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Looking Ahead: 6 Digital Marketing Trends & Innovations for 2021

Dynamic digital marketing strategies have always been vital for business success. Now, they are proving crucial for survival as businesses face challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many brick-and-mortar business owners are scrambling to boost their businesses’ online presence in light of social distancing impact. E-commerce business owners, meanwhile, are adjusting to manage increased traffic and competition as more and more consumers turn to online shopping options.

Regardless of your organization’s format, business owners who want their digital marketing strategy to stay a step ahead should maximize on six key developments in today’s marketing best practices.

1. Navigational Minimalism

If content is king, navigation is queen. While many quarantining consumers are turning to tidying-expert Marie Kondo for help to organize and simplify their homes, marketing strategists and web designers appear to be doing the same thing with their online marketing assets as they rely heavily on online sales in the current climate.


Complex, extensive website navigation does not “spark joy” for consumers.

Enter navigational minimalism, which DesignShack describes as focusing on striking designs without clutter . The principle relies on understanding what is essential to create good user experiences, and how to provide the user with the content they need at the right time. Ultimately, a streamlined user experience should encourage higher conversions.

2. Shoppable Posts

The shoppable posts feature on Instagram is a native integration tool that streamlines posts so followers can enjoy simple click-and-buy shopping—without being redirected to a homepage and hunting for a “shop now” option. While the feature launched in 2018, the functionality is more beneficial to brands than ever as consumers rely on online shopping to avoid the risks of crowds in today’s pandemic environment.

Shoppable posts are defined by clear-cut tags featuring the name of the product and the price. As of 2020, Instagram alone was averaging 190 million clicks per month on shoppable posts. Successful shoppable posts are characterized by clean, attention-getting graphics immediately captivating time-starved scrollers.

Savvy brands that use targeted advertisements that enable shoppers to directly purchase an item from a social media feed are likely to be rewarded with skyrocketing sales.

3. Brand Refinement

With consumers facing extraordinary changes everywhere they turn, smart marketers are honing in on ways to strengthen key messages and amplify the stories the buying public finds comforting.

That means previously prevailing practices such as brand extension —a marketing strategy in which an organization uses the same brand name to expand across different business categories—are giving way to focusing on familiarity. During uncertain times, this has been proven to be a winning strategy for many brands.

One recognizable example is the way that automotive companies have shifted their messaging. Most auto companies coping with pandemic-related sales challenges didn’t advertise new models or highlight electric car innovations. Instead, they’ve aired commercials intended to remind buyers why they loved specific auto brands in the first place.

4. Social Listening Analytics

Many brands that once could rely on diligently scanning comments and review sections to monitor their social media performance are turning to social listening analytics as online traffic increases.

There are various social listening tools that monitor references to a brand and process that information to produce insight. Such insight could include which of your posts are performing the best, and what feedback you’re receiving from consumers. Ultimately, perceptive use of social listening data enables digital marketing agencies to develop informed strategy crafted into actionable plans designed to improve interactions with consumers.

With 3.9 billion people—half of the world’s population—active on at least one social media platform, comments and conversations present an unfathomable amount of information to be processed. Social listening analytics eases the daunting tasks of collecting and analyzing brand mentions buried within a never-ending production of text.

5. Pillar Page Simplicity

If you aren’t familiar with what pillar pages are , the time to learn is now. The search engine optimization (SEO) world is buzzing about the effectiveness of a simplified pillar page strategy and for good reason.

Pillar pages are websites’ topical cornerstones, the primary page where all cluster topics are present and hyperlink to respective topical pages. By organizing and linking URLs together simply, you can help more pages on your site rank in Google as well as help searchers find information on your site more easily. With a shift towards e-commerce over in-store purchasing, an organized pillar page can help your brand and your product stand out.

Not sure what an effective pillar page should look like? Click here for 24 excellent examples compiled by Databox.

6. Bert Is Boss

On the subject of SEO algorithms, you have a best friend and their name is BERT—also known as Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. With hurtling advancements in search engine optimization shaping the rest of digital marketing trends, familiarity with the Google-developed BERT is critical.

Just what is BERT ?

In simplest terms, BERT is a relatively new artificial intelligence that is very, very smart. Google introduced this new update at the end of 2019, and it has been tried and tested during the high-traffic months of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s an open source machine learning framework for natural language processing designed to help computers understand the meaning of ambiguous language in text by using surrounding text to establish context.

That means BERT detects linguistic nuance—and it does so with more accuracy than ever before. When BERT is used in online searches, it is 10 percent more accurate than any previous artificial intelligence.

How and why does language nuances affect marketers? As of early 2020, BERT affects more than 10% of Google searches . With a huge focus on SEO and rankings, content marketers are finding that the more they can pander to BERT, the more traffic they can drive to their site.

Marketers can work to gain traffic by shifting their strategies from traditional long-tail keywords and general search queries to create more specific content. Users know what they are looking for, and BERT can help them find it. It’s up to marketers and writers to be sure their content is specific enough to rank higher than outdated and more generalized material.

2021 Will Be A Year Of Rapid Development

With shifts in best practices for digital marketers—including shoppable posts, navigational minimalism, pillar pages, social listening analytics and BERT—2021 is on track to be a year of rapid and drastic change. Keep your brand relevant with a marketing strategy that incorporates the latest technology trends and best practices, and you’ll be positioned to see growth coming out of the innovation that COVID inspired.

Find this a little overwhelming?

You’re not alone. Keeping up with trends on social media and digital marketing is a full-time job.

Fortunately, it is our full-time job.

The digital marketing experts at Jennasis & Associates are standing by ready to simplify your navigation of this important part of your business strategy. Reach out to us to talk about digital marketing services and we’ll be thrilled to set you up for success!

Kim is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey with five years of experience writing about travel, healthcare, dining, and more. In her free time, she enjoys training horses, hiking with her dogs, attending concerts, and working on landscape photography projects.

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