With 2021 now just around the corner, we thought it would be a good idea to round up the latest predictions on digital marketing for the new year. 2020 has accelerated digital functionalities beyond what any of us could have expected so what can we learn from these outcomes and what do we need to be prepared for in 2021?

Instagram Reels & Instagram/Facebook Live

Reels launched in August 2020 and going forwards is expected to be TikTok’s main competitor in 2021. Brands are already using this as a new content format to engage with their current follower base – a major advantage for brands not wanting to start building an audience from scratch on TikTok.

Usage of Facebook Live increased by 27% year on year in Q2 of 2020 and use is expected to continue to grow into 2021. This year, live content has been one way to feel like we’re still getting that authentic interaction. We’ve seen the biggest music stars host concerts, chefs and food brands teaching us how to bake the perfect bread and shopping brands taking us through their latest product lines when we were unable to get into the store.


The death of third party cookies

This year there has been a lot of discussion around browsers blocking third-party tracking cookies. Apple’s Safari & Mozilla’s Firefox already block third party cookies and Google Chrome is expected to do the same in their next release which is expected within the next two years.

There is vast coverage available on the impact of digital marketing – more so to the ad tech firms who place third-party tracking cookies on millions of sites. These are different from your first-party cookies that the sites themselves use such as Google Analytics. HubSpot has a good explanation of the differences if you’d like to read about this more.

This change makes first-party data all the more important – making use of audiences from our own websites such as remarketing audiences, as well as first-party audience data from platforms such as Google Ads & Facebook Ads.

Social media & e-commerce

The introduction of Facebook & Instagram Shops has helped condense purchase journeys, making it easier for users to see what products they like, view product information and buy within their apps.

Convenience is crucial to many social media users and providing a channel such as this has been a considerable help to many small businesses. More consumers are expected to shop through Instagram & Facebook in 2021. Has your brand got their Instagram & Facebook Shops ready?

Interacting with new audiences online

Many pre-conceived ideas about who your target audience is online often revolve around the younger demographic – those more familiar with completing their purchase journey online. But now there is a growing demographic of online users that need our attention – in June 2020 data from the National Retail Federation (NRF) showed 45% of boomers shopping more online due to the pandemic.

This buyer behaviour is likely to continue post-pandemic and opens up opportunities for brands to start engaging with this age group more often online. These are digitally-savvy and often lucrative markets that could be of benefit to your business. So how will your marketing react to reaching this new audience?

Google Ads machine learning capabilities

Google Ads, like many ad platforms, are building more sophisticated machine learning capabilities so campaign automation becomes more common.

Automation within Google Ads doesn’t take away all of our control but we can expect in some cases to see less uptake overall of manual bidding strategies as we move into 2021. This is certainly evident with the introduction of the new Performance Max campaigns – a fully automated campaign type aiming to drive results across all Google channels.


Video marketing

According to a report from HubSpot, 78% of people watch online videos weekly while 55% of people watch videos daily. Video has become an integral part of many marketing strategies over the past couple of years but its importance will grow as we move into 2021. We’ll need to think past just using video as a way to advertise on YouTube. How can businesses use video as promotions through Instagram/Facebook Live, how can e-commerce brands use shoppable videos on Youtube to help drive sales, how can 360 videos help users be immersed in your brand’s physical space?

The breadth of opportunity with video is immense and it’s time to start thinking about how we keep this front of mind when we’re building our strategies rather than leaving it as an afterthought.

Google’s Core Web Vitals

Google has confirmed Core Web Vitals are becoming ranking signals for search results in May 2021. These signals are designed to ensure that users are getting the best experience when using your website.

Core Web Vitals were introduced in 2020 to measure how users experience the speed, responsiveness, and visual stability of a page. These metrics are currently visible within Search Console but if you haven’t already, this is the time to start reviewing these and optimising ahead of May 2021.

Building online content communities

As a business, an online community has a lot of advantages – having a ready-made target audience available to engage with so that your brand relationship becomes stronger. These could be groups formed on social media – for example parenting groups looking to share advice a, coffee lovers who want to chat with like-minded individuals about their passion or students about to start their first year at university and looking to make new friends. You can get to know your audience whilst increasing engagement and harvesting research.

If you’d like to chat with us about how these topics can help support your business, get in touch to talk more about how we can help.

Real Time Digital

Need some help with your digital marketing?

We’re here!