The pandemic has hit us hard this year! The COVID-19 era has changed the way businesses operate globally. With restrictions imposed everywhere, many products, services, and even people have had to move online. And this online trend is all set to create new waves in the coming decade. The technology we spoke of a year ago, seems to have taken the front seat today. Yes, more automated and technology-driven platforms will flourish coming 2021 and so will the digital marketing trends.

The focus remains on reaching out to the customers in the best way possible. To engage with them and retain them with better strategies, the digital platform will serve as our savior in times ahead.

Let us have a look at the top 9 digital marketing trends that will make their way to the year 2021.


1. Personalized marketing


It is also known as one-to-one marketing whereby businesses leverage data analysis and digital media to deliver personalized messages and brand offerings to their customers. According to studies, 91% of consumers say that they are more likely to shop from brands that provide offers and recommendations relevant to them or are personalized.

An example that best portrays the power of personalization, Netflix, and Amazon. They have tailored their offerings to suit their audiences. They have a list of recommended products or movie titles for their viewers.

Similarly, Spotify uses digital space with a touch of personalization to create a delightful experience for its users. It uses information based on its listeners’ behaviors and patterns and makes suggestions about new music, in the form of a playlist.

Starbucks, one of the most successful coffee chains in the world uses personalized marketing to engage with its customers in a better way. It uses a mobile app that can draw data like your location and purchase history to get as personal as possible. And it allows customers to customize their own drinks to add an extra personal touch.


2. Artificial intelligence


Artificial intelligence is used as a means to understand buyer behavior. It also helps in making innovative marketing decisions. AI can gather data from different social media platforms and help businesses understand consumer behavior and their search patterns in terms of products and services.

Chatbots is an AI-based technology that uses instant messaging to chat in real-time with customers and visitors. 85% of customer interaction will be handled by chatbots by 2021. We see AI being implemented in many e-commerce transactions, basic interactions with visitors on a brand’s page, product recommendations, and others. It is certainly a trend that will grow strong in the year ahead.

The best example to cite here is Google. Google uses AI for its algorithms to understand things better and provide a better user experience with accurate results. It uses AI for its own personal assistant on smartphones. This technology can track your location, places you like visiting, the information you generally lookout for, all to give the users a quick and apt response.


3. Video marketing


According to statistics, 92% of marketers say that video marketing is an integral part of their marketing strategy. Not only this but consumers today also prefer watching videos over reading content. As per recent data, 54% of consumers want to see video content from brands they like and support. Video content is more engaging and memorable. Video content forms an essential part of digital marketing and can take many forms like live streams, online videos, tutorials, webinars, presentations, product videos, etc.

Not just Youtube, but social media platforms like Facebook also offer live streaming options. Instagram is the second most popular option for creating and using live videos by brands to reach out to their audiences. The best part of videos is that one can always reformat the content. Like one can have a text version of the video, use the content for a blog, create small snippets of it, use it as a podcast, and many more.


4. No click search


One of the digital marketing trends in the year ahead is the no-click search or the zero-click search. It is a search engine result page that displays the answer to a user-query at the top of the Google search result. So, without having to click on any other search result link, the user gets access to what he had been looking for.


Google has constantly evolving algorithms to provide easy access to information. Like here, it can give you the time for different locations, all in one place without making any further clicks.

The search results can take forms of definitions, instant answers, snippets, maps, etc. Google will keep making changes to ensure a better user experience in terms of SERPs and so will the optimization for zero-click searches. A trend that will only see more accurate changes in 2021.


5. Visual search


The visual search seems to be gaining more traction. It uses artificial intelligence to conduct a search on the internet using a picture, rather than keywords.

For example, the Pinterest Lens allows users to take a picture of an item to find similar products online, giving them different websites they can buy from. Like you can take a picture of a shoe that you like and the app would give you a similar product option, color scheme, and places online to buy them from.

Google Lens by Google is another application that recognizes objects and landmarks through a camera app. Businesses can leverage this digital marketing trend in 2021 to draw more customers and serve them the perfect product.


6. Shoppable posts


Social media is yet another integral part of digital marketing. Introduced by social media platform Instagram, shoppable posts or videos allow its users to add products they see in here and move straight to the checkout. There is no need to visit a dedicated website for searching for the products. It is all visual now and consumers are willing to buy products they see through ads online.

According to a study, 1 billion people use Instagram and around 130 million Instagram users tap on the shopping posts every month. If as a marketer, you still haven’t started using shoppable posts, now is the time.


7. User privacy and consent


Consumer data is most valuable for any digital marketer. But the same data can create trouble if in the hands of a hacker. Data breaches have resulted in a lot of legal actions, consumer dissatisfaction, bad publicity for the brand, and so on.

Privacy of information needs to be checked. Privacy refers to controlling the flow of one’s personal information. The legal framework of GDPR requires companies to manage data privacy and security. The area of digital marketing focuses on managing the users’ consent to share information as well as consider the purpose for sharing the same. The security concerns for digital marketers are similar to those whose personal information goes through digital business platforms. 

New safeguards will undoubtedly make way as one of the important digital marketing trends in 2021. This should focus more on the basics of an online presence. It should raise security awareness and educate users and marketers with the means to detect and block threats. Security awareness and a healthy low-level of paranoia should be the first tools in the marketer’s approach and online presence.


8. User-generated content


This is content created by the users to promote the brand. It can be images, videos, blogs, testimonials, etc. User-generated content should form the core of every marketing strategy in the year 2021. There is a rise in competitiveness and brands are always fighting to stand out. Also, the ever-changing needs of customers require a more personalized approach to marketing.

Brands should encourage their audiences to share content and offer them a freebie in return. UGC can help increase brand engagement and drive more traffic to your web page. People always follow others like themselves and trust their words more than the brand.

This simple UGC strategy can quickly increase brand engagement and drive conversion rates as more people discover your brand, its products, and services. As per statistics, 84% of millennial consumers say that user-generated content on brand websites has influenced their online shopping decisions to some extent.

For example, the leading automobile company BMW uses the hashtag #BMWRepost to share social media posts of its proud BMW owners and their rides. This gives the users a chance to flaunt their amazing rides and BMW gets an opportunity of free advertising of its loyal base of customers.

User-generated content will undoubtedly rise as one of the digital marketing trends at this time of the year.


9. Omnichannel marketing


This refers to marketing across multiple channels like social media platforms, emails, blogs, etc, with consistent content across all channels. Understanding the customer’s buying journey will help your brand design an effective omnichannel strategy. The idea is to have multiple touchpoints to make it easier for your customers to be able to see you.

Since this allows businesses to showcase a wide range of products and services at one place at reasonable rates, the same is most sought after. It helps generate a better user experience, has an increased purchasing frequency, and better customer retention.

Here’s an example of Singapore Airlines, known to offer a seamless experience for its customers. With different partnerships, the airlines allow its customers a common platform to shop, book tickets, enhance in-flight options, earn loyalty, and provide a happy experience altogether.

Disney does this perfectly taking into consideration the smallest of details. It all starts with the customer first visiting the website, moving on to the My Disney Experience tool. This tool helps one plan every little detail of the trip. One can then figure out the rides and other attractions and also view the wait time for the popular rides. It also offers a wristband, called the Magic Band that can help unlock the hotel room doors, act as an entry into the parks, easy check-in for rides, and many more services. With consistent branding in every aspect, this brand is a beautiful example of omnichannel marketing done right.


Key takeaway


Marketing should always be designed to suit the needs of consumers. The means will always keep changing. Brands will always try to better their products and services to give that extra element of delight to their customers. The year 2020 though saw a downfall across sectors, it sure kept us all connected digitally. Digital marketing saw an upward trend in times of COVID-19.

Last but not the least, amidst uncertainties that always prevail, these are a few digital marketing trends that are here to stay in 2021. It is all about adapting to new changes and staying ahead of the competition.