Digital Marketing Trends 2021

Written by Habibe Cikilioglu

Our daily life activities have long been determined by digital transformation. Consequently, the marketing industry seeks to find strategies compatible with consumer habits and behaviors by adapting to constantly changing digital channels. 

But the global pandemic that affected the whole world last year has redefined the rules in almost all areas of life. As our lifestyle and priorities change, consumer behavior has also entered the course of this disastrous pandemic. With mandatory isolation, digital transformation became no longer an option for brands. Since daily life is restricted within four walls, our only way of connecting with the world is through digital channels. And at this point, digital marketing has been the key to discovering different forms of communication with consumers.

So, how did the changes in marketing dynamics steer the 2021 digital marketing trends?


1. Artificial Intelligence is already prevalent

Just a few years ago, Gartner analysts predicted that by 2020, AI technologies will become prevalent in nearly every new software product and service. And the future soon got these predictions right. Artificial intelligence can already analyze consumer behavior and search types; can use data from social media and blog posts to understand customer satisfaction.

Today, we can list the areas used in digital marketing as follows:

  • Basic communication
  • Product recommendations
  • Content creation
  • Email marketing personalization
  • E-commerce transactions

There is no doubt that AI will soon become the driving force behind many other services. This technology seems to be among digital marketing trends for a long time.


2. Chatbots are indispensable for customer experience

In this rapidly developing world, it is not surprising that people expect the same speed from the service they receive. 82% of consumers are now looking for instant answers to their questions. In this sense, the most exciting application of artificial intelligence in the marketing world is chatbots.

Chatbots offer dialogue-based marketing. In this way, marketers can establish real-time connections with their customers on their preferred device, platform, or timeline.

Many brands have already adopted this technology. Being able to respond one-on-one to customer problems will be a marketing trend that will never fall off the agenda in the future. Here is one more reason to keep up with digital transformation as soon as possible!


3. 5G heralds a new era of digital communication

Mobile devices have become an integral part of our lives and consequently our digital marketing activities. In this sense, probably one of the most important digital marketing trends of 2021 is 5G technology. The European Union's ambitious 5G action plan, which includes uninterrupted 5G coverage for major roads and railways by 2025, is an indicator of this. 

This technology implies improved data rates, an increased level of channel responsiveness, and emerging technologies to complement it. There is no doubt that 5G will impact almost every industry in these terms and hence is the herald of a new digital communication age.


4. User is on the agenda

The way to make your brand stand out in 2021 is through personalizing your marketing strategies. In fact, we don't need to go too far to look for evidence of this trend. We all witnessed the success of Amazon and Netflix with personalized product and content recommendations. Of course, the impact of the extraordinary conditions we are in cannot be denied.

Again, in this sense, it is worth considering the prediction of Aptology CMO, Caroline Tien-Spalding: “Marketing's north star will be evolving in 2021. Marketing has always been about understanding people and acting on that knowledge. A key difference in 2021 is that marketers are able to know more than ever. It's the rise of the psychologist and the rise of the digital marketer.”

These statistics also support this prediction:

  • 63% of consumers are disturbed by generic advertising bombardment
  • 80% more likely to do business with companies that offer personalized experiences
  • 90% say they find customization interesting

All of these show us that in order to achieve success in digital marketing in 2021, priority should be given to personalized content, products, and approaches.


5. Users turn to transparent and responsive brands

Last year showed us that we are now dealing with conscious consumers. Brands that focus on social, environmental, and ethical responsibilities will shine this year. Smart businesses will understand that being transparent, original, and even vulnerable is smart marketing. People connect with people. This means that brands should be personified in a way that reveals who and what they represent. Providing brand trust is now one of the primary tasks of digital marketers.


6. Content marketing is more important than ever

It has been over a year since Google's BERT update, which broke the content marketing routines. With this update, providing the most appropriate, up-to-date and accurate content for user needs is no longer just an option in order to stand out in Google search results. Moreover, the consumer, who sets the terms (as always) is no longer willing to settle for less. Because brand reliability is indispensable for today's audience. 88% of B2B content marketers argue that content production is the first condition to build brand credibility.

Let's have a look at the statistics of the Content Marketing Institute:

  • Content marketing generates over three times as many leads as outbound marketing and costs 62% less.
  • Small businesses with blogs get 126% more lead growth than small businesses without them.
  • Content marketing rakes in conversion rates six times higher than other methods.

Also, it is important to note that 615 million devices use ad blockers, which means your ads are not reaching that many people anymore. So the current trend of digital marketing shows us that success lies in content marketing. But as we proceed with a new year, there is still time to invest in content marketing.


7. The effectiveness of influencer marketing will increase

Influencer marketing is the most effective way to reach a wider audience by marketing your brand firsthand. Because consumers find this channel more reliable than corporate advertising:

  • 63% of consumers trust the influencers' opinions more than the brand says about itself.
  • 58% of people bought a new product in the last six months with the recommendation of an influencer.

Among the prominent trends, influencer marketing will also take its share from the artificial intelligence revolution. This technology helps identify those who have better engagement, fewer fake followers, and therefore a higher chance of generating more return on investment.

There is no doubt that influencer marketing will continue to remain among the primary strategies of brands this year. But we need to wait and see just how much it will increase its effect.


8. Hybrid experiences are imperative

When the COVID-19 outbreak occurred, consumers were forced to quickly adopt new technologies and channels. Consequently, marketers perceived these changes and turned to digital channels. However, the audience's appetite for digital experiences is not infinite.

According to Gartner's report, people have already started to experience "Zoom fatigue", with activities in the virtual environment not being a substitute for real-life experiences. In response, Veeam CMO Jim Kruger comments: “Virtual events started out of necessity, but are here to stay because of ROI and accessibility.”

Therefore, virtual events will continue to be in our lives in 2021. But if we pay attention to these data and insights, brands need to develop a perspective that includes real-life elements in the digital experience they offer and the virtual activities they do.


9. Voice search will take off 

Voice search technology is an important tool for users to search for audio content. While artificial intelligence is increasingly developing, the problems in voice searches of Alexa, Siri, and Google are rapidly resolved.

The increasing use of voice search is causing companies to rethink their digital marketing strategies in 2021. Studies say that 72% of people with voice-activated speakers use their devices as part of their daily routine. In addition, it is predicted that voice shopping will reach up to $40 billion in 2022.


10. Website security is on the consumer's radar

When we come to 2021, we see that ensuring website security is no longer an option for business owners. This is the focus of both brands and search engines for a long time. In August 2014, Google announced that HTTPS was a ranking signal and flag sites that do not have HTTPS ("S" stands for "safe") certification as unsafe. On the contrary, Tech Republic reports over 3,800 security breaches in 2019 alone.

While the usage of user information is on the agenda, ensuring the security of websites will be one of the leading responsibilities of brands in 2021.


Keep your eye on the future

We encountered many unexpected developments last year. In the meantime, the rules of digital marketing are reshaping according to consumer expectations. There is no longer an escape from digital transformation. Perhaps the most important thing 2020 has shown us is that we should not take our eyes off the future. Because, at any moment, we may encounter situations that need us to adapt quickly.

NBT is being recognized as Top digital marketing agency for startups


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