Trending digital marketing topics in 2021: As an aspiring digital marketer, it makes sense to have researched the new digital marketing trends at some time or the other.
We cannot overemphasize the importance of getting acquainted with the newest digital marketing trends in the industry especially for professionals seeking a future in the field.
As the pace of change continues to increase each year, it behooves all marketers to continue dedicating time and energy in a bid to upskill and learn.
With a sound knowledge of the technicalities of algorithms, new updates, or features you are presented with the first-mover advantage thus, letting you create the most powerful marketing campaigns for your brand.
As the year slowly draws to a close, digital marketing enthusiasts have kept their ears on the ground, trying to observe and note the latest trends in the digital space.
Previously, AI technology and voice search optimization were considered formidable concepts for the new age.
However, these concepts today are among the major digital marketing strategies businesses and brands are turning to.
In this article, we will take you through some of the trending digital marketing topics in 2021.
1. Augmented Reality (AR)
Wikipedia defines Augmented Reality as an interactive experience of a real-world location in which objects within that real world are recreated using computer-generated perceptual data.
AR is made up of three main features.
- A mix of real and virtual worlds
- Detailed 3D registration of virtual and real objects
- Interaction with objects in real-time
Although Virtual Reality (VR) is generating quite a buzz that is getting many people excited especially when it comes to grand sci-fi concepts, Augmented Reality is a more plausible concept from the marketing standpoint.
That’s why experts have projected that AR will continue to outpace VR in market share terms.
Augmented Reality is progressively being utilized by brands to enhance consumer experience and multiply sales.
A very good example is IKEA with its own app (on iOS for now) that has a feature where users can click a picture of their room on their smartphones to see how IKEA’s furniture blends with it.
In addition, users can also choose to move the furniture around to have different views on how the furniture will look from various angles.
Gucci is another excellent example of a major brand leveraging AR in its marketing. Lately, the luxury fashion brand has introduced AR to its app via a feature that lets users try sneakers on.
The feature allows users to view 19 different sneakers simply by pointing their smartphone camera downwards.
Users could easily swipe left or right to switch pairs. In addition, users can take snapshots that can also be shared directly to social media or in messaging apps.
As AR keeps advancing, we should expect more brands to tap into the concept as they seek useful applications for the technology in the future.
2. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
No doubt, you must have heard the futuristic discourse on how AI will take over every aspect of our daily lives in years to come at some point or the other.
Unknown to many though, that switch to AI has already started. Around 60% of internet users have interacted with an AI chatbot to resolve certain queries across several websites and applications.
The bulk of the content being consumed by us on our social media platforms daily is being filtered and fine-tuned by Ais in a way that will make us stay engaged for longer.
AI is so exciting that the industry is estimated to be worth about $190 billion by 2025. This presents an excellent opportunity for digital marketers to tap into the advanced tech tool.
Artificial Intelligence is a complex algorithm that educates itself using large amounts of data around a particular field or topic and goes further to understand the patterns that work best.
AI’s learning capabilities allow programmers to add effective changes in outcomes. This is achieved by allowing the AI to utilize the techniques discovered to deliver the best performance.
Several examples of AI have already started making waves by accomplishing tasks that we probably never thought would have been possible in today’s digital age.
One such example is the AI-powered content writing assistant, Persado which is responsible for writing content for JP Morgan and Chase.
Generally, AI can perform several functions and act as a tool for every savvy digital marketer who knows how to use it.
It is precise, cost-efficient, and highly effective and with so many top brands utilizing these tools, every marketing team needs to have a plan to infuse AI into their day-to-day business.
Regarded as one of the trending digital marketing topics in 2021, Chatbots utilize AI technology in instant messaging to chat with customers and website visitors.
They have been created to communicate with customers using either textual or auditory methods.
Brands can make use of chatbots to engage their customers especially when there is a huge influx of visitors on the website.
There’s a lot of advantages you can derive from a technology that answers hundreds of users’ queries at once.
This can be particularly beneficial if your business is planning a promo or engaging in other campaigns that drive massive traffic to the website.
With chatbots, you’ll enjoy 24/7 customer service, rapid responses to questions, and answers to simple queries.
To further buttress why you should consider including chatbots in your digital strategy, 63% of people have admitted to preferring messaging on chatbots to communicate with brands or businesses.
When it comes to customer service, chatbots deliver excellently, and if your business intends to get rid of repetitive tasks like this and focus on more important work, then investing in a chatbot may be a great idea.
An excellent example of chatbots in use by a top brand is Starbucks. The company’s MyBarista app allows customers to place orders by auditory message via messaging or Amazon Alexa.
One notable chatbot system that has been launched recently is LaMDA by Google. It has been touted as the next big thing in chatbot messaging as it is going to revolutionize the next generation of chatbot systems.
Aside from letting consumers relax and chill in the comfort of their homes while waiting for their coffee, chatbot messaging can alert customers on the status of their order if it is ready for pickup while also being able to receive payment as well as tipping.
4. Video Marketing
Another trending digital marketing topic in 2021 is video marketing and in fact, there’s a high chance that it will remain a top topic for many years to come.
Here is a pie chart displaying the importance of having video in your digital marketing strategy.
Impactplus researched video marketing and discovered the following stats:
- 72% of businesses say videos have enhanced their conversion rate.
- 70% of consumers admitted that they have shared brands’ videos at some point.
- 52% of consumers were positive that watching product videos makes them more confident in making online purchase decisions.
There’s no lie in the fact that video content is 50 times more likely to drive up users compared to mere text.
One of the major drawbacks many marketers encountered in recent years was in presenting long-form texts on mobile screens which many users found rather tedious and difficult to read.
However, with video, a brand can present the same information in a more effective way across most devices.
Seotribunal notes that if a website includes a video in the content, then it is 50 times more likely to deliver organic search results compared to plain text.
Why so? Well, because many internet uses find video content to be more captivating and because of this, Google’s search algorithm will bring up those websites that have videos first above the other relevant ones which have only plain text.
However, merely creating several different videos doesn’t literally cut it. You’ll also need to key into the present video marketing trends, some of which include:
- Short-form videos
- Video advertising
- user-generated video content
- Online Training & Educational Videos
- Livestreams on mobile
- Virtual Events
- Shoppable Videos
- Interactive AR content
5. Automated & Personalized Email Marketing
As implied by its name, automated email marketing refers to the process of sending out emails to customers or subscribers automatically depending on certain preset schedules.
Emails have been considered to be the most reliable channel of digital marketing. In fact, promotional emails are an excellent way of reaching out to your customers while informing them of your brand’s achievement or any other interesting offers you have coming up.
However, as a result of the over usage of mass email tactics, many consumers have stopped responding to promotional emails.
But with personalized emails, you have found the right strategy to recapture the attention of your customer and develop an even more engaged customer base.
Backlinko’s research discovered that:
- Users are six times more likely to get a click from an email rather than a tweet.
- Including a call-to-action (CTA) button in your emails as against just a text link increases the click-through rate by up to 28%.
- 78% of marketers have recorded a bump in engagements and click-through rate in the last 12 months.
Letting your customer feel special is important for all brands and businesses. Personalized emails help you achieve exactly that.
They deliver an experience to the consumer that makes them feel that the business is much more than an imaginary entity but rather a group of individuals just like them.
EasyJet has to be considered as one of the best examples of automated email marketing.
Using customer data, EasyJet kickstarted an email campaign to essentially narrate the individual story of each customer.
By utilizing the travel history of their customers, they were able to develop personalized stories that suggested and recommended where each individual might like to travel to next.
12.5 million personalized emails were sent which got a 25% click-through rate as against non-personalized emails.
6. Voice Search Optimization
In a piece of research developed by Review24 on voice search, it was discovered that 55% of teenagers make use of voice search daily.
This incredible adoption by the coming generation indicates how popular voice search is going to be later in the future.
The futuristic feature which was first hosted on smartphones in 2014, voice search is flying high this year.
One of the reasons why this is so is because of the growing adoption of smart speakers. An increasing number of households now have a smart speaker such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home.
The growing adoption of these voice search devices is a massive indicator of how consumers have begun to get comfortable with this new trend.
Also, Google has made it known that they have been able to achieve 95% accuracy with their Voice Search service.
As search precision continues to get better, the ease of use factor will also continue to rise. And with impressive accuracy to match what users ask for, the ease of using your voice to get results personalizes the process and makes it very attractive.
Lastly and more importantly, it is predicted that by 2022, 50% of every online shopping would be done via voice results.
That’s a massive $40 billion opportunity for savvy digital marketers to take advantage of.
As so many growth factors are hinting at the rise of voice search, getting your website optimized and ready for it should be key in your strategy today as it will become very essential in the future.
7. Programmatic Advertising
Programmatic advertising refers to the act of using certain platforms to purchase digital advertising.
The traditional method of doing this usually includes human negotiation as well as proposal requests and quotes.
Programmatic advertising, on the other hand, relies on algorithms and machines to purchase ads.
With programmatic advertising, AI is utilized to automate the process so that advertisers can target more specific audiences.
The automation is fast and equally efficient as it usually leads to increased conversions and lower customer acquisition costs.
A major type of programmatic ad buying is real-time bidding which helps in achieving better and faster targeting.
It also ensures that qualifying ads will be purchased and sold on a per-case basis, thus, allowing website visitors who belong to your target category to be exposed to the ad.
In a nutshell, check out how programmatic advertising works in the image here.
Programmatic advertising is gaining lots of traction each year and is projected to be used for a large majority of display ads in the next few years.
eMarketer notes that the display ads in the US alone in 2021 are close to 88% which are forecasted to be achieved programmatically.
One of the most prominent examples of this is the digital and print publication, The Economist.
They kickstarted a programmatic ad campaign focused on persuading curious readers to try reading the publication.
That ad campaign alone generated 650,000 new prospects with an additional ROI of 10:1. To add to this, the tabloid’s Brand Awareness jumped by 65% too.
If your aim is to outpace your competitors and leave them in the dust while you stand out in the market, your focus should be in line with personalizing content, emails, products, etc.
Not many are aware of this but personalization appears to be the next big trending digital marketing topic that will become industry standard sooner than later.
Instapage’s research discovered that:
- 63% of consumers are unimpressed that brands continuously bug them with generic ad messages.
- 80% of consumers admitted that they are more inclined to do business with a company or brand if it offers them personalized experiences.
- 90% of consumers agreed that they find personalization quite appealing.
Arguably, the best examples when it comes to understanding the power of personalization are Amazon and Netflix.
These streaming services have personalized recommended movies for their users. Another example of a brand that progressively utilizes personalization currently is Starbucks.
Starbucks achieved this by using a gamified mobile application that records the number of times a customer visited, their location, and their purchase history.
With this data, the personalized app allowed the consumers to customize their drinks while also enabling them to receive rewards.
That particular ‘reward system’ feature on the app is responsible for bumping the company’s revenue to $2.56 billion.
9. Instagram Reels
Ideal for marketers and content creators, Instagram Reels is another trending digital marketing topic in 2021.
In fact, it has become even more significant since TikTok is banned in some countries. Instagram Reels has stepped in as the perfect replacement.
Fortunately for digital marketers, Reels provides more than twice the engagement rate compared to posting a regular video.
And following the newly launched insights feature on Instagram Reels, you’ll be able to keep track of your efforts and analyze your work.
Hootsuite has reported that NFL teams’ Reels drive 67% more engagement compared to their regular video posts.
Marketers can seize the opportunity that this feature brings to showcase several types of content including informative content, product reviews, behind the scenes of companies, etc.
A great example of Reels being used is that of the top fashion brand, Louis Vuitton. Their Instagram Reels are of exceptional quality, innovative, and quite stunning.
Each Reel uploaded by the brand has gone viral generating an average of 5 million views. If you want to instantly capture and retain your customer’s attention in 2021 and beyond, try employing an effective Reels and video content strategy.
10. User-Generated Content (UGC)
People are always eager to engage in activities, particularly those related to their favorite brands.
UGC is a strategy that taps into this excitement in customers and prompts them into creating content of their own and share it on social media.
User-Generated Content campaigns rely on the creative submissions by the customers of a particular brand based on the specific challenge or prompt given by the brand.
This is one of the most effective digital marketing strategies because UGC posts alone generate 4 times higher click-through rates (CTR) compared to regular brand promotional campaigns.
There are two major reasons why UGC is an excellent strategy.
- Firstly, it incredibly lowers the time, effort, and resources it would take a brand to run a campaign. UGC campaigns draw a pool of high-quality promotional materials posted from customers at zero cost to the brand.
- Secondly, UGC drives engagement rate up by 28% in comparison to regular posts. This is because there is a higher trust factor from the post put up by an unpaid customer.
However, with all of these amazing benefits tied to user-generated content, only 16% of brands actually have any form of UGC strategy in place.
GoPro is a fantastic example of a brand that fully harnessed the power of this digital marketing trend.
GoPro triggers the excitement in their customers by having them create videos of their adrenaline-filled life using their cameras. The selected videos are then added to the brand’s “Video of the Day” campaign.
11. Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is another trending digital marketing topic that deserves mention in 2021.
Experts have defined influencer marketing as more word-of-mouth marketing that is focused on using a popular personality to publicize a brand to their community.
Influencers are usually famous celebrities and more recently, they can be found on Instagram, YouTube, etc.
They often command a huge following which they can leverage to help spread the word about a brand or business via social channels.
Below are some fascinating highlights on influencer marketing by Hubspot:
- The influencer marketing industry is well placed to increase by about $13.8 Billion in 2021.
- In 2019 alone, over 240 new influencer marketing-oriented agencies and influencer platforms were established.
- Most of them (59%) have admitted to having a single budget for content marketing while 75% are planning to dedicate a budget to influencer marketing in 2021.
- 90% of survey respondents are of the opinion that influencer marketing is an effective form of marketing.
One really great example of a popular brand leveraging influencer marketing to the fullest is Adidas.
In fact, Adidas recognizes how effective influencer marketing can be and that is why they never hesitate to use it as a strategy in promoting their products.
By using influencers, they have been able to increase their reach on Instagram and across various other social platforms.
Their strategy centered on the younger population via their Instagram influencer marketing campaign and the results were astonishing as 70% of Instagram users are under 35 years old.
They formed a partnership with major influencers like Selena Gomez and Iga Wysocka as they introduced the #MyNeoShoot campaign where they recorded 12,000 entries for the contest.
In addition, the hashtag also generated a large number of mentions while the brand’s Instagram account followers spiked by 41,000 just because of this campaign.
In terms of sales, Adidas managed to up their sale by 24% during this period while their main competitor, Nike, suffered a 9.1% drop in sales.
12. WhatsApp Marketing
Unsurprisingly, WhatsApp marketing has got to be one of the largest & most important digital marketing topics in 2021.
WhatsApp has totally revolutionized how businesses now reach out and engage with their customers.
With the instant messaging platform, users now have a way to personally message businesses on what was originally an app all age groups used to communicate with one another daily.
In addition, it won’t be as though a brand would be creeping out the consumer as you’ll be reaching them via the dedicated WhatsApp Business Account that helps them trust your brand and business’ credibility.
With the account, you can receive orders from consumers, let them know about their orders’ status, as well as receive and make payments.
Little wonder it is one of the most exciting digital marketing trends that you should consider adopting.
13. Shoppable Content
Shoppable content refers to any type of content, be it a video, article, image, etc., that links directly to a buyout portal.
This makes the e-commerce process simple and more direct as the process of a consumer being aware of a product via content marketing and then making a buying decision becomes faster.
Usually, a product on an e-commerce page comes with a standard layout with descriptions, pictures, details, and prices.
However, shoppable content transforms the way e-commerces works and it has been touted to change the style of online selling in the future.
Rather than bland and boring product descriptions, each product can be sold as a story in the form of interactive content.
A shoppable content feature has now been introduced on Instagram that allows interested shoppers to purchase a product directly from a post or story.
On the prospects of shoppable content, Oberlo has reported that:
- The projected number of digital buyers globally in 2021 is 2.14 billion.
- Also in 2021, e-commerce sales are expected to make up 18.1% of worldwide retail sales.
- The top reason why consumers shop online is free delivery.
Brands like H&M have upped their marketing game by taking advantage of shoppable, hence transforming their Instagram profile into shoppable posts.
H&M also tags products into their Instagram posts to allow users from their massive 36m+ following to see them, get inspired, discover new products, and even make buying decisions using Instagram.
Today’s internet users cherish a smooth user experience and engaging storytelling on products.
Using shoppable content, you can give your customers’ e-commerce experience a face-lift.
Consumers expect fast-loading visual content and those businesses who put in the effort to deliver such attractive content will be rewarded exceptionally.
14. Geofencing (Location Based Marketing)
Location-based marketing, geofencing, involves an application that utilizes radio frequency identification (RFID), WIFI, GPS, and cellular data to trigger a targeted marketing action such as a text, email, social media ad, or app notification.
A geo-fence is a set geographic boundary that interacts with a mobile device as soon as it enters or exits the boundary.
Here are some interesting stats discovered by increasingly.com about geofencing.
- Mobile ads under geofencing have x2 CTR.
- Geofencing can be adapted to 92 percent of smartphones today.
- 90% of SMS are read in under 3 minutes.
- 53% of shoppers entered a retail store after getting a location-based message.
In addition, after some analysis, Market Research Future believes that geofencing can help improve customer interactions. No doubt, it is regarded as one of the advantageous digital marketing trends, hence, its growing popularity.
It is estimated that global geofencing will grow exponentially by 2023. A smart example of geofencing being used by a mega-brand is Starbucks.
By utilizing geofencing, Starbucks is able to market its drinks to customers that may be interested.
The strategy involves the sending of push notifications the moment people walk by their business or are in a nearby area.
They also use geofencing to send special push notifications informing customers around the geographic boundary about awesome Starbucks offers.
It is a brilliant way to get consumers trooping into any store or restaurant. Sephora is another big brand that utilizes geofencing.
Their “store companion” geofencing feature is triggered once a customer walks into the store.
In addition, the application boasts excellent functionality – if a user visits one of the geofenced locations, they’ll get a notification about the companies current promotions, discounts, etc.
Geofencing will greatly benefit brands needing to convert digital users into loyal customers.
15. Omnichannel Marketing
Omnichannel marketing has to do with publicizing across several platforms so as to achieve multiple touchpoints.
Undoubtedly, it is one of the most noteworthy digital marketing topics in 2021. The strategy of omnichannel marketing allows a brand to utilize different methods in representing their business for the target audience.
Below are some interesting Omnichannel statistics highlighting various channels that can generate awesome results for your brand in 2021:
- Over 65% of customers make use of several platforms before making a buying decision.
- Omnichannel strategies generate up to 80% more store visits than usual.
- SMS campaigns powered by omnichannel often deliver close to a 50% conversion rate.
- Nearly 90% of customers prefer online customer services.
- Omnichannel delivers 13% more orders than single-channel.
The demand for personalized products has soared and doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. In the same vein, the need for browsing products online before buying them has also increased significantly.
As a matter of fact, omnichannel marketing is another domain where AI and big data have a prominent impact as they assist brands in understanding consumer behavior to make it easier to personalize their products.
One brand that sets a good example in terms of omnichannel is Singapore Airlines. The aviation company does this by providing a smooth experience for their customers.
In fact, their influential customer-oriented Omni experience has significantly impacted their growth in the last few years.
They partnered with several other brands including AOE integrated airports as well as shopping malls, hence syncing both offline and online experiences.
Their partnership with these other brands allowed the airline’s customers to be able to conveniently shop, pre-book, and enjoy in-flight experiences.
16. Quora Marketing
Generally, Quora has been perceived basically as a question-and-answer platform with very little advertising or monetizing opportunity.
However, digital marketing experts such as Neil Patel have written lengthy answers there as a move to draw traction from audiences.
Recently, Quora has become a favorite of Google and digital marketers, in general, will need to build a comprehensive strategy around the question and answer platform.
The key thing about Quora marketing is that it is initiated by individuals. Basically, individuals are more trusted when it comes to selling a product than a brand because there is a human touch to the interaction.
This assures the audience that they are discussing with a fellow human being who understands their pain point.
It is this somewhat personal interaction that makes Quora a fantastic trending digital marketing topic in 2021 because audiences have had enough of listening to mass marketing by brands.
Real individuals responding to people’s genuine questions make the entire process of marketing more believable and interactive.
17. Social Media Stories
Snapchat became popular in 2013 when it introduced ‘Stories’ which is a narrative of snaps that stay online and accessible for 24 hours which users can share with their friends.
However, Instagram set up its own ‘my stories’ in 2017 and became the first social platform to tap into Snapchat’s successful features.
Later in 2017, Facebook jumped into the wagon and made stories a prominent feature of its platform.
By utilizing micro-videos, content, as well as images, businesses can easily build and increase engagement among their audiences to establish the authenticity of their brands.
Also, brands can consider setting the right CTA’s that will help create a genuine connection with their audience.
The following are benefits you can derive from Social Media Stories:
- Make use of Snapchat geofilters.
- Heightened engagement.
- Enhanced website traffic.
- Consistent followership engagement.
- Improved brand awareness.
- Allows brands to easily reach out to the younger generation.
Below are some methods you can adopt when posting social media stories:
- Leverage polls in Instagram Stories
- Use Snapchat geofilters.
- Include location tags.
- Try out live videos when making Stories.
- Be dynamic and add mentions for other brands and your audience.
- Include links in your social media Stories.
- Use clear CTA’s to engage and invite your audience to explore more options.
Social media is wide and Stories aren’t the only aspect of it you can leverage. We encourage you not to hesitate but dive into social media marketing to increase your market share.
18. Hyper-local SEO
Another trending digital marketing topic in 2021 that most businesses, especially startups, would find quite helpful is hyperlocal SEO.
This particular digital strategy makes it incredibly convenient for many small businesses to acquire visibility on Google search engine results pages and gain customers.
Hyperlocal SEO is a new algorithmic feature created by Google. It places emphasis on an internet user’s present NAP (Name, Address, and Phone number) to deliver personalized results to their daily queries like “where to buy meat pie” or “closest ATM near me.”
What makes this hyperlocal focus so interesting is that it empowers brands with the ability to develop a strong regional presence in their niche.
Add that with voice search results and your brand can gain tremendous traffic as people keep using specific queries to find their way to you.
Indeed, this is an awesome opportunity for brands and small businesses in particular. The algorithm is huge and yet so simple for anyone to be able to use and apply to their websites.
Search Engine Watch identifies a Google My Business account as the major tool a business needs to start implementing its hyperlocal SEO strategy.
All you have to do is provide vital details such as the business details, address, and opening times and you should start ranking pretty soon.
A remarkable example of a company using hyperlocal SEO is Burger King. Its ‘Whopper Detour’ campaign drove insane numbers as app users were allowed to buy a whopper for just a penny as long as they were within 600 meters of a McDonald’s outlet.
Unsurprisingly, this campaign later became one of the most iconic examples of geofencing combined with hyperlocal marketing as the Whopper Detour campaign led to 1.5 million app downloads with a further 3.3 billion in impressions.
This equated to $37m in earned media as the mobile sales tripled while the promotion was on with over 500,000 Whoppers retrieved.
The digital marketing world is increasingly dynamic as every new trend that keeps coming up changes the current methods of marketing.
And as the pace of new technology continues to grow, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see newer and even more exciting trends altering the way digital marketers communicate their brands.
By keeping up with these trending digital marketing topics, digital marketers and the brands they manage will stay relevant in the market as they continue to deliver the best value to their clients.
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