What Digital Marketing Trends Can We Expect in 2021?

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As 2020 has shown us, 2021 and beyond is unpredictable, especially in determining digital marketing trends. Over the next couple of months, there are still many questions that we can't answer.

  • How soon until there's a vaccine for Covid-19?
  • When will the pandemic end?
  • When will we return to business as usual?

For small business owners, that last question looms large. With COVID cases spiking across the country, there's a distinct probability that we will be returning to only essential businesses opening their doors to the public. Because of this circumstance, it's crucial to take a long view of the marketing landscape. Because there are so many unanswered questions, the marketing trends for 2021 have a slightly different focus than might be the case in a typical year.

Here are the top 8 digital marketing trends on the horizon in 2021:

Focus on Customer Retention 

I have talked before about how much less it costs to retain customers than to win new customers. In 2021, it's going to make a lot of sense to put your marketing budget into customer retention. Holding steady in a global crisis qualifies as a win. 

Social media and email are the best tools you have available to drive customer retention. By encouraging existing customers to follow you on Facebook or subscribe to your list, you're gaining the ability to stay in touch with them. You can offer special deals, keep them informed, and remind them why they chose your product or service in the first place. 

Product and Service Availability as a Priority 

We have all experienced issues with product availability as well as delayed deliveries due to the pandemic. The key to customer retention is ensuring that your customers have access to your products and services. And, if they don't, you need to let them know why. 

If you have the financial wherewithal, it may make sense to increase your inventory and beef up your fulfillment to make sure that you can ship products out quickly. You may need to think about alternative or extended hours, curbside pickup, and other adaptations to meet your customer's existing needs for companies providing services. 

At the same time, you'll need to communicate clearly about delays and shortages to minimize the risk that customers will abandon you for a competitor. 

Marketing Automation  

Marketing automation has been a trend in digital marketing for years now, and that's not going to change. Fifty-one percent (51%) of companies were already using marketing automation at the end of 2019, with a slight edge over B2C companies. However, 58% of all B2B companies said they planned to add automation.


Automation can include simple fixes such as email autoresponders to complex solutions such as chatbots and digital assistants. Chatbot technology is within reach, thanks to free chatbot builder tools like Manychat,  Chatfuel, and MobileMonkey. You don't need to pay a programmer to build an effective bot. 

Interactive Content 

There's no doubt that there's still room for static content, meaning content that your followers read, watch, or listen to on their own. One of the biggest content trends for 2021 is the rise of interactive content as a way of engaging customers and providing value at the same time. 

Interactive content can take many formats, including:

  • Calculators
  • Quizzes
  • Questionnaires
  • Games
  • Polls
  • Interactive Videos

The reason for the rise is two-fold. First, interactive content is fun for your followers and can make them feel more engaged with your company and brand. Second, the data you collect - whether it's in the form of quiz responses or information entered in a calculator - will help you learn about your audience. You can use the information you collect to fine-tune your marketing and increase new customer acquisition and customer retention. 

List Segmentation  

Another critical element of customer retention is list segmentation. With marketing budgets shrinking, it is far more cost-effective to segment your list than sending the same emails to everyone expecting to get a high conversion rate. 

Segmentation can be done using any factors you choose, including:

  • Previous purchases
  • Product preferences
  • Location
  • Industry

You have the option of segmenting your list based on the data you've collected from your subscribers or asking them to self-segment by sending out a survey or email where they can opt-in and out of your content. Either way, the result is better targeting and a higher return on your investment. 

Automated Bidding for Google Ads 

In-house automation isn't the only way to streamline your marketing in 2021. While automated bidding for Google Ads isn't new - it was first introduced four years ago - it has dramatically improved in the past year. 

The benefits of automated bidding are clear. By taking advantage of automation and letting it handle bidding adjustments, you can dedicate your valuable time to improving your PPC ads and increasing your marketing ROI.


Optimizing for Voice Search 

Voice search optimization isn't an option anymore - it's a must. Forty percent (40%) of all Internet users in the United States have used voice search, and those numbers are only going up. If you're ignoring voice search in your optimization efforts, you're making a mistake. 

You can optimize for voice search by making the content on your website conversational and accessible. Keep in mind that conversational still needs to apply to your audience. If you own a B2B tech company, your audience's conversation may include jargon. 

Instead of focusing on short keywords, try building your content around common questions and responses. Using questions in your blog headings and other content - and having a robust FAQ on your website - will make it easy for potential customers to find you using voice search. 

Non-Linear Buying Journeys 

The rise of digital has undoubtedly shaken up traditional marketing. When you consider the many ways that a potential customer can learn about a company or product, it's hardly surprising that you can't count on a linear buying journey to be the result. 

How to respond? The trend is toward an omnichannel marketing strategy that includes:

  • Website content
  • Social media
  • Advertising
  • Mobile apps
  • Chatbots

Your goal should be to provide any customer or potential customer with a seamless experience across channels. Customers should get the same tone and information on Facebook as they do from a chatbot on your website, your mobile app, or your landing page. 

Overall, agility is going to be the name of the game in digital marketing in 2021. We can't know yet what the new year will hold, but businesses that remain flexible and adaptable have the best chance of continued growth and success. 

We know this marketing stuff may be too much for any business to consider unless you have a full-time dedicated staff. Perhaps you don't need everything that we've just covered in this article, but you recognize there is a benefit to leveraging your marketing efforts. Need help with your marketing or feel like you're stuck in a marketing rut? Here's what to do next. Reach out to us here to consult with you on a short-term or long-term basis and even provide DFY email and social media marketing services to help you achieve improved results for your business!

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About Donna Gunter


Instant Sales Accelerator for Microbusiness Owners

I help seasoned small business owners create marketing ideas and strategies that raise their visibility, broaden their reach, and grow their revenues.

As a business owner with 24 years of experience, I am the cure for you if you have run out of marketing creativity. I have a unique ability to sense or see the underlying scheme of things, whether it's like a blueprint to build something or an x-ray that shows hidden connections, and connect the dots at a deeper level. I make it really Easy. Enjoyable. Effective. Just like your marketing will be.