Four digital marketing trends companies need to embrace in 2021

The pandemic has transformed digital marketing, leading even sceptics to fully embrace it

The year 2020 is over and behind us but it brought on transformative changes to businesses, work culture and employment. With so many people tuning to online to shop, learn and meet, marketing is one area that has been deeply impacted by the pandemic. Advertisers turned to digital marketing, and those who were sceptical of its effectiveness now fully embrace it. So what marketing trends should we expect this year?

Virtual events are here to stay

In 2020, virtual events and meetings were the only options for many. Museums provided virtual tours, and talks hosted on Zoom became the norm.

With the pandemic still not behind us, and travel restrictions still in place in so many countries, it is likely that virtual events are here to stay, especially those catered to an international audience. Not only are they safer and more convenient, they are also cost-efficient, easier for people to participate from across the world, and also could provide a higher return on investment.

For instance, if you are hosting a seminar online, you will not need to pay for a venue, food and beverages, or foot any other event-related costs. Your only cost could be your subscription to the video conferencing tools, and your speaker's fees. According to Streamlabs, audiences watched over 7.46 billion hours of online content via all livestreaming platforms in the third quarter of 2020, up 91.8 per cent compared to the third quarter of 2019.

Online advertisement becomes key

Prior to the pandemic, advertisers had different options to share their message. But now with many still opting to avoid public places, online advertisement is a key way to get your message out there.

Depending on your target audience, you can advertise on a specific social media channel, or a certain website. Online advertisements are cost-efficient and allows you to narrow down your target audience so that you can ensure that your advertisement would reach them.

The rise of social media shops

When I started my online fashion business years ago, shopping through social media wasn’t available as an option. I depended on my e-commerce website and the consignment boutiques I worked with, and even then, a number of customers from the region were sceptical about payments security.

Fast forward to the present day, many businesses opt to set up their business through social media platforms like Instagram, where they could set up a shop for free, advertise on it, while gaining access to customers around the world. Many who were sceptical about e-commerce prior to the pandemic had no option but to embrace it last year. E-commerce sale is expected to reach a new high this year to hit $4.9 trillion, compared to $3.53tn in 2019 and expected to grow to $6.54tn in 2022, according to a study by Statista.com.

Video is king

The use of video for advertisement has evolved over the years from TV ads to condensed 15-second ads on Instagram story posts. If one thing is constant over the years, it's that videos are here to stay and the numbers support that. Video advertising spending in the US, has increased to $10.18 billion in 2019, from $8.92bn in 2017. The spending is expected to reach $12.26bn in 2024, according to Statista, and that doesn't cover social media. Social media video advertisement spending is forecast to reach $14.89bn this year, an increase of 44 per cent from 2019. Animated videos are popular especially on social media, as well as influencer-marketing.

While Covid-19 changed the marketing game, one thing for certain is that digital marketing is leading the way and is here to stay.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati journalist and entrepreneur, who manages her marketing and communications company in Abu Dhabi

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