Top 7 Digital Marketing Trends to Watch in 2021


These seven digital trends will shape how consumers search, buy, and interact through 2021 now that consumers spend more time online.

If any year is poised to see a huge increase in online marketing strategies, 2021 is the year that it will happen. With more consumers shopping online than ever before, companies have a larger audience to reach and even more competition to breakthrough. That’s why these seven digital trends will shape how consumers search, buy, and interact with brands through 2021.

Social Checkout 

From Instagram’s swipe up feature for large influencer accounts to in-post purchases options on Facebook ads, leveraging social purchases will continue to be key in 2021. However, it is important to understand how consumers are engaging with social content to determine if it is the best investment of marketing dollars. For example, while just 19% of consumers purchased through a social media app’s checkout feature, over 57% of consumers acknowledge finding out about new brands on social media. 

As social platforms enhance their checkout features and make it more seamless for users to purchase without leaving the app, expect the number of in-app purchases to dramatically increase.

Short Video Strategy

As short-form video content on platforms like Tiktok, Instagram, and YouTube start to dominate how users post on social media, companies can use this micro-content to reach more consumers. Driving click through rates and conversions will likely come down to how quickly you can move consumers to buy with short 15-20 second ads. 

If you have not created a short video marketing strategy, now is the time to do so. Companies that are able to leverage the short-form video content to build brand awareness will be able to exponentially increase their brand reach – with less ad spend.

Outstream Video Ads

2020 saw an explosive growth of subscription-based video streaming services such as Disney+, Netflix, and Hulu. With more than 107.5 million collective subscribers, in 2020, these online video platforms offer consumers an ad-free experience. This may be great for the viewer, but is particularly bad for companies looking to reach consumers. That’s why the emergence of outstream video ads will be key in getting (and staying) in front of your target audience with highly targeted messaging on the platforms they use.

Virtual Events

As 64% of all companies nationwide hosted an online event during the coronavirus pandemic, the popularity of virtual programming is expected to increase. With the option to reach a large, and in some cases, global audience, companies should look to innovative ways to continue to offer virtualized experiences for their consumers. 

Whether through leveraging livestream videos or more involved virtual conferences, the technology to support these events will continue to rapidly evolve and provide a more seamless user experience. This will enable companies (of all sizes) to engage with their audiences in more intimate ways to build even more brand awareness and loyalty.

Avoid Brandstanding

The polarizing social and political climate in the country in 2020 saw many brands speaking out against injustice and violence. Though many companies chose to remain neutral, studies have shown that 75% of Millennials are more likely to be loyal to a brand that supports a specific social justice cause. 

Though the temptation for companies may be to release statements of solidarity addressing issues of racism, discrimination, or inequality – 60% of consumers believe that companies are using these statements for their monetary gain. This is often referred to as “brandstanding” and it is important for companies to move beyond their marketing messages and consistently leverage their brand to create solutions for the social justice issues they claim to support.

SMS Campaigns

With mobile phone use being a staple in everyday life, consumers are interacting more with companies via text message. In fact, 43% of consumers say they have texted a business in the past 6 months, and 65% of consumers prefer companies that offer text communication. The key to capitalizing on this emerging trend is rooted in both providing convenience for consumers as well as sending highly relevant and targeted messages when consumers are ready to buy.

 If consumers have to wait hours (or days) to receive a text message response back or if they are sent irrelevant promotional messages not tailored to their preferences or purchase history, SMS campaigns can easily become confusing or worse… annoying! This is where leveraging geotargeting and investing in a robust customer data platform can be helpful to craft personalized text marketing campaigns.

Personalized Email Marketing

The days of generic email blast campaigns are over, especially as consumer data platforms can gather more comprehensive data about a consumer’s preferences and purchasing behaviors. Marketing researcher, Acoustic found a 25% jump in email open rates in 2020 that have continued through the year and into the first quarter of 2021. With consumers being more engaged through email, this represents an opportunity for marketers to further enhance the customer journey through using personalized campaigns and leveraging email list segmentation strategies.

Consumer behavior has been forever reshaped due to the global pandemic. And, with more consumers shopping and interacting with brands online, mastering these seven digital trends will serve to help create an unshakable competitive advantage through 2021. The key will be in choosing the best strategies for your brand and target market and leveraging highly personalized approaches to break through the now over-saturated marketing white noise.