Over the past year, online marketing experienced an unprecedented surge in growth due to COVID-19. Businesses that were not already leveraging digital tactics were forced to pivot and finally launch a website or e-commerce site, scramble to build and promote curb-side pickup programs, and venture into the world of digital and influencer marketing. With online and digital marketing tactics now at the forefront of every single industry, what will this mean for 2021? We reviewed the latest industry insights to find out what the experts are saying. Below are the top 5 digital marketing trends to keep an eye out for in 2021:
1. Rise of Social Media E-commerce Channels
In 2020, Facebook launched Facebook Shop and Instagram Shop, finally making it possible for brands and creators to build digital storefronts on the platforms. The update was made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the app announcing in a press release in May 2020, “Right now many small businesses are struggling, and with stores closing, more are looking to bring their business online. Our goal is to make shopping seamless and empower anyone from a small business owner to a global brand to use our apps to connect with customers.” Most recently, on December 10th, Instagram also announced the launch of Shoppable Instagram Reels. It’s expected that both Facebook and Instagram will continue to focus on new e-commerce integrations into 2021, especially as competing app TikTok gains popularity and makes strides in this realm as well.
Social media is no longer a place of discovery, but a landscape where purchases will be able to happen without leaving the respective platforms. Eventually, this ease of shoppability will expand into other digital touch points. Ottawa based company Bonsai on the forefront of this new technology, which allows users to transact natively while browsing content on publisher websites. Keep a look out for an increase in e-commerce capabilities in 2021.
2. Influencer Marketing Growth
According to Business Insider, influencer marketing is expected to become a $15 billion dollar industry by 2022. Due to COVID-19, online and mobile screen time has gone up, resulting in more advertising dollars being shifted to online marketing efforts – including influencer marketing. While influencers exist within every social platform, Instagram remains the top brand partnership preference. Nearly four in five (79%) brands predominantly tap Instagram for influencer campaigns, compared with Facebook (46%), YouTube (36%), Twitter (24%), and LinkedIn (12%), as reported by Business Insider.
Along with increasing investment in influencer marketing on behalf of brands, a surge in new apps and tools is providing creators with more resources than ever before to create engaging content. In 2021, this combination will undoubtedly be a year of growth and financial opportunity for influencers and content creators. If you have been dabbling with the idea of becoming an influencer, it might be time to take this dream a bit more seriously in the new year.
Other related influencer trends to watch for in 2021 are: brands building longer term partnerships with influencers, affiliate programs that create more incentive for influencers to tag brands in their content, more diversity and inclusion being a focus in influencer marketing programs, and more mico and nano influencers being tapped for campaigns due to highly engaged audiences.
3. Virtual Brand Activations & Events Are Here to Stay
For many businesses, the shift to virtual events was due to COVID-19 making it impossible to host in-person activations. However, many businesses soon realized the tremendous value of hosting digital events when considering the relatively low cost to execute, as well as the entirely new audiences that they were able to tap into as a result of hosting events virtually. Accessibility was a major benefit to many businesses, allowing for more attendees and higher participation than with in-person events. Based on the high ROI of virtual events this trend will maintain momentum into 2021, with the need for engaging speakers, quality content, and entertainment value continuing to be a vital part of the event equation.
4. Increased Digital Marketing Regulations
Over the past few years, privacy and regulation around digital marketing have come to the forefront. Questionable practices surrounding user privacy and information (such as the Cambridge Analytica scandal where Facebook users’ personal data was acquired without the individuals’ consent and used for political advertising) highlighted the increased need for regulation in regards to social media platforms and digital marketing practices. In 2021, there will be increased scrutiny over data and privacy, with governments across North America and Europe already outlining stricter regulations around website, social media, and e-commerce practices.
5. Digital Saturation
One of the downsides of COVID-19, is that the digital landscape is experiencing more saturation than ever before. Both brands and influencers have a hard road ahead of them in 2021 in terms of ensuring their content and advertising are able to break through the noise and stand out across all digital touch points. Thankfully, partnering with an agency that is aware of the latest trends can help you navigate this landscape. At FAULHABER, we offer a variety of digital marketing services. If you are considering a digital marketing agency to assist with your next digital activation, get in touch.