Digital Marketing Skills You Need This Year: Key Platform Pivots & Channel Changes for 2021

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Just as life “as we knew it” shifted and changed in 2020, so did many of the mediums we use to promote our businesses and connect with our customers. Here’s what you need to know regarding what changed in digital marketing in 2020 and how this should impact your DIY Digital Marketing efforts going forward…

What Changed in 2020?

When we asked owners of startups and small businesses which digital marketing channels/methods they used in their 2020 marketing, over 85% of participants said they had focused their attention on social media.

Chart Showing Channels Used in 2020

This wasn’t surprising news, considering that as of July 2020, half of the world’s population was using social media. With such a milestone came many new ideas and ways to keep users engaged on social in 2020. We saw video content claim its rightful place as king, with user-generated content (UGC) following right behind. More social media platforms adopted the “Stories” feature on their sites, resulting in a substantial increase in user engagement. And social listening (aka “digital listening”) picked up momentum as more and more brands began researching what people were writing and sharing online to improve their products or services, as well as foster better connections with their audience.

As we continue to move into 2021, here are some noteworthy platform-specific changes you may have missed from the previous year:

Facebook

  • Added the Facebook Stories feature
  • Rolled out Facebook Shops
  • Created Business Suite
  • Facebook’s mission in 2021: grow business communities on both Facebook and Instagram. Currently, only 200 million businesses are operating within the Facebook ecosphere. The platform plans on increasing this number to 1 billion

Instagram

  • Tested the removal of public “likes”
  • Launched reels to compete with TikTok
  • Launched guides

Twitter

  • Introduced fleets (a shorter version of stories)

Pinterest

  • Launched Story Pins and Shopping Spotlights

LinkedIn

  • Launched Live Video
  • Introduced name pronunciation and poll features

Snapchat

  • Launched spotlight to compete with TikTok and allow creators to monetize their platforms

TikTok

  • Strengthened policies around bullying and added opt-in viewing for more sensitive content

Digital advertising also experienced several changes in 2020, including (but not limited to):

  • Substantial growth in artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR)
  • Platforms embracing programmatic advertising
  • Increased spending on influencers
  • More emphasis on omnichannel marketing
  • Google Ad spending dropped as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Google began limiting keyword and search queries as per the GDPR
  • Facebook updated Business Manager and the ad preferences feature for users, as well as removed the 20% text restriction on ad imagery

Some SEO-focused shifts to take into consideration:

Google rolled out three algorithm updates, including their core update on December 3rd, 2020

  • Increased focus on user intent
  • Google determines rankings based on mobile sites (very significant for businesses trying to improve organic reach)
  • Longform content began to rise
  • EAT: Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness
    • You want to be sure to establish these concepts on your website to keep bounce rates down and keep users interested in what you have to share.

Essential changes in email marketing trends included:

  • Emails became more interactive
  • Shift towards usability and readability with minimal content.
  • More customer spotlighting (aka user-generated content).
  • Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and email automation

What’s Trending for 2021?

Social Media

  • Millennials are demanding authenticity and transparency from brands.
  • Technology adoption such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) will be at an all-time high
  • Live stream video will continue to rise
  • Virtual events on zoom and GoToMeeting will grow in popularity (breakout groups, roundtables, etc.)
  • Awareness of accessibility issues will increase
  • Influencer and micro-influencer marketing
  • Regulations and legal issues
  • Increased use of social media for customer service (make yourself available to answer more questions on social!)
  • Local targeting will be more prevalent
  • Content value > Production quality: We often want form and function. However, consumers are likely to be more forgiving of lower-end production quality so long as the content is valuable to the consumer. User-generated content is a prime example of this.

Digital Advertising

  • Overall growth expected to increase as mobile usage increases
    • 68% of marketers expect to increase digital ad spending in 2021
  • Video content will continue to become more and more important
    • Auto-play videos Pro Tip: Do NOT automate with sound!
  • Expect improvements in landing page experiences to reduce bounce rates.
  • Increased spending on niche platforms
  • Personalized ad journeys will become even more popular with more targeted ads
  • Headless Commerce: Pushing your online store into larger eCommerce sites such as Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Poshmark, and more.
  • Consider non-traditional search engines
    • Amazon
    • Social Media
  • Core web vitals will become more critical on Google
    • Loading times
    • Interactivity on your website
    • Overall visual stability
  • Voice search will continue to grow
    • Echo, Google Home
  • Mobile optimization is key
  • Google will expand EAT consideration

Email Marketing

  • Mobile-first
    • Design for/test on
  • Expect to see more social media integration
  • Increased personalization
  • Automation = essential
  • Minimal design and text-only emails will be prevalent

Pivoting in The New Year

As you can see, digital marketing as we knew it in 2020 shifted and changed in many ways across multiple platforms. That said, you can’t cover everything on your own. Start the new year by picking one key area to give your business the most significant lift in the digital sphere. Here’s what you should do once you’ve chosen a platform or channel:

  1. Outline your audience’s age, demographics, and what tools they’re using
  2. Determine your time and monetary budgets
  3. Put it all down in writing

If you find you’re having a hard time choosing which area you’d like to focus on for your specific business, drop us a line. One of our TTG Marketing Mentors will help you decide which area is best for you to focus on to achieve optimal business growth in 2021.

Once you’ve selected the digital marketing channel or platform you’d like to introduce or lean on in 2021, check out our full schedule of digital marketing training sessions! We host live weekly training sessions on a wide range of topics, including those mentioned in this blog post.

See our weekly training schedule now!

Browse Live Training Sessions! 

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Digital Marketing Skills You Need This Year: Key Platform Pivots & Channel Changes for 2021
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Digital Marketing Skills You Need This Year: Key Platform Pivots & Channel Changes for 2021
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Just as life “as we knew it” shifted and changed in 2020, so did many of the mediums we use to promote our businesses and connect with our customers. Here’s what you need to know regarding what changed in digital marketing in 2020 and how this should impact your DIY Digital Marketing efforts going forward…
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