10 Digital Marketing Trends to Look Out For in 2021

Ian Kennedy - Optima Digital
Co-Founder Ian Kennedy
Ian Kennedy - Optima Digital
Co-Founder Ian Kennedy

The world of digital marketing is always evolving so it can be tricky to keep on top of things. It is an industry that moves quicker than most.

Staying up to date with tactics, techniques and new developments can be difficult. Therefore,  we have put a list together of 10 digital marketing trends to look out for in 2021.

1.Digitalisation Becoming the Norm

Covid-19 has changed everything. From going to a supermarket to interacting with friends and family. It has affected every area of our life and there is no such thing as “business as normal” anymore.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams have become an all too familiar concept and the novelty is beginning to wear off for many. However, this pandemic has caused a shift in attitudes towards using technology. It is now the norm and acceptable to host an important meeting over Zoom or meet a client for the first time through it. The days of a coffee and a chat feel like an eternity away.

Whether this continues post-pandemic we cannot say for sure but there will be some elements that will continue in the future.

Consumers are also more tech-savvy than ever before. With surveys showing 68% of those between the ages of 50-64 are regularly using social media, companies are scrambling to ensure they have an online presence.

Digitalisation will continue to evolve over the coming years and both consumers and companies alike will be along for the ride.

2. Voice Search

Okay, we will admit before getting into this one that we have been hearing for the past number of years that voice search is the next big thing.

Introduced by Google back in 2011 almost as a bit of a novelty factor, it has grown in popularity since. Current statistics show 41% of adults use voice search at least once per day.

It is estimated by the end of 2021, over 50% of smartphone users will engage with voice technology on their devices.

Voice search will also be critical for companies looking to improve their SEO. Everyone wants to be at the top of Google as regular organic traffic can be extremely. lucrative.

Therefore, it is vital websites are optimised for how people ask questions when speaking into a device. Your customer will use what we call long-tail keywords when using voice compared to regular search.

This means you will have to adjust your content to suit this. Otherwise, you risk being left behind your competition.

Whether it is yourself, friends, or family, keep an eye out through 2021 as Siri and the likes make more of an appearance.

3. Artificial Intelligence

This one can be a bit scary. We have all watched those movies where the robots get a little too smart and take over.

On a serious note, artificial intelligence (AI) has played a huge part in everyday life over the past number of years. Although, probably more than most of us realise.

Maybe those science fiction movies were not so farfetched after all. Studies show that only 33% of consumers think they are already using AI platforms. However, the reality is that this number is closer to 78%.

We see AI in our everyday lives whether it be replacing the good old-fashioned hoover with a robot that whisks around your house while you are at work.

Or how about when we sit down to relax after a tough day and flick on Netflix. The company uses AI combined with past viewing history for suggestions as to what you might like. The tool uses specifics like what time of day you were watching. It is estimated close to 80% of what we watch is driven by Netflix’s recommendations.

4. Chatbots

You have probably noticed those chatbot icons in the bottom right-hand corner of most websites you visit these days. Some of them might have even popped up and gave you a fright depending on your computer volume.

However, the data shows engagement with these chatbots is rising. Studies show 40% of millennials engage with chatbots daily.

Although some of us are more old-fashioned and prefer an actual person, many of these chatbots are more than capable of getting people the information they need.

Furthermore, there is the added advantage of 24/7 support being available. Consumers’ questions can be answered day or night. The company itself will also save on staffing costs.

It will also allow their staff to work on solving more difficult issues for customers.

Yet, chatbots are not there just for answering simple questions. They can also be optimised to act as mini sales reps closing dealing no matter the hour. This is backed up by 33% of consumers wanting to be able to make a hotel or restaurant reservation through a chatbot.

There are many different chatbots to choose from. Some are more limited than others and capabilities will directly correlate with price.

Furthermore, the more advanced ones can be quite expensive. At the higher end you are looking at approximately €400-500 per month.

Pricey, we know. However, four chatbots we recommend if your budget is a little tighter are:

    • Tideo – This is what we use. It is simple but effective. We recommend starting with their basic plan for €18 per month and you can add features if need be.
    • Intercom –  Another company offering chatbot services. Slightly more expensive with their plans starting at about €60 per month.
    • Zendesk – A popular chatbot software allowing you to interact with customers. You can sign up to the ‘Suite Team’ plan for €49 a month.
    • Tars – This is a chatbot with a bit of a twist. We said we are recommending for those on a budget but we had to sneak this one in. This software allows you to create conversational landing pages. Cool technology and kicks off at about €400 per month.

5. Video Marketing

I think it is fair to say many of us love watching a video. We watch over 1 billion hours of YouTube every day alone. That is without our Netflix and Game of Thrones binges.

With our brains being stimulated online more than ever, video is a perfect way for brands to try and increase engagement. We are 95% more likely to retain a message while watching a video compared to through reading text.

We can all be guilty of sometimes mindlessly scrolling through our social media feed until we come across an interesting video that makes us stop. Video shows no signs of slowing down as brands pour more budget into this medium.

6. Social Media ‘Stories’

As humans, we are hardwired to tell stories. It dates to thousands of years ago where our ancestors gathered around the fire with tales of hunting and near-death experiences.

However, they are not the stories we are talking about. These days we love to share all details of our lives whether it be through Snapchat, Instagram, or another social media platform.

“Take a look at my story”.

 “Did you see their story”?

These are all too familiar phrases. With 500 million people using Instagram every day it is a key marketplace for a lot of brands.

These stories are having a huge impact on digital marketing as more and more companies try to utilize these platforms. A combination of images, video, and text can help brands tell their story or work with influencers who can push a message to their audience.

7. Content Marketing is key

“Content is king” A phrase coined in the mid 90’s that is still as relevant as ever. There are many variables and platforms available today for marketers to choose from but having good content still trumps everything.

From increasing engagement to having better SEO and a higher ranking on Google, content is the common denominator. The fact Google loves good quality content alone is enough for most to put a huge emphasis on it.

In addition, good content marketing also boosts sales. There is no point putting the effort in to drive traffic to your website only for them to be disappointed on arrival. Often customers do not purchase the first time they hear about your business.

Build a relationship and illustrate the benefits of your product/service through content marketing.

Content marketing also performs better than traditional marketing. Spending budgets on TV or radio ads can be a bit of a money pit. You will get a lot more bang for your buck with some unique and clever content marketing.

8. Podcasts

Seems like nowadays everyone is on the podcast bandwagon. With the video element removed, podcasts are easy to consume. You also have the added benefit of being able to multitask while listening to one.

Getting those 10,000 steps in while learning some new information sounds like a win-win. 33% of Irish adults listen to at least one podcast a week which equates to just under one and a half million listeners.

Entrepreneurs and marketers have had huge success with podcasts over the past couple of years. What started with Joe Rogan discussing elk hunting turned into Neil Patel discussing SEO strategies.

Perhaps it is what makes podcasts so popular. The combination of being easy to consume, informational, and the fact you have such a wide array of subjects at your fingertips (or ears).

9. Google Ads

Cost-per-click advertising is becoming more popular. Everyone wants to get eyes on their brand and an easy way of doing this is paying for it. Google is the most popular search engine with over 90% of users choosing it.

However, if you are not sure what you are doing costs can rise quickly. You need to do prior research of that industry and the costs surrounding certain keywords. You will also need to know what long-tail as well as negative keywords you want to target.

Running Google Ads is a simple way of getting your landing page to the top of Google but just make sure you have a strategy and a budget. Otherwise, it may become an expensive guessing game.

Set a maximum budget and start by running some test campaigns. From here you can optimise and analyse the data. Depending on your industry cost-per-clicks may vary. For example, if you are a personal injury attorney in New York City, you better get ready to open the wallet.

Other industries such as insurance and finance can have high cost-per-click rates. Therefore, it is important to do the correct research and optimise your ads as you go.

10. Importance of local SEO

Local SEO focuses on optimising a website so that it can be found in local search results. We have all researched “restaurants near me” when we run out of ideas or are looking for something new.

Local SEO can have huge benefits for brick-and-mortar businesses. Studies show that 50% of people who did a local search on their phone went to a physical store within one day.

Many professions benefit greatly from optimising their local SEO. If you are any of the below and are not working on your local SEO, well, take this as your warning.

Who benefits most from local SEO?

  1. Lawyers
  2. Doctors
  3. Plumbers
  4. Locksmiths
  5. Restaurants

The above businesses benefit from local SEO as customers often leave reviews and their local address will push them up the rankings when someone in the vicinity is searching.

In restaurants, for example, we can see real-life pictures of meals and it helps us decide.


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