By Will

Digital Marketing Trends 2021


A couple of years ago, I wrote an article for Barr Media listing the latest trends in digital marketing that I saw in 2019. Now, in 2021, I thought it was about time to write an updated list and also see how many of the original trends I spoke about in 2021 transpired and became mainstream by digital marketers and online businesses.

Intelligent chat

A couple of years ago, we were seeing chatbots and intelligent chat applications taking off for brands and businesses. There were stats stating as much as 45% of customers preferred to use chat services over other, more traditional customer service methods.

Suffice to say, this has continued. As of 2021, many brands have adopted some kind of online chat support for their customers allowing fast, easy and helpful support for their needs. Apps continue to adopt intelligent chat to provide answers for users without involving humans and if required, seamlessly connect them without leaving the comfort of a familiar messaging platform.

No longer a trend, I believe intelligent chat has become mainstream and is expected by customers in 2021.

This citation here will update you on some of the most recent chat statistics! 

Live chat statistics

Content personalisation

Back in 2019 this was really evolving and becoming more desired for users of websites and applications. Now, in 2021, content personalisation is being taken to new heights as a way to attract customers and encourage them to stay in a brands ecosystem for longer.

Content personalisation is an umbrella term that allows shoppers, users and online customers to choose how to some degree how their browsing experience looks and functions. This could be as simple as a very common light or dark theme for a website all the way up the content they're shown and features available.

It's a hugely interesting field to research and implement as it essentially helps marketers dive into the human psyche to understand what appeals to them. It allows brands to capture more people and create an appeal factor never before possible.

I would say this is still a developing trend more than mainstream, but certain factors of content personalisation are implemented far more often than we saw back in 2019 - for example, light and dark mode!

AI & machine learning

AI has blown up in the last few years. Whether that's to put money-saving on auto-pilot, to create logos or to write ad-copy, AI is being implemented in so sort of fashion.

It's a hugely emerging field still and still not mainstream, but we're certainly seeing it pop up more and more in 2021. It's an exciting time for computing but to see it mainstream will require wrapping applications that will make AI easy to implement for the masses.

It was great to reflect back on these trends mentioned in my 2019 article are still being used today in 2021. Some aspects are mainstream, while others are still evolving.

Let's take a look at the digital marketing trends for 2021 and beyond

With the global COVID-19 pandemic that has been at the forefront of our lives for the last year, it's certainly proved interesting to watch brands adapt their marketing to cater for our new way of living. It's proved incredibly successful for some, and unfortunately not so for others but a lot of the trends we've seen emerge this year have totally realigned the methods we use to market digitally. Whether they're here to stay as mainstream, we'll have to see.

Live interactions

With "stay at home" orders being issued globally, we're seeing live interactions with customers and users appearing more and more. Whether that's through live streams, drop-in audio chats or video calling - in 2021 we've seen a huge increase.

On Facebook, live viewings have grown by over 50% during global lockdown periods, while viewings on Instagram grew by an incredible 70%. TikTok also reports an increase in live use and there’s a good chance we’ll see this upward trajectory continue to develop past 2021. 

We believe that the reason live interactions with users and customers has seen such an increase, especially in personality-driven content like influencer live-streams is that they drive trust, and tap into the "in-the-moment" connection that consumers love.

If you're not thinking about how you can add "live" to your businesses marketing arsenal, you should be.

Goodwill, authenticity & purpose

The idea of classic, automated "corporations" has steadily declined over the last few years with customers preferring authentic, purpose-driven brands that want to make the world a better place.

With this in mind, we're seeing a trend suggesting that brands want to fit into consumers lives more than just offering a product. They want to become a movement, a community and be part of something bigger to improve the world. This in turn creates conversations around them in more aspects than just what they sell, which, therefore, increases market share and sales.

At the core of this is the need for authenticity and transparency

Nowadays, we're seeing that it's harder and harder for customers to connect with brands that they see as insincere. Why would they want to invest in something that they can’t trust or don’t believe in? This is why we seeing connection being hugely pivotal for brands that want to grow in 2021 and beyond.

We live in a world where the average consumer doesn't trust big corporations, so smaller, up and coming brands have the chance to take back a bigger market share by ensuring their image is transparent, authentic and showing off the desire to participate in purpose-driven missions, not just generate profit.

We’re no strangers to seeing brands doing good things, but I want to make brands and businesses are aware of just how important this is becoming.

User-generated content

On the flip side of local, independent and small businesses being preferred over large corporations is the trust factor...

Your customers will always want and desire enjoyable experiences with brands that are easy. Not only that, but they want proof and reassurance before they buy - after all, no one wants to make the wrong decision.

User-generated content is the king of connective mediums to convince, include and provide reassurance to new customers via:

  • Building a community inclusive of your audience.
  • Being relatable!
  • Starting conversations between customers and brands.
  • Providing content to brands to share on socials.

User-generated content has long been an effective way for brands to build relationships with their customers and provide social proof but this we'll definitely see as we move through the remainder of 2021.

Thank you for reading!

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it! If your business wants to implement these trends or something else, then please don't hesitate to get in touch and we'll get back to you!