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The top marketing trends of 2021 so far

The top marketing trends of 2021 so far

By Charlotte Holmes, client services director at Citizen Communications 

Despite the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine providing some hope for pandemic recovery, 2021 is already proving to be another volatile year for marketers. 

Business’ abilities to capitalise on emerging marketing opportunities could be make or break, so keeping an eye on the latest trends will be crucial for firms to get ahead of the competition. 

Here are 5 of the biggest marketing developments so far in 2021 for brands to be aware of. 

  • Digital transformation 

Digital transformation remains a focus for firms in 2021, after the pandemic pushed global digitalisation ahead of schedule last year. Many firms are realising that we may never return to ‘business as normal’ and, as a result, are continuing to lean into digital technology. 

However, digital transformation goes far beyond growing the use of digital tools and technology – this year it will be about overall business transformation and firms adapting the ways they operate. For companies across every industry, embracing digital marketing strategies will be crucial to staying relevant in a post-pandemic world. 

  • Accelerated adoption of automation 

With more businesses and consumers going digital, it is unsurprising that one of the biggest marketing trends we are seeing already in 2021 is the accelerated adoption of automation. In fact, according to digital transformation firm, The Annuitas Group, implementing marketing automation could lead to an average 451% increase in qualified leads.

Charlotte Holmes

Charlotte Holmes

Last year, marketers were forced to make do with less. Manual processes had to be minimised and repetitive tasks eliminated so they could save resources and focus on more important things, such as business growth.

Whilst marketing automation is nothing new, it is clear that even as budgets return to normal, it will remain integral for marketers to improve efficiency and produce results throughout the months to come.  

  1. Influencer marketing 

2020 saw influencer marketing soar, with people spending considerable amounts of time at home, searching for inspiration, and watching more online videos than ever before. 

This trend is continuing to grow, as more brands are realising that, when you collaborate with the right target-audience influencers, you can increase your reach drastically. 

Engagement with micro and nano influencers in particular is forming a large part of many marketing strategies this year, as businesses are forced to continue working with slashed budgets and the push for value is getting even greater. Gone are the days when micro influencers were largely ignored by brands – with their high levels of engagement and authenticity, they will continue to become an important way for companies to reach potential customers.  

  1. Growing importance of direct mail 

Direct mail is another marketing trend that is growing exponentially as physical mail’s ability to engage people and drive behaviour has increased noticeably. 

Businesses are taking advantage of the time people are spending at home and tapping into it with physical touchpoints, such as postcards, 3D mailing packs and built-in QR codes.

The power of direct mail has grown especially over recent months, as digital fatigue has set in. It offers a multi-sensory experience allowing brands to create a tangible, real world connection that audiences crave. Not only that, direct mail can be very granular with data targeting the right audience at the right time, making it a very powerful marketing and response channel for brands to take advantage of. 

  1. More focus on Instagram reels 

Instagram Reels first appeared in August 2020 and are here to stay this year. 

Allowing users to create short videos of up to 30 seconds with various effects, audios and filters, Reels are at the forefront of the Instagram algorithm, and can help brands communicate their messages in just a few seconds – something of growing importance in a world of constant distractions. So far, 2021 has seen many businesses creating reels over standard videos to ensure their content is being seen by as many followers as possible, growing their engagement and shares of their content, and we can expect the feature to continue gaining traction throughout the rest of the year, 


The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has upended how businesses operate, and marketers too are having to adapt to ensure their brands remain relevant.

For brands to continue engaging and retaining current customers, whilst generating more traffic leads and revenue, staying on top of marketing developments will be key. Whilst the above trends don’t represent a complete list, they are a good place for marketers to start when outlining their strategies over the next few months and could hold the key to businesses not only surviving but thriving.  

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