11 Digital Marketing Trends for Growing Your Business in 2021

digital marketing trends
digital marketing trends

Marketers have been forced into survival mode to keep their businesses afloat.

While many of us are still reeling from the devastating effects of the pandemic, those less fortunate have shut their doors permanently.

The businesses finding the most success today, despite the turbulence, are the ones willing to remain flexible, make change rapidly, and get creative.

Despite the turmoil, many businesses remain optimistic heading into 2021.

73% of CMOs interviewed in a recent Gartner study predict the pandemic’s negative ramifications on our society will be short-lived.

More than half expect that performance will get back to normal within the next two years. Over a third believe the virus will have a significant positive impact on their businesses in the future.

Source: Gartner

No one knows for sure whether these predictions are correct. However, we know that COVID-19 has forced the world to make significant shifts in business and marketing.

Digital has become the supreme leader in the marketing world. It now accounts for about 80% of all marketing channel budgets. We expect that number will only increase in 2021.

Businesses are adapting quickly to remain relevant. Those that don’t will soon fall behind their future-focused competitors or get kicked out of the game completely.

We’ve compiled 11 crucial digital marketing trends for your businesses to follow as we step into 2021.

Key Takeaways:

  • COVID-19 has forced the world to make some major shifts.
  • The need for connection, personalization, and outstanding customer experiences will play into every facet of B2B and B2C marketing in 2021.
  • Brand strategy, customer loyalty, and innovative technology are paramount.
  • Businesses must prove themselves consistent, trustworthy, empathetic, authentic, and courageous.
  • Companies should position themselves as thought leaders to build trust and loyalty with target audiences.

Top B2B Digital Marketing Trends for 2021

If you can successfully execute the following b2b marketing strategies, you’ll outshine your competitors, build lasting connections with customers, and win more leads and sales in 2021.

1. Authentic Human Connection

Connecting with real humans is essential in today’s digital world. As COVID-19 forces us to stay home and keep social distance, we crave human interaction. Unable to spend quality time with friends, family, and colleagues in person, we’re turning to technology to bridge the gap.

According to Deloitte’s 2021 Global Marketing Trends report, people seek more human-centric businesses and leave the companies that don’t value authentic connection. More than 70% of those surveyed said they appreciate digital innovations that have deepened their relationships with others during the pandemic.

“When organizations design their digital future for efficiency, rather than human connection, a debt accrues, and this debt can manifest in biased results, lack of inclusivity, and feelings of social isolation.”

Marketers should capitalize on the opportunity to develop real relationships with customers. You can start by rethinking your company values, mission, and operations. Start with your value system, which drives your business. When your values align with your clients’ – connecting with their emotions and aligning with their actions – you’ll form deeper connections.

Bringing human values to the forefront of your business marketing efforts will equip you to address client and consumer needs effectively and authentically. You can build powerful connections and profound loyalty by:

  • Viewing your organization as a “human entity”
  • Identifying your clients’ core values
  • Mirroring those values in your businesses

2. Personalization

Personalization will arguably be the most crucial trend in the future of marketing. Building marketing and advertising campaigns that target individuals rather than the masses can hugely impact your leads, conversions, and sales.

  • 92% of consumers agree that every interaction with a brand matters and the entire customer experience should be excellent.
  • Personalized emails get much higher open rates.
  • Customization produces brand loyalty.
  • 90% of U.S. consumers find marketing personalization appealing.
  • The top way to personalize customer experiences is through email campaigns.

3. Thought Leadership

2020 has been traumatic in various ways for many of us. So much “normality” has spiraled out of control that it’s challenging to know where to turn for helpful advice, truth, direction, and empathy.

Nevertheless, people are searching for answers – primarily online. They’re looking for healthy and stable leaders they can trust to point them in the right direction to make a purchase, form a partnership, or find a service.

This creates an opportunity for thought leaders. By 1) proving yourself as a credible expert in your industry and 2) fitting the emotional and societal needs of your clients, you can build trust and loyalty. Here are some ideas:

  • Prove you understand your clients’ needs by empathizing with them. They will learn to trust you so you can show them the best way forward.
  • Provide educational content through video marketing, pillar pages, podcasts, and blogging to gain traction and build authority online.
  • Keep content current.
  • Connect with followers on a personal level.
  • Provide enormous value by staying on the cutting edge in your industry.
  • Show respect, and prove you’re looking out for your audience’s best interests at all times.
  • Remain adaptable. Evolve with your audience. Reframe your point of view as market conditions change.

Follow Google’s E-A-T criteria as you create your content. Doing so will assure search engines that your information is correct, reliable, and authoritative to improve your rankings.

Source: Google

One of the most effective ways to turn your C-suite members into thought leaders is to start a podcast. 55% of U.S. consumers listened to podcasts in 2020, up from 44% in 2018. It doesn’t require as much equipment or production as video, and it’s a way to have meaningful conversations and share your knowledge with your target audience.

4. Video Marketing and Sales

Mobile video consumption increases by 100% every year. 78% of people watch online videos weekly, and 55% watch daily. 54% want more video content moving forward.

99% of marketers say they already use video marketing, and 88% want to devote more money to video campaigns in the future. That’s no surprise considering that viewers retain 95% of a message communicated via video.

Again, human connection plays a role in video marketing’s surging popularity. Video can help you connect with customers in a more personal way than other forms of content marketing.

Whether you’re creating targeted ads or sales videos, sharing a presentation, or inviting clients to create testimonial videos for your business, you can reach people in a more humanized way with video marketing and sales.

5. Optimizing for Search Intent

According to Alexa, “Search intent is the reason behind a searcher’s query on search engines.” It’s the searcher’s objective – what they’re trying to accomplish. Most people search online to learn about something, take action, or find something.

Optimizing for search intent will be an essential content marketing and SEO strategy in 2021. Your goal is to provide solutions to problems through relevant content. As a result, you will:

  • Boost brand awareness
  • Drive conversions
  • Retain customers
  • Remain relevant to your target audience

There are four primary types of search intent:

  • Informational: Users enter a query and expect a straightforward answer fast.
  • Navigational: Searchers look for “directions” to a website or landing page.
  • Commercial investigation: Searchers conduct as much research as possible to make highly informed purchasing decisions.
  • Transactional: The user intends to make a purchase.

Source: Moz

Satisfy your users by giving them what they want, when and where they want it.

6. Innovative Partnerships

Forming innovative partnerships with other businesses is another way to amplify the customer experience. By partnering with a company that performs a complimentary service, you’ll offer more value to your clients.

Let’s say you own an email marketing software company. Your clients are primarily small business owners. Partnering with a social media marketing business to create a new product that integrates social media and email services can make your offer more attractive.

Maybe you agree to promote another business that agrees to promote your business in return. Your customers will appreciate your openness. If you’re already respected, they’ll trust your recommendation and appreciate the help. You’ll build more trust with them. Cross promoting will also get your brand in front of more people and build your reputation.

7. Agile Marketing

For businesses to remain successful today, agility isn’t optional. Investing in agile marketing strategies during a worldwide pandemic and other events outside of our control is crucial.

Unlike past recessions, where businesses would retrench and wait out the storm, modern enterprises have shifted primarily to digital channels. They’ve upped their online game to replace their physical presence. They’ve had to pivot rapidly to remain relevant and adapt to changing buyer needs.

For your business to remain agile, you must understand your audience’s current needs and anticipate future conversations. Here are some tips:

  • Develop a unified view of your customers to create holistic, personalized experiences to lead each individual through the buyer’s journey.
  • Leverage social media to personally engage your audience.
  • Swiftly develop and deploy new offers.
  • Integrate predictive technologies (machine learning and AI) to anticipate consumer behaviors.
  • Bring in the C-suite team early to share insights before designing channel strategies.

8. Featured Snippets

Position zero is gaining more traction now than ever. In the past, content marketers could claim both the featured snippet and a SERP entry. Now, Google’s changed the game. Position zero has become position #1. In other words, it counts as one of the 10 Google search results. You can no longer double-dip.

Rarely (but sometimes), Google will turn up a double snippet. When it does, only eight traditional organic listings will remain on the page. Still, grabbing the featured snippet position for key terms related to your business can increase your brand recognition and send more traffic to your website.

9. Account-Based Marketing

Account-based marketing remains a hot trend for B2B companies. By targeting high-value accounts and individual decision-makers with highly personalized campaigns, you can land large deals. With ABM, the stakes are high. But your ROI potential is higher than any other type of marketing.

Tell your prospects exactly how you plan to solve an impending departmental problem. Consider using strategic marketing tactics like retargeting campaigns, programmatic displays, customized videos, and social media. If you’re successful, you could land and expand target accounts and develop stronger relationships and loyalty with your ideal clients.

10. Email

Email is one of the most personal and inexpensive forms of communication available for marketers. It offers the highest ROI, too. For every buck you invest in email marketing, you can get $42 back. That’s a 4,200% ROI.

Effective email marketing will help your business:

  • Build relationships
  • Nurture leads
  • Lead contacts down the buyer’s journey
  • Convert leads into customers
  • Boost sales
  • Expand your audience
  • Segment lists to target different demographics with customized messaging
  • Engage current and potential customers
  • Conduct various tests to improve metrics
  • Set up workflows and email automation

Recipients open over 60% of emails on mobile devices. Make sure your emails are responsive – just like your website.

Most businesses don’t email their segmented lists enough. Emailing too much is rarely the problem. Experiment with different send times, frequency, and list segments to learn what strategies best engage your audience in 2021.

11. Brand Storytelling

Brand storytelling is nothing new, but it remains one of the most crucial trends to your business’s ongoing success. 33% of CMOs say their brand strategy is their most important strategic capability. Every brand has a story to tell.

Source: Gartner

Brand storytelling allows you to connect with others on a deeper level. It lets your personality shine. The more authentic and vulnerable you can be, the better. Brand stories help businesses connect powerfully with other companies and consumers.

To develop your brand story, ask the following questions:

  • Who are you?
  • Why do you exist?
  • Who are you here to help?
  • What makes you different?
  • How did you get where you are today?
  • What do you provide others?
  • How do you define success?

Narration is one of the best ways to evoke raw emotions in people. It allows people to use their imaginations. It enables you to get creative with your marketing.

Capture your audience’s attention and leave them with something unforgettable when you tell your brand story. It will empower you to build real relationships and long-term loyalty, stand out from competitors, and build an engaged community.

“Brand storytelling is a great way to get your point across, differentiate your brand, and work out new ideas. Today, if you want to succeed as an entrepreneur or leader, you also have to be a storyteller.”
– Richard Branson

Does Your Business Need Help in Implementing Content Marketing Tactics in 2021?

With content marketing, you can drive qualified traffic to your website and engage new visitors. Build your brand story and online presence for tremendous success in the new year. Establish yourself as a thought leader and build trust with customers with quality, consistent content production.

MIG is a digital marketing agency and a thought leader. We’d love to help you grow your business successfully by developing superbly written, keyword-rich articles to help your company climb the SERPs as quickly as possible.

Learn about our Content Builder Services. We’ll help you create all the content you need to win customers and boost sales.

Michael Brenner  is a Top CMO, Content Marketing and Digital Marketing Influencer, an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula" and he is the CEO and Founder of Marketing Insider Group, a leading Content Marketing Agency . He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael helps build successful content marketing programs for leading brands and startups alike. Subscribe here for regular updates.

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