Digital marketing trends your business should avoid in 2021

In the modern digital marketing landscape, it’s undeniable that knowledge is power. Those who embrace the right trends on time edge ahead, and those who don’t fall behind. Thus, knowing which trends to leverage, at times proactively, can offer immense value. However, knowing which digital marketing trends your business should avoid, in 2021 and beyond, may prove equally useful. Indeed, we at Digital Dot NYC are keenly aware that not all trends are in fact worth your time. Some may simply waste it, while others may seriously hamper your success. Thus, we’ll devote this article to highlighting ones you should likely steer clear of.

The changing digital marketing trends

Digital marketing has already been a proverbial arena for years, with trends emerging and dissipating more rapidly than ever before. Now, COVID-19 has arguably accelerated this evolution’s pace further, informing customer behaviors, expectations, and more.

In this context, there are indeed many digital marketing trends to keep an eye on. To consolidate information, ten among the most notable ones are:

  1. Brand inclusion. With more customers valuing ethical drivers, cause marketing should continue to be beneficial for brands.
  2. Featured snippets. As Search Engine Optimization (SEO) advances, featured snippets promise higher engagement rates.
  3. Sustainability. In line with cause marketing, eco-friendliness continues to hold value for customers.
  4. Ad-blockers. As more and more internet users use ad-blockers, brands need to resort to less intrusive forms of marketing.
  5. Image and video SEO. Much like featured snippets, evolving visual search techniques compel brands to mind image and video SEO more closely.
  6. Interactive content. Far from a novel concept or practice, interactive content continues to show notable promise as regards Return on Investment (ROI).
  7. Audience segmentation. Another tried-and-tested practice, audience segmentation also continues to surge as a lucrative business tool that augments marketing outreach.
  8. Local SEO. Arguably a direct consequence of COVID-19, local SEO offers an invaluable asset to local businesses.
  9. Automated Google Ads bidding. With automation continuing to take hold, automated Google Ads bidding will offer a massive boon to paid ads campaigns.
  10. Shoppable posts. Finally, shoppable posts seem on track to significantly boost eCommerce sales through social media posts.

That said, one could argue there are just as many trends that can prove to be just that; passing trends.

Digital marketing trends your business should avoid in 2021

Which trends are those, then? Thoroughly covering all such trends would likely warrant multiple articles, and still fall short of doing the subject justice. Thus, for the sake of being economical, we’ll cover 5 of the most notable, seemingly unwavering trends that can pose long-term threats.

#1 Neglecting SEO

First and foremost, SEO seems to still discourage many businesses – especially uninitiated ones. While partially understandable, as SEO is fairly vast in scope, neglecting SEO can significantly hamper your marketing efforts. Any professional New York SEO consultant will tell you just how important it is to push your business in this direction. It’s a simple matter of staying in the loop of digital success and staying relevant amongst competitors.

Vector image of SEO with red background.
Neglecting SEO can have a substantial impact on your overall traffic.

In brief, SEO is a series of practices that optimizes content and pages for search engines. These practices focus on ranking factors, including:

  • Page loading speed and mobile-friendliness
  • Backlink quality, quantity, and anchor text
  • Content length, formatting, and value
  • Page Authority (PA) and Domain Authority (DA)
  • Website technical health

These practices can certainly seem daunting. However, especially given its overlap with Core Web Vitals, SEO absolutely deserves your attention. Anything less than stellar SEO will impact your search rankings, in turn reducing traffic, lead acquisition rates, and final sales.

#2 Writing content for the algorithms

That said, however, among digital marketing trends your business should avoid lies the opposite; leaning too heavily on SEO. Of course, this may be fine as regards, say, your site’s technical health. But it does seem that many businesses end up writing content for the algorithms, neglecting their human users.

In this regard, consider how deeply your audience insights inform your content creation. Are you using heat maps to identify how your audiences interact with your content? Are you using audience insights to extrapolate interesting subjects? It’s such practices, focusing on the human visitor over the algorithm, that will help enhance customer retention.

#3 Overusing social media

Along similar lines comes social media overuse. Indeed, social media platforms offer excellent marketing tools, as we’ve covered in the past ourselves. However, there is such a thing as overdoing it, as data from SproutSocial on why people unfollow brands on social media shows:

A graph on why people unfollow brands on social media.
Overusing and misusing social media can drive valuable audiences away.

Here, consider the 3 primary reasons audiences unfollow brands on social media, in order:

  1. Over-promoting.
  2. Content irrelevance.
  3. Over-posting.

The first and third offer excellent glimpses into how brands can overuse social media to their detriment. The second may also prove that, much like SEO, brands may lean too heavily on optimization and forget to align their content with their audiences’ needs and interests.

#4 Underusing social media

However, as with SEO, there is the opposite extreme to consider; underusing social media. Many businesses seem to do so, due to channel management concerns or other reasons. That, too, may needlessly deny your business opportunities to grow.

To address this, consider such social media practices as the following:

  • Invest in influencer marketing. Influencer marketing remains undeniably effective in 2021, promising a wider reach and more engagement.
  • Automate (some of) your social media activities. Such software as Customer Relationship Management (CRM), WordPress plugins, and other third-party platforms can help automate some of your activities.
  • Use your platforms’ insights tools. Such tools as Facebook’s Audience insights can help inform and refine your strategies.

#5 Overestimating social signals

Finally, a trend where SEO and social media converge hinges on a persistent myth; that social signals affect SEO. This is indeed a myth, so you should readily treat it as such.

A person's hand holding a pen over a laptop's keyboard.
Despite access to troves of information, myths can still drive harmful digital marketing trends.

The reason why we’re so categorical is that Google’s John Mueller has categorically debunked this myth himself. Specifically, among other instances, he said the following on episode 366 of the EDGE on the Web podcast:

“Social media shares of a page and other social “applause” metrics simply don’t play into ranking. […] Being active on the social media platforms is a great way to test and refine your website content to see if it’s connecting with users, but it’s not a ranking factor.”

Thus, you should strike a golden balance as regards both SEO and social media on their own. You should also value social signals, as they denote successful marketing efforts. You should not, however, treat social signals as SEO ranking factors, as doing so will only derail your SEO strategies.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there are multiple digital marketing trends your business should avoid in 2021. Some relate to the extremes of SEO and social media; some hinge on myths; others are more elusive still. While certainly not extensive, this article should hopefully help you note valid trends, and steer clear of potentially harmful ones.

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