Anyone who works in digital knows that it is a fast-paced industry which is constantly changing, thanks to technological advances – it’s just one of the things that makes it so exciting!
And even though (thanks to all the changes and challenges that a global pandemic brought us in 2020) it has been difficult to know what to expect next, January nevertheless remains a great time to plan out your digital marketing for the year ahead.
We have put together this list of digital marketing trends that we think are going to be big in 2021:
|In summary: top 8 digital marketing trends for 2021|
|Less is more when it comes to social media channels|
|Featured snippets continue to matter|
|Voice search is on the up|
|Beware the rise of ad blockers|
|Don’t ignore the value of local listings|
|Conversational marketing is growing|
|Personalisation is key|
|Content marketing to start conversations|
1. Less is more when it comes to social media channels
With so many different social media channels available now, it is almost impossible to keep up a presence on all of them, especially if you are a small business without a dedicated social media team.
In 2021, companies may start to reduce their social media presence to only the most relevant channels, ensuring that they are reaching their target audience on the channels that they are most active on.
This way, businesses can ensure that they focus on creating informative, engaging content and use all of the features of their chosen social media channel to their full potential.
2. Featured snippets continue to matter
There has been some debate around featured snippets and zero click searches and whether they actually harm your traffic, rather than help it, as users no longer need to click through to your website to get the answers they were looking for.
However, this myth has been well and truly debunked, with Hubspot research showing that featured snippets get twice as many click throughs as position one results.
The aim for content in 2021 will be to get into these featured snippets. And what’s not to love? They take up more prime real estate on page one and offer the user more information. They are also more likely to get read out on voice searches.
And speaking of voice searches…
3. Voice search is on the up
No digital marketing article in the last five years is complete without a nod to voice search. And the stats speak for themselves.
Half of all searches are made via voice and 72% of people who own a voice-activated speaker say that their devices are used as part of their daily routines (source: WordStream).
It is also estimated that at least one in five homes in the UK now own a smart speaker (source: Gov.uk).
So what does this mean for you? Well, you should ensure that voice search is part of your digital marketing strategy.
Voice searches are usually conversational, often asking questions, so ensure that your content is structured to answer these.
It is also important to look at technical SEO. Loading time, mobile experience and web accessibility all have an effect on voice search.
4. Beware the rise of ad blockers
With internet users becoming ever more savvy and more concerned about their privacy, it is estimated that in 2021, 27% of people will be using ad blockers (source: eMarketer Forecasts).
This means that if you rely heavily on PPC and display ads, you may start to see a downturn in traffic and it is therefore more important than ever to invest in SEO in order improve your organic traffic.
Depending on who your target audience is, this might not be a problem for you.
According to Exchange Wire, 25-34 year olds are most likely to use ad-blocking software. So if these are your primary customers, you will definitely need to adapt your digital marketing strategy.
5. Don’t ignore the value of local listings
One of the most important things you can do as a small business is to ensure that your local listings are verified and kept up to date on search platforms. This is nothing new.
Listings such as Google My Business provide valuable information about your opening hours, which is crucial at the moment with the lockdown restrictions constantly changing.
But although we talk about Google a lot (and we mean a lot!), it is not the only business directory available.
Don’t neglect Facebook, Apple Maps and Bing Places, as these all show up in search results and give you another place to get seen.
6. Conversational marketing is growing
Marketing will become even more conversational in 2021, with more companies introducing chatbots to help with customer queries and the rise of voice search.
Consumers expect to be able to ask a question and receive a response so businesses need to be available across a wide number of platforms, communicating with people in the way that they prefer.
Messaging apps like Whatsapp and Facebook messenger and live chat functions on websites are convenient for customers as they can drop you a message and then go about their day while they wait for a reply, rather than having to spend time on the phone.
7. Personalisation is key
Again, there is nothing new about personalisation, but we are talking about more than just putting someone’s name on an email greeting.
There is so much marketing out there that it can a challenge for your brand to stand out from the noise. Personalisation is a great way to do that.
Offering up campaigns based on customer buying habits as well as their demographics is one way to grab attention and get people talking about your brand as well as increasing sales.
A recent email campaign from Easyjet using customers’ travel history to suggest where they might like to go next received a 25% higher click-through rate than a non-personalised email (source: Single Grain).
8. Content marketing to start conversations
Keyword based blog posts will still be a great way to get your business found on Google search.
However, the most successful and engaging content in 2021 will aim to start conversations and get people talking.
Your audience is increasingly looking to have an authentic experience with your brand and this is one of the best ways to do that so make sure you consider this when putting together your content marketing plan.