The pandemic is still here, and, with the chaotic vaccine rollout, it will be a while before things get back to normal. Therefore, most of the marketing trends that emerged in 2020 will continue in 2021. For instance, eCommerce will continue to rise and social media will still remain the best way to generate leads.

In this article we have gathered 10 of the most significant marketing trends to expect in 2021.

1.   User-Generated Content for Meaningful Engagement with Consumers

Before I buy something from you, I want to know that I am making the right decision. The best way I can do that is through user-generated content (UGC), not brand-created content.

See, apart from providing more credible information about a product, UGC also allows a brand to create memorable and enjoyable experiences for customers.

UGC has grown in 2020, with big brands like Nike and CocaCola utilizing it, and it will continue to be a thing in 2021 and beyond.

2.   Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing has been a good choice for small brands that do not have a huge social media following. The coronavirus restrictions made influencer marketing grow in 2020, since more and more people were tuning into the live streams of their favorite celebrities.

Like UGC, influencer marketing is more trustworthy than brand-created content. Though most of the consumers know that celebs get paid to market products, they are still more likely to believe their favorite celeb than the owner of the product. In any case, a celeb is not likely to market a product they do not use.

The recent trend in influencer marketing is multichannel influencer marketing. For so long influencer marketing has been focused on social media. However, according to Linqia, to get the best out of influencer marketing-generated content, use it on multiple marketing channels, including your website, and email marketing campaigns.

Remember, you do not have to break the bank using popular social influencers with millions of followers. In fact, nano and micro influencers, i.e., people with less than 25k followers, offer better results as they have the highest engagement rates.

3.   Personalization to Enhance Engagement

Another way to enhance engagement is through personalized marketing. See, more than 63% of consumers claim they are annoyed by generic advertising, while 90% say they find personalized marketing appealing.

The concept is not new, but brands have only recently started appreciating its effectiveness.

According to EmailMonks, personalized emails are three times more effective than batch emails. Of course it can be difficult to personalize each email if you have many people in your email list. But thanks to AI, automation tools, email list segmentation, and understanding what stage your leads are in the sales funnel, the task is much easier.

One of the companies that have recently leveraged personalization to increase leads is EasyJet. The company launched a data-driven email campaign, where they used customers’ recent travel history to predict where people might like to travel next. The airline then sent more than 12.5 million unique emails. The results were a 25% increase in click-through rate.

Personalization does not only apply to emails but also ad campaigns. Cadbury launched a personalized video ad campaign by predicting a user’s chocolate preferences through public data available on their Facebook profile. And it worked; the campaign resulted in a CTR of 65% and a conversion rate of 33.6%.

4.   Consider TikTok and Watch Out for Reels

Over the past year, social media usage has significantly increased, all credit to stay-at-home orders. But none has grown more than TikTok. Perhaps it is the dance moves, the short funny clips, or its focus on UGC. Either way, if you are not using TikTok, you might be missing out on advertising opportunities.

As the short-video app continues to grow, so has its advertising opportunities for brands. The platform introduced native ads. However, the best ways to advertise on the platform is using influencer marketing, hashtag challenges, and creating your own humorous and engaging content.

Facebook recently introduced a similar app to TikTok, Instagram Reels, and brands are already leveraging the new short-form video platform. You might want to stay updated as Facebook products often seem to take off and become more popular than their competitors.

5.   Accountability, Transparency, and Purpose-driven Missions for Brands

Customers now expect brands to be more transparent, show accountability, and engage in purpose driven missions. Consumers will not truly connect with your brand if they view it as insincere or shady. You have to find ways to fit into your customers lives and what they care about.

As Deloitte report puts it, brands need to “be deeply attuned to why they exist and who they are built to serve.”

Transparency and accountability do have a significant return-on-investment; brands that are viewed as purposeful experienced two times more growth compared to others.

Some of the big brands that leveraged being purposeful in 2020 include Hilton with their #HotelForHeroes campaign, where they gave free accommodation to medical workers amid the pandemic.

6.   Increase in Voice and Visual Search

More and more consumers are using voice-activated tolls like Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, and Amazon’s Alexa. Visual search is also coming up with tools like Google Lens that allow people to search using images.

According to Retail Customer Experience, brands that adopt these technologies early and redesign their websites to support both voice and visual search could increase their ecommerce revenue by as much as 30%.

Voice search has limited effect on your SEO; voice search is a replacement for typing a query, and the results are the same. However, the increase in visual search means you need to pay more attention to image alt-text and image sitemaps.

7.   Online Data Privacy and Security

Big data, deep learning, and artificial intelligence are all technologies that are being adopted by marketers as they help use customers’ data for personalized marketing. However, collecting customer’s data is a double-edged sword. If your business gets hacked, you might regret why you collected the data in the first place.

There have been many reports of data breaches over the past few years. In case of a data breach, you lose money through compensation, and also lose customers, especially if you are a relatively small company.

Furthermore, governments are passing laws focused on protecting the personal data of consumers. Under regulations such as the General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR), you could land in trouble for sharing customers personal data.  There is also the California Consumer Privacy Act, which came into effect in 2021, that will force companies to be more transparent with what they do with customer’s data.

Consumers are becoming more conscious about their privacy. Therefore, to earn customers’ trust, you have to show you are committed to data privacy.