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Due to the pandemic, the retail landscape has changed dramatically. Customers have developed new shopping habits and increased their expectations of brands. Digital marketing has also made an enormous leap due to the shift towards digital consumption and buying practices. This has led to rapid progress in the field of new technologies such as AI, AR and VR. With so much change, even seasoned marketers need to keep themselves firmly in the loop. So what will 2021 bring? Where should you focus marketing budget? Which platforms should brands invest in? It is never too early to ask yourself these questions and create a solid basis for planning your digital marketing activities. Here are our predictions for the digital marketing trends for 2021.  

1 | Omnichannel Marketing 

Our top trends begin with a classic, but one that is gaining relevance every year. Even more than ever before, a company needs to be present across a variety of channels, interact and be connected. In 2021, the choice of digital channels will be enormous and the advertising options so advanced that it would be negligent to ignore even a handful of them - SEO, content marketing, social media marketing, paid ads, email marketing, etc. have to be within their specific possibilities and can be optimized towards the company's goals. Only in this way can the strength of the omnichannel approach develop to the full.  

2 | Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is still relatively new, but the numbers speak for themselves. According to Influencer Hub, 63% of the companies surveyed plan to increase their spending on influencers in the next year. The increasing desire to open up new micro-communities and the hype surrounding Tik Tok do the rest! Ever heard of the Hype House? In this house live the Tik Tok influencers with the greatest reach from LA and the surrounding area and do what they do best: creative short videos for their almost 20 million followers. Left to right: Alex Warren, Kouvr Annon, Ondreaz Lopez, Tony Lopez, Dixie D'Amelio, Charli D'Amelio and Addison Rae. Photo Credits: Michelle Groskopf for The New York Times In addition to Tik Tokers, gaming influencers in particular were able to increase their reach and popularity significantly in 2020. For this reason alone, marketing experts are convinced that even more marketing budget will flow into the gaming-relevant channels YouTube and Twitch in 2021.   

3 | AI & chatbots

The continuous development of artificial intelligence has also brought the chatbots into our lives. As this technology collects more data and insights over time, it can also receive more information about customers and feed into another megatrend that we will talk about later. Recent trends supported by Linchpin SEO show that 47% of American companies are expected to implement chatbots for customer support services and introduce virtual assistants. Predictions from B2C businesses suggest that chatbots will be programmed to match human behaviour, offer similar services, and improve customer service.    

4 | Shoppable posts

In 2020 many companies were forced to focus their sales online and offer more digital solutions. This could also have indirectly accelerated the development of new social media additions, which peaked in 2020. Source: Shopify / Instagram For example, Facebook Live Shopping. Combining live video with shop-in features gives brands another exciting opportunity to showcase their products and sell them instantly. Instagram has also taken this path. Shoppable posts were clearly pushed in the algorithm and in their possibilities.   In 2021, social media and e-commerce will grow even closer together, making the shopping experience from inspiration to product research to the conclusion of the purchase as simple and seamless as possible. Shoppable posts are not new in social media, but they definitely have the potential to evolve with digital marketing in 2021.  

5 | Local Google SEO

For small businesses, there is little more important than making sure their local listings are up to date on various search platforms. This is primarily because for local B2C companies (e.g. dental practice or car dealership), the Google My Business function provides valuable information about their working hours (many of which are constantly changing due to COVID-19), services and geographic location. These key pieces of information are proven sales drivers. A little tip: Local entries should always have a geographically defined service area. This setting increases the frequency of ads when searching for businesses near me. It may seem counterintuitive to limit the radius of the company, but it does lead to more payouts. Because many search engines (especially Google) prioritize the spatial business area as part of their search algorithm. So stay visible!  

6 | Customer Personalization

A recent study found that 72% of consumers expect a personalized shopping experience from an e-shop, despite widespread privacy concerns. Digital marketers urgently need to work to adapt customer communication and experiences to their preferences, interests and behaviours. AI and machine learning already offer automated possibilities that need to be used. In this context, there are companies like Persado that help with automated solutions to optimize website texts and adapt to the respective users.  Source: Persado With a robust dictionary that includes nuances of language and emotional feelings, the software delivers the best news based on the brand voice provided.   

7 | Google Automated Bidding System

Google's automated bidding has come a long way since it debuted in 2016. It has now become a real alternative for 2021. Not only can it adjust bids in real time, it also uses far fewer resources in the company. This leaves more time to optimize other aspects of PPC performance, with the aim of ultimately offering users a better result at lower costs.  

8 | Brand Purpose

In third place is a trend that will primarily occupy content creation in the next year. Sustainability, Covid, the new normal- 2020 was a year in which companies had to show their support more and will remain to do the same in the future. Differentiation through products is becoming more difficult as tech evolves together so brand purpose is increasingly detrimental to a company. The communication and actions of a company must be absolutely in harmony with their brand in order to appear authentic. Deloitte's Global Marketing Trends Study 2021 reports that a coherent, authentic purpose acts as a strong differentiation from competition, inspires customer loyalty and employee satisfaction, strengthens brand values and creates the basis for long-term, sustainable brand development.  

9 | Voice Search Marketing

In previous years, voice devices were mainly used to listen to music, ask about the weather, or make a shopping list. Now consumers are taking it a step further and voice devices (and marketers) are here to listen. Do you want to play a Taylor Swift song? Alexa can tell you how to download her new album. Do you need milk on your shopping list? Your voice unit knows where the milk is currently on sale. As the possibilities for voice devices emerge, it is clear that these devices offer a unique opportunity to formulate campaigns using previous purchase information. As users become more familiar with devices, the next logical step is to use them for personalised needs. Although many users are skeptical of the constant collection of data, there are still many who view it as more convenient.   

10 | Short form videos

In recent years, new content has shown itself in the trendy short-form video from Instagram Stories, Tik Toks and Instagram Reels have thought further. No digital marketing strategy will do without this content format in 2021. At the center of this megatrend is of course Tik Tok and the rollout of its ad formats in the second half of 2020. Source: Tik Tok As developing short videos may appear deceptively simple, creating brand messages with a carefree tone associated with short-form videos, requires customer research, strategy and creativity. On average, Gen Z has an attention span of 8 seconds - if you want to accommodate brand purpose, offer and CTA during this time, we wish you good luck!  There are many old friends in the digital trends for 2021, but they have undergone further development due to tech trends as well as the new normality and thus have all the prerequisites for an exciting and, above all, highly digitized year 2021.
Article updated on: 09 August 2023
Talent Garden
Written by
Talent Garden, Digital Skills Academy

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