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It’s time to say goodbye to 2020 and welcome 2021 with open arms. There’s no denying that last year saw many marketers scramble to keep up as events dramatically changed and shaped digital marketing trends. While some larger companies and brands were able to adapt quickly without taking a significant financial hit, most businesses weren’t so lucky.

The need to adapt and adopt new, smarter strategies isn’t just an important consideration for business owners, but a critical component for survival. The marketing industry is changing significantly, with digital becoming a key strategy and more “old-school” tactics making a resurgence.

If you want to boost your business in 2021, change and early adoption of new digital marketing trends are vital.

How 2020 Changed Business Thinking

According to a study by the Department of Small Business Development and several partnering groups, the statistics show how poorly prepared local businesses were to adopt new and necessary tactics:

  • 76.2% of businesses experienced a significant drop in revenue.
  • 62.6% didn’t have enough cash in reserve to run for more than three months.
  • Only 29.2% were confident that they could continue to pay their expenses.

While there were other contributing factors, many companies didn’t know how to adapt to the industry changes and operate with restrictions in place, forcing the closure of 42.7% of SMBs.

While surveying businesses, FinFind found that most cited digital platforms and marketing are priorities for survival and growth.

Local SMBs and enterprises understand the need for a more digital approach and including upcoming trends in their current and future strategic marketing.

Blackboard with different digital marketing, technology, social, and consumer trends
If you don’t adopt or prepare for these digital marketing trends, you’re putting your business at risk

9 Digital Marketing Trends You Need To Adopt

According to the CMO of Contentful, digital leaders plan to up their digital spend by 25% on average, while others plan to spend significantly more. Scalable marketing budgets enable companies to create new strategies that include new and upcoming digital marketing trends for 2021.

We’ve listed a few critical ones that most companies can and should adopt.

Social Commerce

Social media has long been a critical component in any digital marketing strategy. However, using these platforms for e-commerce is quickly rising in popularity. With the introduction of Facebook and Instagram Shops, Pinterest Shopping and Catalogues, it’s no surprise that over 55% of online shoppers are turning to social media to make purchases.

It’s also important to note that 76% of customers turn to social media for inspiration, and it’s more important than ever for businesses to transition to digital. Shoppable posts are part of a consumer-demanded streamlined shopping experience, and it’s a digital marketing trend of which both big brands and smaller businesses can take advantage.

Adopting shoppable posts and social commerce may give brick and mortar businesses the ability to find success despite current events.

There are five people leaning against a blue wall while browsing their phones
The “Personalised Advisor” is a unique concept developed by Vukawanele, and it represents our vested interest in helping you find what you need.

The Personalised Advisor

Marketers in B2C and B2B industries are no strangers to the concept of personalisation. In fact, statistics show how customers still demand and appreciate the effort:

  • 63% of people find generic advertising campaigns and emails highly annoying.
  • 80% are more willing to work with brands who offer personalised experiences.
  • 90% find personalisation appealing and are more inclined to trust brands who communicate with them on a somewhat familiar level.

Personalisation is set to become even more critical in 2021 than before. More people are working from home, and businesses have to replace the value of face-to-face interaction in another, equally meaningful way. While existing personalised marketing strategies can form the basis of a future approach, a new trend is emerging: the personalised advisor.

People want to have a hand in co-curating their experiences. Customers expect brands to understand their habits and needs, and then provide valuable advice on what they should do next. Many are even willing to share their personal information if they receive personalised engagement and guidance in return.

Essentially, the evolving market has resulted in a generation of customers that want brands to tell them what they want and when they want it. First-party data gathering and segmentation are more critical than ever before, and forward-looking brands will need to become expert advisors rather than reactionary sellers.

Making Real Connections Through Storytelling

Storytelling is fast becoming one of the most popular content digital marketing trends. It’s an emotive advertising style that builds trust and a deep connection between a brand and its audience. It also fosters high engagement levels, making it an excellent way to promote interaction and increase your reach.

Other benefits include:

  • Humanising your brand.
  • Creating a unified message across your content.
  • Encourage word of mouth marketing.

If you want to turn your audience into natural brand ambassadors, you can’t go wrong with storytelling.

Authenticity and Brand Activism

Today’s audience wants a customer-centric experience with an authentic and transparent brand. In 2020, many corporations had something to say about the raging wildfires, the Beirut explosion, pandemic relief, and Black Lives Matter. However, very few brands went further than a short tweet or a sympathetic email, and people noticed the lack of action.

Brand activism has been around for many years. However, people are now demanding a higher level of authenticity from those with which they interact. If a brand touts its support for a particular movement, followers want to see it take real and meaningful action.

If you want to connect with your audience in a new way, it’s a good idea to explore your options. However, don’t include social activism in your strategy if you don’t intend to walk the talk. You’ll do more damage to your brand than good.

Google Core Web Vitals

Google is the world’s largest search engine, so it’s not surprising that its algorithm dictates SEO, content, and web design practices. Announced in 2020, Core Web Vitals will redefine how pages earn a high spot in search ranks. The new emphasis is on user experience, with the following factors playing a pivotal role:

  • Overall page loading time
  • First content paint
  • Mobile experience
  • Safe browsing and security
  • HTTPS licenses
  • Non-intrusive advertising or elements

Content is the king of SEO, but Core Vitals may determine whether users ever get to see your optimised posts.

Lady making short form video recordings of herself
There are many different kinds of short-form video, but the goal is to be concise and catchy.

Short-Form Video Marketing

Video content isn’t a new marketing tactic, and many statistics show the importance of including it in your strategy:

  • 70% of people have shared branded videos.
  • 72% of businesses claim video has improved their conversion rate.
  • 52% of consumers feel more confident in making an online purchase decision after having watched a video.
  • 65% of executives will visit a website after viewing a video, while 39% will call the vendor, making video a key component in B2B marketing strategy.

Additionally, placing a video on your site or blog post can drive 50x more organic traffic to your website. However, unless you’re showcasing a compelling branded story, 1-minute videos aren’t necessarily the best option anymore. Instead, short-form videos such as testimonials, reviews, concise tutorials, and informative FAQs have seen a sharp rise in popularity.

Cross-Channel or Omnichannel Marketing

Some marketing “experts” will often advise their clients to focus on targeted, platform-specific advertising. While it’s not always the wrong approach, it can be done incorrectly. If the messaging and content between these platforms are too disjointed, they become ineffective.

In 2021, versatile cross-channel campaigns will be essential. An interaction on one platform can trigger to a personalised response on another. For example:

  • Running a social campaign that encourages users to claim a discount on the website.
  • The ad proceeds to a landing page where users can enter their information to claim a small discount code.
  • The data from the landing page is entered into a list.
  • A personalised email campaign reminds users of their coupon code and encourages them to contact or further interact with the brand.

It’s one example of many, and several brands have increased their social engagement, web traffic, and data gathering activities by using an omnichannel approach.

Prepare for the Future: P3PC

Almost every company and advertising agency uses third-party cookies. They’re stored on our devices, and keep track of our activity and online behaviour. Because of these cookies, brands can offer personalised advertising, and they’ve long been the foundation of many customer experience, marketing, and sales strategies.

Unfortunately – or fortunately, for those concerned about their data privacy – third-party cookies may soon be a thing of the past. By announcing that it will phase out all support for them by 2022, Google has again redefined how brands need to approach their digital marketing.

Brands need to start preparing for a post-third-party cookie (P3PC) industry. Personalisation is more important than ever, but relying on outside sources for the necessary data is no longer an option. Omnichannel marketing is critical now, as is the need for first-party consensual data gathering and the incorporation of channels such as email lists.

It’s time to get to know your customers – not by gaining information from outside sources, but by communicating directly with your audience and finding out what they want.

Adopt or Die?

That is the question. As one of the most dynamic industries, it’s not always easy to keep up with the latest digital marketing trends. However, due to recent events, adopting the latest strategies is critical to boosting your business and reaching success in 2021.

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