While the year is far from over, 2021 has been full of innovative marketing trends—and they’re only continuing to expand and diversify.
We’ve seen more creators invest in email marketing efforts while reassessing their social media strategies to match new algorithms. With an emphasis on automation, video marketing, and productized offers, the world of digital marketing is constantly evolving.
The good news is, it’s not too late to begin adopting the best marketing trends from 2021.
In today’s article, I’ll discuss the biggest marketing trends from the past year, along with a few predictions for the future as we inch closer to 2022.
2021 digital marketing trends we loved
Businesses relied on digital marketing even more in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With its global impact, many industries had to change how they do business almost overnight.
All of this has led to a massive rise in e-commerce marketing. More brick-and-mortar stores are learning how to sell online and digital-only brands are becoming even more influential.
While word-of-mouth marketing is still alive and well on these digital platforms, many creators have looked to other marketing strategies to make them stand out in crowded markets.
I want to discuss each of these big 2021 marketing trends in more detail and talk about how they’ve changed the creator economy forever.
Instagram Reels and short-form videos
It would be impossible for us to create a 2021 marketing trends article without mentioning the rise of Instagram Reels. Instagram released this new feature in August 2020, and it has taken the social media world by storm ever since.
It didn’t take long for many business owners to adopt Reels into their Instagram marketing strategy. Said to be the “biggest audience growth opportunity for creators,” Instagram invested its efforts into making Reels their stand-out feature.
However, these short-form video clips are hardly new. TikTok, which launched in September 2016, largely inspired Instagram Reels. Publications like Variety have called Instagram Reels a “TikTok copycat,” but as we all know, it’s less about who’s first to market but rather who’s the most effective.
Many Instagram users decided to invest in Instagram Reels early on. After engagement numbers declined on regular Instagram posts, creators saw engagement opportunities significantly increase whenever they posted a Reel.
Like any new Instagram feature, Reels may not offer the same exposure as feed posts or Stories, but it’s not too late to jump on this trend and start creating your own Reels!
To get started with short-form videos and Instagram Reels:
- Visit the Explore Reels tab on Instagram to watch others for inspiration
- Use trending sounds and songs to increase your reach potential
- Hop on trends as quickly as you can
- When possible, include text on your video since many people watch with the sound off
- Share Reels to your feed, as people say it increases reach potential.
Selling low-priced products with Facebook ads
Despite the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic, Facebook advertising has reached all new highs. In 2021, Facebook ad revenues climbed 22% in just one year.
As businesses continue to invest in Facebook ads, it’s even more important to get your introductory offer just right. Some creators are still using Facebook ads to sell high-ticket offers with longer sales funnels, but we’ve noticed an intriguing increase in low-priced product ads.
Nicknamed “pocket products” by business educator Courtney Foster-Donahue, these low-priced digital products have become all the rage. While Courtney’s signature strategy is to use a pocket product as the first step in gaining qualified leads for a higher-priced online course, you can take a unique approach based on your set of offerings.
Service providers who are looking to scale their knowledge will love selling digital products. If you’re a freelancer, coach, or service-based business owner who feels burned out or wants to stop trading your time for dollars, a low barrier to entry product might be a good fit.
Usually priced between $27 to $47, these low-priced products generate passive income, helping you (literally) make money while you sleep.
If you want to get started with low-priced products, I recommend that you:
- Create a list of product ideas within your specific niche
- Validate your offer before you create it by gauging your audience’s interest
- Map out how this product fits into the rest of your business offers
- Outsource your Facebook advertising or learn how to create your own targeted ads
Remember when including an email subscriber’s name in a subject line made an email feel personalized? Luckily, we have far more opportunities for creating personalized content through email marketing, blogs, social media, and more these days.
Personalization is important because one-size-fits-all solutions won’t cut it in 2021. Not every person who lands on your website or blog is looking for the exact same information. That’s why it’s helpful to use personalization to create a memorable customer experience.
In our Beginner’s Guide to Personalized Marketing, we talk about how impactful it is to create automated content that’s still personalized to each unique user. We usually recommend accomplishing this through online quizzes (which run on their own, after the initial setup), but there are other personalized marketing strategies you can implement, too.
Before you begin creating any type of personalized content, think about your audience’s primary goals. What are they hoping to achieve, and how can your brand help them along the way? This will give you a great start, but it’s only one way to look at your content marketing.
We frequently emphasize the importance of knowing your audience—but it’s even more important to acknowledge that individuals with unique interests, habits, motivations, and mindsets make up this group. In understanding their key similarities and differences, business owners need to invest in their community-building efforts to know how to personalize their content.
If you want to get started with content personalization:
- Give your audience a list of resources that are uniquely tailored to their interests
- Use a quiz to determine what “bucket” each audience member fits in
- Create pathways that give your audience the power to choose their own path
- Go above and beyond with personalization tools like RightMessage, Proof, or more
Beautifully designed emails
While plain-text emails absolutely have their place in digital marketing, we’ve noticed a rise in well-designed emails over the past year. Sure, this has been trending in e-commerce for a few years, but even more creators and new entrepreneurs are bringing design to the forefront of their email marketing strategies.
The email marketing world often refers to these design-focused emails as “HTML emails,” based on the additional styling and coding that goes into creating them. “Plain-text emails,” in comparison, are emails written in a traditional letter style.
If you decide to create your own HTML emails, test your email and ensure it looks great on all devices before sending it. Since 81% of today’s emails are opened on mobile, creating a responsive email design is crucial. If this is not possible, it’s better to use a plain-text version instead.
It will be interesting to watch and see if HTML emails continue to trend upward in 2022. Our prediction is yes, but we don’t think we’ll see an end to plain-text emails any time soon.
If you want to design on-brand emails:
- Choose an email marketing platform that gives you design capabilities
- Use your logo or other visual branding elements in your email design
- Select a set of colors to create a brand color palette
- Use a font that matches the typography guidelines of your brand
Our best 2022 digital marketing trend predictions
As we wrap up our 2021 marketing trends roundup, we want to take a moment to make a few predictions for 2022. Based on the trends we’re seeing this year—and where we see the marketing world heading—we expect these future marketing trends to have a big impact.
Many in-person events will go virtual
While many of us wish we could put the COVID-19 pandemic in the past, it’s still affecting most of us today. Although we can’t predict when the pandemic will end (we’ll leave that to the health experts!), we believe it will lead to an increase in virtual events.
Some business owners hosted in-person events in 2021, but they tended to be very intimate events, with attendees encouraged or required to wear masks. Since plans can change in an instant these days, most businesses have preferred to make their events available online.
The interesting thing about the pandemic is that it’s made the events industry more innovative than we’ve seen in years! In the absence of in-person activities, businesses creatively replicate event experiences for online attendees.
We look forward to seeing how creators will take this trend and make it their own in 2022. We fully expect to see many more virtual summits, retreats, conferences, masterminds, and more!
Remote coworking will become a new norm
Much like in-person events going virtual, we will see creators seeking additional opportunities to network online. In doing so, we predict that remote-based coworking will become a new norm.
While WeWork and other local coworking spaces are still riding the waves of this pandemic, apps like Groove are reimagining what coworking looks like. Freelancers and creators who want to save on their commute but get the same accountability of working around other people will find these coworking sessions a dream come true.
If you find it easier to stay motivated when connected to a group of like-minded people who are completing their own tasks, this might be a fit for you. Feeling isolated in your work will be a thing of the past. We’re interested to see how many creators adopt this practice into their everyday work schedules.
Content automation will gain momentum
As digital marketing becomes even noisier, creators will need to find ways to automate their work. We don’t think we’ll see full content automation in 2022, of course, but we expect to see more creators using automation as a key way to improve their content marketing efforts.
Content automation could include:
- Using product recommendation quizzes that act as automated personal shoppers
- Sending podcast, video, and blog post recommendations based on interests
- Incorporating personalized email fields to allow subscribers to choose their preferences
- Giving subscribers the option to opt-out of specific emails
- Investing in chatbot marketing for qualifying and nurturing new leads
Whether you run your business as a full-time endeavor or a side hustle, every creator would love to add more hours to their day. While you can’t manufacture more time, you can use content automation to uplevel your marketing efforts and grow your audience without adding more manual work to your plate.
AI-generated content writing will rise
It’s hard to find a trends-based article that doesn’t mention AI technology, and it’s for good reason! As we see AI become more influential, it might be worth testing how it could work in marketing your business.
Examining AI’s impact on creative industries reveals its influence on content creation by marketers. With tools like Copy.ai and Smart Copy, you can produce new content with just a few clicks. It may sound like magic, but it doesn’t replace the need for storytelling.
There are specific stories and experiences only you can write about. Because of this, it’s better to use an AI bot to write headlines, meta descriptions, summaries, and other kinds of text you may need for content. Think of AI as a companion of your writing efforts, rather than being solely responsible for writing your next blog post.
Freelance writers and copywriters like myself have a unique relationship with this increase in AI (for obvious reasons), but the need for humanized content writing is still prevalent. We’ll continue to watch this trend to see how it affects the creator economy, but for now, it may be interesting for you to experiment with it.
Micro-influencers will have their comeback
Many widely known brands already work with micro-influencers to increase their reach, brand awareness, and product sales, but we plan to see even more of these brand partnerships in 2022.
Micro-influencers are commonly defined as influencers who have anywhere between 10,000 to 50,000 followers. Even if you don’t have millions of followers on social media, you can still monetize your influence. The interesting thing about the pandemic is that it has made the events industry more innovative than we’ve seen in years!
Because micro-influencers have a deeper, more personal connection with their community, their recommendations are often more valuable than those from celebrity influencers.
If you’ve been considering partnering with brands, continue investing in building your audience and interacting with your community. No matter the yearly trends, building relationships will always be the best way to increase your influence over time.
What digital marketing trends are you paying attention to?
Have you seen the same 2021 marketing trends in action? Do you agree with our 2022 predictions? We hope this article helps you understand where the digital marketing industry is headed.
To summarize, here are the 2021 marketing trends we’ve noticed:
- Instagram Reels and short-form videos
- Selling low-priced products with Facebook ads
- Hyper-personalized content
- Beautifully designed emails
Before we start 2022, get ahead of the game with these predictions:
- Many in-person events will go virtual
- Remote coworking sessions will become a new norm
- Content automation will gain momentum
- AI-generated content writing will rise
- Micro-influencers will have their comeback
Which trends do you love most, and what are your predictions for next year? Share them with us on Instagram or, better yet, sign up for an Interact free trial to get a headstart on content marketing automation and quiz building.