Organizations worldwide have had to endure a big hit because of the flare-up of COVID-19. Since then, people have changed the way they shop. In-store shopping, at this point, is an inclination. Purchasers are effectively shopping on the web, and numerous organizations have gone online to keep in touch with their customers.
With this monstrous expansion in internet shopping, the competition between organizations is quite high. Numerous brands are recruiting digital marketing companies as they are young and equipped with present-day advertising patterns.
But while there has been a shift toward online strategies, let’s not forget that digital marketing and the shift toward it are nothing new. The shift has already been taking place, but has been accelerated. And some of the strategies are gaining popularity not because they’re fresh on the scene. Rather, they’ve been around a while but their efficacy as a channel for reaching potential customers has skyrocketed in this stay-at-home, virtual age.
That being said, to flourish in this period of capricious market changes, entrepreneurs and marketers must consider both the new and the tried and true digital marketing strategies to remain competitive in 2021. In this post, we’re going to cover digital marketing trends of 2021 broken into three groups:
- The very new
- The like new
- The tried and true
Read on to see what we mean!
2021 digital marketing trends: very new
Let’s first take a look at the newer tactics in digital marketing to help you stay at the forefront.
1. In-email purchases and super-sophisticated targeting
Yes, email marketing has been around for ages, but it has always involved adding links to the body of the email which direct readers to blog post, product page, or landing page. Now, according to Tom Klein, Vice President of Marketing at MailChimp, “Subscribers will be able to make purchases right inside a marketing campaign, without ever leaving their inboxes. Campaigns will offer more of an app-like experience, too, with embedded video and other interactivity.”
MailChimp already has a plan in action where their users have access to more data, allowing them to do super-sophisticated targeting, based on a person’s purchase history, Google search, most visited websites, and most-used apps, customer service interactions, and much more.
E-commerce businesses find email to be the apt medium of learning about their customers’ leanings, receive feedback, recommend products, and generate sales. This will become more true in the future.
“In the near future, we project these organizations will evolve into a distinct digital marketing organization that spans commerce, web, email, mobile messaging, and paid channels like display, search, and video,” says Chris Lynch, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Oracle Marketing Cloud.
We are already seeing this transition take place, although at a small scale, where the demand for products that allow for scaling across channels is on the rise. The users whose demands are satisfied by email alone are relieved to know that they can expand their business opportunities through cross-channel capabilities.
2. Progressive web apps (PWAs)
This is a relatively new digital marketing trend in that it started in 2018 with large companies like Twitter, The Financial Times, Flipkart, Wikipedia, and with great results. Treebo launched a PWA and saw a 4x increase in conversion rate year-over-year. Conversion rates for repeat users saw a 3x increase. Petlove’s PWA resulted in a 2.8x increase in conversion and a 2.8x increase in the website’s time.
This option may now start to become lucrative in 2021 for smaller businesses as well. Having a mobile site—or ideally, a responsive site—can help the user experience, but even then there can be hiccups. And a site that is lagging or difficult to navigate in the slightest will still leave a bitter taste in a customer’s mouth, leading to a missed opportunity or even a tarnished reputation. Think about it. Would you consider purchasing from a brand if its website looked shabby or didn’t respond well? The answer is probably no. With the large influx of customers on mobile, Progressive Web Apps, which are an amalgamation of the benefits of browsing on a mobile browser and mobile app, are increasing in appeal.
When it comes to reliability, a web app is only as reliable as its network connection. If you have a slow or uncertain connection, the PWA might also load or function slowly. If the network connection is strong, the PWA will perform very smoothly. A PWA that is reliable and fast will be able to keep users engaged. It does this by efficiently and quickly responding to their requests.
So let us think of how a customer might come across your traditional mobile app. They will need to go to the app store, search for it, and then download the correct app. With PWAs, it is relatively much easier for anybody to find you. All they need to do is search for you on Google, and they will be directed to your website.
The website immediately launched into a PWA—no downloading and no waiting. The user also does not have to factor in the usage of additional data for downloading purposes. Most importantly, you prevent the user from getting lost in the App Store and directly guide them to your official website.
When the PWA does open on your mobile device, you will notice that the PWA shell looks just like a mobile app. Any gestures you make in a mobile app can be mimicked here as well.
The web browsers also provide an option wherein you can save the PWA on your home screen as a shortcut so that you can access it instantly. The PWA will then ping you with push notifications as well, should you agree to that. So it is safe to say that you get all the flexibility of a native app with a PWA without installing it.
3. Virtual reality
Virtual Reality or VR is the use of computer technology to create simulated environments. VR allows you to experience and interact with a 3D world that isn’t real by putting on a head-mounted device for display. The device creates a 3D virtual world, which is immersive and almost authentic by receiving inputs from the computer.
The engagement potential of VR makes it a potent tool for learning as well as for entertainment. If used carefully, it can help users develop a range of competencies and talents.
YouTube VR is a standalone app optimized for VR. You already know what YouTube is. With YouTube VR, you can choose to view any video with an immersive VR experience. You can subscribe to channels in this app, add playlists, and watch history just like the YouTube app.
It also lets you switch between voice and keyboard controls and allows the user to watch a video and search simultaneously. The app also boasts of a ‘theatre mode’ which simulates a big-screen experience. This app is available on iOS and Android for free.
Fulldive VR is very different from the rest of the apps on this list. It’s also the most interesting and comes as close as it gets to science fiction. FDVR technology moves a step beyond VR headsets and makes the user one with the machine using a Brain-Computer Interface or BCI. Gamers can use it to create a fully immersive experience while playing their favorite games.
Every one of your senses, like hearing, taste, touch, and smell could be transferred to an avatar of a video game character for entertainment purposes (remember watching The Matrix?). There are infinite uses of this technology. For instance, people can use it simply for leisure, for training, or even medical purposes. Older people can use it to live like a 25-year-old again. The possibilities are unending.
4. Drone software
A drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle. Whether controlled entirely by artificial intelligence or by a human, it makes little difference. Drones of the future are expected to be overwhelmingly automated.
Why should you learn about drone software development? The drone industry is said to become the next high-growth market. Once the regulatory system frees up the airspace for drones, drones’ commercial applications will cause exponential growth in this industry.
It is bound to happen much sooner than expected, as the FAA is currently investigating the best method for unlocking the airspace for drones. When this happens, it will cause a great demand for engineers and developers to know the entire software stack needed to create autonomous drone applications.
There could be things like food and package delivery, security and surveillance, and maybe even transporting people someday.
2021 digital marketing trends: like new
These tactics are a little less cutting-edge than their predecessors, but are still a new option for smaller businesses and agencies to try out.
5. Artificial intelligence
At least 42% of marketers believe they are not very good at segmentation for digital experiences. Most segmentations assume that people prefer one thing over another. However, these preferences are difficult to track. Yet, they are important for marketers to know their audience.
AI can dissect and analyze behavioral and demographic data much more efficiently than humans doing it manually. It can learn about every detail of the personal preference of a user. Your profile information, purchases, demographic information, or browsing history may be taken into account by an app to help and support you with what you need.
You may be brewing up fresh content daily, but is that content meaningful for the user? Personalization is the key to driving engagement. AI can digest and crunch large amounts of data per user to personalize content for them. Look at Netflix, for example. Each user is shown video content based on their interest and history.
6. Voice search
When using voice search, a person’s query is usually answered immediately without them bothering to scroll through the various options available on the screen. With text, we tend to scroll the rest of the listings on a search results page. With voice, the user inclines to go with the first thing that pops up as this usually answers their questions satisfactorily.
So it will no longer be enough to be on the first page of a search result or even be one of the first five listings. The top spot will be the most coveted. With voice search, it is one or none. The winner takes it all.
Chatbots enable brands to engage in conversations with their customers to create better customer relationships and drive more sales. Businesses have discovered the ease and efficiency of chatbots when it comes to consumer products. Oracle surveyed in 2016 on the future of customer service.
The report says, “More than one in three brands say customers and prospects prefer to complete a purchase or resolve service issues without speaking to a human associate, if possible.”
Regarding chatbots, 80% of sales and marketing leaders said they already used these in their customer experience methods or planned to do so by 2020.
A recent study from Harvard Business Review (HBR) found that 15% of companies who are ahead in their use of technology and data intelligence had grown more quickly than their competitors and are better positioned for the future.
“I think chatbots and voice bots may become the future of commerce, as it relates to Gen Z. We optimized for efficiency and grew up on on-demand services such as Uber, Lyft, Postmates, etc. Therefore, we expect the same when shopping. What better way to do that than interacting and shopping via chatbots and voice bots? That completely changes the game. It’s a whole new experience. It makes online shopping less tiresome and interactive and fun again!“ — Tiffany Zhong, Founder & CEO of Zebra Intelligence.
8. Conversational marketing
Let us take a deeper look at the impact of conversational commerce and how it is shaping our future. It enables a dialogue with the customer.
Brands now don’t just keep talking about themselves, but they also listen to their customer’s problems and help resolve them individually. It results in a better interaction where each customer feels heard, and the smart technology resolves their particular issue.
With chatbots, brands can now have conversations with multiple customers at once, at minimum cost. It speeds up the process of resolving issues and helps brands create relationships with as many customers as possible in a short amount of time. Customers are even asked to rate their interactions with the online assistant and can provide feedback if they want to.
While the customer goes through a journey of understanding what they need, what they want to buy, how they want to purchase it, and then to take action, the chat assistant needs to know when to turn the conversation to influence the customer to make the purchase.
2021 digital marketing trends: tried and true
These last two marketing strategies have been around for some time, but their importance continues to grow each year.
By deep learning and machine vision, AI can also crunch massive amounts of data. This is where app personalization meets AI. The app space on both the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store is over-crowded. As of 2019, Statista reports that the number of apps on the Play Store and the Apple App Store was 2.9 million and 1.84 million, respectively. Once installed, most users delete the app if the first experience isn’t satisfactory. Even if an app does pass that threshold, you must work to ensure that the app is being used so that it doesn’t lie dormant on the user’s phone.
It is becoming increasingly important to ensure that apps provide their users with highly personal and smooth experiences. This helps an app stand out from the crowd. After having touched on app building, testing, marketing, and monetizing, personalization is one of the best ways to help your user enjoy their experience with your app.
The truth is, AI-integrated apps will improve app performance. Today, most app developers consider AI as an integral part of app development.
Customers today expect brands to value their collaboration and to extend their complete support for the customer to have a good experience. These expectations are only going higher, and customers want relevant, targeted, and highly personalized solutions.
10. Influencer marketing
According to Tomoson data, influencer marketing was the fastest-growing customer acquisition channel, beating organic search, paid search, and email marketing. It was also the most cost-effective.
“Businesses are making $6.50 for each $1 spent on influencer marketing, with the top 13% earning $20 or more. A resounding 70% are earning $2 or more, with the rest either breaking even or failing to generate a return on investment”, Tomoson says.
It was also found that 51% of businesses got a higher quality of customers based on influencer marketing. However, this may be a little costly, especially if you want to collaborate with high-quality influencers. Do your research and choose the best fit for your budget.
When asked which technologies would most improve the customer experience, nearly 40% of sales and marketing leaders cited Virtual Reality. 34% believed Artificial Intelligence would be the biggest game-changer. 78% of brands say they have already implemented or are planning to implement artificial intelligence and virtual reality by 2020 to serve customers (Oracle, 2016) better.
We are at the helm of a technological revolution. We can see how innovations such as Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality are reshaping CX, allowing brands to better cater to digital customers who increasingly favor self-service to human interaction.
The association that brands have with their customers has reached a tipping point, and all signs point towards a new technological revolution that will again reshape the customer experience.
Customers have made it very clear that they prefer online and mobile commerce. It is now for the companies to decide if they want to move further away from real-life human interactions into an age of advanced, digitized self-service.
About the author
Harikrishna Kundariya is a marketer, developer, designer, and the co-founder of eSparkBiz Technologies, a mobile app development company. His 10+ experience enables him to provide digital solutions to new startups based on IoT and chatbots. You can follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.