We can all agree that 2021 was a tricky year for both businesses and digital marketers. The trends purposed this time in 2019 for the coming year had no idea what was on the horizon. Trends for digital marketing in 2021 are a helpful prediction of where technology is moving, and where advertisers will attempt to stay ahead of the curve to serve their clients.
In this post, we will cover these 7 key digital marketing trends for 2021:
- Ad blockers
- Featured Snippets for SEO
- Visual Search
- Voice Search
- Interactive content
- VR/AR for marketing
To move the curtain back slightly, the digital ad buying space has been a primary focus for marketers throughout 2020. This includes marketing through programmatic ad space with search engines and social media conglomerates. To zoom out, the competition for premium ad space on high traffic websites has driven up prices, leading to fewer earnings for the brands advertising their products and/or services.
If we tie in the progression of the media buying space and the rising level of competition, we tend to forget actual humans are the ones seeing these ads. Their actions are used to predict the future to give advertisers some level of confidence in their investment. There has been more and more transparency into this on the consumer level, an example being the Netflix record-breaking documentary, “The Social Dilemma”.
Due to this transparency and somewhat over-reaching ad placements, humans are moving towards ad blockers to address the growing amount of ads, videos and pop-ups forced into their social media feeds and preferred news publications. Noted in the US, a Statista study reports 26.4% of online users have invested in ad blocking filtration, which will inevitably cost publishers millions of dollars in the long term.
We may see this number grow substantially in 2021 as more transparency around how online usage data is tracked using these services. The ad space on news publications, social media, search engines, and even email saw substantial growth in 2020. So did ad blockers according to GlobalWebIndex.
In response to what could be a rapidly growing market of ad-blocking systems, marketers and businesses who want to stay ahead of the curve could move towards sponsored content writing on blogs and news publications. Additionally, we could see much higher investments into remarketing, influencer and affiliate marketing in 2021, as ad blockers do not have the capacity to filter out these types of marketing.
Featured Snippets for SEO
Trying to understand the full spectrum of search engine optimization can be a difficult task, which is why our clients use our services and education to increase their visibility and ranking. For the unaware, Google updates their search algorithms multiple times every year, some being minor and some being major overhauls. An example being the recent Google core algorithm update launched on December 3rd. Marketers who specialize in this field have to stay updated on each of these changes so they can best serve their clientele.
If we simplify things, search engines such as Google are enormous catalogs of questions and answers. This has been the precedent of Google’s growth over the last decade. It answers any of our questions in seconds. The value proposition Google has held on to is that they strive to display the most relevant information to the user that goes far beyond keywords.
The featured snippet has been implemented and tested since 2018, but only really gained traction since June of 2020. It allows Google to scan through millions of websites, then pull text from a relevant webpage to offer a short answer that best answers a search query.
Google has specifications publicly available to implement on a webpage that could allow you to capture the featured snippet. We won’t go into detail about that in this post, but for 2021, it will definitely be a focal point for marketers, web developers, journalists, blog writers, and content creators.
To capture the featured snippet for a popular search query could mean the difference of ranking on the third page on Google search results versus the top spot under the search bar. The number one spot on Google for SEO specialists is like receiving an award in itself. Be wary of freelancers and marketers that offer capturing the top spot as a service, as it is impossible to guarantee.
Staying on the topic of SEO, visual searches are gaining popularity and will definitely be a focal point in 2021. We are all aware that you can type a search query into Google and you can view images and videos relating to your search. The less known option that Google offers is to search with images through Google Lens.
This should be a top priority for eCommerce brands moving into 2021. It is critical to utilize things such as “alt text” and including images in the sitemap of your website. Where this can prove challenging for self marketers, here we would recommend hiring an agency like ours or SEO specialists who have experience with visual searches.
Even in 2020, we did not see this really take off like a rocketship as we expected. As we move towards more and more smart homes and intuitive voice recognition, we see voice search gaining real traction in 2021. ThinkwithGoogle reports 27% of global online users have used voice search through their mobile devices.
Voice search brings unique challenges to meet a search query with the most relevant information. This is where writers of all mediums should move to format their language into a more conversational tone if they aim to have their content found via vioce search. Remember, people are simply asking questions with Google, both written and through voice search, which means that if you are hoping to increase your SEO with every tool available, you would be keeping this top of mind moving into 2021.
This is one that has been passively gaining traction over the last decade. Why we see this as a trend for 2021 is with the adaptation of this mantra by big tech and big industry in 2021. An example being Amazon’s move to electric delivery trucks and sustainability messaging.
Where we see this taking off is with brands moving towards waste efficiency, planting more trees, and lessening their carbon footprint. We support this mantra and hope that large and small businesses around the world take action in 2021. Additionally, consumers have also expressed that their spending habits are influenced by choosing brands that carry the same sentiment in sustainability.
We hope that brands and marketers take action into producing interactive content in 2021. The primary purpose of interactive content is that it is a unique way to listen to your customer’s preferences whilst making a touchpoint. Some examples of this type of content are:
- Active polls on social media or live feeds.
- Interactive quizzes.
- Interactive infographics.
- Interactive estimators or calculators
- Free audits
- Virtual events
While it can be helpful to receive feedback from customers, it can also act as a prominent retention tool as it allows the consumer to feel like they are a part of the bigger picture. We have seen a lot of growth this year with this type of content and are confident it will continue to help brands listen, grow, and pivot to continue growing in 2021.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality for marketing
This is a medium certain brands and agencies are adopting more and more, with some incredible use cases noted in 2020. Virtual and augmented reality has seen a market shift over the last few years, moving from a high-cost endeavor to a more streamlined process where costs continue to go down. What’s virtual and physical becomes a blurry line in the future.
With the new iPhone technology including Lidar technology in the later months of 2020, augmented reality camera technology is now in the hands of millions of users of all demographics. Brands, marketers, and app developers could see this as a unique opportunity to be at the forefront of innovative marketing in 2021.
Safe to say virtual and augmented reality only have room to grow, and could potentially have a major impact on all of our lives over the next decade. Those who jump on the bandwagon early may prove to be the innovators in a short period of time.
While many methods of digital marketing methods have proven successful in 2020 will follow a similar level of popularity in 2021, it is safe to say that we are looking at an exciting year of innovative marketing. In a year where many are becoming more comfortable with spending more time at home and online, we will see a continued effort towards small businesses pivoting into the eCommerce space, grocery delivery, and on-demand delivery services.
Where industry does see some challenges is with the transparency of usage data and how that data is being bought and sold. This is a pressing issue for many and it is naive to believe that consumers do not mind that their actions are tracked, predicted and sold to the highest bidder. To overcome this challenge, authenticity and transparency are key to a healthy relationship with your customers moving into 2021.