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Industry Update

Top 5 Digital Marketing & Advertising Trends to Watch for 2021

While it almost seems impossible to make any predictions of what’s to come in 2021, there are certainly a few developments that we think every business should consider when setting up their marketing and advertising strategies for this year. So, wait no longer and check out this blog to find out what trends your business should look out for in 2021!

Angelina Natividad

Online Marketer at The Next Ad

Last year, people and businesses were forced to adapt to the impact the COVID-19 virus was having on their private lives and operations. As the behaviour and interests of customers have changed all over the world, it’s vital for both small and large businesses to learn from the past and anticipate new trends (as much as possible).

In this blog, we’ve gathered 5 of the most important trends and changes, marketers and advertisers should definitely respond to in 2021 – check out the list below!

Looking back on 2020

In order to get a better understanding of what’s to come in 2021, it’s important to take a moment to reflect on some of the developments from last year. 

To say that 2020 was a bit of a tumultuous year, would definitely be an understatement. As the COVID-19 outbreak resulted in many lockdowns and strict measures, people suddenly found themselves stuck at home more often, and numerous businesses were compelled to (temporarily) shut down or reshape their usual way of working. 

Not only did this considerably affect people’s day-to-day lives and the ways they sought out for human connections, but it also had a huge impact on consumers’ interests, needs and behaviour, which in turn influenced businesses’ operations. 

The role of social media during the COVID-19 outbreak

During the outbreak, several researches reported significant increases in the use of social media platforms in countries all over the world. 

According to a research by GlobalWebIndex, July 2020 saw a growth of 10.5% in social media usage, compared to the year before. Around 43% of people even stated they’ve been spending more time on social media during the pandemic than usual. 

Apart from spending more time on social media, consumers also started moving onto new channels as well. One of the platforms that made its mark on 2020, was TikTok. The app’s  success even pushed the development of Instagram’s latest feature Reels, with which users are also able to record and edit short multi-clip videos with audio and many effects. 

While consumers massively turned to various social media platforms to stay in touch with their friends and families, lots of companies were actually forced to cut their advertising spending, resulting in a loss of online visibilty for many. 

The surge of eCommerce and Social Commerce

One of the biggest changing factors for businesses in 2020, was the abrupt need for a strong online presence and effective digital marketing, as foot traffic and in-store visits were at an all-time low. This meant that many had to find a fast and cost-effective way to sell their products and services online. 

Some businesses rushed to create their own online store, some took advantage of Facebook & Instagram’s shopping features, while others decided on a combination of the both. The ability to be creative, flexible and digital was, without a doubt, essential for getting through 2020.  

Marketing & Advertising trends to watch in 2021

Now that we have taken a moment to reflect on some of the most notable trends and changes of 2020, it’s time to take a closer look at what to expect for this year and how to get ready!

1. Pushing the digital transformation

Creating an online space where consumers can find and buy your products or services will be essential for success in 2021 and beyond. 

Eventhough the shift towards digital adoption has already been happening over the last few years, the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus has definitely sped up the process. Many countries have gone in and out of major lockdowns or have repeatedly imposed strict movement regulations, creating much instability for businesses who rely on their physical stores to sell their products. 

In addition that, consumers have also become more hesitant to visit brick and mortar stores, in an attempt to limit their chances of spreading or catching the virus. This has been a big motivator for many people to do their shopping online, and it’s been expected that this trend will continue even after the COVID-19 virus has settled down. 

Here’s what you can do

In case your business has not made the shift to an online environment yet, it’s important to do so as soon as possible. There are a number of ways you can go about this: 

  • Set up a online store or site on your own domain.
    In general, setting up an online store or website is surely going to take some time and money. Fortunately, there are many online tools that make it simple and affordable for business owners to do it themselves. If you want a step-by-step guide on how to set up your online store, check out our blog here!
  • Make use of shopping features by Social & Search platforms
    Meeting your customers where they are’ is a concept we simply can’t stress enough. A great way to make your products available to your costumers, is by making it possible to for them to buy your products in apps they are already spending their time in. 
    • Use Facebook Shops: Facebook Shops make it easy for businesses to set up a single online store for customers to access on both Facebook and Instagram.

2. Prioritising online brand- & customer experience

As consumers are getting more used to going online to do their shopping and connect with their favourite brands, the importance of creating an excellent online brand- and customer experience has tremendously increased as well. 

Traditionally, most emphasis has always been placed on creating great in-store experiences. Through 1-on-1 interactions with customers, businesses have been able to provide personalised experiences with their audience, allowing them to build deeper connections. 

After making the shift towards digital adoption, however, it can be a lot more challenging for companies to match that same level of customer service, personalisation and brand experience. Since consumers are becoming increasingly demanding, the need keep up with their high expectations online should absolutely be a top priority for businesses in 2021. 

Here’s what you can do

Make sure your business is keeping up with the growing demand for seamless brand- & customer experiences.

  • Create customer personas
    Creating customer personas for your online audience, will allow you to find out what your potential customers may be going through when looking for your product or service. By mapping each touchpoint they could encounter, you’ll be able to improve your brand- & customer experience along each step of the way.
  • Connect with your audience through personalised experiences
    As it’s become harder to create an actual, tangible experience for your customers, be sure to make up for this with tailored ads along different steps of the customer journey. Even subtle changes in creatives could lead to a better customer experience.
  • Make it easy for customers to make their decisions online
    Give detailed information about your products or services, try to make the checkout process as smooth as possible, add messaging around delivery options, and provide additional customer service with (live) chat support. 

If you want to find out how Dutch watch brand, TW Steel, managed to successfully achieve digital transformation with the help of our team, click here and learn all about it!

3. User privacy and data protection

As a result of growing data privacy regulations, the emerging downfall of third-party tracking cookies is sure to have an effect on digital marketing and advertising. 

Currently, these cookies can be used to collect long-term data of a user’s browsing history and build up a profile of their interests, preferences, and habits, to enable to things like (personalised) targeting and retargeting. 

Although third-party cookies allow marketers and advertisers to effectively identify and target their audiences, as well as enabling them to measure the performance of their campaigns,  many consumers consider them to be an invasion of user privacy.

As Google prepares to eliminate all third-party cookies from its Chrome browser by 2022, now is the moment for businesses to start thinking of other ways to collect data for their online marketing and advertising efforts.

Here’s what you can do

With the growing developments around user privacy and data protection, marketers have their interests in collecting data directly at its source: their audience. First-party data is one of the solutions that will help marketers understand and connect with their consumers, while still complying to data protection regulations (when collected fairly). 

  • Creating your own ecosystem of first-party data
    Although it may sound like the elimination of third-party data tracking will be the end om targeted marketing – rest assured – this wil not be the case. First-party data would (still) be available to use for your advertising activities.

    First-party data is the information you collect directly from your audience or customers and can include: names, addresses, phone numbers, data from behaviours, actions or interests demonstrated across your website(s) or app(s) and social data.

    Used responsibly, first-party data can undoubtedly help businesses not only keep pace with a changing consumer, but also deliver better experiences. When planning your company’s first-party data strategy, start off by following the best practices covered in this article by Think with Google!

4. Growing demand for social responsibility, diversity and sustainability

More and more consumers will expect businesses to take responsibility and drive positive change. 

Apart from the COVID-19 outbreak, 2020 was also largely marked by addressing important issues surrounding social injustice, diversity and sustainability. These movements, with the social justice movement in particular, gathered attention in 2020 and have had a meaningful impact on consumer values in many countries over the world. 

Making active and honest contributions to make the world a better place will continue to be an important deciding factor for consumers, when choosing to buy from and/or engage with businesses. 

Here’s what you can do

With the growing demand for businesses to support movements around social justice, diversity, and sustainability, it’s essential for them to take serious steps towards being more socially and environmentally involved. 

  • Take time to reflect and realign your brand values
    Stress the aspects of your brand values that speak to social justice, diversity, or sustainability and support conversations surrounding these themes.

    Take another look at your business’ operations and communications strategies and realign them with these consumer values on a short and long-term basis. In case none of your brand values match these topics, now would unquestionably be the time to do so.
  • Show transparency and build customer trust
    Saying you care is one thing, showing you honestly care may even be more important. This is why it’s vital for businesses to be more transparent with their way of working and how they contribute to positive change.

    Engage with your audience and answer their questions regarding important matters. Making an effort to take on hard or sensitive topics will show that your audience that you won’t shy away from telling the truth.

    People are looking for brands they can trust, so joining the conversation and showing transparency will help you connect with your audience and build better long-term relationships. 

5. Traffic driven by video content

Tap into online video marketing to engage with consumers through their favourite medium and reach wherever they are.

Since people are spending more time at home, the mobile consumption of video content on online platforms has increased too. That’s why it’s no surprise that TikTok saw rapid growth in 2020, as many users leveraged their newly found ‘free-time’ to explore the app and connect with online audiences in new ways. 

Considering video content being one of the best formats for prompting high engagement and recognising the current increase in demand for entertainment, indulging in the use of video content is set to be a strong marketing opportunity for 2021 and beyond. According to Cisco’s annual internet report, it has even been predicted that more than 80% of online consumer traffic will be driven by online video in 2022. 

Here’s what you can do

Video is a quick and effective way to deliver your message and educate your audience. Check these tips to boost your digital marketing and advertising strategies for 2021.

  • Live videos and webinars
    With the chances to organise in-person events being still fairly slim in 2021, creating live video and webinar content has become essential for businesses that want to get closer to their audience and stay top-of-mind. Consumers want to get information/learn quickly and there’s no better way to do so than with the help of video content. If you want to learn more about how to get started with Live Videos in 2021, be sure to read this blog.
  • Creating explainer videos
    Nowadays, videos can play an important role in consumers’ decision-making processes. This makes them a great tool for successfully positioning your business, products or services. A well-designed explainer video is a great way to educate and engage potential customers. Check out our blog, to learn how you can create explainer videos for your business.

  • Producing snappy, vertical video content
    Stories, TikToks and Reels offer the perfect opportunity for brands to engage with their customers and vice versa. This interaction with brands can help create long-lasting relationships between brands and their customers. And there are many ways in which a brand can approach this engagement between itself and its viewers.Think about offering viewers a glance into a brand’s behind-the-scenes action, showing how a particular product is made, discovering new products and services or present users with tips and tricks and how your product or service can be best used. It’s the perfect opportunities to tell your viewers engaging stories and the possibilities are endless!

Making the best of 2021!

There you have it – 5 trends all businesses should keep an eye out for in 2021! We’re curious to see how everything will play out over the next 12 months and what new and unforeseen changes may shake the digital marketing and advertising industry. 

What are some trends you think should definitely be added to this list? Let us know in the comments below!

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