What does “trending” really mean, and why is it important? Well, according to Merriam-Webster, “trending” is defined as “to generate or attract a lot of interest or attention, especially online and in social media.” Whether you’re an up-and-coming startup or a Fortune 500 company, keeping up with current trends is necessary to gain a prize-winning edge over the competition.
With a flurry of constantly changing industry trends, how can a brand possibly know which ones are most relevant? We’ve scoured the internet and rounded up the top 15 digital marketing trends (in no particular order) that have made the biggest impact this year. Here’s what we discovered:
Accurately depicting a variety of races, genders, ages, religions, etc. can directly impact a customer’s purchasing behavior. A brand’s content should display inclusivity at the forefront, showcasing the importance of equality through imagery, videos, discussed topics, and the like. It’s time to shift away from the homogeneous content of decades past and transition into marketing with content that embraces—and celebrates—diversity.
By reaching out to an influencer market, brands are able to amplify their word-of-mouth marketing. An influencer will share what their current favorite products or brands are and give a detailed review. Influencer marketing works because consumers trust influencers’ opinions. Whether a well-known celebrity or an influencer with hundreds of thousands of followers, the use of social media can help a brand’s visibility expand in every direction.
According to Influencer Marketing Hub’s The State of Influencer Marketing 2021: Benchmark Report, influencer marketing was expected to be worth $13.8 billion by the end of 2021.
User-Generated Content (UGC)
By encouraging users to share unique content that they create themselves, brands are able to expand their reach exponentially—while also saving precious advertising time and money. Just like with influencer marketing, customers trust their peers far more than they trust a company. By offering incentives, such as a discount code for users to share or partnering for a social cause, a brand can see its user-generated content numbers increase, providing them with amazing content they’re able to share via social and other advertising channels.
Instead of executing a small number of large marketing campaigns targeting general audiences, do the opposite. By having a large number of small marketing campaigns targeted toward specific audiences, brands can better understand their consumers. These smaller sub-groups of consumers are segmented based on a shared trait or behavior. When implementing a customer segmentation marketing strategy, you can to personalize your customers’ experiences by delivering content that’s more accurately tailored to their preferences.
When optimizing an online presence to be more locally focused via SEO, it’ll be displayed by search engines when they answer a local search query. Brands want to rank high in a local search so that people in their area know what goods or services they offer. By integrating high ranking local keywords, sites such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing will display a particular website over another’s in the search results.
Image & Video SEO for Visual Searches
For those times you wish you knew what something was or where to find it, there’s now a way to do just that. Maybe you saw a pair of sneakers you loved on a passerby or discovered a beautiful flower during an afternoon walk—just snap a photo and upload it to a visual search field, and voilà—there’s your search results! By using artificial intelligence technology that “scans” an uploaded image or video, users are able to search by using imagery found in the real world, rather than through text. In order for brands to capitalize on visual searches, they’d need to make sure that their images and/or videos include:
- alt text in the descriptions,
- a dedicated image sitemap, and
- targeted SEO keywords in file names.
Images also need to be displayed in top-quality format. Curious? Try a visual search on one of these sites:
Featured Snippets & No-Click Searches
Ranking as “position number one” in Google’s search results has forever been every website’s desire. But, what was once known as the most coveted spot has since been demoted. Enter: position zero, Google’s “featured snippet”. Featured snippets are displayed differently than other search results, located at the top of the page and separated by a small box. Snippets display additional, relevant information that’s related to a user’s question, without them needing to click—dubbed the “no-click search.” By having your site show up as one of the no-click searches, you receive recognition and authority on the topic being searched.
In addition to ranking at a position of authority, featured snippets are also often read aloud with Google Assistant. So, when a user asks their smart home device, for instance, “voice search trends 2021,” the answer will come up from the coveted “position zero” spot, with the related searches below.
According to Webfx, in 2021, 24% of U.S. adults own a smart speaker and 71% of consumers would rather use voice search to look up something online instead of physically searching for it.
Voice Search & Smart Speakers
The convenience of smart speakers has become so routine, many consumers now use them for more than just getting their daily news briefing. As far as smart speakers and voice-enabled devices are concerned, it’s important that companies rethink their digital marketing strategies to include voice search capabilities. According to Voice Search Stats by Invoca:
- 55% of households are expected to own smart speaker devices by 2022
- 65% of 25–49 year olds speak to their voice-enabled devices at least once per day
- Voice is expected to be a $40 billion channel by 2022
As more people purchase and use smart devices, the ability of artificial intelligence to understand and relay information gets increasingly smarter and more reliable. Therefore, the symbiotic relationship of marketing and technology allows consumers to live a more informed, assisted life.
Marketing is all about the customer experience. From surveys and contests to giveaways, polls, and quizzes, there are so many ways to engage consumers while also introducing a product or brand. By using interactive content, the time that a user engages with a brand increases, which also improves the brand’s standing on algorithm-based searches.
When incorporating engaging content, a brand is able to personalize marketing strategies by collecting data on user preferences, demographics, interests, etc., essentially solving multiple goals with one immersive experience. According to a survey, 91% of buyers are actively searching for more interactive content, so by providing a more experiential action for consumers, brands can generate awareness and grow their customer base.
Interactions with customer service can be super frustrating. Playing the “waiting game” for a CSR to get back to you can be the stressful cherry on top. With the use of helpful chatbots, customers can be directed to a useful page on the site (typically FAQs) 24/7. This AI-based tech uses real-time instant messaging. Another benefit of utilizing chatbot technology is that it alleviates the monotonous, repetitive asks that are commonly sent directly to customer service by delivering a quick answer to users’ queries.
According to a survey on 2021 chatbot stats:
- Chatbots generate 35–40% response rates
- The #1 benefit of chatbots is 24/7 support, according to consumers
- Chatbots are predicted to save businesses $8 billion by 2022
With the goal of enhancing the user experience, conversational marketing provides a feedback-driven model that helps create and build relationships with consumers. By understanding what the user wants, brands can utilize tools that integrate with popular messaging apps, linking the user directly to the sales team. This one-to-one, real-time connection between marketers and customers achieves a smoother buying journey and helps to build trust and loyalty while also providing an open line of seamless communication. Essentially, this form of marketing takes traditional materials and makes them interactive.
It’s good to stand out. A great way to do that in the land of marketing is to add a little personalization. Generic advertising is impersonal, resulting in consumers just ignoring it—or even unsubscribing.
There are many ways to incorporate personalization into a marketing strategy. From higher customer engagement to a nearly 14% increase in click-through rates, making the customer feel special can go far beyond just gaining new followers. According to data compiled by Instapage.com:
- Brands that personalize promotional marketing emails experience 27% higher unique click-through rates
- Personalized emails deliver 6x higher transactional rates
- 74% of customers feel frustrated when website data is not personalized
- 80% of shoppers are more likely to buy from a company that offers personalized experiences
Whatever a brand is looking to promote, video is the way to go. Customers want to learn as much as possible about products and services. And when provided with a video, shoppers can be more confident in their online purchases. They’re able to increase their product knowledge without needing to do any extra research. In turn, shoppers can make an educated decision on whether or not to purchase a product without leaving the site, *hopefully* to come back at a later time. Overall, video marketing shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.
Social Media Stories
FOMO (fear of missing out) is a real thing—and the upward trend of social media stories proves it. No one wants to know that something really cool happened or debuted, after the fact. By using stories (available now on Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook), brands of all kinds are able to increase awareness in real time. And while these stories only last for 24 hours, marketers can dial in on FOMO and make good use of it! Another benefit of using social media stories as a marketing tool is that brands can increase customer engagement at the same time. By including CTAs, polls, location tags, and website links in their stories, brands learn more about their customer demographic while driving users to their website.
If you’re reading this, then you’re proving this trend accurate. While people often think consumers don’t want to read more than a few words, long-form content is actually what they need. Longer posts attract more traffic, partially due to readers finding the answers they’re looking for. Longer-than-average posts include more in-depth information, help to establish the publisher as an expert on the topic, and allow for more keyword inclusion. If a brand is looking for more organic traffic on its site, long-form content gets 77% more backlinks than short articles. So, spending the extra time to craft longer, information-filled articles will be a great investment for any brand.
According to the SEO digital marketing site Single Grain, the benefits of long-form (pillar) content include:
- Longer time spent on your site’s pages; the more content that’s available for users to consume, the more time they’ll spend doing so
- A decrease in bounce rate; if users find what they’re looking for on your page, they won’t go back to Google to find another source
- Backlinks and a ton of social media shares; pillar pages get shared widely and often, especially among influencers in a given space
- Getting traffic throughout the lifetime of your blog or website; pillar content is evergreen, so its value doesn’t diminish over time
- A high Google ranking; the high word count, shares, and backlinks will all contribute to improved visibility on SERPs (search engine results pages)
To Trend or Not to Trend?
Whether a trend is fleeting or here to stay relies on multiple factors, which change so fast it can be hard to keep up. It might be the nature of the beast, but in order for a brand to continue moving forward, it must embrace the development of new strategies, utilize new tools, and educate itself about new technology. So, here’s to looking forward to the year ahead while thinking long and hard about how to effectively connect with customers during this technological revolution.
Kreber Has Expertise in Content Creation
With more than 100 years of experience, we’ve built a reputation for our hard work and dedication to delivering creative ideas and positive outcomes for retail and B2B clients. As an independent content marketing agency with a history of thinking ahead, we create and grow opportunities that allow our partners to thrive. We take pride in our mission to Think, Create, and Deliver compelling content that’s visually stunning, innovative, and purpose-driven within the creative market. We use our century’s worth of industry knowledge to help our clients save time and money, execute successful campaigns, utilize technology, and handle the strategy, planning, creation, management, and distribution of advertising and marketing content. From print and digital content marketing to social media marketing and everything in between, we’re the advertising agency of choice to bring any vision to life.