 2021.

1. Real-time analysis of the user experience will be crucial

Dynamic changes in the global economic landscape are reflected in customer behavior. To evolve with uncertain times, marketers will need to respond to a user experience that changes in real time and continually update their digital strategy.

To manage rapid response, marketing and C-suites will need to be in sync and on the same page. Communication will be vital, and having progressive action plans for different scenarios will speed up the search for solutions and keep up with the ever-changing economy.

2. first party data will rule the digital world without cookies

Ready or not, marketers will need to discover and realize the full potential of first-party data.

While other major browsers such as Firefox and Safari no longer store third-party data, Google announced last year that by the end of 2022, its Chrome browser will also be cookie-free.

Third-party data, also known as "cookies," has until now been a driving tool in online advertising. But as people spend more and more time online, concerns about privacy and how websites handle user information are growing. In this context, new rules were almost inevitable.

Experts aren't yet sure what impact cookie deletion will have on the digital marketing world. But what is certain is that it will be an opportunity for first-party data to shine.

That's why cloud-based solutions and CRM software will be critical to integrating user data sets from different platforms where customers willingly share details with companies. Utilizing the full potential of this information will be key to provide a first-class personalized user experience in an ethical manner, while increasing revenues.

3. User-generated content will change things

Customers trust other customers more than marketing campaigns. What gives a brand the most believability is customer recommendation.

To stay relevant, companies will need to encourage feedback and engage with their audience in discussions on social media platforms. Responding to all feedback, whether positive or negative, and staying in touch with customers in such an unpredictable time, shows humanity and makes a brand more reliable and trustworthy.

An interesting trend in user-generated content (UGC) is video feedback. It allows users of an app or website to directly record a message reviewing services or products. It's a fun and personal way to share your experience with a brand and provide information to prospects in an engaging form.

UGC gives a familiar face to a company and lets customers know that you are open to suggestions, willing to improve and, most importantly, that you value their opinion.

4. Mobile application adoption is expected to increase significantly

Companies from digital publishers to e-commerce sites to food delivery companies to SaaS companies are launching apps for their services.

And consumers may have had enough.

invest money in apps and app purchases and spend more hours using them than ever before.

Developing an app is a great way for businesses to generate qualified leads with a particular interest in their services and products. It can also be used to monitor and analyze customer behaviors as well as accelerate leads’ journey through the marketing funnel via targeted content personalized.

5. AI and machine learning will become more democratic

From email campaigns and scheduled social media posts to chatbots that are already sophisticated enough to be mistaken for humans, automation and AI are no stranger to the experienced marketer.

But since 2020 has forced many companies to accelerate digitization, the use of automation and AI will likely rise again this year.

Marketing teams new to the digital world have developed and implemented online strategies for the companies they represent and have become familiar with the basic processes. Automating them will be the natural next step.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, are becoming more advanced and accessible in all aspects of our lives, including marketing. And with the impetus of the pandemic, research and technology in this area has become less expensive and less affordable, not only for large companies but for small businesses as well.

Automated processes and analytics tools are collecting substantial amounts of data and knowledge about user behavior patterns. Machine learning will help process this data, make sense of it and lay the foundation for a better-than-ever personalized user experience.

6. Digital events will move the virtual scene

Although people all over the world long for face-to-face experiences and real encounters with other human beings, 2021 will remain an essentially digital year. Online events have proven to be a cost-effective alternative to traditional concerts, trade shows, conferences and seminars, and the market will continue to grow this year.

Social distancing has accelerated the evolution of this format, and virtual events have quickly moved beyond simply copying real events, but from home.

Meanwhile, companies have discovered that going digital is a chance to reduce customer costs - from attendance fees to travel and lodging - and make events accessible to an immensely larger audience. Increasing event attendance leads to increased profits and higher ROI, which is hard to argue with.

Cost effectiveness and accessibility argue for digital events on both sides and we will certainly see more of them in the years to come. Even when the world goes offline again.

7. Visual search and voice search will evolve further

The rapid evolution of machine learning will make visual and voice search more reliable, thus the most popular choice.

Voice assistants are finally understanding what people are saying, and it's estimated that more than half of all searches in 2021 will be done by voice command.

Spoken requests will be a regular choice for online purchases, making voice optimization especially important for e-commerce businesses.

Apart from the commercial applications of the technology, Google’s machine learning algorithms are becoming so advanced that you can now hum a tune to your voice assistant and it will help you find out what song is on your mind. Imagine that!

At the same time, Google bots are now learning to crawl images and recognize what they represent. From an SEO perspective, this makes optimized visuals with appropriate meta descriptions and alt tagging even more imperative for a page's visibility to search engines.

The technology is still evolving, but users are more than ready to embrace it. According to research conducted by ViSenze, 62 % of seniors already use visual search and want more.

Apps such as Google Lens, Pinterest Lens, Snapchat Visual Search and eBay Image Search, which allow users to find products through visual search, are gaining popularity. And businesses that respond quickly to trends and optimize their images should expect to see good revenue.

8. Online shopping will be the new norm

Experts and users agree that shopping and commerce will never be the same again.

For most people, the preference for online shopping is not a new trend, but many companies are still struggling to do business online. Now that it is a necessity, eCommerce will be a must for brands. Because, let's face it, these days, if you don't offer your products and services online, you might as well close store.

Social trade is a new trend in online commerce that has been very successful in the last year and we will probably see more of it in 2021.

It's technically not considered e-commerce because you make purchases directly from the social media app, without visiting the seller's website. You browse your newsfeed, see something you like, click "buy”, and continue browsing. That's it.

And, as it appears, that's exactly what users like.

9. Ethical brands will win out over the competition

After experiencing it firsthand, many companies that abandoned their physical sites last year intend to stay digital. This means that virtual workflow tools and services will remain popular, and we may see new startups enter the market.

Meanwhile, the move to the digital office is not only good for the environment but can be beneficial when building a brand's image, as it is flexible, sustainable and socially oriented.

A digital office has a reduced carbon impact on the planet, as employees spend less time driving, waste less paper and use less single-use plastic. In addition, companies can opt for green solutions where possible, such as recycling packaging, creating recycled resources and investing in supporting green causes.

Ethical brands promoting sustainability and inclusivity, and contributing to society are more likely to build a network of returning and loyal customers.

People prefer to engage with companies that care more about social values than profits.

As competitors in all sectors fight to stay ahead in the changing economic landscape, the companies that do so with dignity and humanity will be the ones that win the customer.

Recap

Now that everyone is online almost all the time, it's more important than ever to have a carefully crafted and constantly evolving digital marketing strategy. Businesses will need to go with the flow and keep up with the latest digital trends.

Machine learning and automation will play a key role in defining the digital contours of 2021, but the customer experience is at the center of all marketing efforts.

Personalizing each customer's digital experience seems like a lot of work, but it will allow companies to build a loyal audience that will pay for itself through customer return.

What is your favorite upcoming trend? Share with us in the comments below!