12 Digital Marketing Trends to Follow in 2021
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The pandemic has caused us to make many changes in the way we live our lives. We need to keep our distance from other people as much as possible and limit exposure to close public places. This includes events, shopping, and even the office.
As a result, many people who would usually work in an office now find themselves working from home instead, and many shopping trips have been replaced by ordering online. For people in digital marketing, this means a significant shift in how many people are behaving online. As such, we can expect to see digital marketing trends in 2021 that reflect this, and below is a selection of some of the trends we can expect to see.
While it looks like the pandemic is close to coming to an end, the changes it brought have shaped the marketing trends for 2021.
1. Virtual Events
Many activities were already shifting online where possible with internet bandwidths getting faster, more people having access, and platforms with increasingly powerful features. Events in 2020 have caused this trend to accelerate, and it opens up many new opportunities for marketers.
Virtual events are similar to brick and mortar events in that there will be many ‘real’ people attending, and it brings promotional and co-marketing opportunities for everyone involved. Don’t also forget that these people are likely to be listening for similar reasons. Provided they are your targeted audience, a lot of the hard work is already done. Play your cards right, and virtual events can be a very lucrative opportunity.
Virtual events always existed along with physical conferences and expos, but they took a front seat because of the pandemic. We expect this trend to continue in the post COVID world. Virtual events being more accessible than real events brings a wide range of opportunities as more people can attend without committing too much.
Online events and webinars have been elevated, and they are here to stay even in the post-COVID world. However, that does not also mean that physical events are gone for good. Physical events allow you to create deeper bonds with a higher number of people. Tana Rulkova, Senior Marketing Manager of PourMyBeer, who organizes events for her company, had to say to us: “I love people. I love events. And I believe that there’s so much more when it comes to meeting someone in person rather than online.”
Physical and virtual events are going to co-exist in the post-pandemic world, with each serving a different purpose. And they make the top of our list.
2. Revenue Marketing
Marketing departments, although deemed necessary, are often not connected to final sales results, aka revenue. Marketing would be responsible for leads and awareness, and sales would be responsible for selling. There would not be a direct connection between marketing and revenue at a sophisticated level other than attributing final numbers to marketing costs. Revenue marketing looks to change that.
Revenue marketing is about more than just generating leads for sales teams to work on or think up creative promotions to encourage more people to buy. It is about directly connecting their efforts to revenue. It is about working closely with other departments to become more integrated with the organization’s revenue goals overall. Revenue marketing is more about setting revenue targets than targeting a certain number of leads.
Revenue marketing is the process of combining strategies, processes, and technologies to attain specific foreseeable revenue goals. It aims to get sales-ready leads and make sales and marketing more productive, based on data analysis and optimizations.
This process requires much closer collaboration with other departments like sales or even incorporating sales into their department. They will work closely with sales and connect sales data back to marketing for a closed-loop engagement and analysis process.
This trend has started to take off about a year back. Over the next few years, we will see it being widely adopted.
3. Voice Search
Voice search technology like Alexa is becoming increasingly common to the point where it will soon become a standard utility. Indeed, around 40% of people in the US were using a voice search in 2019. This means another channel for digital marketers to tap into, and it will also mean making some adjustments to strategy.
Perhaps the most pressing adjustment to be made is the fact that people do voice searches by speaking. This raises a new obstacle to overcome because, when people do voice searches, they tend to do so more naturally than when using a keyboard. They are more likely to make complete sentences instead of concise keywords with little to no other context.
For example, somebody in London looking for restaurants close to them might type in ‘luxury restaurants London’ when not using traditional search. However, if using voice search, it is likely to be more along the lines of ‘where can we find the best luxury restaurants in London.’
You will need to consider this with long-tail keywords and SEO strategy, especially in the B2C market. It might not translate that much to B2B as B2B users browse business-related information from their computers, it is still something to keep in mind.
Social media marketing won’t be new to 2021, but we can expect it to be used even more in the coming year. This is because we have learned more about working with prospects and customers and somewhat because social media platforms are becoming more advanced and integrated with other marketing platforms. People are spending time on social media more than ever.
Social media platforms allow you to communicate with vast audiences in ways that other platforms don’t. It’s not just about affordable ads; it’s also about communicating closely with clients and learning more about them.
Social media marketing can be beneficial for B2B marketers. Platforms like Twitter can be extremely effective at helping to make your prospects and customers more aware of your products and services. They can also help build and maintain relationships with your customers, and they make for an excellent customer service channel.
With tools like Salespanel, you can bring B2B targeting even on sites like Facebook that are traditionally B2C. Your audience spends so much time on social media. You can leverage this to:
- Display highly targeted content.
- Create lookalike audiences of your best leads.
- Show ads only to qualified visitors.
- Optimize bidding based on visitor score.
- Show content based on the deal stage.
The pandemic was not the only serious topic of 2020. It has also been a year when inequality issues have been highlighted, and the general public has become more aware as a result. Businesses now need to be doing more to stand for equality and contribute better to society.
People are now more likely to make purchasing decisions according to whether a company is seen to be promoting inclusivity and equality. Many buyers expect businesses to have policies that openly encourage equality and diversity, whether internally or externally. Many people are even willing to abandon brands they were once loyal to, depending on their equality position. Indeed, around 83% of customers say they prefer to buy from a brand that has high diversity scores.
While the impact of this is not foreseeable in the B2B world at this point, it still needs to be done for the greater good. Not only can it make a significant impact on your business, but it can also help to make the world a better and fairer place.
Another societal cause that has translated to marketing is environmental care awareness. With the planet continuing to warm up and pollution continuing to harm the environment, the issue is becoming increasingly urgent, and governments are beginning to take action. Consumers are also becoming more aware of the problem and are reacting accordingly.
There is an increasing sentiment that companies should be doing their part to help protect the environment, and shopping habits are changing accordingly. Around 81% of consumers believe that companies have a responsibility to help the environment. Shoppers are moving away from businesses that are seen to be harmful and towards those that are helping.
Even in the B2B world, as more emphasis on protecting the planet comes to the center stage, B2B businesses would be reluctant to work with controversial companies or those trying to cause harm to the planet.
If your business is doing what it can to be economical – let people know about it. If your business is not one that produces pollution anyway, then consider joining sustainability initiatives to do your part and, again – let people know about it.
7. Virtual Media and Communication
We have talked about virtual events right at the beginning of this list. On the same lane, recorded tutorials, segments, webinars, communication videos, etc. have also taken the center stage and will continue to do so going forward in 2021. The emergence of Loom and other asynchronous communication media has been an essential part of the WFH movement. Sales and marketing teams are learning to make the most of asynchronous communications. They can record critical information for customer success and use it for multiple customers.
This spontaneous mode of communication looks highly personalized, and at the same time, it can be reused. The marketing and product team can also record videos and share them with leads, customers and other team members.
A typical business database can consist of many thousands of prospects and customers. This makes it very difficult to deal with them on an individual level, and in the past, people would have all been sent the same marketing materials and sales offers.
Market segmentation is the process of dividing a target market into smaller, more defined categories. This is typically done using data points that directly correlate to your ideal customer profile. A tool like Salespanel can help you segment your leads based on these data points and create audiences for marketing automation, sales data sync, and analytics.
With your leads segmented, you can ensure proper marketing materials are sent to them. This will not only help you prioritize qualified leads but will also help to personalize your campaigns, allowing you to share highly targeted and relevant content. You can also retarget them (as discussed before) based on these segments. It can be very effective when done right. For example, Email marketers can expect to see around 75% higher click rates if they use segmentation correctly.
9. Lead Scoring
Again, not a recent trend. Lead scoring has existed for years, and it will continue to do so and increase in importance as more businesses shift to data-driven sales and marketing. Lead scoring is a methodology used to rank prospects against a scale representing the perceived value each lead represents to the organization. A tool like Salespanel can help you grade leads in real-time based on different data-sets.
Lead scoring helps you qualify your leads by matching them to your ideal customer profile and gradually scoring them based on their behavior. You can engage your leads accordingly and take them through your sales funnel until they are in a position to buy from you.
10. Marketing Automation
Marketing can be very daunting with lots of data to follow, buttons to push, and levers to pull. A lot of the work can be relatively mundane, such as sending out emails and updating spreadsheets. With so many manual operations to undertake, there is also an increased risk of human error playing a part and mistakes being made. And, there are a few things that you can’t just do with humans.
Marketing automation, much like lead scoring and segmentation, has been in the limelight for a while. It has already been established, and the trend only looks set to continue in 2021 and beyond. While the strategy existed already, new platforms continue to come up, which are bigger and better than ever before, offering features that any digital marketer will find difficult to resist.
Marketing automation is not just about having the grunt work done for you. It is also about having access to valuable data that you can act upon to maximize the effectiveness of your campaigns. It means making sure all of your leads are attended to promptly as soon as they make a corresponding action. Marketing automation also helps to enhance personalization and fine-tune your campaigns to help you not miss out on any revenue potential.
When done right, the effectiveness of marketing automation is clear, and around 80% of marketers say they saw an increase in leads after automating their campaigns.
11. Google Ads Automated Bidding
If you have used Google Ads, you might be wondering, ‘so what?’ After all, Google Ads already has automated bidding. Well, the ‘so what?’ is that Google Ads automated bidding features are set to become so advanced that you can just tell them what you want and let Google do the rest.
It’s a bit of a stretch to say that there will be nothing left for you to do, but Google’s machine learning-based smart bidding is going to take over your bidding worries. Instead of spending hours each week in tweaking and fine-tuning as before, Google Ads will do much of that for you, and they will also likely do it better than you ever could. This means you get more time to focus on other essential things like your overall marketing strategy.
12. Interactive Content
Have you noticed how people just can’t help but reply to a poll or interact with online content in other ways, even if it’s a topic they’re not particularly interested in? There’s a good chance that you’ve been guilty of doing so yourself. This presents an excellent way for you to get your audience involved, and this can enhance your marketing campaigns a lot.
Polls are one of the best ways to get information from people. You can even ask them directly, and many will be more than happy to pass on their thoughts. They will gladly hand over information for free that would have cost a lot of time and effort to gather.
They can also gain information in less direct ways. Let’s take a real estate agent, for example, who adds a mortgage calculator to their website. This will be very helpful to their visitors and adds value to the agent’s service. But that’s not the only benefit.
Peoples’ interactions with the calculator will also give you feedback on what they are looking for, which can be useful on an individual level and overall. With this information at hand, you can adjust your marketing strategies to help you deliver what people want.
There’s another benefit – people just love to share interactive content with their friends. If you can create interactive content that is useful and fun, it could help give you a significant visibility boost.
Polls and NPS systems are crucial to interact with customers and users. Interactive content will help in quality analysis and acquiring reviews and help you understand customer concerns and needs on a scale and address them.
Above is just a small selection of some of the trends we can expect to see in 2021. As always, keeping up to date with trends and practices will help to keep you competitive and perhaps even give you the edge. Not only that but keeping up with trends could also help make your job a lot easier for you while also helping to make the world a better place overall.