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5 Marketing and Advertising Trends to Look Out For in 2021 (...so far)

Over the past year, COVID-19 has opened our eyes to the resiliency of the marketing industry and its ability to pivot its strategies to meet the quickly-changing needs of consumers. As we head into the spring of 2021, we are beginning to see a number of marketing trends rise to the surface. Some have been at the centre of attention for years, while others are innovative practices designed to reach new audiences by capitalizing on niche platforms. Here are five of the advertising and marketing trends to keep an eye out for in 2021.

Source: Pexels - Andrea Piacquadio

Video Marketing


2020 can be considered the Year of the Livestream. With events such as concerts and conventions going exclusively digital, live video viewers increased from 10.9% in 2019 to 20.4% in 2020. While live-streaming looks to be slowing down as the world begins to reopen, video marketing still remains as prevalent as ever. In a recent survey with Wyzowl, 86% of businesses use video as a marketing tool, with 93% of marketers saying it’s important to their marketing strategy. The ROI of video marketing has also rewarded marketers, with 78% of marketers claiming that video directly leads to an increase in sales, and clickthrough rates.


Video content takes on many forms, and picking the right video content for your brand is a crucial first step. Looking ahead, popular forms of video content will likely include vlogs, tutorial/how-to’s, and testimonials. With strong execution, video marketing can play a key role in elevating your marketing strategy.


Source: Pexels

Personalization


Personalization in marketing goes beyond names on Starbucks cups. With continued developments in data mining technology, personalization opportunities are plentiful, and help enhance a consumer’s sentiment towards your brand, product, and service. A study conducted by Epsilon found that 80% of surveyors would consider doing business with brands that offer some type of personalized experience, and 90% of surveyors claimed to find it appealing. However, efforts must be taken to ensure a brand’s personalization efforts aren’t “lazy” (i.e. only a first name in email newsletters), or “creepy” (i.e. facial recognition technology, which many consumers are still skeptical of with advertising).


Personalization tactics should be determined based on company goals. While many brands employ simple strategies, such as responding to consumers on social media, some have taken another step in their personalization marketing. Some brands have created consumer surveys to determine the strongest product fit; some have used interactive content with their efforts; and some have even created individualized videos responding 1:1.


Determining which strategies best fit your brand is largely driven by your target audience and their habits, so data is a pivotal tool to be consulted as part of your personalization journey.


Source: Pexels - Liza Summer

Influencer Marketing


Influencer marketing leverages online community building by aligning your brand with key community figures on social media. While influencer marketing is nothing new, we are seeing a shift towards “smaller” influencers who bring with them niche, but incredibly loyal audiences.


Digital influencers offer an authentic connection with their audience that brands can leverage. While many think it would be ideal to get a huge name like Kim Kardashian or PewDiePie, micro influencers (an influencer with a following between 1,000-100,000) can be just as effective. Aligning the right micro influencer with your brand’s positioning can make a big difference in expanding an audience and brand awareness.


The pandemic has also accelerated the trend towards unfiltered content, and influencer marketing embraces that better than anything. 58% of people say they have purchased a new product in the past six months because of an influencer’s recommendation.


Source: Pexels - Pixabay

Website Security


Figuring out how to make your audience happy goes above new, clever messaging and punchy artwork. As more consumers shift to digital-first consumption, ensuring safety and keeping their private information secure is more relevant than ever. From Apple’sPrivacy. That’s iPhone'' campaign, to cookie consent popup’s, the growing worry of what personal data is used for is making people much more wary of the websites they visit and what data they input. Only 11% of people in a Cisco survey said that they have no concerns for data privacy during the pandemic, which leaves just about 9 in 10 people with some sort of fear.


One way to ensure a trustworthy digital experience is to consider the language used in your website’s cookie banner popup. In 2011, the European Union introduced their cookie law, which requires websites to disclose their cookie policies in order to help users better understand how their information is being used. It also gives them the freedom to opt out of cookies altogether. The law was widely adopted and has taken the form of mandatory cookie popup banners on websites. Despite the law’s good intentions, many people can be put off by the legalese in some of these banners, and might even leave your website entirely if they are confused by a complicated cookie policy. Considering ways in which you can make information in your cookie policy more accessible, while still covering all legal grounds, is a small step you can take to building transparency and trust with visitors.


Your website should also use HTTPS rather than HTTP. HTTPS uses a security protocol called “transport layer security” that authenticates data integrity between the two communicating devices. While this might not be something that every consumer will be looking out for, having a secure website that they can browse with peace of mind will be beneficial for all parties in the long run.


Source: Epic Games

Gaming + User-Generated Content


Gaming has exploded in viewership over the past few years. On the streaming platform Twitch, the average number of concurrent viewers per day is 1.4 million, with the number of performers increasing from 2.2 million in 2019 to 3.8 million in 2020. As a result of it’s quickly growing audience, the gaming and esports world has been turning into a zeitgeist that marketers have capitalized on, from sponsoring esports teams to getting celebrities in on the fun by having them livestream their video game playing. Rappers Travis Scott and Drake, U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Toronto Blue Jays player Bo Bichette, are just a few examples of prominent personalities who are taking advantage of these platforms.


Alongside gaming and esports, there is the broader category of user-generated content to explore. From the early days of YouTube, to the current boom of TikTok, it’s been evident that people love to create video content - and brands have quickly discovered that integrating themselves into user-generated content is, not only possible, but can also show bountiful results. But beware: user-generated content is both organic and relatable, so when a brand’s presence is too strong, it turns consumers away. There’s no real formula for marketers on how it can be done, but the beauty of that is that it means the creative opportunities are endless. Examples of this is the unlikely brand integration of Marvel and Nike partnering with Fortnite to create custom skins (unique appearances for your character), and Rave Family and DigitalOcean partnering with Minecraft for virtual music festivals inside the game Minecraft.

As we move through 2020 and into our “new normal”, these five marketing trends will remain top-of-mind. Whether these are areas you’re already investing in, have pondered, or haven’t even considered, it’s vital to understand how these new and adaptive trends are working for others and can benefit your brand’s goals. Good luck...and have fun with it!


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