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While it’s an industry known for rapid shifts, not even the wisest of prophets could have guessed just how much digital marketing would change over the last 12 months.

2020 was tough and torrid year, but also an incredibly exciting one, as clever people continue to solve challenging problems. Today we’ll be looking at five trends that we believe will come to the fore in 2021, and how they might continue to shape the industry in months and years to come.

Here’s our top digital marketing trends of 2021…

1. It’s all about the moving image

Having been around for the best part of 150 years, video isn’t a particularly new trend. The difference in 2021, however, is just how ubiquitous it has become – according to YouTube the world watches one billion hours of content on its platform every day.

Video is no longer an option. It is the option. Text and image content can no longer compete with video, whether delivered via YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or TikTok. These platforms have had a firm focus on video content for years, and in 2020 it is finally being realised.

This means that a digital marketing strategy without a video content component is no digital marketing strategy at all.

2. Spheres of micro-influence

First there were the A-list celebs, the reality TV talent and the sports superstars. Get a product on their feeds and you’d be seen by an audience of millions. Why would you look anywhere else?

But as influencer marketing has become a more established strategy – this survey found that 93% of marketing professionals now use it – it has also become a more expensive one. This has seen the focus turn away from follower numbers and towards a more efficient and effective version of influencing. Enter the micro-influencer.

Boasting small yet committed fan bases numbering in the thousands rather than the millions, micro-influencers offer far greater bang for your marketing buck. And in 2020, when COVID-19 has bled marketing budgets dry, the need to see a return has never been greater. Expect the minimum follower count to continue to go down, and the effectiveness of this strategy continue to go up.

3. “How does it make you feel?”

While sometimes it might not seem like it, humans are quite good at reading the emotions of other humans. Machines, by contrast, really struggle. Or at least they used to.

Sentiment analysis is the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence to get a sense of the emotions and mood of your audience. This technology has come a long way in the last couple of years, and is beginning to really make its mark in 2021, helping organisations manage their brands, increase sales and attract top talent.

4. Content you can play with

360-degree photos and videos, virtual reality, quizzes and polls, shop-able posts; interactive content is booming in 2021, as businesses realise that true engagement is far more than being a passive viewer.

93% of marketers feel that interactive content is an effective means to educate buyers, while only 70% said the same for static content. If you want people to both learn about and be excited by what your brand offers, try offering content you can play with.

5. Turning physical experiences digital

In the socially isolated times of 2020 and 21, Zoom, Google Hangouts and other video call software hadn’t just turned office meetings into digital experiences, they’ve turned trade shows, concerts, industry conferences and seminars digital too.

Thanks to the technology, many organisations and events have proven surprisingly agile and adaptable in such uncertain times. Fieldays, the Southern Hemisphere’s largest agricultural event, went entirely digital in 2020. Many more festivals, product launches and other traditionally physical events were transmitted over the internet as zeroes and ones too.

While initially intended as a temporary fix, this digital marketing trend looks set to continue well after the pandemic has passed, as event organisers have seen surprising levels of engagement from what many expected to be an impersonal and impractical solution.

We don’t know about you, but we’re already looking forward to the exciting trends that 2021 might bring.

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