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2021 Digital Marketing and Business Trends Report

How the landscape is shifting to being more human-centered

Hello and welcome! We’ve survived to 2021!

Normally, every year I build an annual trends report and share it with my team of marketers at C3nami to brainstorm how we can support our clients better. This year, I’ve decided to keep the tradition and share the top trends with you. 

Before you dive into the trends…

If you’ve met me, you know I think in a super big picture mindset and it is a LOT of information to process at once.  That being said, the goal of this blog is not to overwhelm you with feeling like you should be doing all of the things. 

It’s about giving you the main highlights so you can see the overarching theme so you can decide what you need to explore now to create 80% of the impact.

The algorithm will change constantly, but it’s all about staying up to date and tying it back to your overarching strategy. Here are some key questions to consider when reviewing the trends to help you decide where you want to explore first:

  • What are you doing that makes you different from others in your industry?
  • What platforms are you doing now that works well?
  • Do you want to make any changes because you “should” or because it’s finally the time and space for you to do more?
  • Do you need to try out this new feature on the platform?
  • Has your audience started using this new platform or feature?

2021 Trends in Digital Marketing and Business

Social media marketing is a reflection of our society. It’s a digital reflection of how one human being connects with another human being and, in turn, our society overall. So in order to know why social media is adapting in such a way, we need to understand how drastically business has changed in this post-pandemic era.

The Business Landscape: Digital becomes the primary form of connection.

  • Lockdown has accelerated the shift to eCommerce by 5 years” – Tech Crunch
    • Just because the adoption of eCommerce has been accelerated does not mean we have learned the best social practices in that same time frame. It’s like getting bumped up 1 year ahead of your classmates. Intellectually you are on par, but you may not yet be emotionally prepared. So be patient with yourself and don’t feel like you are behind because we’re all learning as we go.
  • A new audience enters the digital marketing space that typically prefers to do their shopping in person
    • Essentially, you have an audience that will take a little bit longer time to build trust. It’s crucial to view the customer experience and find new ways to recreate the physical experience that someone has in your store as you do online. Be ready to utilize different mediums beyond just simple images to show off what you do like video or AR.
  • Trust is what consumers are focusing on now more than ever
    • “9/10 consumers say that authenticity is important when deciding which brands to support” (Stackla, 2019). This means that the “birds of a feather, flock together” effect is now in action more than ever. People will connect with those brands that they can relate to at the values level. 
    • They will also connect with brands that feel like they reflect their values and the visual representation of these values such as inclusivity. A study by Accenture shows that the cultural shift towards inclusivity is also impacting purchase behavior, with 41% of shoppers shifting away from retailers that don’t reflect their views on identity and diversity – and 29% are willing to switch brands completely if they don’t show enough diversity.
  • Brands are allowed and expected to speak on larger societal issues BUT it’s a double-edged sword.
  • Community building in a time of crisis is now more crucial  than ever
    • People who feel like they’re being seen and supported in times of crisis will remember the brands that showed up. Cultivating a community to reflect the values of your brand will allow you to not only bring in new customers but turn existing customers into engaged and loyal ambassadors. 

Digital Marketing is becoming more human

As digital interaction becomes the primary form of connection, we have to adapt to really understand the nuances that build trust with our customers in person and reflect that online.

  • It’s not just about getting new customers, but cultivating engaged customers.
    • When you connect with your customers on a larger goal, beyond just serving the functional need, then you have truly built a long trusting relationship. It builds a connection, not  based solely on needs that can easily be replaced by competition, but a joint committee of common values towards a larger goal. It gives a reason for that customer to be excited to tell their friends about you and invite them to also become inspired towards the larger mission of your brand. 
  • Social Commerce bridges the gap between Social and Retail:
    • Yes, it’s different from eCommerce which is purchasing a product from a website. Now, everything can be bought and purchased in the social media apps themselves with Facebook and Instagram have launched “Shops”. The friction between seeing a product on social media and purchasing the product has been drastically reduced. They’ve even taken it to the next level where you can shop from videos from both the main brand’s account and its ambassadors.
  • Influencer marketing just got a major upgrade. 
    • What matters for ROI just got a facelift with it now being extremely trackable with new innovations like Social Commerce and loyalty programs.
    • Engaged communities always matter more than the number of followers. Just because a celebrity endorses you doesn’t mean you’ll get as many ideal customers compared to a micro or nano influencer that you can work with who has a truly engaged community.
    • Influencer marketing is on track to become a $15 billion dollar industry by 2022 – Business Insider. It’s no longer just Instagram, this also includes Tiktokers and Youtubers, and more! So when everything is endorsed by someone, how do you stand out from the crowd? It’s about quality over quantity. Consider focusing on building deep relationships with influencers instead of one-off posts. It’ll allow their content to be more authentic rather than forcibly sponsored.
  • What’s the next frontier: Clubhouse or audio apps in general?
    • Clubhouse gained traction in the last quarter of 2020, but hot on the heels of the new startup is Twitter creating Audiospaces.
    • So what is the real trend? The answer is simple, “tune in” just became popular again. In the new world of mass isolation, people are dealing with screen fatigue and would rather just tune in like the old school radio while doing the dishes or cooking. 
    • Why? People are seeking for easy to consume curated content towards them in the form of podcasts and newsletters vs information overload by mindlessly scrolling on a feed. Studies show that 55% of Americans now listen to podcasts, while newsletter mentions were up 14% during lockdown. 

And much more when it comes to new features, content styles and trends on Social Media! Read more on how to tactically be more human in my 6 Social Media Trends to Watch blog. 

If your mind is overwhelmed from reading all of this, take a deep breath my friends. 

Remember, it’s about choosing ONE piece of this that resounds for you to go explore more on. 

Be curious, but most importantly have fun and pace yourself as you play with these new trends.

Need a brain space partner to filter through what you should do first? Feel free to set up a complimentary discovery call with me to chat more!

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