Top Digital Marketing Trends for 2021
Marketing Strategy

Top Digital Marketing Trends for 2021

Elyse Keeney
Elyse Keeney
UI/UX | Writer
Top Digital Marketing Trends for 2021

If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that we can hardly predict what will happen in the coming year, but we are still going to try.

As you plan your new year, here are the five biggest marketing trends we predict will be popular in 2021.

Short-form Video is Here to Stay

2020 saw huge developments and growth for short-form video. Tiktok has around 850 million active monthly users, Instagram launched Reels, and Snapchat doubled down on short videos with Spotlight. Expect short-form video to expand in popularity in 2021, both as a form of media consumption and marketing delivery vehicle. 

Mobile has been the largest driver of increased video ad spend. The roll-out of 5G and other advancements in mobile technology will continue to support its dominance. Social platforms also continue to develop better tools for businesses and advertisers; such as Tiktok for Business which serves as a home for all of their marketing solutions. 

Tips to consider when implementing short-form video in your marketing strategy in 2021:

  • Audience: Short-form video platforms, like Instagram, Snapchat, and Tiktok, are the preferred platform for Gen-Z as well as millennials under 30. 
  • Video Orientation: While landscape video is still the preferred method of viewing the video for many users, social media and smartphones have created the need for advertisers to utilize vertical video formats. 
  • Video Length: A recent study showed that six-second ads are as effective as 15-second ads, while also being less “intrusive” than their 15-second counterparts. 
  • Content: With less time to get your message across, viewers are most interested in content that is relevant to their interests and passions (ranking relevance higher than even production quality).
  • Accessibility: Accessibility refers to the ability of those with physical or cognitive impairments to interact with your content. Make sure those who may be deaf or blind can experience your content by adding subtitles and narration.

Cookie-less Tracking and Campaign Targeting

The conversation surrounding data protection and privacy will continue into 2021. It will affect the way that advertisers target and interact with users. 

The California Consumer Privacy Act, CCPA, limits how companies are allowed to handle the personal information of shoppers in California. It also reflects a growing nationwide concern for user privacy protection. Google’s browser, Chrome, will now be joining Safari and Firefox in banning third-party cookies.

What does this mean for marketers? If you rely on third-party data for audience targeting or pinpointed online advertising, you’re going to need to consider other alternatives, such as first-party data, or contextual advertising.

  • First-party data is the data that is collected from your own website that tells you how your users interact with and navigate your site. It is also the stored information that includes, login information, email addresses, and other preferences. While you will no longer be able to see data on how your users interact with other websites, a strong understanding of your first-party data can help you to develop marketing strategies, automated campaigns, email campaigns, and loyalty programs that best target your customers and website visitors.
  • Contextual advertising allows you to run PPC ad campaigns on websites that rank for similar keywords. Third-party cookies may have allowed you to target a very specific user profile. However, contextual advertising will allow your ad to be displayed alongside content that your target audience is still interested in.

Shoppers Want Personalization

While data and privacy continue to be a widespread concern, a study found that 72% of shoppers will only engage with personalized marketing. The average person sees approximately 10,000 brand messages and receives 130 promotional emails per day. Personalized product recommendations, content, and communications are key to connecting with, and converting, customers; but be careful not to come across as ‘creepy.’


When personalizing your marketing messages in 2021, consider the following:

  • Relevance: Customers want relevant information and recommendations that are based on their past purchases and interactions with your brand. These recommendations can come via email marketing or on-page product recommendations during the checkout process.
  • Email: Email is still the way most consumers prefer to receive brand communications. When someone gives you their email address, they are giving you permission to interact with them. Make sure you segment your email list properly. Also, make sure you are hitting your customers with the right promotions and content.
  • Keyword Advertising: Take a look at your first-party data to understand your most valuable customers and run display ads that run alongside content that is relevant and valuable to them.
  • Don’t Be Creepy: Consumers are generally happy to hand over their information when it adds value to their experience but avoid personalization they deem ‘creepy.’ Be wary of overusing push notifications and targeting too frequently. 

Social Shopping and Ecommerce Purchasing Patterns 

2020 saw a growing list of brands opening online shops to reach their consumers directly. Social platforms like Facebook and Instagram are now too making it easier to purchase products without ever leaving the platform. Ecommerce shopping patterns have been increasing year over year. They reached record levels in 2020, and will continue in popularity in 2021.

Because consumer product brands don’t typically have as much access to consumer data, companies like Pine-Sol, Sour Patch Kids, General Mills, and Frito-Lay, are taking advantage of the rise in online shopping in order to gain greater insight into their customer base. Expect to see more opportunities to shop directly from brands large, and small.

As people grow more and more comfortable buying online, the number of people starting their shopping journey on social media increases as well. Social media giants are taking advantage of this trend by integrating shopping tools directly into their platforms. Instagram went through a huge interface redesign this year. The app put ‘Shops’ (along with Reels) front and center, highlighting their faith in the future of social shopping. Tiktok also announced a partnership with Shopify

Optimize your online presence for 2021. Here are a few tips:

  • Consider your Audience: Social shopping tends to be more popular in the under-30 demographic while online shopping is more widely accepted by the majority of the population.
  • Cash in on your social following: Don’t neglect the following that you’ve already built on social media. Use shoppable posts directly in your feed and on your stories!
  • Get familiar with new platforms: If you thought Tiktok was just a fad, now is the time to get familiar with it and other shoppable platforms out there. 
  • Set up an Instagram shop
  • Set up a Facebook shop