The marketing industry is constantly evolving thanks to rapid technological advancements.
As companies expand their digital marketing efforts, they’ll find numerous strategies and software that can help them generate results.
If you want to stand out from the crowd, you’ll need to stay updated on the small business and business-to-business (B2B) marketing trends for 2021 that could impact your lead-generation and conversion efforts.
Here are the digital marketing trends to watch for in 2021:
1. Host Virtual Events
Social distancing measures have led businesses to shift to virtual events. Due to the ongoing pandemic, online webinars are definitely here to stay.
According to the Evolution of Events Report from event software company Bizzabo, 80% of marketers agree that virtual events have a positive effect on their audience reach. Even if the pandemic ceases, 97% of marketers are confident that hybrid events (a combination of virtual and in-person experiences) will be the future of the industry.
A positive advantage of virtual events is that it involves lesser preparation than in-person events. Just get a headset, computer and apps such as Google Hangouts, Zoom and Microsoft Teams—and you’re good to go. But if it’s your first time launching an online event, consider executing individual dry runs with speakers to ensure it’ll run smoothly.
Software application Buffer has a collection of webinars about marketing and sales to engage with subscribers. Consider this webinar about how to use analytics tools for your social media strategy.
2. Optimize Images for Visual Search
With Google Lens and Pinterest Lens, people can use an image to search for related product pages and websites.
So, when a person takes a photo of a shoe, they can find the online retailer or relevant articles featuring that particular product.
Of course, this new digital marketing trend for 2021 will be useful for online retailers. While search engine optimization (SEO) has focused on utilizing keywords, the future demands optimizing images on our website too. After all, you want to end up on the first page of search results of Google Lens or Pinterest Lens.
Let’s take a look at some tips to get ahead in visual search:
- Make the logo prominent: With visual search, customers could find your business or products through the logo. Businesses must make their logo prominent from street view or their online profile to make it recognizable for Google.
- Check search visibility: Use Pinterest Lens and Google Lens to determine search results when users conduct a visual search.
- Use high-quality images: Use high-quality and high-resolution images to make a good first impression from the search results.
- Add alt text: Include alt text for the images with relevant keywords to boost searchability.
Optimizing images for visual search lets you increase the searchability of your brand online.
3. Snackable Content
A long blog post can do wonders for your SEO. However, if you want to engage with readers, then bite-sized and interactive content is the leading social media marketing trend for 2021.
According to Forbes, 90% of all information we remember is based on visual impact. During the lockdown, 55% of Americans increased their consumption of podcasts while newsletter mentions increased by 14%.
Snackable and interactive is a lot more interesting than the usual blog post so it will be a top content marketing trend for 2021.
When browsing the internet, we naturally gravitate towards easy-to-consume content on Twitter, Buzzfeed, Tumblr or Pinterest. Instead of scanning long text, we prefer straightforward communication and compelling visuals.
Content will still be a marketing trend in 2021, but you should vary your content types to engage with your audience.
Here are some to consider adding to your pipeline:
- TikTok videos
- Live streams
- Interactive quizzes
Snackable content also can be used to promote your in-depth resources such as ebooks, blog posts and case studies.
If you’ve conducted a data-backed research report, then transform these compelling insights into infographics or short videos. Include a link to the original report to boost readership or get interested leads along the sales funnel.
For example, Backlinko founder Brian Dean is known for his in-depth marketing guides. However, he includes a ton of images and videos within his blog posts to make it easy for readers to digest the information.
4. Focus on Inclusivity
Black Lives Matter and the LGBTQ movement have been forced into the limelight in 2020. As the fight for diversity is far from over, inclusivity will be a marketing trend for small and large businesses in 2021.
According to Statista, 61% of U.S. consumers believe that diversity in advertising is important. Moreover, 58% of U.S. consumers stopped supporting a brand because they lacked LGBTQ representation in ads.
Consumers are making a conscious decision to support inclusive brands. Diversity also is key if you want to expand in the international market and attract consumers from Asia and Latin America.
On top of this, brands that openly support popular social movements will make a positive impression among consumers.
Beauty brand Glossier has built a reputation by featuring people with diverse skin tones and races in their product pages and social media feeds. A look at their Instagram reveals their creamy products with Asian and Black skin tones.
Hyperautomation involves reliance on technologies that involve automation through machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic-process automation.
Brian Burke, research vice president for research and advisory company Gartner, stated in a report, “Hyperautomation is irreversible and inevitable. Everything that can and should be automated will be automated.”
The pandemic has increased the pace of hyperautomation adoption so it will be a must-have market research trend for 2021. More businesses have been pressured to rely on remote and digital-first options to communicate with teams, create marketing campaigns, and connect with audiences.
For marketers, hyperautomation can identify leads browsing their websites and applications. This data can be used for lead generation, the creation of personalized experiences and even move people along the sales funnel.
Machine learning and AI solutions can also generate insights into customer sentiment. This B2B marketing trend for 2021 is essential to launch research-backed campaigns that will likely improve your results.
6. Local SEO
In 2020, social distancing regulations have led consumers to discover businesses through online channels. This means local businesses must establish a digital footprint to thrive.
Beyond the usual website, leverage local SEO to get on the first page for local searches.
To get started, you can create a Google My Business account to create a knowledge panel.
For starters, Google’s knowledge panel provides information on location, operating hours, website and contact information.
Take a look at this knowledge panel for Hills Dumplings in Helsinki. Customers can find the business address, see the outside of the premises or find the restaurant on Google Map.
Another tip is to place your company’s location in your landing pages to boost SEO for local searches. You also can get your business featured in publications within your community to generate backlinks and link juice for your website.
Local SEO is a small business marketing trend for 2021 because it has valuable rewards. Not only can it improve your chances to be discovered in your community, but you can encourage others to make orders through your website or brick-and-mortar store.
7. Shift to Sustainability
According to a study by IBM and the National Retail Federation, nearly 70% of consumers in North America believe it is crucial for brands to be sustainable or eco-friendly. In addition, 8 out of 10 consumers value sustainability, with 35% willing to pay more for eco-friendly brands.
The heightened concern for the environment has pulled consumers towards purpose-driven and sustainable brands. Many patronize businesses that care about the environment through eco-friendly packaging, transparency on environmental origins, and support of environmental causes.
Patagonia is a great example of a brand that has built a large following for its dedication to sustainability and fair trade. The brand’s Worn Wear event lets customers repair, share, and recycle their clothes to reduce their environmental impact.
Source: Worn Wear Instagram
8. Optimize for Voice Search
Voice search seems to be the future due to increased dependency on Siri, Amazon Alexa, and Cortana.
The numbers also show that nearly 40 million Americans own a smart speaker. By 2022, 55% of U.S. households will also own these devices.
Voice search optimization should be a part of your SEO strategy as more consumers will make a shift switch to this medium. Marketers must be able to integrate conversational keywords and persona-based content.
Create a frequently asked questions section with common questions and concise answers to end up on voice search results.
An alternative option is to create content optimized for featured snippets which usually appear on top of search results.
Here’s an example of a featured snippet for a cooking website:
Since featured snippets are used to provide quick answers, it can also be used as an audible response to your search query.
When to Adopt Marketing Trends
Before adopting these marketing trends, keep in mind the needs of your customers. Consider the cost of execution and potential ROI for your business.
Once you’ve assessed that this is a worthy endeavor, think about the resources and manpower required to achieve this change.