Online Marketing Trends for 2021

Each year, the world of digital marketing changes, and so does our guide to the best social media trends for 2021.

Social media is a vast, ever-changing landscape, and new platforms and technologies emerge to provide fresh approaches to marketing and sales. While many of these emerging trends will become familiar fixtures on our social media radar, others may not seem familiar at all. That’s what makes this year’s trends guide so interesting, as familiar trends can be rebranded and reapplied to fit the needs of modern marketers.

The world of digital marketing is changing, and along with it, our guide to the best social media trends for 2021. This year, we’ve curated a list of the most prominent online marketing trends, some familiar, others unique. Keep reading to discover the trends and whether or not you should consider adopting them.

1. VR Marketing Is Back!

Virtual reality (VR) is the next big thing when it comes to connecting with customers and potential buyers, and marketers are seizing this opportunity by the horns. In fact, in 2021, we’ll see more businesses experiment with VR than we’ve seen in years, according to HubSpot Blogs research.

Virtual reality allows marketers to create fully immersive digital experiences, like buying a product, trying out a new service, or visiting a business website. For instance, a business may create a virtual reality experience around their product or service, letting users try out the features without having to purchase the item or utilize the service.

In 2021, we’ll see more businesses experiment with VR than we’ve seen in years. For example, Google’s Cardboard is the simplest and most affordable option for people wanting to try out VR. In addition to cheaper and simpler VR equipment, like Google cardboard and Daydream VRs, mobile VR applications and services, like Pokémon Go and Venmo, are also making VR more accessible to the public.

2. Video Is King

Video has always been a key component of digital marketing, but in the coming months, we’ll see marketers experiment with more video platforms and tools than we’ve seen in years.

The video landscape is changing, and traditional channels like television are losing ground to newer platforms like YouTube and Netflix. According to HubSpot Blogs research, 82% of Gen Z prefer watching videos rather than reading texts or listening to podcasts. In addition, videos allow marketers to present themselves how they want to be seen, rather than how existing businesses or journalists see them. Finally, videos can function as both a marketing and sales tool, as viewers can learn about products while being motivated to make a purchase. This could potentially replace traditional commercials, with videos functioning as both commercials and product demos.

In 2021, we’ll see more businesses experiment with videos than we’ve seen in years, and it will appear in more places than ever before, from websites and blogs to Instagram stories, TikTok, and beyond.

3. Voice Search Is On The Rise

If you’re reading this, I assume you’re already familiar with voice search.

Since its inception, voice search has been around but relatively underutilized, largely due to technological barriers. First, users had to have a smartphone to utilize voice search. Nowadays, voice search is accessible on many different devices, from voice-controlled smart speakers to mobile phones and tablets. In the coming months and years, we’ll see more businesses experiment with voice search than we’ve seen in years, as the convenience and accessibility of voice search appeals to marketers and consumers alike.

4. Live Video Streaming

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, many businesses and brands shifted to more interactive and engaging online experiences. One example is live video streaming, where businesses or individuals present themselves or their work while speaking directly to the camera.

Marketers seized on live video streaming to connect with potential customers who want to learn more about their products and services, but are wary of being tricked by a commercial. During the pandemic, we saw live video streaming increase by 83% in 2020 compared to 2019, according to Statista.

5. Authentic Long-Form Content

With the rise of TikTok, everyone has a video camera in their hands, and everyone is a comedian. It’s no longer acceptable to create videos in five-minute burst. In the coming months and years, marketers will experiment with long-form content, creating videos that are anywhere from three to ten minutes long.

People love short-form content – whether it’s GIFs, memes, or the infamous “candy crush” videos – but marketers should not be afraid to experiment with longer-form content, which provides a better user experience.

6. Product Demo Reels

We’ve all been there. One of your favorite YouTube creators uploads a video highlighting the awesome features of a product, and you find yourself inexplicably compelled to click on the product page and enter your email address. Then you get an email a few days later, with a product demo reel, tempting you to click and open the email.

Product demo reels are videos showcasing the features of a product or service. Typically, these are found on a business’ website and function as both a lead magnet and a resource for customers. The combination of a catchy headline, an enticing description, and a relevant, detailed video – often including product demos – can help a business stand out among competitors.

7. Chatbots And Automated Marketing

Marketers love a good automation, and with the rise of chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI), we’ve got plenty to choose from. Automated marketing, or marketing via software, is far more accessible to businesses of all sizes and can be customized to fit any business’ needs.

Simply put, a chatbot is a computer program that manages social media interactions through text messaging or voice calls. Marketers can incorporate a variety of software tools, like Weber, Salesforce, and HubSpot, into their chatbot strategy to automate various tasks, like email marketing, website content promotion, and social media outreach.

8. Influencer Marketing

The influence of celebrities and popular Instagrammers is no longer restricted to our social media feeds. Thanks to advances in technology, we can see influencers play a key role in marketing campaigns, either by providing product samples, holding live chats with fans, or simply sharing a business’ product or service in a socially-connected context.

In the coming months and years, businesses will experiment with influencer marketing, either by hiring influencers to promote a product or service or by utilizing platforms like TikTok and Instagram, which allow businesses to leverage celebrity status for marketing purposes.

9. Virtual Shopping

Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent decline in real shopping, we’re seeing businesses experiment with new ways to engage with customers. One of the more prominent examples is virtual shopping, where businesses create digital stores that allow customers to browse products and make purchases without ever leaving the comfort of their homes. Retailers like Neiman Marcus and Burberry have already begun exploring this space.

Customers can navigate a virtual store using a variety of methods, from search engines to computer vision, and make a purchase with a credit card or through a PayPal account. Since many of these businesses depend on tourism and travel for much of their revenue, customers can have access to these businesses’ virtual stores from anywhere in the world, making this a truly global marketing opportunity.

10. Personal Branding

In our increasingly digital world, people show up online and offline, presenting companies with an opportunity to connect with potential customers wherever they show up. In the coming months and years, we’ll see more businesses experiment with personal branding, creating online personas and using these personas to engage with customers and present themselves in the most positive light.

While many businesses will choose to embrace this trend fully, others may shy away from presenting themselves too closely to what is expected of them. However, as long as businesses maintain an ethical and honest identity, we should see a more personal approach to branding flourish in the coming years.

What will the world of digital marketing be like in 2021?

The Covid-19 pandemic was unprecedented, and its impact is still being felt, not just by individuals and families but by businesses and economies around the world. In the coming months and years, we’ll see more and more businesses experiment with different approaches to marketing and sales as they assess the damage and try to rebuild.

In many ways, the world of digital marketing changed for the foreseeable future, and it will continue to evolve as we emerge from this pandemic.