Data-driven marketing, artificial intelligence and voice search optimization were the key digital marketing trends that were ruling 2020. While innovation in these technologies continues to flourish, more ambitious, innovative and thought-provoking digital marketing trends will prevail in 2021.
Read about the most important and latest trends in digital marketing here.
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1. The 4 C’s of COVID-19 Content
The pandemic is something that the world is fighting against and will continue to fight for years to come. According to Social Media Trends report by HubSpot and Talkwalker, brands will have to adapt how they communicate with their target audience keeping in mind the pandemic and its repercussions. The tone that brands use in communicating with people should include the 4 Cs of COVID-19 content: Community, Cleanliness, Contactless and Compassion .
While brands and business accounts pay more attention to messages around communities, consumers are more focused on cleanliness. Brands should reassess what their customers cares more about and include it not just in their communication but in overall business operation.
2. Nostalgia marketing
In 2020, when lockdown took down the best of us, we couldn’t help but wonder how much better life was in 2019. The “good old days” were remembered with love and anticipation of getting them back at the earliest. This feeling of missing connects positive emotions to your brand and gives a sentimental boost, according to the same research .
As soon as the pandemic took over the world and lockdown was declared, mention of keywords related to remembering the past, like nostalgia increased from 13 million mentions to 24.4 million (88%) .
Nostalgia marketing isn’t just about the pre-COVID-19 days. Whether it is about your college days, school days or mom’s cooking, all work perfectly well when it comes to nostalgia marketing. It was also used at the time of depression in 1920 and the Great Recession in 2000s by various brands.
Microsoft, Netflix, Coca-Cola and Lego, all these companies have incorporated nostalgia marketing in some way or the other.
Even the good old days weren’t so good, people want to remember them. Nostalgia Marketing will also help people connect your brand with people and build an emotional relationship with them, which is why we have included this in our list of latest digital marketing trends for 2021.
3. Conversation marketing – chat bots, social messaging
Let’s talk about the importance of conversations as a digital marketing trend.
Long gone are those days when marketing was about advertising when brands used to talk AT their customers. Today, majorly because of social media platforms, brands are able to have a two-way conversation with their target audience.
They aren’t shouting advertising messages into the void anymore and focusing more on creating a sense of trust by building a community around their brand. Today, social media platforms are being used by brands for building relationships, having meaningful conversations, solving customer problems and increasing sales.
This is known as conversational marketing. It is basically a way of engaging your target audience via conversations through chatbots, calls, social messages and much more.
As chatbots are responsive all day and all night, give answers to the point, recall customer history accurately and don’t lose patience, it is easier for customers to interact with chatbots. According to a study by Mindshare, people prefer talking to online bots in order to communicate with brands and businesses. Moreover, by the year 2022, chatbots will cut business costs by about $8 billion .
The interactive Facebook Messenger bot of Dominoes handles customer queries seamlessly by enabling customers to track orders, provide customer support and even buy directly. Domino’s has even given their chatbot a name – Dom – which gives him a human-like personality.
Other brands including Sephora, The Wall Street Journal, Pizza Hut and Staples also use chatbots.
4. Use your VOICE
Podcasting, one of the forms of voice-based content, is regaining popularity. Over 55% of people in America now listen to podcasts . It is immensely gaining popularity as one of the most important digital marketing current trends, especially because of the pandemic. It is thought of as ‘radio on demand’. According to Leila Hamadeh, Finyal Media CEO, from s brand’s perspective, studies have shown that podcast advertising is much more effective as compared to other forms of online advertising. This is because of the high audience engagement as well as the strong listener/host rapport.
Even if starting your own podcast might feel like a tedious task, interviews and sponsorships with podcasters will give you a great opportunity to get in front of your target audience. There’s a broad podcasting market out there.
You will find podcasts about almost every aspect of life – technology, travel, fashion, food, cryptocurrency, etc. All you need to do is find the right podcast and podcast and they’ll provide you with an opportunity to get access to their defined, nurtured audience.
5. Visual search
What is visual search? Through visual search people can upload images to search for something they’re looking for and get even more specific results. It is one of the new digital marketing trends that’s slowly but increasingly getting more focus every day. Interestingly, its been around for a while.
Pinterest launched Lens, its visual search tool through with users can take a picture of an item to see where they can purchase it online or look for similar products and even view related item pinboards.
According to Venture Beat, Lens by Pinterest is now capable or recognizing over 2.5 billion fashion and home items. It has also inspired more than 600 million image searches on the mobile app and browser extensions of Pinterest .
The image sharing social media service has continually focused on updating its functionality. It integrated a QR-code technology in its platform that allows you to find similar products while you are out shopping. It also partnered with Samsung to bring visual search to the mobile company’s latest smartphones. It also allows Target customers to search their catalogue using similar and related products they see around.
Not just Pinterest, Google Lens and CamFind are other mobile apps that enable visual search.
According to Social Media Today, over 62% of millennials are more inclined and interested in visual search features than any other new technology . Some of the top categories for visual searches are fashion, beauty, outfits, home decor, food, art, animals, vehicles and travel.
Digital marketers and brands should harness this emerging digital marketing trend and use it to gain a competitive advantage by jumping on it.
6. Micro-moment marketing
This is truly one of the most actionable digital marketing trends in 2021.
A micro-moment, as defined by Think With Google, is a high-intent moment when an individual turns to a smartphone or other device to act on a need – to buy, know, go or do .
“I-want-to-know” moments: When a person is researching or exploring, but isn’t necessarily in the purchasing mode.
“I-want-to-go” moments: When a person is looking for a local business or is contemplating buying a product at a nearby local store
“I-want-to-do” moments: When a person needs help in trying something new or doing a task
“I-want-to-buy” moments: When a person is ready to make a purchase and might need help in knowing how to buy or deciding what to buy
In these moments, Google says, the consumer want what he wants, when he wants it and they are drawn to brands that deliver on these needs by being there, being useful and being quick.
To leverage micro-moments, marketers and brands need to re-evaluate their linear marketing funnel that follows the path of awareness, consideration and decision.
To make the most of the 4 micro-moments:
- Identify your target audience’s “I-want-to” moments
- Be available in moments of need by delivering relevant content
- Make the purchase journey on your website/app easy
- Measure metrics that matter to you
This digital marketing trend is gaining massive popularity. In general terms, inclusivity means the policy or practice of giving equal access to resources and growth opportunities to people who might otherwise be marginalized or excluded. In 2021 and beyond, brands will have to increasingly focus on inclusivity. They are continuously under pressure of making meaningful actions for proactive inclusion in their marketing as well as business operations.
A study on the impact of inclusivity by Accenture found that 29% of shoppers would switch to brands that are committed to diversity and inclusivity . Brands need to keep up. They can’t afford to be silent or passive anymore on issues that their audience deeply cares about. So, if you don’t use your brand’s social presence for reflecting the views on identity and diversity of your target audience, you will be missing out on a crucial opportunity to create a deeper connection with them.
Though it is to be noted that people are becoming increasingly aware of performative activism, meaning something that clearly looks like a marketing stance rather than a meaningful, positive contribution. So, if you decide to take a stand on something you really feel about as a brand, make sure the content you create is well-informed and you are saying it in the right way.
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 Talkwalker, Hubspot (2021) “2021 Social Media Trends – A Detailed Report To Drive Your Social Media Strategy Forward” [Online] Available from: https://www.talkwalker.com/resource/report/social-trends-talkwalker-final.pdf [Accessed May 2021]
 Juniper Research (2017) “Chatbot Conversations to deliver $8 billion in Cost savings by 2022” [Online] Available from: https://www.juniperresearch.com/new-trending/analystxpress/july-2017/chatbot-conversations-to-deliver-8bn-cost-saving [Accessed May 2021]
 Edison Research (2020) “The Infinite Dial 2020” [Online] Available from: www.edisonresearch.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/The-Infinite-Dial-2020-U.S.-Edison-Research.pdf [Accessed May 2021]
 Venture Beat (2019) “Pinterest’s Lens can now recognize 2.5 billion home and fashion objects” [Online] Available from: https://venturebeat.com/2019/09/17/pinterests-lens-can-now-recognize-2-5-billion-home-and-fashion-objects/ [Accessed May 2021]
 Garcia, A. (2019) “Why Visual Search Will Be One of the Biggest Digital Marketing Trends of 2019” Social Media Today [Online] Available from: https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/why-visual-search-will-be-one-of-the-biggest-digital-marketing-trends-of-20/545999/ [Accessed May 2021]
 Think With Google (2016) “The Basics of Micro-Moments” [Online] Available from: https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/consumer-insights/consumer-journey/micro-moments-understand-new-consumer-behavior/ [Accessed May 2021]
 Standish, J. (2019) “All in: Inclusion & Diversity drive shopper habits” Accenture [Online] Available from: https://www.accenture.com/us-en/insights/retail/inclusion-diversity-retail [Accessed May 2021]