Digital Marketing Trends to Keep an Eye on In 2021

Ready to tackle some digital marketing trends in your overall strategy? Read on for our list of trend highlights you should prioritize!
digital marketing trends
By Caitlin Wittlif Feb 24, 2021
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We’re two months into a new year, and just like with a pair of new shoes, things are starting to feel more broken-in. If you feel like you’ve finally gotten your feet under you, now could be the best time to investigate this year’s biggest digital marketing trends, and make sure you have a plan to address and incorporate the ones that make the most sense for your business. Read on for a top 5 highlight list of digital marketing trends.

Trend 1: Remote Life and Live-Streaming

It’s increasingly clear that remote work is going to be the new normal even after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed. More than 80% of company leaders surveyed by Gartner plan on permitting employees to work remotely at least part of the time, and 72% of employees want that flexibility. In addition to remote work, though, remote — and distanced — life is still a daily norm for many. This in-person isolation has led to a massive trend: a spike in live-stream viewings. Whether it’s watching a celebrity on Facebook or Instagram, an influencer on TikTok, or taking in an educational presentation via a Zoom event, live streaming has become a much more integrated part of daily life for many as a means to stay connected.

Live streaming is a fantastic way for brands to connect with their customers right now. For example, the events industry has suffered a huge blow because of the pandemic, but by rerouting audiences to livestream events, it can still foster community and keep business afloat. There are lots of ways to implement a live-streaming strategy into your marketing plan, including customer support, special announcements, and interviews with well-known artists and influencers. The key is to get creative, and get connected.

Trend 2: Shopping for Good

Company values aren’t new, but their importance has been magnified as customers feel more and more passionate about supporting brands that align with their own morals. In fact, 55% of consumers think it’s very important that a business operates according to its principles, and 53% think it’s very important that a business is proactively working to make the world a better place. In particular in 2021, people are looking at how companies have supported their employees during the pandemic. Deloitte surveyed millennials and Gen Z, and reported that 60% plan on buying more products from large businesses that have taken care of their workforces and positively effected society during COVID-19.

So does this mean you should rush to apply do-good messaging to your marketing campaigns? Only if you plan on living these values. Customers are incredibly savvy, and can spot messaging that doesn’t align with actions (remember that one soda campaign?) Instead, review your company values and ensure that they are baked into your company culture first. 

Trend 3: Meet Them Where They Are

If you already have the right marketing message, how can you get it to the right people? In 2021, your audience is online, and they’re watching videos, listening to podcasts, and reading newsletters. Consumption of these kinds of content has been on a meteoric rise since 2020, and so marketers are following suit by increasing their ads in these spaces and formats. Whether you go all-in on a video ad for a big event, or partner with a podcast that relates to your brand story for a long-term ad run, your message will get significantly higher engagement if you use these easy-to-consume media channels.

Video marketing can be incredibly successful when you’ve defined the goals for the video, who your target audience will be, and what stage in the marketing journey they’ll be at when they encounter the ad. From these specifics, your creativity can take the wheel — explainer videos, animations, live-action spots and more can fit the variety of platforms available. 

Trend 4: Stay On Target

Another way your ads will reach the right audience is to lean into the next trend: micro-segments. Personalizing ads down to very specific segments of your target audience will help boost engagement, and make customers feel more personally connected to your brand. With the analytical power you can get via Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube and more, locating your audience and targeting them by interests, demographics, or industry is a possibility you can’t pass up. Build up customer lists and manage them with a CRM like HubSpot or MailChimp, and you’ll be speaking directly with customers on topics that most connect with them.

Trend 5: Expect the Unexpected

Perhaps the biggest lesson from 2020 was to be ready for anything. That doesn’t mean you have to fully adopt a survivalist lifestyle, but if you’re a business leader, it should mean that you’re ready to pivot when things change. COVID-19 has accelerated digital adoption by as much as 5 years, and if you’re behind that curve, you may be left in the digital dust. Whether you’re considering your digital marketing strategy or your budget, flexibility and agility are key components moving into the future. Identify your business’ non-negotiables when it comes to yearly planning, and set up an emergency fund if it’s fiscally possible. You don’t need to exhaust yourself by envisioning an answer for every what-if scenario, but a few contingencies will help you make quick decisions under stressful circumstances.

If you’d like to take a deeper dive into these and other 2021 trends, check out a full list of predictions from Sparxoo, a digital marketing agency, here.

As you continue to navigate these digital marketing trends in 2021, set yourself up for success by getting organized. CROOW is a project management platform built for creative collaboration, so no matter the marketing strategy your business plans on adopting, you can store assets, upload content for approval, and track to-do’s easily from one platform.