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Top 5 Digital Marketing Trends for 2021

Bold Predictions for a Better and More Profitable Year.

Big shifts in the marketplace and life altering changes collided in 2020. The digital business landscape has changed forever – and so must our strategic plans for the future.

As the year 2020 grinds to a close (thankfully) it’s time to dig deep and evaluate the tactics, strategies and channels to consider for your business in 2021. Consider our hand-picked hit list of digital marketing trends, to include in your strategic plan for next year.

We curated a list of the Top 5 Digital Marketing Trends for 2021 for digital marketers to know about, consider and plan for, as we head into 2021 and beyond.

1. Conversational Marketing

The goal is to enable tools and processes to have more real time engagement with your customers and prospects, at scale. Tools including email (with quick response), text notifications, live chat on your website, social media retargeting, and personalized messaging, all support this goal. Natural language processing with smart speakers and chat bots are also up and coming tools that support conversational marketing.

According to SmartInsights, the goals of conversation marketing include:

  • Sell- Boost conversion rates with human interaction or human-style chatbots
  • Speak- Foster trust with real dialogue
  • Serve- Customer satisfaction ratings improved by better customer service
  • Save- Cost savings from when fewer support staff interactions are needed
  • Sizzle- The personal touch gives a better brand experience

2. Headless Commerce

Headless technology will reshape commerce for the long term because it allows brands to expedite content and messaging on their web platforms, without having to deal with the back-end coding and infrastructure.

The concept of “headless” mainly has to do with how websites are built, and specifically how the front-end presentation layer works separately from the back-end functionality. With headless commerce, the website platform’s back-end and front-end systems are decoupled from each other. This allows the company to make changes without requiring full development updates for the entire platform.

The value to business leaders, is that this new technique allows for flexibility and speed in scaling and changing content and messaging without overhauling the entire system. Making front-end changes without back-end changes or adjustments adds up to a lot of new customization and personalization for businesses. Headless commerce is an example of efficiency innovation that sidesteps some of the labor-intensive processes of earlier systems.

By moving beyond the omnichannel experience to connect everything from warehouses to storefronts to online services, companies should shift to 2021 with a focus on efficient paths to customer engagement.

3. Optimizing for Voice Commerce

Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri run search queries for users and seek out answers to these queries based on information and keywords that are submitted in content like product descriptions, wikis, website metadata and more. So having a strategy to properly format content and copy, in multiple languages, is the opportunity.

According to WordStream, “nearly 60% of searches on mobile devices were voice searches in 2019. Projections for 2022 put voice commerce at $40 billion in sales. Voice is becoming more and more relevant for consumers and marketers alike, so optimizing for voice search will be even crucial in 2021.”

  • Voice commerce sales reached $1.8 billion last year, per OC&C Strategy Consultants. They’re predicted to reach $40 billion by 2022.
  • 22% of U.S. smart speaker owners have purchased something using their devices, per Edison Research.
  • 5% of consumers use voice shopping, but that number could reach 50% by 2022, per MoffettNathanson.
  • Grocery shopping accounted for 20% of voice shopping in 2017, per OC&C Strategy Consultants. This compared to clothes shopping, which accounted for just 8%.
  • 52% of voice-activated speaker owners would like to receive information about deals, sales, and promotions from brands, per Google. 39% would like to receive options to find business information.
  • 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020, per comScore.
  • About 30% of all searches will be done without a screen by 2020, per Gartner.
  • 13% of all households in the United States owned a smart speaker in 2017, per OC&C Strategy Consultants. That number is predicted to rise to 55% by 2022.
  • One in five consumers (19%) have made a voice purchase through Amazon Echo or another digital home assistant, and another third (33 percent) plan to do so in the next year, per Walker Sands

4. AI is Ready for Prime Time

AI (Artificial Intelligence) comes in many flavors and to be sure, it’s an overused term that means a lot of things. But while many feel that AI is something in the future, it is already pervasive and a part of our everyday lives.

AI is essentially humans programming code to find and react to trends without human intervention. According to recent news in Forbes, “AI can influence what we see on social media to movies recommended on streaming apps, or products that are suggested when we are shopping on Amazon.” As the cloud enables access to cheap computing power at scale, more and more companies will be able to benefit from AI. But what does that mean from a digital marketing standpoint?

AI and digital marketing converge when it comes to optimization. While much of the digital marketing sector still depends on humans, an AI program might be able to generate a report using nothing but data, find trends in advertising campaigns to self-optimize, find patterns in look-alikes for targeting etc.

There are many tools and platforms that marketers can stitch together to start to build their AI tech stack. Starting small, understanding the technology and the opportunity, can only help bolster future efforts, as the space continues to grow. Someday in the not too distant future, marketers will be expected to understand and plan for their AI opportunity.

5. Data Privacy is Paramount

As we slow roll into 2021, we’re predicting an increased focus on cybersecurity strategies from your website to your personnel, that may impact marketing’s roles and responsibilities.

According to recent news in Forbes, there are three key areas for marketers to consider which include “privacy regulations, technology and consumer expectations.”

You can start your data privacy governance by performing a data inventory. Marketers should know what personal consumer data they have, the manner in which it was collected and whether that data pertains to European consumers, as GDPR protects a broad range of data about individuals. Marketers should start to understand that personnel training, updated privacy notices, vendor contracts, and policy notice modules must be front and center on websites, micro-sites, email, apps, and several other digital touch points.

The time for digital marketers to take a more active role in managing data privacy is now. And it starts with education and putting together a sustainable plan, in tandem with your vendors and your IT departments.

Do you need a comprehensive digital game plan for 2021? Contact us today for a needs assessment.

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