6 Hottest Digital Marketing Trends To Watch Out For In 2021


How do you stay relevant in a world that’s always evolving and constantly innovating?… By keeping up with the latest trends, of course. Keep reading…

Here we are! It is 2021 and a lot of us have high hopes of what this year will bring… and let’s be honest, it won’t take much to impress us after the year we all just had.

So while it may feel like you made NO progress in 2020 and spent most of your days working from home in your sweatpants and watching reruns of sitcoms that reminded us of simpler times, there was actually a LOT happening in the digital domain.

In fact, it’s now safe to say that digital marketing is now mainstream. I no longer have to explain to my grandma what I do because she’s now a Zoom aficionado

So while the rest of the world was basically at a standstill, the Internet was on fire. Fueling some pretty massive events, social activism and disruptive marketing…

So what’s coming in HOT (or getting even HOTTER) in 2021? That is exactly what I’m sharing today…

Hey Posse! What’s up, it’s Alex!

And I’m super excited about this week’s article because it’s one of my favorite topics to nerd out on… digital marketing trends! 

Where are my fellow marketing nerds at? Leave me a comment below to let me know you’re here!

And if you’re new to the Write & Ignite crew… welcome!

I put out a new post and a video over on my YouTube Channel every week… so if geeking out on the latest internet innovations is your cup of tea, then remember to subscribe! And don’t forget to hit that bell to be notified when my next tutorial goes live.

So here they are, 6 of the digital marketing trends you’ll want to watch out for this year…

# 1 Live Video

Now this is nowhere near as surprising as #6 on this list, but I’ve been saying it for years… video is the future! And it’s not going to be any different this year… in fact, in light of recent events, it’s going to grow even faster than previously predicted. 

Even if you never considered yourself “a video person”, 2020 probably turned you into one… with, or without, your knowledge. 

Live video REALLY blew up in 2020… by 99% percent, to be exact.

Yep. You heard that right, the Live Streaming industry increased by 99-freaking-percent in 2020.

Thanks to the global pandemic, mandated stay-at-home orders, and social distancing regulations, people all across the globe turned to video to stay connected. 

And in literally no time at all, “hopping on a zoom call” became the new thing to say… We zoomed for work, zoomed for happy hour, and zoomed for holidays. 

And as the general population became more comfortable with video, other forms of video communication also started to become part of the norm – TikTok, Instagram Reels, Facebook Live… and even Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn have options for streaming Live video now!

Yes, it’s safe to say that people are lovingggg it. And you betcha, businesses are taking notice. 

(Well, the smart ones anyway)…

But the live streaming trend doesn’t stop there… if you’re not a video person, you’ll be happy to know that…

#2 Audio Content Is On The Rise

So this is a crazy stat, but did you know that more than 100 million Americans listen to at least one podcast each month!

Or if you’re like me and obsessed with history and true crime, it’s more like one a day.

But wow has podcasting come a long way. If you’re not a regular on at least one podcast, have you been living under a rock?

These free streaming delights cover basically every topic under the sun and you can listen while you, well, do just about anything else.

I know when I’m listening to a good podcast, my house is as CLEAN as ever because I find a million things to do while I listen (and procrastinate real work).

But this stat is a HUGE reminder that audio content is on the rise! Twitter gets it. They just released a feature that allows users to send audio-based tweets.

Oh and let’s not forget the new kid on the block, an audio-based app called Clubhouse, that is shaking up voice-driven social media. I literally spent 2 hours on a live stream the other day. 2 hours!

It’s currently invite-only and not many people around the world have access yet… but don’t worry, you’ll get your moment if you haven’t yet.

Clubhouse basically allows you to access virtual rooms where you have voice conversions with other people, to talk about anything and everything, without having to stare at your screen! Whoever creates the room has the ability to control speaking privileges and topic… and everyone else can pop in and out as they please.

The verdict is still out on how this app will shake up the marketing world, but stand by. I’ll be keeping my eye on this one.

So whether you’re a frequent podcast listener, audio message sender or Clubhouse OG, one thing is certain… audio content cannot be ignored in 2021.

# 3 User-Generated Content

Now, this is definitely not something new, but just like Live Streaming… in 2020 UGC Marketing really skyrocketed. 

More businesses are turning to social media to promote their products than ever before, but not in the typical “Paid Ad” ways that you’re used to seeing… 

User-generated content includes those videos, images, or reviews that you see your favorite brands “re-posting” all the time. They’re candid, real, and super relatable. 

In fact, more than 86% of companies are using UGC as part of their marketing strategy…  

Sometimes, it’s from an actual influencer who has a paid partnership with that brand, and other times its genuine feedback from a fan of the brand. 

And it’s totally brilliant. 

Like Lululemon’s Brand Ambassador program which relies on thousands of ambassadors to represent and promote their brand…. And they do it all for FREE!! I mean, they get free swag and stuff, but how many Lulu pants do you need!?

UGC is basically the best word-of-mouth marketing strategy you could implement.

It all comes down to the core fact that people trust other people, but we don’t always trust the brand itself… well, at least not at first. 

We all EXPECT a brand to self-promote and talk about how great and superior they are… I mean, duh. 

But when someone else promotes them, we’re all ears. And we’re usually more likely to buy.

I mean nothing cements a buying decision quite like watching a successful ‘first impression’ or ‘unboxing’ video… am I right?

# 4 Brand Activism

With the (much-needed) rise of political, social, and environmental activism that the world saw last year, it’s really no surprise to see Brand Activism pop up as an up-and-coming marketing trend. 

In the day and age of the ‘conscious consumer’, brands have no choice but to step up, speak up, and take responsibility… or else risk losing an entire generation of customers.

And 2020 saw hundreds of brands speaking up and engaging in activism.

Like this Nike ad in response to the Black Lives Matter movement… urging people to become part of the change, and stand up for equality – for once…

Or the launch of Ben & Jerry’s limited-edition flavor: Unfudge Our Future… urging Australia’s leaders to tackle climate change and invest in a more sustainable future… 

Consumers are demanding that the brands they support put their money where their mouth is. We don’t just want a good performing product, we want a good product from a good company that shares the same values we share. 

And this has turned into much more than a quick trend or marketing fad… but rather it’s evolved into an expectation for brands to take social responsibility. 

But remember, when it comes to brand activism… this really is NOT just a bandwagon you want to jump on. Consumers can see right through that fake inauthentic B.S., so unless you’re following your supportive sentiments up with real action or investment… it’s probably best just to stay quiet. 

# 5 Branded Content

Another video marketing trend that has been on the rise—is branded content. 

This goes back to a very core marketing principle: people don’t want to feel like they’re being sold something. 

They want value. They want entertainment. They want an experience

And that’s exactly what well-done branded content does. It delivers an enjoyable experience for the customers without force-feeding an Ad down their throat. 

Branded content is 22x more engaging than other display ads (like banner ads, which we typically just think of as annoying AF).

Times have changed, and that type of in-your-face marketing just doesn’t work anymore. Branded content works because it encourages the audience to engage with the brand naturally through the entertainment, educational or inspirational value that the content provides. 

The best-branded content out there is sometimes so subtle that you don’t realize it’s happening at all.  

Think of the LEGO Movie. Which might go down in history as the best-branded content of all time. 

I mean think about it. The entire movie is subconsciously selling you on the LEGO Toys, but you have absolutely no idea that’s what is going on because you’re so enthralled in the story and experience of the film. 

And when you find out at the end of the movie (spoiler alert) that the entire LEGO Universe was actually just a kid playing LEGOs downstairs in his basement? Brilliant.

That movie took a generational toy that was seeing a decline in popularity… to a cool toy that every kid wants and now it’s also a massive franchise. 

And that brings us to the last marketing trend on the list…

# 6 Nostalgic Marketing

Ah, nostalgia like a big ‘ol steaming cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter night… 

Do you ever randomly remember a commercial from the 80s and you just can’t help but smile or sing that dang jingle in your head? Yes, that’s nostalgia at its finest. 

Nostalgia is a sentimental longing for the past—which fun fact, was actually considered a mental disorder back in 1688 when the term was originally coined.

Thank God we don’t live in 1688, or we’d all be locked up in the looney bin right about now 

Nostalgic marketing takes that random feeling, or yearning for the past, to a whole new level by designing ads and marketing campaigns for one specific purpose… to bring back fond memories and evoke a strong emotional connection to the brand. 

And, yup, it is on the rise! You heard it here, the future of digital marketing is all about looking to the past…

Big names like Nike, Pepsi, Gucci, AT&T, and Cheetos are just a few of the major brands that brought some timeless classics back into their recent marketing strategies

While that might seem surprising, it actually makes a lot of sense, especially right now.

Thanks to the pandemic and stay-at-home orders of 2020, lots of people were spending LOTS of time at home, reminiscing on the simpler, and less complicated times in life… and rewatching some of their old favorites movies or TV shows (I mean, raise your hand if you binged an old TV show during quarantine??)

Just like these feel-good sitcoms of the good ol’ days, nostalgic marketing works because it’s familiar, it’s comforting, it makes us feel safe and more united.

And when the world feels scary and uncertain like it does right now, the comfort and familiarity that these nostalgic ads, tv shows, and products provide, is exactly what we were all looking for in 2021. 

Until next time, I’m Alex, Ciao for now!

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