TOP Talk

Get Even More Personal and Creative: Digital Marketing in 2021

Posted December 15, 2020 By Ashley Tate

Topics: Digital Marketing, Thought Leadership, Content


2021 Digital Marketing Planner


The one constant to achieve success in digital and social media marketing? Continual reinvention and new levels of creativity. So it’s no surprise a new report from Talkwalker and HubSpot confirms that relying on traditional social media marketing doesn’t cut it. The report offered many predictions, but one theme stood out: Reinvention will be even more essential in 2021. 

Throughout 2020, consumers turned to a wide array of both new (gaming, Instagram Reels) and more familiar (newsletters, podcasts) places for distraction, entertainment, and education opportunities. Regardless of their destination of choice, the search for connection and comfort was seen among all audiences. Heading into the new year, this means that brands need to get as creative with where they’re putting content as they are with their content itself.

Expand Your Horizons


From baking to tiger royalty to chess, the cultural zeitgeist went in some surprising directions this year — and at record speed. The challenge for marketers was keeping up with the rapid rate of change and identifying any new areas for opportunities. Early on in the pandemic, one particular space stood out: Gaming.

From August 2019 to July 2020, the number of people who identify as gamers has increased from 31.1 million to 41.2 million (an increase of more than 30%), with an immediate uptick experienced during the lockdown months.

Brands jumped at the chance to interact with consumers in this virtual space and got creative. From influencer partnerships on Twitch (the video game streaming platform) to branded islands in Nintendo’s Animal Crossing, the gaming space has provided a whole new world of opportunities for companies to get creative and connect with consumers in a very personal way.

Even if the gamer audience isn’t your brand’s target demographic, gaming marketing offers plenty of useful best practices to keep in mind: Stay authentic, useful, and don’t interrupt the consumer’s experience. The swift rise of this marketing space also serves as a strong reminder that keeping your eye on the horizon for new opportunities will always serve you well.

Respect the Classics

Just because you’re looking for the next, new thing doesn’t mean you need to neglect the tried and true. Nostalgia always has a place, and 2020 saw a particular surge in consumers seeking comfort in familiar entertainment and some old-school marketing formats. Newsletters and podcasts, in particular, saw renewed interest during lockdown.

Newsletters saw a 14% increase in mentions this year and despite their long history, the format continues to be an effective way to share useful content in a hyper-personalized way. It’s a staple of email marketing for a reason: It works. (Almost 1/3 of B2B marketers say newsletters are the best content for lead-gen.) So, there’s no excuse to not add this relatively simple (to produce and distribute) content offering to your arsenal.

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If you’ve been sleeping on podcasts, you’re in the minority. More than half of Americans say they’ve regularly listened to podcasts during quarantine. The format can be a bit more intimidating with the equipment requirements, but with the right subject matter expert and the right audience, your podcast debut could be closer than you think.

T1 Tip: If you’re not ready to jump in the deep end with your own newsletter or podcast, look for opportunities to contribute content to others through sponsored content, guest spots, and more.

Show Your Cards

Whether you’re ready to jump into gaming or fire up the email marketing machine, you’ll want to keep the 2021 trend that binds all of the other trends together top of mind: personal connections. It’s a multi-layered expectation for brands. In the broadest sense, it requires authenticity and transparency. At the granular (data) level, brands need to create experiences and content that are unique (and still genuine).

This expectation relates directly to the success of a familiar, yet new marketing tactic that’s expected to trend upward into 2021 — conversational marketing. Yes, we’re referring to chatbots, but think beyond those automated pop-ups on websites. 

Brands are already capitalizing on automated social (e.g., Facebook) messenger features to connect with customers directly. Start by analyzing your customer’s journey and evaluating where you can pull out the more human side of your brand. And even though AI still comes into play, prioritizing natural language and other features to keep the conversation human.

New Year, New Marketing 

As digital marketers head into 2021, change is certainly in the air. The same old digital marketing won’t have the same impact it once did. We’re not saying it’s time to shut down your Twitter account, but it is time to think creatively — both in the content you create and where you share it — to keep customers engaged and coming back for more. 

For even more creative insights, subscribe to our weekly newsletter, The Spark, to get the latest digital marketing trends delivered directly to your inbox. 

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Ashley Tate

About Ashley Tate

What motivates me? The desire to fill a blank page with engaging, informative content.