Lockdowns, masking, social distancing – all led to changes in the digital world, including these trends in marketing that look like they will continue far into the future for digital marketing trends in 2021

History has shown that big events, including disasters and pandemics, can permanently alter the way people live their lives. That’s been the case with the COVID-19 pandemic, from how and where people work to how they socialize.

It’s impacted digital marketing, as well, creating digital marketing trends in 2021 that look to thrive well into the next year and beyond. Modern marketing trends are more complicated than those from the past. Staying on top of the latest trends can help any size business stay ahead in a competitive marketplace.

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Digital Marketing Trends 2021

The focus here is on digital marketing trends that came into popularity at the height of the pandemic and look likely to continue into the foreseeable future. It’s especially important as the global e-commerce industry reached a record $26.7 billion worldwide in 2020, according to the United Nations. The pandemic seems to have bolstered the movement online that has been going on for years.

Digital Campfires

Digital campfires refer to areas on the internet where people (mostly younger users) gather to play games. The popularity of games exploded in 2021 as lockdowns and social distancing became the norm. Digital campfires also have become a new place for digital marketing. For example, Fortnite developer Epic Games partnered with artists to perform concerts inside the game during the pandemic, and also premiered movie trailers.

Digital First, But Not Digital Only

Marketers speculated over what might happen to online retail when physical stores reopened. They started getting answers in the spring and summer of 2021. One of the best came from Williams-Sonoma, which reported gains in both online and traditional retail sales in the second quarter of 2020. As the company’s CFO Julie Whalen said, the company is being rewarding for following a “digital-first, but not digital-only strategy.”

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Transparency and Purpose-Driven Missions

Consumers continue to flock toward brands that they perceive as sincere and transparent. This transparency in the online world is vital to success in digital marketing. However, with the pandemic, people also want to see companies that exhibit good will toward their customers that includes (but goes beyond) supporting charitable organizations and good causes. This also includes the idea that businesses understand why they exist, who they are built to serve and how they can best serve them.

Attracting Generation Z

Generation Z emerged as a consumer powerhouse during 2020. They accounted for an estimated 40 percent of all online consumers in 2020. They also have an estimated $150 billion in buying power, and that’s just in the United States. Capturing and holding the attention of this very savvy, digital generation takes dedication. Some of the proven methods include working with online influencers, video content and a strong social media presence. The transparency mentioned above is especially important to this generation.

User-Generated Content

This has been important for some time. However, it emerged as more important than ever as the number of online consumers increased rapidly. This content now has an incredible amount of influence, and it’s something digital marketers encourage and respond to (especially negative reviews). This content includes:

  • Reviews of businesses on places such as Yelp and Google
  • Written reviews on specialty sites
  • Video reviews posted on YouTube and other video sites

As the digital marketing trends in 2021 show, the pandemic in some cases simply accelerated ongoing trends. But they have created an even bigger opportunity for businesses willing to commit to a strong digital marketing plan.