Digital Marketing Forecast for 2021: More of the Same or a Slightly Newer New Normal?

We all know 2020 was the year that shook things up in a big way. Supplemental tools that may have been overlooked, like virtual offerings, have shifted to the primary way businesses interacted with consumers. The demands for transparency and information increased. But what happens when the “new normal” is no longer new anymore?

Thankfully, December is the time of year our digital marketing gurus at The Deberry Group put their prognosticator hats on and key in on a few of the trends that we’re keeping an eye on in 2021 based on what we all experienced in 2020.

Virtual Experiences

As businesses open up in 2021, the demand for virtual experiences will remain the same. Who wouldn’t want to check out a virtual tour of a museum before planning an in-person visit in 2021? 360-degree virtual “tours” are a great way to reach people who are increasingly searching online when planning trips. They’re also useful for teachers and educators. For example, our client Sid Richardson Museum created educational materials to turn their new virtual tour into a virtual field trip for students. The museum’s virtual tour has kept the museum front of mind during COVID shut down and became a useful tool for educators.

Misinformation & Disinformation

Misinformation will continue to be prevalent in 2021, especially on social media, where fake news travels faster than real news. For marketers, that means going beyond factual messaging to ensuring your digital presence is consistent with the same messaging. For the Keep Pre-K 4 SA campaign, we focused on the facts—anchored by third-party studies—to maintain the online conversation factual.

The 2020 Census collection effort encountered numerous misinformation and disinformation attempts from various sources. Our work on the San Antonio/Bexar County and statewide Census campaigns targeted low response regions throughout the response period, using social media to drive a fact-focused discussion around census participation while also highlighting community involvement.

Increasing Demands for Transparency

Multiple industries are pointing to transparency as THE top trend in 2021. Transparency is part of an authentic presence that leads to trust among your audience. Consumers expect brands to be open, honest, and accessible. Make sure you go beyond monitoring your audience to connecting with your community. For example, Brooks mixed-use community shifted their focus in 2020 to highlight community leaders and lead the discussion around the COVID response in Southside San Antonio. This change led to sustained social engagement and web activity, both of which will be important as Brooks continues to share community developments in 2021 and beyond.

Shorter Video Ad Formats

Our video consumption habits are evolving and adapting to shorter videos (think of Instagram and Facebook Stories, Instagram Reels, Snapchat, and TikTok clips), so ad content should follow suit. Short, 6-second videos can run as unskippable digital ads and target audiences in “watch mode,” so they work well with other social and digital ads that target people while they’re in “scroll mode” or “search mode.” In 2021 we expect to see a lot of creativity within the short video format.

The silver lining of any difficult year is the opportunity to learn from it and apply that knowledge to the next one. Knowing what people have overcome and are adapting to allows marketers the opportunity to serve them better. We’re hopeful that understanding these trends can allow for greater opportunities for businesses to connect with consumers in the new year.

Here’s a roundup of our favorite 2021 forecast and insights:

Think With Google 9 predictions for 2021 from industry leaders

Sprout Social 6 stats for agencies in 2021

WeTransfer Ideas Report

Social Media Today TikTok Trends for 2021

Social Media Examiner Social Media Marketing Trends for 2021: Predictions From the Pros

Forbes Seven Digital Marketing Trends For 2021

Pinterest Pinterest Predicts: The Soon-To-Be-Trending Report for 2021

Hootsuite 2021 Social Trends Will Light the Way

Hubspot 9 Social Media Trends Marketers Should Watch in 2021

The Drum Digital marketing predictions for 2021 and beyond

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