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2020 is (finally) almost over! First off, we’d like you to pat yourself on the back for surviving this year. 

The digital marketing landscape has transformed quite a bit due to 2020’s events, especially of course due to COVID-19, which made its impact on virtually every industry. So in light of the year’s end, we’ve taken a look at the trends from the past year and put together a list of our top predictions for digital marketing trends in 2021. 


1. A Continued Shift to eCommerce 


By now, it’s no secret that digital channels are becoming the new storefront. Since the COVID-19 pandemic has restricted in-person shopping in order to limit outside interactions, this has fast-tracked the shift to eCommerce. 

As a result, brands who were strictly brick and mortar needed to adapt to the online space to thrive. Social media platforms have become an even more important touch point for consumers to shop online, since people are relying more on these channels for discovering and buying new products and services. Customers also expect convenient and accessible online shopping experiences, which has led to more optimized digital shopping experiences. We don’t see this slowing down anytime soon, so brands who don’t have a digital presence or have not set up an eCommerce shop need to get started as soon as possible. (If you’re interested in learning how to get started, book a consultation with one of our digital marketing experts!)

Luckily, it’s easier than ever for brands to set up an eCommerce shop. This year, social media channels Facebook and Instagram released a feature called Shops, a mobile-friendly eCommerce option that allows brands to sell their products directly off these platforms. WhatsApp also has WhatsApp for Business, which allows business owners to highlight their products and services and correspond directly with customers.  

One of the key digital marketing trends we predict that more social media channels will follow suit and eCommerce options will become more widely accessible for brands in 2021.


2. More Gaming-Related Content


Viewership of online gaming-related content on social media has massively increased during the pandemic. This isn’t too surprising, as users have relied on the digital space to seek connections and more entertainment avenues during the pandemic. Gaming is an interactive way to create content, build connections, and provide entertainment online. 

As a result, platforms like Twitch and Facebook Gaming have seen huge user increases within the pandemic months

Interactive content on social media platforms will likely increase in popularity, especially as the pandemic continues and people look for safe activities to do at home.


3. Further Advertising Innovations 


In 2020, advanced technological features like augmented reality (AR) have seen an increase across platforms. For example, AR has been used to improve the virtual customer experience, such as for virtual galleries and “Try on” filters for shopping. Businesses also have the option to create branded AR filters on platforms like Instagram and Snapchat

As well, there appears to be a steady interest in audio-based ads. For instance, users are listening to more Podcasts these days, and platforms like YouTube are currently testing audio ads

Brands will also prioritize mobile functionality for ads, particularly as more users are relying on their mobile devices to access important information. 

It’s extremely likely that digital advertising options will continue to evolve. As 2021 unfolds, we foresee increased ad options and updated features on social media channels to allow a wider range of creative marketing options for brands. 



4. Businesses Prioritizing Customer Retention 


Many of the digital marketing trends in 2021 will stem from last year’s pandemic. The pandemic’s negative impact on the economy has been massive, and as a result, has heavily influenced the way people are spending their money. Even when the COVID-19 crisis improves and ends, many industries and customers will still need time to financially bounce back and recover. As a result, businesses have moved to a more customer-centric approach, prioritizing customer retention over customer acquisition. This means that businesses are placing a larger focus on managing relationships with existing customers and clients, rather than banking on gaining brand-new ones. 

Social media has proven to be an effective channel for brands to manage customer relationships, foster positive shopping experiences, and directly correspond with clients. We suspect that customer retention will continue to be a main priority for businesses and that social media platforms will continue to be an important resource to achieve this goal. 



5. Brands Being Socially Aware 


The events of 2020 (COVID-19 pandemic, #BlackLivesMatter movement coming to a head, U.S. Elections, and more) have resulted in more socially conscious audiences. As a result, brands have had to be more socially aware and responsible in their ad messaging. In fact, we’ve observed that brands that actively did not acknowledge timely social issues or attempted to capitalize on a crisis led to immediate negative backlash from audiences. Where there once may have been a time where brands could successfully get away with avoiding social issues in their messaging, this year has seen a huge shift. Now, customers positively resonate with a more “values-based” messaging approach, wherein empathy and transparency are prioritized. Brands are likely to integrate values-based messaging even more deeply in their 2021 marketing. 

Another result of more socially aware audiences is that social media channels have become more involved in the fight against misinformation. Multiple platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter, have invested more efforts into preventing the spread of misinformation, particularly around the topics of coronavirus and the U.S. Presidential elections. 

It’s become clear that transparency, empathy, and a values-driven approach have become the M.O. of effective marketing in 2020, and we believe that this will continue in 2021. 

If you’d like to see some examples of brands who successfully adapted to the COVID-19 crisis, read our article here!



6. Conversational Marketing Continues 


Lastly, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to feelings of social isolation in consumers. This resulted in a heightened reliance on digital channels to create meaningful connections, increasing a brand’s need to directly engage with customers. 

As a result, having an accessible social media presence has become a requirement for a brand’s success. Brands can use interactive options on social media such as Stories, Live video, Polls, and more, and can engage with customers directly through comments and personal messages. Building trust and authenticity is a key component in maintaining brand loyalty with existing customers and in acquiring new ones, so businesses should incorporate this into their brand strategy in 2021. 


After reading through these digital marketing trends, do you think your brand is properly prepared for the new year? If not, we can help. If you want your business to start 2021 the right way, book a consultation with one of our social media experts to learn how we can help your brand thrive! 

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