2021 Marketing Trends to Pay Attention to

The roller coaster year of 2020 is now in the rearview mirror and people are getting more comfortable with the idea that some of the changes related to COVID-19 will be permanent. What kind of 2021 marketing trends will there be in store for us?

Said differently, how can we prepare our 2021 marketing strategies so that we make real customer connections and build stronger (less tone-deaf) brands?

Below are my top three 2021 marketing trends to take note of.

1. Interactive SWAG Boxes

For me, one of the highlights of 2020 was going to the mailbox. 📬 

Companies started shipping care packages to their teams. Vendors found new ways to wine and dine prospects. And, event organizers started thinking outside the box (ironically, by sending people boxes).

Marketing SWAG Boxes

In 2021, marketing that you will remember will include interactive SWAG boxes with branded material, activities, and food.

Below are examples that were either shipped to my door or packages my team shipped out. 👇

In 2020, we did not get to celebrate the way had we planned (I went to two Zoom weddings). While it’s not the same as being able to connect in person, a SWAG box was a nice way to honour big achievements. They also served as a great way to connect with clients and build community.

SWAG boxes have set the stage for 2021 marketing trends. In coming months we will continue to see brands take this concept to the next level.

2. Virtual Events That Aren’t Webinars

twitter screen shot asking #MarketingTwitter for their 2021 predictions

We can’t hang out in person and it’s going to be like that for a while. So, how do we meet future customers to show them what we’re all about?

Trade shows, community events, and open houses were all standard marketing tactics pre-COVID. Inviting several thousand people to view your office is crazy in any capacity and the energy that brings is beyond memorable.

How are we going to match the same feeling of an in-person event in 2021?

You’ll never fully replace the experience of meeting someone face to face, but we can’t just send people to landing pages and hope that web traffic will deliver the lasting impression we need.

Enter virtual events.

Advantages of Virtual Events

There are some advantages to this 2021 marketing trend:

  1. You’re able to offer content on-demand. That means that if someone is working weekends or evenings, they can still participate. What used to be out of reach is now accessible to any and all who are interested in learning more about you. Chasing after a global audience might be easier than before.
  2. You’ll end the event with content you can repurpose. Instead of preparing for weeks and having nothing to show but business cards, you’ll have countless assets and a real sense of how effective they are for your audience.
  3. Following up is easier. When you get people to register for an event and log in, you have a new opportunity that wasn’t there before. Often event organizers will ask people for their contact information but with several thousand people floating around the flurry causes serious consistency issues. In a virtual setting, casual conversations can turn into real and on-going relationships between your prospects and your brand.
  4. Closed-loop marketing is way more attainable. Similar to the point above, getting people’s contact info opens up all kinds of doors that weren’t there before. We can now map out a funnel, using your event data and create a follow-up strategy to understand the following:
    • How many sign-ups
    • The number of attendees
    • Amount of people who kept in contact after the event
    • The volume of inquiries (who are truly considering a purchase)
    • Number of orders and new customers

The potential ROI for an online event is huge when you consider the type of data you’ll have. In terms of 2021 marketing trends, virtual events will continue to evolve and get better. It’s clear that people are looking for safe ways to celebrate and connect. We have the technology to deliver—it’s just a matter of getting creative.

Virtual Experiences

Forget the stuffy webinar and create an experience that your future customers will want to tell people about. The potential is there.

Personally, I’m hoping to see personalized event boxes, more interactive activities, and follow up material that reinforces your connection to a brand. It costs money to deliver on this, but the investment is worth it.

3. Accessibility Will Eclipse SEO in 2021

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a huge marketing channel that many people fail to leverage. It’s finicky, it changes every day, and it’s technical.

While the value of having strong search rankings is undeniable, people often scratch their heads when you tell them they need to continually modify their website to appease invisible and ever-changing search spiders.

It’s annoying to do it all yourself. It’s expensive to hire out.

An Easier Alternative to SEO?

Focus on updating your website for accessibility.

Making the effort to be inclusive online is getting easier. Here are three updates you can make to your marketing content that will help with both accessibility and SEO:

  1. Add close captioning on all video content (YouTube now makes this really straightforward).
  2. Include alt tags on your images. For those who are visually impaired, alt tags are a way for the user to understand what’s being displayed. Alt tags also help search engines understand what the image is all about. Win-win.
  3. Include contextual hyperlinks. This sounds more complicated than it is. Instead of linking the term ‘click here’ you should link clear copy that indicates to the reader what they’ll find when they click the link.

Summary

Many brands are ready to put a stake in the ground and make their 2021 predictions. However, business disruptions from COVID-19 are still shaping 2021 marketing trends. This will push marketers to be flexible and creative in ways we haven’t seen before.

My only wish is that the marketing challenges we face in 2021 will be easier to navigate and solve.

What do you think 2021 has in store?

By Christine

Hi, I'm Christine. I'm a public speaker & marketing professional with a specialization in digital strategy. I live and breathe all things content & marketing. In my previous positions, I've done everything from rebranding companies, launching new SaaS products, writing sales copy, and developing long-term SEO & social strategies. I believe that quality communication and measurable results are the key to every digital marketing strategy.

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