GUEST COLUMN: Digital marketing trends that reigned supreme in 2021

Migration to a digital environment became the only viable option to stay afloat during pandemic.


Mumbai: 2021 was coined as the year of the ‘New Normal’ and it did turn out to be one in many ways. The second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic this year not only affected every aspect of our lives but also impacted how companies further realigned their operations all over the world.

Strengthening the migration to a digital environment in 2020 became the only viable option to stay on the map for many businesses, which in turn greatly impacted their digital marketing strategies. 

The ‘New Normal’ kept alive the status of digital marketing as the need of the hour for businesses to stay afloat, gain new customers, retain current ones and generate revenue. Staying ahead of the digital marketing game is beyond just understanding and applying basic industry principles.

As we bid goodbye to 2021, it’s time to analyse trends that reigned supreme. By analysing past trends and staying aware of ongoing changes, marketers in India will be better prepared for what’s next for the coming year.

Marketing automation:

Automation stood at the top of every marketer’s strategic pyramid this year and played a pivotal role in providing brands with more detailed insights into behavioral patterns of their users. Our research estimates that some brands even saw a 30-35 per cent increase in leads generated after implementing automation software. With each channel working together, brands were able to create a unified customer experience, thereby facilitating a seamless journey.

AI-powered personalised marketing strategies:

As per industry research, 70 per cent of companies observed that AI-powered personalised marketing strategies generated around 200 per cent ROI while 86 per cent of brands noticed a spike in business after integration. Thanks to AI, marketers were able to make product recommendations to users, hyper-personalisation of messages, optimisation of display and search ads, email marketing, and even content marketing by discovering what works better and what type of content is more effective. All in all, it empowered brands to have a better engagement with their customers and gave a boost to customer loyalty and retention.

Live streaming

The number of live streaming platforms and streamers has increased mainly since the onset of the pandemic in late 2019. With the use of live streaming this year, consumers got yet another opportunity to acquire better information about brands, products & discover the character of brands. Thanks to real-time interaction, Live streaming emerged as a strong medium for brands to create a better relationship with their consumers and expand the viewership for their marquee events and new launches.

Continuous visibility on different live streams enabled brands to experience better engagements. The community of live streamers is just starting to get bigger and live streaming will continue to play an exceptional role in 2022 as well. 

Vernacular content

According to a Google KPMG report, 70 per cent of Indians find local language digital content more reliable; 88 per cent of Indian language internet users are more likely to respond to a digital advertisement in their local language as compared to English.

We saw digital marketing moving towards vernacular in a holistic way. Brands actively began transcending into literacy agnostic content across formats – audio and video to target consumers across the spectrum. For example, if you look at the latest brand video for Baidyanath Chyawanprash, the entire communication is primarily in Hindi as North India is their target location. Even the media banners and communication on the social media handles follow the same route. In this year, there have been multiple examples of brands like Britannia Good Day (Tamil), Ola Autovin Home Delivery (Tamil), Goodknight Fabric Roll-On (in Bengali), Sunfeast YiPPee (in Malayalam) which were some of the most viewed YouTube Ads in the regional language.

Nano influencers and creators

Nano influencers were one of the core facets of all major ongoing campaigns and helped in providing brands with valuable awareness and recall amongst a niche audience. They often see the highest percentage of engagement, as they have a small and more closely linked community of followers. According to the INCA report, the average engagement rate of nano-influencers in India is 30 per cent, while for micro-influencers it is 14.5 per cent. For mega and macro, it stands at 18.2 per cent and 12.7 per cent, respectively. We observed major brands dedicating about 20–25 per cent of their brand promotion budget to influencer marketing and primarily focus on nano-influencers that can reach their target group.

Voice Search

emerged as a new market for marketers. According to research estimates, 65 per cent of smart speaker owners don’t want to go back to a life without a voice-controlled assistant. Smart speakers will continue to change the ways users interact and spend.

Tech will continue to take the lead in the new year with robust advancements in technology, marketing tools, and forward-thinking strategies. 2022 will be the year to further seize opportunities, take charge from the front and take necessary steps to leverage customer behavioural trends to get the maximum out of digital marketing.

(Shreyansh Bhandari is COO and co-founder at Lyxel & Flamingo, while Shikha Abrol is a media strategist at the same company. The views expressed in the column are personal, and Indiantelevision.com may not subscribe to them.) 

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