Top 10 digital marketing trends to watch in 2021 and beyond

Generally, marketers are community-minded and have to work with people across different departments and the company and keep track of their competitors. All of these are in a bid to connect deeply with their customers to meet their goals and needs. For all companies across different industries, marketing is a powerful tool that must be used properly. While this might sound simple, it isn’t. Marketers need to understand their sphere of influence, how powerful their marketing can be and keep up with the latest digital marketing trends.

The goal remains to serve humans. Whether it’s business to consumer (B2C) or business to business (B2B), people want to patronize brands that they trust to see to their daily needs and make life easier and more delightful for them. This is why it is essential to build a solid and loyal customer base that completely trusts the brand to impact their lives positively.

Digital marketing, being the most common and most effective type of marketing currently, is a strong tool in marketers’ hands. However, to be effective at it, marketers have to note the common trends in digital marketing which they can adopt for marketing their brand.

There are two significant concepts in digital marketing which form the basis for the current digital marketing trends. Firstly, there’s a general humanization that addresses issues with customers and tries to tailor the content to meet individuals’ needs and induce personal engagement. This works instead of the mass appeal strategy that was the norm formerly. Secondly, there’s technical and mechanical optimization and fine-tuning, which works behind the scene, such as search engine optimization (SEO) and the structure of digital marketing campaigns. These form some of the basics for satisfying the customer but which they don’t see.

In this article, we will discuss some of the common trends in digital marketing for 2021 and beyond. This will ensure that you have an advantage over your competition, and you can easily outline your digital marketing strategy for the remaining months of the year.

1. Inclusiveness

We are at a time and age when identity and diversity are a major discussion and are driving trends across industries. More people, especially the marginalized groups and the young generations, want to see inclusiveness and equality depicted in brand messages before making purchases. People no longer want the old homogenous content that we got used to from past generations.

Your digital marketing strategy in 2021 has to include subject matters covering different subjects that body diversity and heterogeneity such as sexualities, races, religions, etc. This also includes people with learning disabilities and physical disabilities. So, your content, videos, or imagery must carry the different groups along. This also includes your comments on these topics in blogs and social media and how you offer your products. 

A study by Accenture proved that this culture shift affects customers’ behavior and how they make purchases. Forty-one percent of shoppers stop buying from retailers that don’t reflect the importance of diversity and identity to them. Also, 29% of customers won’t mind switching brands totally if there isn’t enough diversity for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ)+ community and ethnic minorities.

2. More community marketing and less event-based marketing

Thanks to the global COVID-19 pandemic, it is now safe to say that we are no longer in the era of focusing your marketing around an industry event. In the last year, so many conferences and events were moved online and held virtually because of COVID-19. So it’s no longer safe to cast your marketing eggs on these events anymore.

Also, hosts of virtual events have to note that there’s a possibility that the audience loses their appetite for these single virtual meetings too. Marketers now have to create a community for more intimate and topical online meetings in 2021. Work with experts with verified credentials and are willing to share, as they will be valued highly as virtual community influencers and leaders.

3. Sustainability

Like the inclusiveness trend, people are now very passionate about the environment, especially given the unwaning impact of climate change. Customers are making sure that brands getting their monies have the same concern for the planet. Studies reveal that 81% of customers strongly feel that companies play a role in improving the environment. So brands that model their product on sustainability and eco-friendliness are getting a considerable boost.

However, beyond that you don’t need to have green products, showing that you align with sustainability and eco-friendliness will help you win customers and keep them. You need to communicate your sustainability in your content and branding and make sure that environmentalism makes up part of your brand identity.

4. Interactivity

The pandemic led to more virtual events being held and stopped attendance of in-person events. However, the attendance at these virtual events started to drop off after a while. There is nothing like human interaction, and virtual events and webinars couldn’t replicate that or have the same effect.

People now have the internet in holding conversations that allow them to ask questions in a way that they feel like a part of what’s going on. This will enable them to offer their expertise as well. This isn’t so the thing that anyone can do on stage. However, it is easier to accomplish this over the internet. This means that the interactivity that we have been longing for online is finally here and is necessary for digital marketing in 2021.

It’s common knowledge to search for videos and images via keywords. However, many don’t realize that they can as well submit images for searches or search for the context of photos. With more users discovering visual search techniques, the overall SEO landscape is changing.

You can take advantage of this increase in visual search for your SEO campaigns. Start with the basics:

  1. Add alt text to your image description
  2. Create a dedicated sitemap for your images
  3. Add SEO keywords to the images’ file name
  4. Use high definition (HD) videos and high-quality images

6. Be more customer-centric

Although the previous year was tough, revenue teams could beat the storm by placing the customers ahead before making decisions. This is possible by aligning the customer service team with the sales and marketing teams because they all rely on the same brand voice, goals, and pain points to reach the customer.

Although other conventional methods such as in-person meetings and relationship building are difficult or impossible now, there’s a paradigm shift in 2021 to bring the business goals and relationships to the fore at every opportunity.

7. Interactive and engaging content

This is not a new trend in digital marketing, but it remains a popular one and an effective one. Contents that are interactive increase customer engagement and are also enjoyable for customers.

Content such as contests, quizzes, surveys, open-ended questions, polls, giveaways, etc., can help your brand grow massively. It increases the time consumers spend engaging with your brand at least and helps you with algorithm-based feeds and searches. Also, people love being engaged, and this content enables you to ensure that.

8. Conversations will be the basis for content marketing

The way brands have gone about content marketing over the last two decades is now old. Marketers still focus on blog posts with keywords as the means to capture their audience. However, this strategy is for Google and can’t be used for people. Customers these days want to experience the brand first hand, and the ideal way to do this is by starting conversations.

Marketers now aim to develop a more human-centric brand experience, which will cause more content to be created from real-life conversations with industry leaders and experts, providing genuine interactions for the consumers today.

9. Customer segmentation

Customer segmentation is another popular digital marketing trend. The idea is to reach out to people in smaller numbers rather than hold a large marketing campaign. This helps to hold a more targeted marketing campaign with specific audiences. It has to do with grouping the audience based on their behavior, shopping habits, demographics, etc. This way, you will be able to create content that is tailor-fit for the audience.

This strategy is most appropriate for customer engagement and personalization, with followers receiving content personalized for them. Customer segmentation is mainly used for email lists but also works for blog content categories, specialized ads for several websites, and social media content created for different groups.

10. Reduction in marketing budget

This year will likely see smaller marketing teams and a reduced marketing budget. However, this is not ideal for companies and is a recipe for marketing failure. Companies that reduce their marketing efforts during the economic downturn perform poorly. It becomes worse when the environment that consumers drive re-engage. These brands will be far behind. In order to come out strong, businesses need to continue to put more into their marketing efforts.

Digital marketing is an effective marketing strategy for businesses, and in 2021 and beyond businesses must keep up with trends in digital marketing. This will help them reach out to their customers more and be more effective.

This guest blog post was written by Jessica Chapman. She is a writing editor from Chicago and works at SuperiorPapers. She likes sports, politics, and traveling. Follow her on Twitter.