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Top Digital Marketing Trends of 2021
It’s hard to believe we’re already here, reviewing some of our favorite trends we saw in 2021. But there were some really important things that happened in 2021 when it comes to brand accountability, content marketing, and a variety of other things.
Without further ado, these are our top digital marketing trends of 2021:
1. Brands are expected to be accountable and transparent.
This is a big deal which is why we made it number one. Back in the day, marketing was about how you were going to gently (or not so gently) manipulate someone into buying your product. Now, brands not only have to prove their products are good, but they also have to prove their mission is right.
Consumers are becoming more and more interested in what a company stands for, and this has become obvious throughout the year, from political movements to human rights activism. People want to know that their money isn’t going to a company that is intentionally (or even unintentionally) hurting anyone. Silence is becoming less and less tolerated, and brands are paying attention to what they’re saying, how they’re saying it, and perhaps most interestingly, how their employees talk about what they’re doing.
2. Employee opinions matter.
It used to be that all marketing was good marketing. That meant that if anyone talked trash about a brand, well, that’s free marketing either way, right? Not so much anymore. Marketing isn’t just about fonts, colors, and great copy and design anymore. It’s about what a company says (as mentioned in #1) and most importantly, what the employees say.
A screenshot of a bad memo from a CEO can do far more damage to a company than ever before. A few voices in a local newspaper can spread like wildfire. And more and more review sites like Glassdoor are launching and giving employees a platform to talk about what really goes on behind the scenes.
While some brands continue to survive despite the bad press, those brands are few and far between.
3. Users drive content (and sometimes create it, too).
User-generated content isn’t a new concept, but it is one that’s gaining power for a lot of brands. And why wouldn’t it? Users share their thoughts on products, create forums worth of helpful content, and prove themselves to be loyal customers in the process. That’s a triple-win for any brand and any time-strapped marketing team that just can’t generate that much content on their own.
But in addition to user-generated content, users are also driving content. This is helping brands recognize the power of search engine optimization (SEO). After all, the stronger an SEO program, the better a company’s paid marketing programs are because Google already recognizes their keyword relevancy and industry relevancy. This creates a more cost-effective CPC for paid ads and more, all because you gave users the content they want.
4. Conversational marketing to your customer is key.
Obvious? Certainly, after reading #3, you had to know this was going to be on the list. But it’s more than just good customer service. Many brands, both big and small, are trying to embrace conversational marketing. That is, making a personal tone paramount in any advertising or marketing to the consumer. It both enhances the customer’s interaction with the brand and offers instant solutions—both important in this fast pace world.
Best of all, this doesn’t mean brands have to hire more and more people to keep that conversational tone alive. Bots are being employed online and over the phone for customer service purposes, and sometimes, you can’t even tell you’re not talking to a person. This leads us to our next trend…
5. Artificial intelligence (AI) is taking over.
From customer service to social media, AI is everywhere. AI helps us enhance campaigns to ensure we’re getting the biggest bang for our buck, and it also greets customers when they come to a website and start clicking around. (Have you played our Iperbot game or talked to the Iperbot? It’s pretty great. It even has merch.)
Artificial Intelligence is expected to be a $190 billion industry by 2025, so if you haven’t implemented AI into your brand strategy, give us a call. We’ll help get you ahead of the game.
Bonus Trend: Programmatic advertising is growing exponentially.
If you’re in paid advertising, you’re going to want to pay attention to this growing trend. Programmatic advertising is the process of allowing advertisers to bid on an impression. The highest bidder gets the impression, and their ad is served to the customer for a conversion.
This is a big deal, to the tune of $130 billion dollars globally, with over 60% of those dollars being spent by companies in the United States. It’s expected to grow nearly 20% over the next year or so. Paid media is how you get your customers in the door, you’re going to want to keep an eye on programmatic advertising. You may also want to look into real-time bidding which, through real-time auctions, allows advertisers to buy ad impressions ahead of time from certain sites.