After a truly transformational 18 months, Cure Digital are proud to be the digital agency Cheshire and Manchester businesses trust to steer them forward through these uncertain times.

Businesses across a wide variety of different sectors and disciplines have embraced digital marketing in new ways since the start of 2020. As we move closer to the end of 2021, let’s take a look at the top 10 digital marketing trends to emerge this year so far.

1. Consumer behaviour

First and foremost, consumer behaviour was transformed almost overnight by the Coronavirus pandemic, forcing many more people to shop online for home delivery, rather than buy in-store or even order via click-and-collect.

As the pandemic fades, there will be a certain amount of rebound back to old shopping habits. But it won’t be 100%, and that means there is a significantly larger potential customer base to tap into, among people who don’t want to give up the convenience of shopping online as their default option.

2. Content frequency

It’s as important as ever to publish good-quality content, as this will help you rank higher in the Google search results, as well as on rival search engines like Bing. But if you want your new pages to appear as soon as possible in those search results, you need to publish content more often.

Frequent updates register on Google’s radar as a website worth crawling more often. This in turn means when you put up a new page, Googlebot will find it faster, crawl it to understand its content, and index your page appropriately for the most relevant keywords and phrases.

3. Connected customer data

While some consumers are concerned about the amount of their personal data held on file by private businesses, this often changes when it comes to marketing and customer support.

By compiling data from different sources – registration forms, ecommerce checkout pages, AI chat bots and human customer service agents – into a single database, you can provide your customers with a connected experience that tells them: “We’re listening.”

4. Hyperlocation

Geographic SEO has been important ever since mobile search became possible from smartphones and tablets, and even more so since Google adopted a ‘mobile-first’ approach to indexing websites.

In 2021, this is becoming even more focused, as hyperlocation allows website owners to target their marketing messages at very specific demographics within a local area. Ads should be targeted, blog posts should have clear local relevance, and where possible, your social media profiles and Google My Business page should list a physical location.

5. Working from home

Flexible working is one of the biggest trends of the COVID-19 pandemic, and has served as a ‘proof of concept’ for businesses that previously did not embrace working from home. As a result, more workers will be online at home throughout the day, with the potential to make ecommerce purchases on breaks, during time they would previously have spent commuting, or even when they are supposed to be working.

Ecommerce and SEO have always been long-distance disciplines by nature, and you may never meet your digital marketing team face-to-face. In 2021, the customer base has finally caught up with this, completing the end-to-end remote commerce supply chain.

6. Semantic search

Google’s Knowledge Graph is the contextual information you sometimes see at the top of your search results, for example if you search for cinema times, song lyrics or sports fixtures. In recent years, webmasters have had more ways to highlight this data in their page code, using structured data, microformats and Schema.org properties.

All of these allow you to spell out to Google if your page contains contextual data, improving your chances of appearing in the Knowledge Graph. It’s not a silver bullet, as Google will still select which data to display, but it’s a good way to improve your odds of a more significant search presence.

7. Unified campaigns

For too long, organic SEO and pay-per-click (PPC) have been considered separate disciplines. Paid search and sponsored ad results have been seen as a shortcut to traffic, while organic SEO is more of a long-term investment: optimise now for more hits tomorrow.

The truth is that the two methods perfectly complement one another. A well-optimised SEO landing page is the perfect destination for a PPC link, which will bring in the traffic until the search engines pick up your page and index it. Paid ads are also the ideal ‘quick hit’ solution when launching a time-limited campaign, while organic SEO continues to boost your evergreen content in the search results.

8. First-party tracking

Third-party ad tracking cookies are on the way out, as Google in particular have announced plans to end support for them. In the future, first-party tracking will become the best way to keep an eye on your customers’ activity.

This means collecting more personal data and handling it sensitively, especially if you are subject to data protection laws like GDPR. In 2021 and beyond, you should be sure to work with a reputable digital marketing agency who can equip your website with appropriate cookies and session identifiers, as well as the legally required warning notices on your homepage.

9. Intelligent automation

Automating tasks saves time, and in an era of skyrocketing interactions with customers, we’re all relying more and more on machines. But the simple automation of the past is not enough to deal with distinct interactions, and that’s where AI comes to the fore.

Machine learning and iterative algorithms allow us to train AI to provide deeper, faster, more accurate insights. This in turn makes for better customer interactions and more well-informed marketing campaigns, to drive return on investment to its maximum.

10. Real-time analytics

Real-time analytics is not completely new, as platforms have been generating data while-you-watch for several years already. But in a fast-moving economy, it’s more important than ever to know what’s happening on your website right now.

By working with a trustworthy, experienced and reliable digital agency Cheshire businesses can stay abreast of every hit and conversion, every viral post and paid ad campaign. Track your return on investment as it happens, and reinvest where the profits are the greatest, for maximum revenues throughout the rest of 2021 and beyond.

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