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How important is digital marketing in 2021?

by wrich

By: Mark Wright, BBC Apprentice Winner and Founder of digital marketing agency, Climb Online https://climb-online.co.uk 


If the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us anything over the past 18 months, it’s that we are well and truly in the digital era when it comes to marketing.

Worldwide lockdowns have necessitated a switch to e-commerce, as shown in the food and grocery industries, and businesses must now transition to a digital-centric model or risk being left behind.

With the pandemic affecting the majority of business sectors going into 2021, ROI and cost-saving should be a top priority for any business owner, and this is where the value of digital marketing really comes into play. Simply put, traditional marketing just won’t cut it when compared with the reach and cost-effectiveness digital marketing can offer.

Mark Wright, BBC Apprentice Winner, Founder of Climb Online

According to tech.co, 76% of small business owners have focused on building skills in SEO, analytics and social media, which comes as no surprise considering the scope and reach of digital campaigns, even on a relatively tight budget. 

Given the multiple modes of marketing the digital model allows for, digital strategies give you far more for value for money than traditional methods ever could. The focus now should be on keeping up with shifting algorithms and evolving trends, to increase visibility and pushing your business to the top of search engine rankings.

The 5 D’s 

The 5 D’s are essentially the tenets of digital marketing and should be the focus when creating and implementing an online strategy to ensure it resonates with your target audience.

Digital Devices: With the UK Office for National Statistics reporting a record increase in online retail in January 2021 at 35.2%, up from 19.5% in January 2020, considering the channels through which you reach and communicate with your audience is paramount. This includes mobiles and laptops, but also newer technology like smart TVs, watches and speakers.

Digital Platform: For most consumers, search engine results are where the buying journey starts, while the having a strong presence for your brand on social media will allow you to build better insights into your audience and incorporate these into your marketing.

Digital Media: Choosing the right devices and platforms to focus your marketing on will only work if you have the right content and media to share with your audience. These are the communication channels you use to build engagement with your audience, whether it’s email, social media or a more direct approach through messaging.

Digital Data: Building on the last 3 D’s, digital data allows you build customer profiles and monitor buying habits and online behaviour, working these into your marketing strategy to maximise effectiveness. This is invaluable for cross-selling, improving user experience, as well as re-targeting and future campaigns.

Digital Technology: A good digital marketer should have their finger firmly on the pulse of new technologies that can be used to create better experiences for the user and make your brand memorable to potential customers. 2021 has made this more important than ever, with brands investing in developing AI, virtual reality and other online experiences to intrigue and delight their audience.

The future is digital

COVID-19 has been an unprecedented time and certainly holds true for the ways consumers are interacting with brands. Whether it’s London Fashion Week holding their runway shows virtually, or restaurants using mobile apps, it’s clear a solid digital marketing strategy is needed to cement brand identity and stand out amidst the competition.

While the industry as a whole will continue to dictate online marketing trends, it’s vital that brands are able to keep up with these ever-evolving changes. The most successful businesses during the pandemic were those that were able to adapt their marketing to offer relevant benefits to their customers, while being able to pivot their strategies in times of crisis. 

Strategies for 2021

Digital marketing should focus on reaching people where they already spend the majority of their time online. With Smart Insights showing that on average, consumers spend 2 ½ hours per day scrolling through their feeds, the rise of shoppable posts makes sense, allowing customers to make a purchase directly through their social media.

Similarly, 2021 has seen a massive increase in the use of smart speakers and voice search. Over a quarter of UK households now own a smart speaker, while 70% report that they use the search function daily. Creating voice-friendly content and voice apps is an area that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Competition among brands is strong and as such, we are already seeing the rise of interactive content that keeps users directly engaged with your brand and capitalises on the increase of time spent online.

Though a return to traditional brick-and-mortar commerce is looking increasingly unlikely, consumers still want the experience of in-store shopping. Augmented reality experiences are where the future of e-commerce lies, giving an interactive experience to the user without them having to leave their home.


The benefits of digital marketing compared to traditional methods cannot be overstated. As we move forwards, it’s the brands that are able to keep up with digital trends, while catering to the needs of their audience and providing real value in times of crisis that will cement themselves as leaders in a digital future.

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