The year 2020 saw much disruption and transformative change. It may be decades before we truly understand how the many challenges of 2020 have affected technology, culture, and society.
And 2021 is a year of reaction to those changes, either as a counterweight against them or consolidation of emerging trends. Any business that hopes to survive into 2022 and beyond must consider the impact of these changes on its brand, consumer base, and marketing strategy.
The digital world has been at the forefront of many of this year’s most fundamental changes, from the proliferation of zoom meetings to the rising tide of social media activism. Let’s review how these changes have affected digital marketing trends in 2021.
Trend 1: The Remote Workplace Becomes a Long-Term Feature of the Digital Marketing Landscape
Many companies in nearly every sector of the economy have had to transition to remote work wherever possible during the height of the COVIC-19 pandemic. While the cause of this work variation hopefully remains a short-term phenomenon, it triggered changes in social norms, employee expectations, and workplace infrastructure that likely will outlast the COVID-19 restrictions.
Employees, particularly those without childcare obligations, who have become used to avoiding the daily commute, may reluctantly return to the office full time. Employers who have invested time and money in remote workplace infrastructure might choose not to abandon these options if they increase flexibility and cut costs.
Products and services that meet the needs of remote workers, freelancers, and others are likely to be in high demand in 2021. Marketing channels that reach remote workers will become vital for marketing efforts.
Trend 2: Cybersecurity and Information Security
Several confluent events give rise to a growing trend for cybersecurity as a consumer need and a practical challenge for marketers in 2021. First, the recent ransomware attack on the Colonial oil pipeline, coupled with other high-profile ransomware and hacking attacks on municipalities, hospitals, and businesses, has raised awareness of the dangers of cybercrime. The shift toward remote retail activity and remote work has left more and more consumers dependent on their internet connection for their finances and livelihoods.
Digital marketers have an opportunity to meet this pressing need by providing a sense of security. Businesses that offer products through e-commerce rely on consumers to trust them to securely handle their online data. Consumers will expect companies to restore their sense of control and safety, which faced threats on several fronts in 2020.
Trend 3: Marketing and Personal Connections
As a corollary to the trend toward remote working, consumers today long for personal connection. Even if they depend on digitally mediated communication for many aspects of their daily lives, they still want to feel close to friends and family members, seeking a sense of closeness and belonging.
For some consumers, family gatherings and family milestones act as this connection. Others might find kinship in social activism, whether face-to-face or in the digital sphere. Products and marketing initiatives must foster a sense of togetherness to resonate strongly with today’s consumers.
However, not leaning so heavily on belonging as a marketing theme out of respect for those who have lost loved ones to COVID should drive a firm’s decisions. Marketers will seek a balance, promoting personal bonds without putting pressure on those who still feel isolated.
Trend 4: The Many Faces of the New Normal
As people look forward to 2021, they also look back to 2019. Consumers will take a retrospective outlook as they reflect on what they have lost and what they want most to regain. Some consumers may reject social norms from the pre-COVID era, continuing to social distance or wear masks in some situations. Others will seek a wholesale return to a bygone era.
This backward look will be highly segmented and divided along social and political lines. An effective digital marketing strategy in 2021 requires a clear and rich understanding of what the consumers want, even if they don’t understand it themselves.
If we can turn even further back to the movie Citizen Kane, everyone has their pre-COVID rosebuds. This year, the marketing challenge must focus on finding those rosebuds and letting them bloom.
Although the digital landscape of 2021 remains undeniably complex, you don’t have to navigate it without help. Digital Engage, a digital marketing firm based in Tennessee, offers web design, search engine optimization (SEO), and social media management. Call (615) 997-0736 for a consultation today.