As 2020 winds down, the time is ripe to discuss the top digital marketing trends of the next year. The year 2021 will be big for digital marketing and advertising trends, with the world trapped inside their homes, the amount of content that was consumed by audiences and the number of changes introduced by companies was tremendous. This year has witnessed many cutting edge technologies coming into use and many algorithm updates by Google, Instagram and other tech giants.
Keeping up with the latest trends in the industry is a necessity for professionals who want a future in digital marketing. With the pace of change rising every year, each digital marketer has to constantly invest time and energy to upskill and learn. Having a sound knowledge of the workings of algorithms, new changes or features gives you the first-mover advantage and creates the most effective marketing campaigns for you and your company.
As the new year begins, digital marketing enthusiasts everywhere have started to search and look around for the latest trends observed in 2020. So in the spirit of education, we have written this blog and discussed the top 12 Digital Marketing Trends to Look Forward To in 2021, with references and citations to all the research and articles we read to curate this learning experience.
- Quora Marketing
Quora has always been perceived as a question and answer platform with very limited advertising or monetizing ability. Yet experts like Neil Patel write lengthy answers there to gain traction from audiences. This platform has become a recent favourite of Google, and digital marketers in 2021 need to incorporate a comprehensive strategy around Quora
The charm of Quora marketing is the fact that it is done by individuals. Individuals carry more trust when compared to a brand because there is a human touch to the interaction and the audiences feel they are talking to a fellow person. This personal connection is what makes Quora such a great trend to follow in 2021 because the audiences are tired of listening to mass marketing by brands. Individuals, answering people’s genuine questions makes marketing more genuine and trustable.
- People Also Ask
Search Engines are asked all kinds of queries, and to make the internet a place which provides ready answers to all queries, Google has introduced a People Also Ask (PAA) question. PAA are all the related queries other individuals have asked while searching the same topic as you did. This is to enhance the experience of a user and to give ready answers to all their related doubts.
PAA is a great tool for marketing because any business that helps Google in answering these questions in a precise and simple manner get their links boosted to the first page of Google queries. The strategic placement of PAAs is such that they are placed right below the top 2-3 links of the page and have high click-through rates. This means that even for highly competitive pages, if your content answers PAAs for Google, then your webpage can be on the first page of Google, regardless of its domain authority rating.
- Vernacular SEO
Most of us use the internet with the assumption that the only language applicable is English. This conclusion would not have been off the mark 15 years ago when the majority of the internet users were dominantly from English speaking countries. As the internet has infiltrated deeper parts of the world, the number of regional language users has exploded, and the need to rewrite the internet in regional languages a dire need.
Vernacular SEO, simply put, is developing your website and SEO strategy for a different language other than English. It includes making entire websites, keyword targeting, advertising etc. in regional languages of your customer. For example, if the company’s main client base is in rural areas of Maharashtra, doing vernacular SEO would mean that your website, content and advertisements are all in the Marathi language..
There is a lot of data out there that backs up the urgency for Vernacular SEO. According to a Google KPMG survey, as reported by Economic Times, has unearthed many facts about how impactful it is. This report found that online advertisements in regional languages have a 88% likelier chance of converting your customers. When compared to their English counterparts, regional speakers are 90% more likely to respond to advertisements. These results show that the use of regional language provides a level of trust that every business desires. .
Making the internet more accessible for everyone by talking to them in their language, digital marketers across the world can improve the efficiency of their organic results by including Vernacular SEO as a part of their strategy. This is a great opportunity for all digital marketers to exploit to get even higher returns and access to newer markets..
- Voice Search Optimization
According to a research by Review42 on voice search, they found that 55% of teenagers use voice search every day. This massive adoption by the entire generation shows how popular voice search is going to get in the future.
There are a couple of reasons why Voice Search, a feature we all received with our smartphones around 2014, is taking off in a big way this year. Firstly, the increasing adoption of smart speakers. 20% of the households in the US have bought a smart speaker such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home. Adoption of devices which are fully voice search controlled is a big indicator of how people have started to get accustomed to this new behaviour.
Secondly, Google claims that they have achieved 95% accuracy with their Voice Search. With higher precision of search, the ease of use factor for voice search has jumped up. Now with better accuracy to match what you ask for, and the ease of using your voice to get results makes the process personalised and attractive.
Thirdly and most importantly, it is projected that by 2022, 50% of all online shopping will be conducted through voice results. This is a whopping $40 billion opportunity for digital marketers to exploit. With so many growth factors indicating the rise of voice search, making your website ready for voice search will be very essential for the future.
We found a guide by SEM Rush during our research. This article will teach you how to optimize your website for voice search in simple 7 steps.
- Hyper-local SEO
Hyperlocal SEO is our favourite trend for this year. Never before has it been easier for small business owners to be able to use the power of digital marketing to get customers. Hyperlocal SEO is the new algorithmic push by Google which focuses on a person’s current NAP (Name, Address and Phone number) to give very personalised results to daily queries such as “closest ATM near me” or “where to buy coffee?”. This is revolutionary as it gives everyone a chance to make the best of the internet.
The algorithm update is massive yet very easy for everyone to be able to use and apply to their websites. According to Search Engine Watch, the main tool needed to start implementing your Hyperlocal SEO strategy is to get a Google My Business account. After providing details such as an address, business type, opening timings, your business shall start ranking soon enough. This trend is especially going to be revolutionary for B2B digital marketing in 2021.
The most amazing thing about this hyperlocal focus is that it provides the business with the ability to create a strong regional market for themselves. Combined with voice search results, people who type very specific queries can easily find a way to get to you. This is a great relief for traditional businesses and small business owners especially.
- AI in Marketing
The world has been buzzing about how the Artificial Intelligence wave will take over every aspect of your lives in the future. Little do we realise, the change has already begun. 60% of internet users have already interacted with an AI chatbot for solving queries across multiple apps and websites. Most of the content we consume on our social media platforms are fine-tuned by AIs to make us stay engaged for longer! This technology is so amazing that it is projected to be a $190 billion industry by 2025 and digital marketers have an amazing opportunity to exploit this hi-tech tool
AI is a complex algorithm that teaches itself by looking at vast numbers of data about a certain field or topic and learns the patterns that work the best. The learning capabilities of the AI provides programmers with the ability to introduce effective changes in outcomes by letting the AI use the techniques it found works the best.
There are multiple examples of AI already accomplishing never thought of activities such as content writing for JP Morgan and Chase. They have adopted an AI-powered content writing assistant called Persuado. Another amazing example of AI in digital marketing is how Alibaba, the Chinese eCommerce giant, used FashionAI to make their fashion retail experience better.
You can read more about such amazing real-life examples of AI-powered digital marketing here.
AI can serve many functions and act as an extension to every digital marketer who knows how to employ it. It is cost-efficient, precise and extremely effective. Having seen so many giant companies adopting these tools, every team must have a plan to incorporate AI in their array of tools.
- Personalised and Automated Email Marketing
Emails have always been the most reliable channel of digital marketing. Promotional emails are an amazing way to reach out to your customers and let them know what your organisation has achieved or any sale you have coming up. Yet due to over usage of mass email tactics, most people have stopped responding to promotional emails. Personalised emails are a great way to bring back the attention of your customer, and create a far more engaged customer base.
According to a research blog on HubSpot, personalised emails have a 202% better call to action rate. Personalising the email is to write mass emails in a manner they seem handwritten to your customers by an individual. By using the customer data that your organisation collects, you can use the data to power your email list, instead of sending emails that sound like an online poster.
Making your customer feel special is important for every business. Personalised emails do just that, they give the customer the experience that the business is far more than an imaginary entity, rather a collective of individuals just like them.
- Reels and Video Content
Since the dawn of YouTube, video content has been the bread and butter of internet users content consumption. Videos are attractive and can take a customer for a journey on their screens, and are a great medium for marketing. Instagram has introduced the Reels feature in light of these facts. An effective Reels and video content strategy is necessary to grab and retain your customer’s attention in 2021.
The Instagram Reels update is great news for marketers. Due to this new feature being introduced as a competition to Tiktok, Instagram is pushing creators to make videos in reels format. The great news for digital marketers is that Reels are providing more than double engagement rates when compared to posting a normal video. As a marketer, you can use this feature to showcase many kinds of content such as informative content, behind the scenes of the organisation, product reviews etc. We found this article by Digital Marketer on How to use Instagram Reels in your marketing strategy helpful and informative on this topic.
Apart from Reels, video content is seeing a resurgence in long-form entertainment. These videos can be multiple hours long and are in the form of going Live, Podcasts, Supersessions etc. Such content keeps a customer with you for longer and gives them a richer experience. The goal of video content should be to keep the audience entertained and to add value to their day.
- Content Marketing and BERT update
When it comes to creating content for websites, the term “Keyword density” is very important to digital marketers. This has all come to change with the Google BERT update, which enhanced its capability to read and understand the content of a website. Google can now comprehend what the content of the website is about and all the related topics it answers.
BERT is a Google AI, yet it deserves it’s special mention as it changes how the website content writing has to be done. By understanding better use of language, Google can understand answers without requiring the main keywords to be necessarily present, it can understand the usage of synonyms. It also understands the context of a sentence of reading it about the previous sentences and succeeding sentences. Search Engine Land has made a complete guide on how to make the best BERT update.
Content writers can now solely focus on making articles and pages that provide a great experience for the user, without having to simplify it to make it easy for Google. This year will be very important for organisations to update their content strategy and to adapt to the new algorithms.
- Shoppable Content
A product on the eCommerce website has a very standard layout- description, details, pictures and price. With the introduction of Shoppable content, the way eCommerce operates and markets its product is going to change. Instead of dreary and boring product descriptions, each product can be marketed as a story in the form of interactive content.
Shoppable Content is any content- picture, video or article, that includes a direct link to a buyout portal. This makes the process of a customer getting aware of a product through content marketing and making a decision to buy the product on an eCommerce platform far simpler and direct. Instagram has introduced a shoppable content feature, where users can buy a product directly from a story or a post. Even Pinterest has introduced this feature for its audiences.
Brands such as Marks & Spencer have stepped up their marketing game with their shoppable content video launch.
Modern consumers appreciate smooth user experience and engaging storytelling for their products. With shoppable content, the entire experience of eCommerce will get a face-lift. A consumer now expects fast loading visuals and rewards companies who put in the effort to create attractive content.
- User-Generated Content
People like to participate in activities, especially activities relating to their favourite products or services. User-Generated Content or UGC harnesses this excitement of the customer and prompts them to create something of their own with the concerned product and share with the world. UGC campaigns run on the creative submissions by the customers of a product or service, as per the challenge or prompt given by the company. This strategy is so effective that UGC posts enjoy a 4 times higher click-through rate in comparison to normal promotional campaigns.
UGC is a great strategy for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it massively reduces the time, effort and resources required to run a campaign. UGC campaigns gather a pool of high-quality promotional materials, all submitted from the customer at no cost to the organisation. Secondly, UGC receives 28% more engagement rates when compared to a normal post, as the trust factor of a post that is coming from an unpaid customer is far higher.
Despite these wonderful benefits, it was noted that only 16% of brands have any form of UGC strategy in place. Of the brands that have harnessed the power of this digital marketing trend, GoPro has been a crowd favourite. By giving prompts to their customers to make videos using the GoPro equipment, they have succeeded in creating a craze in people around the world to post their adrenaline-filled life with these cameras with their campaign “Video of the Day”. Just by creating one simple UGC campaign, they were able to capture a lot of audiences.
- Digital Advertising Trends 2021
With bigger screens and better connectivity, most of us enjoy the internet through our phones. With mobile phones becoming more and more popular, Google has started pursuing the policy of “Mobile First” for digital advertisements, in which they prefer and rank websites and ads optimized for mobiles for the year 2021. It means they will give preferential treatment to your website if you make it mobile-friendly.
Many trends are making mobile-first advertising so important. The increasing time we spend on our phones makes them the ideal place to advertise. It has become so important in fact that in 2016, out of the 73 billion dollars spent on digital ads in the USA, $37 billion or more than half the spending was on mobile ads.
According to Google survey results, 28% of the searches on mobile lead to a purchase. There are a couple of reasons behind why mobile has become such a strong factor in purchasing decisions, as expanded upon by this article by Neil Patel on Mobile-First Marketing. Of the many trends we discussed earlier, hyper Local SEO and voice search have been the driving factors for why mobile results are so effective and persuading the customer.
Both these trends are primarily built for the mobile device and make the usage of a mobile easier. As digital marketers, it is essential to know which ad space is the best for your brand and product as capturing the customer’s attention is the first step into the purchasing decision journey.
- B2B Digital Marketing Trends 2021
The communication between two separate businesses is called B2B communication. 2021 has many upcoming technologies to change the way businesses function and communicate with each other. Here are some of the trends that will change the B2B Digital Marketing in 2021.
- BlockChain communications
- Consolidating excessively large MarTech stacks
- Fewer cheap, theme-based websites
- Focus on meaningful data, not vanity metrics
The world of digital marketing is highly dynamic, new trends keep on coming and change the way marketing is done. As the pace of technology keeps on rising, every year we will see newer and more exciting trends changing how we as digital marketers communicate our product. Trends such as AI have just begun, and as we see their capabilities increase, newer and better ways of doing digital marketing will be found.
Keeping up with these trends helps a digital marketer stay relevant in the market and deliver the best value to their clients. Trends such as automation help a marketer increase their productivity while saving a lot of time and money. Whereas some trends such as shoppable content need to be followed as the cost of not following a trend is to be left out and lose the attention of your customers.
The year 2021 will be an exciting year to see these new technologies and techniques flourish and come into use. We hope you found this blog as educational and our research has given you food for thought and trends to experiment with. If you liked what you read, please leave a like and your thoughts in the comment section below.