What is a brand worth if it isn’t backed by influential marketing? A seller may be offering great quality, but if their product fails to create great awareness, it’s unlikely it’ll achieve any sales targets.
In a world where two-thirds of the population is already connected, it is important to embrace the techniques that will continue to revolutionize digital marketing in 2021.
As a famous broadcast icon, Dick Clark, once said, “I don’t set trends. I just find out what they are and exploit them.”
Here, we discuss the exploitable trends in digital marketing most likely to offer the greatest impact:
With the growth of e-commerce and online transactions, chatbots are fast becoming a must-have for businesses. These are digital platforms that can be used to interact with customers via text chats, mimicking the way real people would interact with a customer – except chatbots are, of course, just bots. A good chatbot is indistinguishable from a human voice, but don’t be fooled – it’s just been programmed to sound that way.
Chatbots provide instant gratification to their users. Instead of making a phone call or writing an email, people now have a quicker way of getting their issues resolved through prompt responses from chatbots.
According to a prediction by Gartner, “By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with the enterprise without interacting with a human.”
In digital marketing, chatbots are useful for providing information, taking orders and providing speedy customer services to users. Unlike generic marketing, chatbots provide personalized information to the user in response to their queries.
Corporates like Pizza Hut and Facebook are already using chatbots. A report by Grand View Research suggests that the chatbot market is expanding by 24% annually, and is expected to witness the largest growth in the next few years particularly for marketing of products and services.
Chatbots can be incorporated into websites as well as applications. Being a source of direct interaction with customers, they can help in better understanding customer requirements. The relevant data obtained from these chatbots can be used to devise future marketing strategies.
More interestingly, the research and development being pumped into chatbots as a sound digital marketing strategy have led to this small niche flourishing. Now, there’s a wide diversity of innovative ways buisnesses can incorporate chatbots onto their web services. In fact, video marketing through chatbots seems to be one very successful way of making users engage with a website’s content. This strategy entails programming chatbots to prioritize giving users video-based content upon being prompted by internet users – something that seems to have worked well for Facebook.
2. Video Marketing
When you click on a video on YouTube, it often shows you a short promotional ad before your desired video starts playing: that’s video marketing. But while video marketing may have had its initial foray into the realm of internet marketing by Youtube and other video-sharing platforms like Dailymotion and Vimeo, 2021 has taken us far from that time. Now, video marketing Is practically a standard across the field of digital marketing strategies, with social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram giving ample space to this technology in their electronic marketing.
Hubspot says that incorporating a video into an email boosts the click-through rate by 300%, and having it on a landing page increases conversion rate by 80%. In times when the average attention span of viewers is getting shorter, video marketing has become the most anticipated forms of digital marketing. No wonder chatbots are being programmed to prefer videos as responses when possible.
Wyzowl has the following statistics about video as a digital marketing tool:
- 74% of users who watched an explainer video to learn more about a product subsequently bought it.
- 77% of consumers say they’ve been convinced to buy a product by watching a video.
There are different forms of videos that can be incorporated into your digital marketing strategy:
- Product reviews
- Video ads
Videos are a good way of talking to your target market. Their human touch is compelling, especially more so in the case of live videos where businesses get the chance to address their customers on a more personal level – while building brand recognition at the same time.
Combining influencer marketing with live streaming is highly effective in terms of achieving one’s marketing goals by letting a brand ambassador talk to one’s audience. We’ve explored later in the blog the impact social media influencers can have on digital marketing strategies in more detail. Using live videos in this way can leave a positive, lasting impact of a business’s message in the minds of its audience.
The live broadcast option provided by social media platforms has made it even easier for brands to engage with their audience, and given that almost every major social media platform, including Twitter and Instagram, have developed live-streaming features in 2021, it’s much more likely to widen as a concept.
Although little explored at this stage, the prospect of using such features as a means for digital marketing research suggestions and directions is highly promising. In the future, the intersection between influencer marketing and e-marketing, in general, may just grow bigger and bigger.
3. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
It’s difficult to overstate how much e-marketing has been transformed by the mainstreaming of artificial intelligence. We’ve talked about chatbots, itself a technology premised on the ability of machines to imitate language, but AI is much bigger than just chatbots. Economists as eminent as John Maynard Keynes mused decades ago how artificial intelligence would ultimately rise to replace the need for work and toil – how technology would cause a phenomenon called “technological unemployment”.
We haven’t reached the point in which AI could do all our jobs – marketing researchers still have to spend hours on surveys and analyzing data to make any real conclusions about marketing. But it’s true that some jobs are being replaced by AI, to the extremes that even fighter pilots may one day be completely programmed, instead of being trained people. Such is the sophistication and potential of AI.
According to Techopedia, “Artificial intelligence is an area of computer science that emphasizes the creation of intelligent machines that work and react like humans.”
The recommendations that you get while you do e-shopping, read articles over the web, or watch videos online are all work of AI. Even if marketing research needs to be unpacked by human specialists, bots are still dominating when it comes to predicting consumer behavior, especially through their ability to collect and analyze visitor data. Almost immediately, visitors are then categorized more particularly and are then provided suggestions which result in an enhanced user experience.
This paves the way for a very personalized marketing approach, targeting each individual user more effectively than any broad company strategy can. But this also means that the average user is feeding much more information to companies about their personal preferences and desires much more so than ever before in history. Valid questions and anxieties about the future of what some have called “surveillance capitalism” have been raised, in reference to the sheer conquest of personal privacy, these bots entail in their functioning.
But for now, even news agencies like the BBC, CNN, New York Times, Forbes and Reuters are using AI tools for content creation too. Washington Post has been using AI-based Heliograph to produce articles for its readers. This, in turn, helps their reporters to save time and focus on areas that require human involvement.
Given how fast artificial intelligence has entrenched itself in digital marketing strategies, it’s unlikely that concerns over privacy will ever triumph over the success these bots can have on generating more revenues.
4. Voice Search
If you’ve ever used Google Assistant, you would know how easy it is to activate and make it follow your command by just uttering “Ok Google”. That’s what voice search does – it reduces your need to type.
The ability to get results without typing is what has made voice search emerge as a popular technology. Besides the regular SEO techniques that marketers use for maximising traffic, they now have to learn how to optimize their websites for voice searches as well.
Here are some interesting statistics on voice search gathered by digital marketing consultation firm, Jody Nimetz:
- 40% of adults use voice search once per day
- Nearly 50% of people are now using voice search when researching products
- 50% of all searches will be voice searches in 2020
- 60% of smartphone users who use voice search have begun using it in the past 12 to 18 months
- 78% of teens and 76% of adults believe that using voice search is safer
- Personal assistant devices like Siri, Cortana, and Alexa are taking the technology forward by allowing users to practice voice search more than ever. The future success of businesses, however, lies in the timely adoption of this technology to ensure maximum access to the target audience.
While Google and Walmart have joined forces to introduce the concept of ‘voice shopping’ using Google Assistant, Domino’s has also turned to Amazon Echo to let its customers in the UK order pizza and have it delivered “without lifting a finger”. It is safe to say that the future will see more usage of this technology as part of digital marketing.
5. Augmented Reality (AR) & Virtual Reality (VR)
AR and VR are probably the newest of digital marketing trends. Describing the difference between AR and VR, Digital strategist Stephen Moyers says,
“AR is computer-generated images added to your experience of the world around you, [but] VR is computer-generated images that take over your visual field, and you are able to interact with them in a way that mimics the natural world. VR requires special glasses to block out the normal vision, which makes the computer-generated images seem like reality.”
Corporations like CocaCola, IKEA, and Starbucks are making use of these marketing techniques to provide customers with ‘virtually real’ experiences.
Real estate firms are benefitting from 360-degree videos for virtually showcasing homes to potential customers. The automobile industry, on the other hand, is using the technology to give test ride experiences to interested buyers in the comfort of their homes.
Although the growth has been gradual, AR and VR have now become hot topics in marketing circles. Especially in the fast fashion industry, the way augmented reality seems primed to take-over changing rooms is a future that may just be very close. Have a look at Rezaid’s more detailed take on how augmented reality reshapes marketing, and how the privacy concerns of introducing artificial intelligence are more prevalently discussed in terms of augmented reality.
6. Influencer Marketing
Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge of 2014 that literally went viral on social media across the globe? That’s a perfect example of influencer marketing which had led famous personalities like Bill Gates to take up the challenge and share their videos online. In just 10 weeks, the topic was able to engage some 28 million online users. Furthermore, 2.4 million videos related to the challenge were shared online.
Influencer marketing makes use of social media to reach out to the masses. It has totally revamped the idea of brand ambassadors where social media ‘influencers’, bloggers or celebrities are taken on board for brand awareness and marketing. Online tools like blogs, (live) videos and hashtags are used for getting the message across.
There has been a 325% increase in searches for the phrase “influencer marketing” on Google alone over the last 12 months. Also, according to a survey, 84% of marketers consider influencer marketing an effective electronic marketing method.
In fact, influencers on social media are so in command of the future of marketing that it’s not just celebrities – or billionaires like Bill Gates – who’ve been sought by companies for their marketing strategies. It’s also been Instagram personalities like Eva Zu Beck, who have only just recently emerged into fame but have ended up as brand ambassadors for companies like Samsung.
To the relief of social media bloggers, we can safely say that there’s no doubt that influencer marketing is set to become one of the top priorities for digital marketers.
The Dynamic Future of E-Marketing
Here, we have highlighted the trends most likely to rule the digital marketing world in 2021, while also analyzing the opportunities newer technologies have translated to for various industries.
The realm of digital marketing is totally changing how businesses reach out to their target market. From chatbots to voice search and AR/VR, the technologies are only expanding the horizons of creative, yet interactive, experiences.
With all these trends in place, it’s up to businesses themselves to decide which of these technologies they believe they will benefit the most from – because it’s clear that each of them does have a tangible benefit to provide. Use resources wisely, and choose the best digital marketing strategy keeping your target market in mind.