4 Digital Marketing Trends To Watch In 2021

21 January 2021

No corner of the marketing world changes faster than digital marketing. As new technology arrives and old technology is grandfathered out, it can be difficult to keep up with all of the new different trends in the industry.

Digital marketing has proved itself to be unparalleled in its resilience over the past year: two-thirds of brands have seen a drop in revenue since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, and yet over a quarter of marketers are spending 90% or more of their budget on digital marketing according to a survey conducted by the Digital Marketing Institute.

1. Adjacent Search

No one doubts the importance of SEO in digital marketing, but are brands really tackling the issue appropriately? For most companies, SEO means getting a certain webpage or two to appear as high as possible for specific search terms. While this may sound fine in theory, it ignores some of the nuances of how customers actually search online. 

According to the search specialists at marketing agency Hennessey Digital, between 70 and 80% of consumers research a company online before doing business with them — and a big chunk of that research starts with search. You can’t just rank your site for a narrow column of keywords; you need to consider as many searches as possible adjacent to your primary business. Zoom in too far and you’ll risk losing customers who are searching terms similar but not identical to your own. Companies are increasingly tapping experts to round out their search profile, and that trend only looks to accelerate in 2021. 

2. Smart Bidding

Automated bidding on Google Ads has been around for ages, and it’s easy to see why: simply input the parameters such as price and volume and the machine does all the work for you. Over the last couple of years, though, a new type of bidding has emerged that many marketers have likely written off: Smart Bidding. Smart Bidding has previously been plagued by a number of problems, such as minimal budgetary control and reduced audience targeting. 

As Google improves Smart Bidding and refines the algorithm, it will become an increasingly popular option for digital marketers this coming year. Instead of needing to carefully curate each and every ad placement, you can simply let Google’s cutting-edge AI do all of the heavy lifting for you. 

3. Chatbot Takeover

Plenty of marketers out there think that the chatbot takeover has already taken place, and they’d be justified in thinking so. According to Hubspot, only 5% of companies were using chatbots in 2016, but a whopping 32% were planning on putting the technology into action by 2017. Chatbot adoption has indeed been massive, but consumers haven’t been as quick to adapt as companies. 

It can take a while to get used to engaging with chatbots, particularly first and second generation ones. The conversations can be clunky and far less helpful than those with a real human. 2020 and 2021 will be remembered as milestone years in chatbot development, the time when chatbots finally reached a level of conversational capability that will earn them wide acceptance among consumers. If you’ve been wary of using them on your site, put your fears to rest — the revolution is here. 

4. Video Content

Top-quality content has been the cornerstone of any great digital marketing strategy for several years now, but the demand for content format is changing. The blog craze of the 2000s and early 2010s is long gone, and in its stead has arrived a new wave of video. 

Between YouTube, TikTok, and embedded ads, video has definitively emerged as the medium to beat when it comes to content. The great news for marketers is that there’s an appetite for nearly every form of video content out there: short-form, long-form, animated, live action, humorous, informative, and so much more. All you need to do is create content that accurately reflects your brand, and there’ll be an audience for it. 

Let’s face it: every year for the past several years has been the year of the digital marketer. The industry simply cannot stop growing, and it only gets more effective with every new development. Those who rise to the top will be those who stay ahead of the curve, and watching for trends like these can help you do so.

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