6 Digital Marketing Trends to Watch in 2021


Businesses have had to change and adapt at a record rate this year due to the pandemic. With lockdowns and contactless everything, multi-channel digital marketing, ecommerce and even AI integration have become the #newnormal. And we don’t see that changing any time soon. In fact, COVID-19 may have changed the way we approach customers for good. 

So coming out of a tough 2020, how can you still find promising opportunities in the new year? Here are a few of the top digital marketing trends we expect for 2021—and beyond.  

1. Social Media isn’t Just for Being Social Anymore–It’s For Shopping

The pandemic has consumers spending more time online and on social media than ever—a trend that’s likely here to stay. Lucky for marketers, social media is one of the fastest and easiest ways to engage with your customers, create a conversation around your brand, build customer loyalty – and even secure purchases. 

With the rise of social media shopping, businesses are making it even easier for consumers to click “buy.” In-app purchasing via Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest will be a smart digital marketing investment in 2021, as huge percentages of consumers are looking to these platforms for product discovery and purchasing. Features like Instagram Checkout, Facebook Page Shops and buyable pins on Pinterest streamline the buying process so a shopper can jump from socializing to completing a purchase and then back to their feed in a matter of seconds.

In addition to actually purchasing through social apps, consumers are using social media to research their consideration set as well. Nearly half of Americans utilize social media to ask questions about products or services. “Listen” to your followers on social media in 2021, and create targeted content that addresses customers’ interests and pain points. Respond quickly to followers on your accounts, and match the tone and style of your audience when you do. Interacting with consumers on their level will make your brand appear more “human” and trustworthy, creating a sense of community with your followers.    

2. Retargeting: After People Come to You, Go to Them

COVID-19 has consumers shopping online in droves this year. But with the rabbit hole of choices that is the internet, how do you stand out from the crowd and get consumers to choose your product or service over competitors’? The answer: retargeting campaigns. 

A jaw-dropping 97% of people visiting your site for the first time leave without buying anything or taking that next step. Retargeting campaigns via Facebook, Google Ads and other advertising platforms can help:

  • Provide you with laser focused, pre-screened targeting
  • Connect you with customers who have already shown an interest in your products and services 
  • Remind your customers of your products and services with an extra incentive that drives them back to your website to snag a deal
  • Build visibility for your brand

3. People Want to Buy Local–But They Find You Digitally 

Consumers understand the benefits of local businesses and are ready and willing to invest in local small businesses over mega chains and retail giants like Amazon and Target, especially in a time when they know brick and mortar stores are suffering due to the pandemic. The trick is getting found easily by customers near you and providing them with accurate information. 

That’s where local SEO and Google My Business (GMB) come in. Ranking high in search results for local keyword terms like “pizza near me” or “plumbers in Cincinnati” gets your business in front of valuable local customers. This drives consumers to your physical location, entices them to call you over other businesses nearby and ultimately generates more revenue. 

And if you’re a brick-and-mortar business like a restaurant or gym, it’ll be more important than ever before in 2021 to keep your online listings and GMB profile as accurate and up-to-date as possible with hours, locations and special COVID-19-related changes. You can even add COVID-related options in your description, such as curbside pickup or call ahead services. 

A high local ranking and a trustworthy GMB profile will help you maintain that valuable relationship with loyal customers and keep them coming back for more, frustration free. 

4. People Are Voicing Their Needs More than Ever 

It’s not just about the Google bar anymore. Alexa, Siri, Cortana—Artificial intelligence is changing the face of digital marketing. And with a voice assistant in over half of American households, voice-activated searches are expected to increase steadily in 2021. This means optimizing your website to ensure your business shows up in results for a voice search is definitely one of the digital marketing trends you’ll want to focus on.

Once again, local SEO will be key. Focus on keywords and phrases that include “near me” or in “x” city. Consider how your audience would search for your business in natural speech to ensure you capture local customers. We cover this trend in more detail–as well as tips–in our article, 5 Web Design Trends You Should Follow to Stand Out From the Competition.

5. Your Most Important Storefront is Your Website

And it’s likely to remain that way well into 2021. That means your website needs to look good and be easy to use. Here are a few tips for cleaning house and clearing a path to checkout. 

  • Keep pressing COVID-related information front, center and easy to understand
  • Simplify your navigation so users know exactly where to go to get the information they need 
  • Streamline your content, and remove any unnecessary information that distracts users from making a purchase or taking the next step
  • Eliminate pop-ups and in-your-face ads
  • Make sure your site is fully responsive and mobile-friendly 

6. Over-The-Top Advertising is Streaming with Opportunity  

With 80% of internet traffic linked to online video streaming, over-the-top advertising (or OTT) will be one of the biggest digital marketing trends in 2021. OTT refers to film and television content provided through the internet versus cable or satellite. OTT advertising allows marketers to bypass traditional TV ads for the more relevant digital streaming services and devices, like Hulu, Roku, Fire TV, etc. 

With OTT, marketers can target consumers with amazing precision. Watching your favorite show on your smartphone while waiting to get your oil changed? Car dealerships and auto repair shops can utilize OTT advertising to show you targeted ads specifically designed to capture your attention while you have auto repair on the mind. 

Ready to reimagine how you play in the digital landscape in 2021? Our team of marketing experts are standing by to help you capitalize on 2021’s top digital marketing trends.