May 6, 2020

digital trends art of growth marketing

You may be looking for inspiration, and here we made a list of Digital Marketing Trends for 2021 just for you. 

An open mindset and the ability to think ahead are essential for your digital marketing efforts to succeed. 

It means that you should stay up to date with all the latest trends and advancements that will be a big hit in the coming year.

Here are some of the best digital marketing trends in 2021 that you need to add to your arsenal. There are plenty of great websites that also have their own Digital Marketing Trends 2021

1. Online Collaboration

digital trends online collaboration art of growth marketing

As you can imagine, with what went on at the beginning of 2020 decade, we saw the emergence of new opportunities:

Working remotely created technical needs and social/emotional wants:

  1. New needs: collaboration tools, higher bandwidth, web conferencing software, online project management, hardware like microphones and cameras for meetings online, etc.
  2. New wants: digitalized human contacts, online emotional support, learning platform, etc. 

Some industries will see astounding growth in the short term, Zoom is probably the best example.  We can even think that the changes may be long-term: 

  • Business
  • Education
  • Entertainment
  • Mental Health
  • Medical Advice

We heard a few original stories:

  1. there is a higher demand for online learning, for example, a company selling music courses saw its revenue increase
  2. people are looking for solutions to monitor employees, for example, a system that takes a screenshot of the employee every 5 minutes
  3. online mental health consultations went up (will machine learning and bots ever replace human therapists?)

2. Immersive Technology

digital trends immersive technology art of growth marketing

VR (or Virtual Reality) and AR (or Augmented Reality) have gained massive popularity not too long ago, and both quickly rose to the top as some of the top online marketing trends in 2021. 

Although VR used to be more popular of these two for quite some time, AR is expected to overtake it in 2021 to the point that VR will be left entirely behind once 2022 comes.

Do you believe it realistic? 

Major companies are now using AR, and you can stay ahead with your digital efforts if you give it a try as soon as possible. AR can be used for entertainment, but it can also be used in professional circles to train employees, conduct remote meetings, pitch ideas to clients, etc. 

A prime example of the use of immersive technology is nurse training. I know someone who is developing such a product. I played with it back in 2016. Already then it looked pretty good, so I can only imagine how far they are now (plus they got investment to cover North America and Europe.)

The nurses put a helmet on and walk around a room where a patient is recovering. The patient has a dangerous type of bacteria. The software shows where the nurse was exposed to the bacteria and where he or she spread it. 

3. Social eCommerce

digital trends social ecommerce art of growth marketing

The world is going social. That was the purpose of social media, no?

Social eCommerce is probably one of the hottest digital marketing trends for 2021.

Gone are the days when businesses are pulling their hair out, trying to urge their social media fans and followers to check out their online shops. 

This is because social eCommerce is here that allows customers to buy products straight from social media ads or posts with no need to leave the app or site. 

Also, remember that Social Proof has a strong psychological effect on us and others: we tend to copycat the behavior of others. 

Oh yeah.

While not entirely new, these shoppable posts on social media are gaining more attention by the day. They make sense, and of course, they work! 

The same principle is also applied to games. More and more games offer ads that are… playable!

Wait a few years, and we will see the same principle with AR, VR, and immersive technologies. 

4. Micro-Moments

digital trends micro moments art of growth marketing

What are micro-moments?

Micro-moments refer to moments rich in intent where mobile phone users make swift decisions. 

Micro-moments depend on 4 elements:

  1. audience

  2. location

  3. time

  4. offer

Micro-moments appeared with the adoption of mobile phones with access to the internet. Mobile internet creates, between information acquisition and decision, a fast pace never seen before. 

More precisely, a micro-moment is when people turn to their device to act on a specific need, such as the need to do, buy, go, or know. In general, people make immediate decisions within these four forms of micro-moments.

This means that marketers need to be able to target the right audience at the right moment at the right place

The timing of the targeting is especially important: users often feel the need to satisfy a need in the blink of an eye. Many users now have the attention span of a mosquito! Your capability to impress can help you reap great rewards. 

Yes sir. 

A good example would be what McDonalds in Japan has been doing.

Targeted messages are sent to students on Saturdays around 11:30 am, just before the students head out of Saturday class. The send-out will be an offer that reflects the season, the weather, and the behavior that comes with it:

  • hot drink in winter and cold one in summer; 
  • stay in longer when it rains, shorter in-store stay when weather is nice, adapt offer to meet this behavior;
  • maybe an extra voucher for a dessert when people are looking for emotional gratification in sweet things if weather is not nice. 

When consumers have a need that they want to fulfill, micro-moments helps consumers take quick action. In the above case, the micro-moment would be a targeted ad that invites students to come to eat and study indoor. 

As one of the most effective online marketing trends in 2021, it is crucial to know where consumers are looking for information at the moment. As a marketer, you need to be quick, useful, and just be there. 

5. Conversational Marketing

digital trends conversational marketing art of growth marketing

Digital marketing trends 2021 will never be complete without discussing the need to be more conversational interactions. Engaging through conversations is what people want and brands have started to react to meet the wants. 

Every time a consumer asks a question, most of them expect to receive an instant response

The concept goes beyond autoresponders that send automated emails, for example after a subscription or a purchase. 

Conversational marketing paves the way for real-time and one-to-one connections between customers and marketers.

 This marketing form is made available across different channels that allow brands to meet their customers according to their own terms. 

The other day I was looking for information about Sales Funnel pricing. The more answers I got, the deeper and deeper the questions and answers got. At the end of my research, I had a fully customized solution that told me:

  • how much I should charge
  • how many I need to sell
  • how many leads I need to pitch to
  • and plenty of other details

I firmly believe that the future of platforms will be about answering our rational and emotional needs in a fully personalized manner

Did you have any conversational marketing experience recently? 

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6. Interactive Content

digital trends interactive content art of growth marketing

Most buyers today search for online content that is more interactive.

 One of the digital marketing trends 2021 is shifting the focus away from static content to interactive content.

We are already seeing the content customization trend with companies like Proof. Proof is developing Experience. Experience is a design customization system that lets website owners customize the content of a webpage based on who is looking at the webpage.

Great tool really, but pricy. 

With Experience, a designer visiting a website using Experience will see design-related content, and a web developer would see tech-related content. The logic behind this is to deliver the right message to the right audience. 

Polls, quizzes, and 360-degree video are some wonderful examples of this so-called interactive content. 

This form of content is original and helps the brand stand out from the crowd. It also gives visitors more reason to spend more time on the page. 

I just finished a 4 question quiz that gave me insights into my own business.

Not all quizzes are a loss of time!

7. Social Messaging Apps

digital trends social messaging apps art of growth marketing

Social messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and WeChat are no longer meant to send messages to your friends alone. 

These days, the apps have also become popular means for communication between businesses and their customers and vice versa. 

These social messaging apps have become in demand among businesses since it is more convenient for customers to have a direct connection with companies. This also allows a more personalized marketing that people love and appreciate. 

Everybody is social. 

We are Social Beings

We have seen it with the products that Alex Becker's MarketHero (who has a Youtube channel Alex Becker,) where he offers an autoresponder to communicate directly with consumers within Facebook Messenger. 

For how long will we be using emails? In China, where everybody has WeChat, email is no longer a channel used to target consumers. All messaging is done via WeChat. Even when you buy insurance, a plane ticket or book an appointment at the doctor. 

What tools do you use to communicate, automate, and interact with your customers? 

8. Video Marketing

digital trends video marketing art of growth marketing

Video marketing still remains to be among the most important digital marketing trends in 2021 and in the more years to come.

We strongly believe that video marketing will be THE pillar to help companies and brands grow. 

We are social creatures. And we are visual

The video format fits perfectly with human nature. Watching videos replaced TV. 

Not only that, but engaging consumers with video marketing is easier than ever before

Videos are still the most popular way for customers to get to learn and know more about new products. Aside from YouTube, there are many other ways to improve video marketing engagement. 

Video posts are great as well as live broadcasts on Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn. The best thing about today’s videos is that these can present information in formats that work on all devices. 

Get in front of the camera. Make a mix of short engaging Instagram videos à la Gary Vaynerchuk, some informational videos like Neil Patel does on Youtube, and some courses like Ryan Deiss of DigitalMarketers offers. 

The format and the length do not matter, just shoot it!

9. Personalization

digital trends personalization art of growth marketing

Online marketing trends 2021 are all about personalized marketing

There is nothing better than real, authentic, human, one-on-one personalized communications

I recently interacted via Twitter (I opened my account in 2020!) with a famous indie maker, and I got a personalized reply. The same thing happened with the CEO of a Social Proof software I contacted.

As for now, no robot will beat getting a personalized email sent to ME. Human to human communication in the era of automation and digitalization.  

The same principles apply to ads (remember, I come from an advertising background working with Nike, Disney, Mercedes, WMF, Bosch…)

Customers are sick and tired of watching those generic ads that aren’t even related to them. Generic commercials and traditional ads lost their effectiveness as personalized advertising becomes more in demand. 

Personalization is more appealing to more and more customers, and there is a higher chance that they will choose companies that provide personalized experiences. 

Imagine getting a handwritten postcard from a company? You would remember the gesture!

Customers expect personalization in the 2020 decade, so make sure that your efforts focus on this. 

10. Influencer Marketing

digital trends influencer marketing art of growth marketing

Influencer marketing refers to a form of word-of-mouth marketing, focusing on the use of key leaders to convey your brand message to more audiences. 

In China, most companies use KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) to promote and endorse products. A lot of KOLs actually own their channel and sell directly via live streamings, social media posts, and eCommerce stores. 

This is particularly efficient in industries where Trust can be an issue, a good example being baby products.

Influencers can include famous celebrities, but most of the time, they are personalities on YouTube or Instagram with a broad niche following that can help spread the word about your products or business through their own social channels. 

I have worked with plenty of KOLs in my advertising career, and I can tell you that it works. 

There is a famous KOL in China, a guy who does a lengthy live stream of 2-3 hours where he reviews products. He has a limited quantity of products, and people can order while watching him. The hot seller product is… lipstick.

So the recipe is:

  1. hot celebrity or personality
  2. hot product
  3. limited offers
  4. personalized reviews (live-streamed)
  5. one-click purchase

People love the improvisation that comes with live streamings, and they adore the authenticity. Needless to say that most products are sold out within 20 minutes. 

11. Voice Search and Interactive Voice Chatbots

digital trends voice search and interactive chatbots art of growth marketing

Smart speakers are a thing now in many homes, and smartphone users all over the world are also using voice-activated search every now and then. 

Stats reveal that half of all searches in 2021 will be voice searches. This is why voice search is among the most prominent digital marketing trends in 2021. I think this is overly optimistic.

I have seen some of my friends use voice search. I don't and I won't, but lots of people do. 

I do use dictation to write posts and emails

I personally tested writing articles with voice, it worked quite well, and I was able to achieve about 1,200-1,400 words per hour, a high performance compared to my usual 800-1,000 words per hour. 

Digital marketers must now pay attention to voice search and optimize their websites for it. 

I believe that it may take a while before user behavior changes, but I already see it changing. 

The Voice Search is undoubtedly a big thing for people who drive. It is also useful for TVs where people use voice to find TV shows, my daughter uses it to find TV shows (the naughty girl found mp4 of fart sounds as well! I was wondering where those sounds where coming from!)

But at the conjecture of Voice Search and Chatbots, we will find something else: Interactive Voice Chatbots.

I was on LinkedIn about 2 months ago, and a CEO I know posted a call he had the night before. You could hear him speak with a woman. It sounded normal.

She was an insurance agent and was asking him a few questions, trying to see if he was a potential lead or not. And then, after 20 seconds, he asked: “Are you a human or a robot?” She replied: “I am an automated voice-call for XYZ Insurance Company, thank you for your time, we will talk later.”

12. Programmatic Advertising and 5G

digital trends programmatic advertising and 5G art of growth marketing

Programmatic advertising refers to the use of AI to automate ad purchases to allow you to target specific groups of audiences

You probably already know RTB (Real-Time Bidding); this is a faster and more efficient automation that means lower costs of customer acquisition and higher conversions. 

When AI and Machine Learning jump in to improve the performance of ads, the results are likely to be a lot better. 

It would be interesting to see algorithms from the finance industry, who do the vast majority of the transactions in the markets now, be implemented in the billion dollars ad industry. 

The implementation of 5G is likely to help with the speed of transactions

The bandwidth of transactions that can be processed as well as the consumers' insights we gain from such big data. 

Another aspect of 5G: it is SAFER than 4G technology. We do a rock-two-birds. 

Do you spend money on ads? What is your cost of acquisition?

13. Per Channel Content Marketing

digital trends per channel content marketing art of growth marketing

Content is everything. 

Content helps create Brand exposure

Content can also engage prospects. 

This list of digital marketing trends 2021 will never be complete without mentioning content marketing.

As significant algorithm updates are rolled out, Content Marketing remains to be indispensable and relevant as content will continue to make audiences view organizations as trusted and credible resources. 

I think the reason why Content Marketing is still a hot topic is simply because Content is what people consume before trusting a company and making a purchase decision. Even me, I rarely buy something before consuming 5-8 pieces of content of a company. 

I think that from now on, smart marketers will not produce one piece of content and adapt it for all different channels. For example, creating a blog post, then using the same material and sharing it to Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. 

I firmly believe that marketers who know what they are doing will produce one unique piece of content for each channel: for Instagram for their Instagram audience, one piece of content for Twitter, and maybe one that can be used on the website and on Facebook. 

Each platform offers unique levels of interaction and engagement, and this is precisely where the marketing battle is. 

No more recycling. More time spend creating content tailor-made for each specific channel. 

14. SEO is making a come back

Yes, you read that right. SEO is making a come back. SEO is such an important piece of the Digital Marketing pie that we simply cannot ignore it.

Don't believe me? Look at the data in Google Trends for SEO

There are many reasons why SEO is making a big coming back. 

First, as the Google algorithm becomes more complex and sophisticated, people are looking for more advanced SEO strategies than the usual suspects. 

Secondly, more and more people want to make money online, whether it is by making money blogging, starting an affiliates niche website or doing things likes eCommerce and dropshipping. This move towards the digitalization of the economy means that more and more people will naturally want to know more about SEO. 

Thirdly, SEO is fun. SEO has something mysterious and to be honest, I have recently realized that being an SEO expert is almost like being like a chef. It's seen as cool. Furthermore, there is the community aspect of SEO, there are more and more SEO communities out there. 

So please add SEO to the 2021 Digital Trends!

We do offer SEO services like SEO Audits and much more. If you are interested feel free to reach out via the contact page or drop me a line on Facebook

15. Education and learning are moving online

This one is a given, especially considering the developments in this 2020 decade. 

But when you think about it, education and learning can be seen in the broad sense: people deepen and diversify their education to acquire new skills, new knowledge and even new experiences. 

We are not talking about education in the sense of the standard curriculum, but by people in and out of official learning institutions learning. 

Plenty of people started taking courses... because they had plenty of time to kill. It gave the opportunity to plenty of people to start their own courses and businesses. 

Knowledge has never been so easily accessible and distributed!

This implies that there are now new opportunities for digital marketers to jump onto the wagon:

  1. Offer digital consulting services to education establishments: help them target students that are all around the world. 
  2. Sell your own online courses
  3. Help people, entrepreneurs and agencies jump on the learning band wagon!

Interesting times!


We hope you like the top online marketing trends for 2021. If you feel we forgot some big ones, please let us know in the comments.

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Martin Couture

I help people just like you start, grow and future-proof their online business. After years of creating digital experiences for brands like Disney, Nike, Tiffany, Fendi, BMW, Mercedes... I decided to start blogging and making niche websites. Now, I want to help you achieve what I have achieved. I worked at the 2 biggest independent agencies in the world: Wieden+Kennedy and Serviceplan. Martin Couture is Content Marketing Consultant at the Art of Growth Marketing.

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