Last year brought many changes and a surge of growth in areas we didn’t expect (e.g. eCommerce sales and virtual events). From a global pandemic that kept everyone home to social justice movements that permeated the digital space, these issues will continue to be at the forefront in 2021. But now, marketers are armed with better knowledge of an altered digital landscape. To help you succeed, we’ve compiled a list of the key digital marketing trends for 2021 that marketers need to know:
Marketing that’s more ‘human’
Brands need to be meeting customers where they are, and that means having messaging that’s less corporate and more personal. If businesses want to truly reach people, they must strive to be more authentic and transparent by stating who and what they stand for.
One thing that has come out of our 2020 quarantine is a greater need for us all to connect on a human level. That means not marketing at people, but marketing with them. Get more employee faces at the forefront, talk to customers via live video and identify which topics resonate most with your followers (through data). Companies can also get more personal by adding user-generated content (UGC) to their marketing campaigns—putting real customers at the heart of their brand
In 2021, content suited for specific (highly engaged) individuals beats mass appeal.
On humanized brands, inclusivity is going to be a core component of this trend. In 2020, diversity and inclusion became a much larger focus as social movements like Black Lives Matter put a spotlight on endemic social issues.
An Accenture study concluded that inclusivity can even impact purchasing behavior. In the report, 41 percent of shoppers moved away from brands that didn’t reflect their views on inclusivity and 42 percent of ethnic minority shoppers stated they would switch to a retailer more committed to diversity and inclusion.
Brands that can successfully showcase their stance on social justice issues have a greater potential to drive deeper and more meaningful connections with their followers.
Increased focus on social media
Before you scroll down thinking this is an old trend, hear us out. Last year, time spent on social media increased exponentially.
Why? When the general public was told to stay at home, social media usage increased, with top platforms seeing much higher levels of engagement. The Harris Poll conducted between late March and early May found that between 46 percent and 51 percent of U.S. adults were using social media more since the outbreak began.
Brands that want to perform better in 2021 will work to capitalize on this continuing trend by investing more time and dollars in their social media channels—both organic and paid.
Social media will become a top channel for purchase (not just discovery)
As in-person purchasing dwindles due to COVID-19 health risks, more people are turning to social media to discover and purchase products. Now is the time to take advantage of a moment when more people are engaging with social media than ever before.
According to a Hootsuite report, more than half of all businesses (60 percent) are planning to increase their Instagram budget with almost half planning to do the same on Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn. This is no surprise since Instagram’s advertising reach grew 7.1 percent in the most recent quarter. It also helps that Instagram became more SEO-friendly in November 2020.
Hootsuite also found that “for marketers who don’t invest in paid advertising, Twitter and Pinterest are seen as the most effective channels. In particular, Pinterest received high marks for driving bottom-of-funnel conversions.”
Pinterest in particular is a great platform for finding highly engaged people who are more inclined to make a purchase. You can learn more about Pinterest marketing here.
It’s important for brands, specifically in the retail and eCommerce space, to focus on making the social media buying experience more interactive and fun like in-store shopping. Features like Instagram Live and Pinterest can serve to showcase products, and sharing out more user-generated images and video of real customers trying a product can make the buying process less of a monotonous activity and more of an engaging, interactive process.
Some other things brands can do to improve the social media experience:
- Have employees host live Q&A sessions for products to give customers more information
- Tap into influencers and UGC for people to tangibly see the product being experienced or used by other people
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New Customer Acquisition
In Hootsuite’s 2021 Social Trends survey, 73 percent of all marketers put “increased acquisition of new customers: as their top goal for social media in 2021.” The year before, just 46 percent of marketers said the same (a 58 percent year-over-year increase).
The surging shift to online shopping during the pandemic has provided many small and mid-sized brands with the opportunity to break into traditional big-box retailer’s share of the overall market. Digital-savvy brands will take advantage of the rise in eCommerce to broaden their customer base this year.
Live stream and virtual events
According to Coresight Research, live stream shopping events are expected to generate $25 billion in sales by 2023 in the U.S.
The drastic increase in virtual events and live streams came from necessity (stay at home orders) because of the pandemic. Instagram and Facebook Live views doubled in just one week when the outbreak began.
But now that brands and people have adapted to a more virtual way of doing things, we can expect to see a continuation of this trend in 2021. There are several reasons live streams and virtual events will continue to be popular:
- Easy accessibility (no travel restrictions or visas required)
- High potential for ROI
- The ability to reach more people all around the world
- An added human element to create brand trust
- Higher overall event attendance
Now that more people are open to virtual events and brand discovery through live streams, businesses should take advantage of this trend.
Monetization of short-form video
Most of us have probably heard about the power of video already and how it’s imperative for any brand to be using it. On Amazon, many products feature some kind of short video to better display how a product looks. As TikTok introduces in-app purchases, large retailers like Walmart are already investing billions of dollars in selling through the platform.
We can expect to see not just shoppable images, but shoppable short-form videos as well displayed on brand websites, product pages and social media platforms.
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Increased spend on loyalty and retention marketing
The increase in social media usage and the rise of micro-influencers is helping brands connect on a deeper level with their most engaged customers. Forrester predicted that spend on loyalty and retention marketing will increase by 30 percent this year (2021). On top of increasing spend, some things brands might do in 2021 to garner more loyalty and retention are:
- Investing more in customer support problems
- Proactively fixing customer complaints through communication
- Engaging more in social listening
- Coming up with a plan for customers that are in danger of leaving
- Giving customers not just products, but building communities they can actively participate in
UGC to enhance the customer experience
In 2006, TIME Magazine listed “you” for Person of the Year. Now, 15 years later, that statement couldn’t be more true. UGC hits all the right marks when it comes to genuine, customer-centric content that resonates. It’s been proven that people trust content from real users more than they trust brands. It’s relatable and it helps brands have a more humanized marketing approach.
The numbers speak for themselves:
- Consumers find UGC 9.8x more impactful than influencer content when making a purchasing decision
- Visitors to websites that include UGC galleries spend 90% more time on the site
- UGC drives a 73% increase in email click-through-rates
- Social campaigns that incorporate UGC see a 50% lift in engagement
- Ads with UGC generate 5x greater click-through-rates
User-generated content is what consumers are craving, and with the right tool, collecting and publishing UGC across all of your marketing channels has never been easier. Learn more about how Stackla can help you improve marketing numbers by harnessing the power of UGC.
While 2020 may have been difficult and unpredictable for marketers, the silver lining is that it evened the playing field in many ways. Now that we have our bearings about us, we can more readily come up with strategies to grow our businesses in 2021 in light of these changes.
Are you ready to use a robust UGC tool like Stackla to boost your marketing numbers in 2021? Book a free demo by filling out the form below today.