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2021 Digital Marketing Trends to Watch

It’s that time of year again. Time to pull out our crystal balls, tarot cards, and magic 8 balls to peek into the future and identify the important marketing trends to watch in 2021.  

While we write about marketing trend predictions every year, we (and everyone else who does this) have been humbled by 2020 enough to say “who are we to tell you what the future holds?”   

Even though we can’t say much with 100% confidence for what 2021 will bring us, we have some sneaky suspicions based on actions in and reactions to 2020.   

The world won’t magically change at 12:01 on January first. So, many of the pivots required in 2020 will still be extremely relevant in 2021. From doubling down on digital to taking a hard look at Corporate Social Responsibility in marketing, we can expect to see a few trends continue to grow, even if that’s the only thing we can count on for the future.  

Live videos and webinars will be for everyone  

Before the pandemic, social distancing, and stay-at-home orders, many companies had the mindset of “we don’t need to do live video, we have ” or “we can’t do live video, we’re not fun enough.”   

All that changed when it was either switch to video or fade into the background. Companies were thrown into the realm of digital events, webinars, and online interviews whether they wanted to or not. After some growing pains, companies may feel more comfortable weaving the strategy into their standard marketing practices in 2021.  

Download our checklist of 30+ ways to promote content here.

2020 also held the epiphany that live video, social videos, webinars, and digital events aren’t only relevant to certain industries. Historically, webinars were for B2B business and live video was for makeup or “cool” industries. But going into 2021, we now know that nutritionists can build strong, valuable audiences through Instagram live, Reels, and TikTok, and businesses from any industry can hold a valuable webinar that their followers can benefit from.   

There are no more barriers to entry with live video in 2021, as long as you create content that speaks to your audience.  

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People will be looking for communities and connections

Let’s face it – most of us have felt isolated in 2020. When was the last time you met and connected with someone new? It may have been a while since that last social connection.   

Without the ability to find and connect with like-minded people in person at events and social functions, people will look to digital to fill that gap. Companies that can help their audience help themselves through online or social distancing events that connect their like-minded people grow engaged audiences that get involved with brand content.   

For example, The North Carolina Association of Dentists’ online community had a 20x increase in member engagement. The community is incredibly niche, and because the dentists couldn’t converse new ideas with their peers in person, they flocked to the online option.  

Another one is The Pragmatic Institute, the world-class certification institute for product managers, launched their online community of practice in March (just before the pandemic), and has seen 150% MoM membership growth in just 8 months. Because of that uncanny timing, their online community exploded in growth.  

THIS TREND ISN’T JUST FOR MARKETING OUTPUT AND AUDIENCE-FACING CONTENT – IT’S ALSO AN INTERNAL TEAM SHIFT.

Many of us will still be working from home for the foreseeable future. It may be a permanent shift for many companies. Because marketing is built on a foundation of creativity, and creativity is born in collaboration, these online communities are crucial for marketing teams to flex their creative muscles, discuss   

Whether you’re a large marketing team and internal communications suffice, or you’re a smaller team that needs to reach out past your company to forge that community, the collaboration will foster new ideas, and more importantly, reminds you you’re not alone.  

It’s not too late to jump on the bandwagon of creating an online community that speaks to the niche passions of your audience. People will still be looking for these connections wherever they can find them in 2021.  

Repurposing content will be (even more) crucial  

The strategy of repurposing content is not new. We’ve sung its praises for years. But 2021 brings bright, shiny new reasons for why it should be a standard practice going forward.  

2020 brought us A LOT of new ways to talk to our audiences. There was the ever-growing TikTok sphere. The introduction of Instagram Reels and exciting new updates to IG Live. There was the Zoom Boom. With so many channels to leverage, creating brand new content for each one just isn’t feasible for any marketing team.   

So, with small tweaks to account for the formatting preferences of each platform, a blog post can be turned into a YouTube video, which can be recreated to fit TikTok and IG reels, and the ideas can be discussed on a zoom webinar followed by a Q + A on the topic hosted on Facebook Live. Then, with all the new community perspective you gained from the topic promotion, you can create more written content. With so many channel opportunities, why let a great content idea go stale on channel #1?  

The other major reason that repurposed content is crucial is that many of us know we’re heading into a new year with a slashed budget. Cutting corners means those lucky enough to still have a job are wearing more hats, have less time on their schedules, and are working with fewer resources. Repurposing old content in 2021 is the thrifty way to still produce content while keeping time and money parameters in a realistic realm.  

The term ‘Agile Marketing’ may see a comeback  

While the strategy of Agile Marketing is still prevalent, the terminology has felt like a buzzword for a while now. But in 2020, many of us felt the sting of being cemented into a marketing plan without a plan B.  

Turning back to agile marketing help us create the habits and daily practices necessary to stay on our toes, keep the recent data at the front of our minds, and constantly grow from the reactions of our audience.  

On top of that, many of us feel jaded by the echoes of stress from 2020. For comfort and a semblance of organization to break us out of the stress, following a clear step-by-step plan for marketing efforts can cut the emotional decision-making and help us reset for the new year.  

Social ecommerce is a necessity  

Just last night I was doing my pre-sleep Instagram browse when I saw an ad for workout shirts. Intrigued by the mentions of “made from water bottles” and “partners with local artists”, I visited their profile. And then thanks to Instagram shops, I was a proud owner of one of the tank tops they highlighted in their feed.  

This entire purchase process, from initial awareness to confirming a purchase happened in about 3 minutes. This wouldn’t be possible without social shopping functionality 

If you’re a B2C or D2C company that wants to support these insta-purchases, setting up Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest shops will get you more than half-way there. This purchase channel will only get more popular and trusted in the future, and it will only get easier to use.   

For example, now that I’ve made that initial Instagram purchase, my CC info is ready to go and I am ready to purchase what I like with just a few quick clicks. That kind of simplicity and convenience is the key to quick impulse buys, so the more companies that get behind social purchase channels, the more beneficial the functionality will be.    

While we can’t predict everything 2021 will hold, we’re ready to take it all on by storm. Are you ready to jump into any of these trends? Reach out to our team to plan a great 2021 marketing strategy. 

 

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