Five Predictions for Digital Marketing in 2021

This has been a year of monumental change, with a global pandemic causing huge shifts to the way people live and work. And the knock-on effects of these changes on digital marketing have been nothing short of colossal. 


The entire industry has had to adapt its practices in response to changing priorities and new requirements, and that’s why digital marketing at the end of 2020 looks so different to how it did at the start of the year. 


But what do these changes mean for digital marketing in the future, and which new marketing trends will dominate over the course of 2021? Here are our predictions. 


The upsurge in remote testing continues 

Remote usability testing isn’t a new idea, but in 2020 it became the norm. While this shift was largely down to necessity, it revealed huge opportunities in the field of remote testing, many of which are now being put to great use by digitally-minded businesses. 


With vast numbers of companies still operating remotely, and many professionals set to continue working from home in 2021, it’s highly likely that the rise in remote testing will continue, and with it, new remote testing software and apps will come to the fore. 


Keep your eyes peeled for interesting remote testing opportunities in your industry to make the most of a new way of learning about your audiences. 


A real shift to semantic search 

The very existence of semantic search shows how far search engines have come. Semantic search is a term used to explain the uncanny ability of search engines to understand the context and intent of a search query and use that understanding to present users with the results they’re looking for. With the increase in usage of voice assistants expected to triple to 8 billion by 2023, we can expect to see huge advancements in this area over the course of 2021. 


While semantic search is great news for users, it can present challenges for digital marketing professionals. Marketers will therefore need to be one step ahead of the continued shift towards semantic search, planning and developing strategies with this change in mind. 


Content should be optimised for people, and bad SEO practices like keyword stuffing should be avoided in favour of efficient SEO writing


Priority will be given to well structured, informative and engaging content that answers real users’ questions. Sites that do this well are set to be rewarded. 


User experience rises to the top 

User experience has been the talk of the industry for a number of years, and its importance went up a notch in May 2020 when Google officially made it a criterion in its search rankings. 


Key aspects of the user experience are now taken into account by Google when rankings are calculated, a move that’s rapidly upped the value of great UX. According to the update, Google now considers load time, interactivity and content stability in rankings - three vital UX factors that SEO professionals and marketers cannot afford to ignore in 2021. 


Innovative ideas steal the show 

Nothing has changed the course of digital innovation quite like COVID-19, and the effects of this hugely disruptive and challenging year will be felt for some time to come. But it’s not all bad news, because history has repeatedly shown us that periods of economic downturn tend to result in some incredible new innovations. 


Consumer behaviour changed dramatically this year, so many businesses have had to adapt quickly, focusing more on digital strategies to connect with audiences. Over the coming year, we can expect to see agencies really unleash their creativity as they battle it out in what’s set to become an increasingly competitive field. Look out for some inspiring ideas from the industry’s greatest minds. 


Zero click searches are the new priority 

Google continues to make rapid progress in the user experience field, and its own developments are creating new opportunities and challenges for digital marketers. Zero click searches will be the key focus in 2021, as businesses seek to position their branded content in snippets, carousels, statistics and graphs. 


This is a bit of a double-edged sword, as content that answers a user’s question without them having to click through to a website tends to result in a lower click-through rate for businesses. In fact, it’s been estimated that having a featured snippet reduces CTR by 5.3%


Nevertheless, it’s a game that’s worth playing, because Google will reward companies that feature on its SERP pages by ensuring that these pages continue to rank - and that couldn’t be more important as we head into a year of fierce competition in digital marketing.