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7 Digital Marketing Trends of Focus for 2021



7 digital marketing trends of focus for 2021

With the chaos of 2020 now behind us, it’s time to look ahead to what we can expect from the next 12 months.

2020 was unpredictable, to say the least. That meant that while some of the trends which were predicted pre-pandemic did end up coming to light, others didn’t emerge at all, with various forced adaptations reshaping elements of the marketing landscape.

Most notably, eCommerce sales went through the roof, people spent a lot more time on social media, and video conferencing became the norm. This has led to a major shift in the way brands connect with their consumers.

So, as we turn a corner into the New Year, what marketing trends will continue to permeate in 2021? 

Here are some key trends to consider:

1. Live-streams and an increase in influencer content

Stay at home orders meant events were canceled, and consumers were unable to attend in-person events. They weren’t even able to socialize with their friends and family. 

This led to an uptick in the number of people tuning into live-streams, whether it was a branded live-stream, a live video from their favorite celebrity, or an online workshop. 

On Facebook, live viewings spiked by 50% during lockdown periods, while viewings on Instagram surged 70%. TikTok use shot up in 2020, and there’s a good chance we’ll see this upward trajectory continue to play out in 2021. 

Human-drive content like influencer live-streams can create trust, and tap into the ‘in-the-moment’ connection that 2020 consumers crave. 

Amazon Live really got going during the pandemic. Influencers took to the platform to promote their favorite products during live events. What’s more, the livestreams were shoppable, which meant viewers could make purchases while they were watching. 

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NYX Pro Makeup ran a similar promotion, where they invited influencers to live-stream make-up tutorials for their annual Pride celebrations. 

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2. More goodwill and purpose-driven missions from brands

De 2021 Hootsuite Social Trends report notes that: 

“The smartest brands will understand where they fit into customers’ lives on social media, and they’ll find creative ways of fitting into the conversation.”

At the core of this is the need for transparency. 

It’s impossible for consumers to connect with brands that they see as ‘shady’ or insincere. Why would they want to invest in something that they can’t trust or don’t believe in? This is why connection will be pivotal for brands that want to remain trusted sources in 2021. 

Now more than ever, brands are having to dig deep to find out how to flourish in turbulent times. A report from Deloitte states that, to do this, brands need to “be deeply attuned to why they exist and who they are built to serve”. 

We’re no strangers to seeing brands doing good things, but there will be an even bigger emphasis on this next year.

We’ll see more brands running campaigns like Hilton’s #HotelsForHeroes, where they gave away free rooms to medical workers, or Chanel’s contribution to the pandemic where they tasked their seamstresses with making face masks. 

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3. UGC to enhance the customer experience

Customer experience has never been more important. 

Consumers crave enjoyable experiences with brands that are easy and memorable. They want proof before they buy and they want to be reassured – after all, no one wants to make the wrong decision.

User-generated content (UGC) ticks all the boxes when it comes to connective content:

  • It builds and strengthens communities
  • It’s relatable and uplifting
  • It enables brands to meet customers where they’re already hanging out
  • It helps brands generate tons more content against a backdrop of stay-at-home orders and restrictive measures

UGC has long been an effective way for brands to forge relationships with their customers and provide social proof, and this will be a common theme in 2021 as well. 

4. An emphasis on sustainability

81% of consumers strongly feel that companies should help improve the environment. 

It’s a number that’s not that surprising. Over the past couple of years we’ve seen a shift in brands moving towards a more sustainable future, whether it’s through the materials they use, the packaging, their systems, or something else.

The hunt for a greener planet continues, and consumers are actively seeking out brands that are purpose-driven and conscious about the environment. As the world remains a fragile place, it will be key for brands to reiterate their sustainability in 2021. 

The Ocean Cleanup is a great example of a brand that’s done this well. In late October, they presented their first product made solely from plastic collected from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. 

They used TINT to share the announcement, which outlined how the brand will continue to use recycled products from the ocean to create beautiful, sustainable products. In a full circle turn of events, the revenue generated from the products will be pumped back into the brand’s cleanup campaign. 

5. Inclusivity will be key

Inclusivity also became a bigger focus in 2020, with the Black Lives Matter movement highlighting endemic issues that linger within various elements of society.

A study by Accenture shows that the cultural shift towards inclusivity is also impacting purchase behavior, with 41% of shoppers shifting away from retailers which don’t reflect their views on identity and diversity – and 29% are willing to switch brands completely if they don’t show enough diversity.

Brands that are seen to be non-inclusive, or who don’t appear to be a part of the inclusivity conversation, will likely see impacts in 2021. On the flipside, brands which openly showcase their involvement in inclusive causes, will reap the benefits and drive deeper connections with their buyers. 

6. Increase in voice and visual search

An increasing number of consumers are searching via voice-activated tools like Alexa. Perhaps that’s due to people have been stuck at home, with limited opportunities for conversation, or perhaps it’s simply because this type of technology is more readily available (about one in four American homes has a smart speaker of some kind). 

But it’s not just voice search that will prevail in 2021 – we can also expect other creative search methods to rise to the top, like visual search.

Tools like Google Lens enable consumers can search for whatever they can see. This means marketers will need to focus even more on image alt-text and sitemaps for images. Over the next year, visuals will become increasingly important in the SEO game. 

It’s going to be profitable too: Retail Customer Experience estimates that by 2021:

“Early adopters that redesign their websites to support visual and voice search will increase their digital commerce revenue by 30%.” 

7. Easy-to-consume content

2020 also saw people leaning on easy-to-consume content – things like podcasts that can be consumed on-the-go or newsletters that land directly in subscriber’s inboxes.

Studies show that 55% of Americans now listen to podcasts, while newsletter mentions were up 14% during lockdown. 

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Advertisers are spending more on podcasts too, which is a hint to their continued success in 2021. 

Convenient and readily-available content like podcasts and newsletters will help brands connect more deeply with customers and provide a more intimate way to stay in touch. 

Take a leaf out of Nisolo’s book. They used their newsletter to connect with customers and check in with them, before providing relevant resources that might help them in turbulent times.

Are you ready for 2021?

The unpredictable nature of 2020 has forced brands to think long and hard about how they connect with their customers. Shop closures and stay-at-home orders meant people were stuck inside, which also meant that they were spending a lot more time online. This has pushed brands to branch out and create more human-centric ways of reaching their buyers.

Over the next 12 months, we’ll see this continue. Live-streams will become increasingly common, purpose-driven brands that champion sustainability will rise to the top, and UGC will remain an integral part of every marketing strategy.

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How Automation Is Reshaping The Industry



How Automation Is Reshaping The Industry

Krishan Arora is CEO & Founder at The Arora Project, a globally recognized leader in crowdfunding & scaling high-growth ventures.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming the marketing industry. As an agency owner myself, I can see in real time how the landscape is shifting under our feet. As businesses seek to reduce costs, increase efficiency and improve their marketing strategies, they are turning to AI-powered marketing tools to automate many of the tasks previously done manually.

One of the most significant areas is in the field of data analysis. AI-powered tools can analyze vast amounts of data quickly and accurately, providing insights into customer behavior and preferences that can inform marketing strategies. This includes analyzing customer data from social media, search engines and customer reviews. By automating this process, businesses can reduce the need for human staff to analyze data manually, saving time and money.

Chatbots—computer programs designed to simulate conversation with human users—are also AI tools and can be programmed to respond to customer inquiries, provide product recommendations and even process orders. This tech is becoming a popular option for companies looking to expedite the handling of customer inquiries.

When it comes to marketing, there’s been an emergence of AI tools that can help automate processes around content generation. This includes developing social media posts, email marketing campaigns and even video content. AI-powered tools can generate content automatically, based on preset parameters, reducing the need for human staff to create each piece of content manually. This can help businesses save time and money while ensuring their marketing content is still high-quality and on-brand. In our agency specifically, we use AI tools to help create incredible marketing copy with just a small input of text and to help create strong brands, logos and presentation design files with ease and at scale. These have helped us boost productivity and results, and I highly encourage other teams to adapt to this revolution.

Aside from impacting tasks within the marketing role, AI tools are also affecting the workforce in terms of job skills. As businesses adopt more AI-powered marketing tools, I believe they will increasingly be looking for staff with skills in data analysis and machine learning. As a result, traditional marketing roles, such as copywriters and graphic designers, may become less in demand, while data analysts and machine learning experts become more sought after.

Marketing teams that adapt to using AI in their workflows will have a significant advantage over those that do not. I don’t think this technology will replace humans altogether. What I think will happen is that there will be two cohorts of marketers: one that uses AI to increase productivity and results, and one that does not. Those that do not will have a hard time keeping up with the AI-boosted marketing teams.

As businesses continue to adopt AI-powered marketing tools, it is likely that the trend of role restructuring and new opportunities will continue. However, it is also important to note that AI is not a silver bullet for all marketing tasks. There are still areas in each of these categories where human staff is essential, especially when it comes to developing creative concepts and building relationships with customers.

In conclusion, the use of AI in marketing is transforming the industry. As businesses seek to reduce costs and improve their marketing strategies, they are increasingly turning to AI-powered marketing tools to automate many of the tasks previously done fully by humans. This is leading to job losses in some areas but is also creating new opportunities for workers with skills in AI and machine learning. As AI-powered services continue to evolve, businesses and workers alike must adapt to these changes to stay competitive in the market.

Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?


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Twitter kommer att börja ta bort "Legacy" blå bockar från nästa vecka



Twitter kommer att börja ta bort "Legacy" blå bockar från nästa vecka

Get ready for the next phase of Twitter 2.0’s subscription revenue push, with the platform announcing today that ‘legacy’ blue checkmarks will begin being revoked as of next week.

As per the above tweet, Twitter’s hoping to boost Twitter Blue and Verification for Business subscribers by prompting them to start paying for their blue tick instead.

Twitter’s also alerting blue tick account holders with this in-stream notification.

That could see some legacy verified accounts paying up, bringing in a few more Twitter Blue subscribers – though the amount that are going to revert to Verification for Business, which costs $1,000 per month, will be far less.

But if Twitter wants to reach its target of 50% of its revenue coming from subscriptions, it needs to take action, because right now, according to analysis, Twitter Blue has around 450k subscribers, which equates to only 0.12% of Twitter’s total user base.

In order to generate 50% of Twitter’s total income, Twitter needs around 24 million users to sign up to the program. So while Twitter Blue is set to bring in more money for Elon and Co. (around $11 million per quarter to be exact), it’s nowhere close to being half of the platform’s intake, which, based on its last revenue report, would be around $590 million every three months.

While it also dilutes the value of the thing that it’s aiming to sell. The problem with selling blue checkmarks, both on Twitter and Facebook, is that you’re charging users for the exclusivity, and the perceived reputational value of having a blue tick, but as soon as anyone can buy it, it’s no longer valuable in this respect.

And as more people sign up, it becomes even less valuable over time, and once Twitter removes the legacy blue ticks, that will mean that the only checkmarks left are those that are attached to accounts that are paying for it, which will make it completely worthless in this respect. At that stage, the blue check is only going to show others that you have enough money to afford it, and that you want to support Elon Musk’s mission to change how Twitter works.

Maybe that has some value in itself, and there are some aspects of Twitter Blue that some users will pay for. Though even then, Twitter’s experimenting with a new option that would enable subscribers to not show their blue tick, if they choose – because even Twitter is moving to acknowledge that it’s not the indicator of reputational or exclusivity that it once was.

And it’ll become less so from next week – while it’s also worth noting that even if every legacy checkmark holder were to sign on to pay $8 per month, and keep their blue tick, that would still only be another 420k extra subscribers, max.

And I suspect many won’t. I suspect, too, that removing the legacy checkmarks will have a negative impact, in that it will see some of those users tweet even less, because they won’t feel as aligned to the platform that has taken away that marker from their account.

This is why selling verification ticks is a flawed strategy, because its growth and expansion dilutes its own value, and undermines the concept of what it is. Sure, Meta’s trying the same thing, but even Meta staff raised this same concern (as did Twitter staff), and Meta at least offers a truly valuable aspect, in providing additional, in-person support for paying subscribers.

But even then, Meta’s approach is also flawed, because you can’t sell reputation, you can’t charge for authority or recognition.

Some will think that’s what they’re getting, but eventually, when they’re the only ones left, I think you’ll find that it’ll be much easier to dismiss blue checkmark accounts in-stream.

It’s a confused approach, which won’t become a significant revenue driver – at least not without some significant additions that are worth paying for. But Twitter’s pushing ahead either way.  

Prepare to pay up, or lose your blue tick, from next week.


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Den bästa marknadsföringsstrategin är att välja en taktik i taget



Den bästa marknadsföringsstrategin är att välja en taktik i taget

Contrary to the pressure you might be feeling, you really don’t need to be everywhere simultaneously. It’s easy to become overwhelmed thinking about the seemingly endless options to choose from. Most business owners feel pressure to juggle multiple social media accounts, email sequences, public relations efforts, etc. It’s enough to leave anyone with a headache — and a loss in which direction to move.

Though some would argue that showing up in different places will help you reach as many people as possible, that shouldn’t be your end goal. To grow and increase brand awareness, it’s about reaching the right people — not all people.

If you don’t know where to start? Choose one tactic at a time. Doing one thing incredibly well is much more strategic than doing a handful of things mediocrely. 

Start with your business goals

The key word here is your. Too often, we get wrapped up in what others do. This brand is on TikTok, that brand has a podcast, and this brand has countless influencers. The problem is that none of those brands have your mission, audience, or goals. So if you develop your marketing strategy around their approach, it’s bound to fall flat.

Establish your end goal first. Then, move into what tactic is going to help you get there. All businesses are in different places — even if they’re selling the exact same things. “They do it, so we should too” isn’t the way to go. Instead, be selfish, put your brand first, and get clear on your goals before moving forward.

Different stages of business, different goals. If you’re unsure which tactic to focus on, establishing your goals will point you in the right direction. 

Startups and early stage companies

Once you have a place to send people, like a website, consider moving into public relations strategies. PR allows new businesses to move in two ways: wide and deep. You can go wide by sharing insight into your audience or industry, reaching as many people as possible. And you can go deep by offering a tactical approach to said audience or industry. 

Many entrepreneurs think social media should be their main (and first) priority, but if you want to grow quickly, there are better moves. These channels can take longer to build up, whereas showcasing your expertise through different PR efforts will help you build credibility while giving you social proof to feature on your website. 

Established companies looking for new customers

Let’s say you’re an established company with a handful of basic customers, but hoping to expand and reach new people. If you want to attract new customers, it’s time to meet them where they’re at. If you’re more B2B focused and want to reach different professionals, LinkedIn is your best bet. However, if your audience is more Gen Z-focused, TikTok is a better use of your time. 

You don’t need to be on every single platform. You only need to spend time on one, maybe two (should you have the resources) channels that your ideal customers use regularly. Then, once you have a handle on your channel(s), consider expanding to others.

Established companies looking for referrals & repeat business

There’s power in not forgetting about your current customer base. If you’re looking for more referrals and repeat business, one marketing tactic to focus on are loyalty programs. Should an image of a well-worn punchcard come to mind, know there are plenty of other forms a loyalty program can take. First-timer discounts, referral rewards, and spending points, to name a few. To convince your current customers to stick around and share the wealth with others, think about a reward or discount that would boost their loyalty.

Brick-and-mortar businesses can go with that classic punch card, while digital businesses can offer a specific percentage off for those who refer their business to someone who becomes an actual customer. PR and social media tend to get all the hype, but these internally-focused tactics can make a massive difference in the long run. The customer experience shouldn’t end with a sale. Remember to nurture those who’ve made your business successful in the first place. 

One tactic at a time

Marketing is a unique beast — one that leads to plenty of analysis paralysis (aka, when we end up doing nothing because the number of options is incredibly overwhelming). Fortunately, focusing on one tactic at a time allows us to hone in on our goals and allocate our resources accordingly. So think about your needs, bring in your audience, and choose the strategy that will help you move the needle forward.

Cover image source: allvision


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