2021 digital marketing trends

What does this year hold for the world of Digital Marketing and e-commerce? It will come as no surprise that after a year of unpredictability, we have been looking forward to 2021 with renewed energy and hope for the future. We discuss the most talked-about trends to expect in 2021.


Social commerce

Most of us are already familiar with Omnichannel marketing, the practice of creating marketing strategies that target customers across social media, e-commerce and physical channels. On the other hand, social commerce focuses on a single channel experience, allowing customers to purchase without leaving the channel they are using. The idea is that both discovery and purchase can be made simultaneously, in the same place.


Social Commerce is the next logical step for e-commerce to both market and process purchases. With 84% of shoppers reviewing a product at least once on social media before purchasing, it is no surprise that tools such as Shopify have become so ubiquitous on these channels. We predict that Social Commerce will see a rise in popularity in 2021, for both businesses and consumers.


With a one-stop path-to-purchase, users’ online retail experience can be streamlined, with the advantage of skipping extra steps in the conversion funnel and improving digital marketing strategy results.


Virtual events (marketing and ecommerce)

It would be easy to dismiss virtual events as a fleeting but necessary trend; however, with more conferences going virtual in 2021, could there be a shift in how marketing experts share knowledge and information?


The advantages of moving away from in-person events are increased accessibility and return on investment. Many organisers have found that their events are open to a broader audience by going virtual, as there is no need for participants to worry about travel and extra costs. Furthermore, because there is no restriction caused by physical venues, events can facilitate more participants at a reduced investment. Events can still perform live forums and produce interactive and engaging content. They can accommodate a larger audience which can only increase their popularity with both organisers and participants alike.


Last year we published our list of digital marketing events for 2021 and, unsurprisingly, many had decided to run from an online platform.


User-generated content

Whilst user-generated content may conjure images of Snapchat filters and TikTok videos. We predict that it will become an essential tool for digital marketers in 2021.


User-generated content is nothing new; however, with brands increasing their presence on social media platforms, it seems natural that they should embrace all aspects of these channels to engage users. Users continually seek engagement and enjoyment from social media. Thus rather than relying solely on in-house content, by facilitating customers to create and remix their content using brand hashtags or formats, businesses can increase brand recognition and loyalty.


Personalised content is growing in popularity, as consumers increasingly look towards brand integrity and away from large companies’ anonymity.



Faced with the endless possibilities and choices offered to consumers through eCommerce channels, it is no surprise that influencers can have such effectiveness in marketing and brand awareness.


Unlike influencers who have hundreds of thousands of followers, micro-influencers have a slightly larger than average following and are not considered professional influencers. This smaller following can be more valuable to a brand because they are more loyal, and more likely to enter the conversion funnel, achieving a higher conversion rate than traditional influencers.


This is because consumers are increasingly looking for personal recommendations when engaging in eCommerce, and micro-influencers can offer authenticity to a business. Furthermore, there is a reduced cost, as micro-influencers are more likely to promote products that are won through social media contests or free giveaways.


Micro-influencers look set to become a significant digital marketing trend in 2021, as businesses find an increasing need to authenticate themselves to build their online consumer base.


Socially conscious digital marketing

There is a growing cultural shift of consumers moving their business away from brands who do not reflect their own social and ethical views. According to one study, this is already true for 41% of shoppers. Changing social positions on diversity, sustainability, mental health, and inclusivity permeate every aspect of life, including eCommerce. This is especially true for Gen-Z shoppers, who are likely to disengage with brands who do not engage positively with the social issues that they are concerned about.


The importance for brands to be socially conscious, and to positively influence the world around them, such as engaging in charities that give back to society or the environment, has never been higher. Without social relevance, brands may find themselves cast out for more politically-in-tune competitors, making socially conscious marketing an essential trend for 2021.


Omni-channel marketing

Omni-Channel marketing grew significantly in 2020 as online traffic on both social and eCommerce platforms increased. We predict that 2021 will be no different and that it remains vital to maintain a brand presence across multiple platforms to reach a larger audience.


One specific trend to watch is the increase in shoppable videos. Whilst many consumers will be familiar with shoppable posts containing links to products and brands mentioned in text and pictures, shoppable videos are still relatively underused. These work in the same way as shoppable posts, with easy-to-spot links to the featured products. Furthermore, with the rise in social commerce, shoppable videos could act as a discovery element, with the purchase being made within the same channel.


With users looking to more easy-to-consume content, short, engaging videos are rising in popularity. The ability to take advantage of this trend could set businesses ahead of the game.


Short-form video content

Too few marketing strategies have looked to include one of the most engaging forms of content available – video. Whilst some may say that video is restricted to social media channels, one study predicted that by 2022, 82% of total online content would be made up of video.


In particular, short-form videos have seen a rise over the recent year, with popularity only set to grow. Some brands have effectively used features such as Instagram Stories to increase brand awareness, highlight sustainability or social stances, and encourage users to engage with them through hashtags or other interactive mediums. TikTok also successfully uses video to keep the user’s attention through the user-generated-video-content facilities that they facilitate.


Short-form videos are a crucial tool in 2021 marketing strategies to stay relevant and maintain consumer engagement.


Interactive email design

A consumer’s inbox can be a competitive space, with marketing emails offering promotions and new products every day. Some consumers can be overwhelmed by the choice provided by emails, failing to purchase. However, with the growth of interactive email design, businesses can make purchasing only by allowing customers to begin the purchase process without leaving their inbox.


By utilising interactive design features, email marketers could see an increase in conversion rates in their digital marketing strategy when giving users a smoother path-to-purchase. By focusing consumers’ attention on their inbox and offering convenience, brands can differentiate themselves from competitors and take advantage of interactive email marketing.




Written and researched by Paige Elford, Digital Marketing Graduate