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74 digital marketing statistics you must know for 2021 planning

In 2020, digital marketing strategies have been put to the test and consumers have drastically different expectations. So, what does that mean for brands planning for what's to come? 

74 digital marketing statistics you must know for 2021 planning Blog Feature

Zach Basner

Director of Inbound Training and Video Strategy, Inbound and Video Workshop Trainer, Creator of the Facebook Group ‘Film School for Marketers’

December 1st, 2020 min read

Over the year of 2020, digital marketing strategies have been put to the test.

Markets have radically changed. Business buyers and consumers have vastly new expectations of how they are marketed to, sold to, and how they go about their buying process. New technologies have emerged, and some have fallen by the wayside.

In the middle of all of these challenges, marketers have had to rise to new heights and modify their efforts. When in-person events were not an option, they had to figure out how to host events virtually.

When the sales team couldn’t prospect in-person or do their in-person demos, many marketers had to figure out a way to help them adapt to video meetings and produce new video assets.

🎓 IMPACT+ course: Digital sales and marketing framework for today's modern buyer

Whether it was to capitalize on new opportunities or simply survive, this work produced innovations and new standards that will change the way we market and sell our products forever. Even though things may never be the same, I believe many of these changes are for the best. Forced change oftentimes helps us become better and more nimble in our work.

Even if the change is uncomfortable, it’s useful and I was determined to prove this after I saw the following study conducted by Influencer Marketing Hub.

“Marketer optimism has plummeted to 50.9 on a 0-100 scale with 0 being least optimistic and 100 most optimistic. Immediately before COVID, the score was 62.7. The index peaked in February 2015 when it reached 69.9.”

Further, they split these results by B2B and B2C sectors and “found that B2B (54.0) is more optimistic than B2C (47.1).”

This bothered me as a marketer. It is, at the very least, missing the point.

Not everything works the way it used to, but, isn’t that the case literally every year? Every day even? The most important question we must ask ourselves is, “Where do we go from here?” Constantly asking this question, of course, is what makes us great marketers to begin with.

🔎 Related: How to create a digital marketing strategy (+ examples)

So, I dug in deep to uncover 74 compelling stats to feed the curiosity of the passionate digital marketers just like you and show us the path forward.

My hope is that by the end of reading this article, you feel a little more optimistic, a little more inspired, and a lot more prepared to tackle the challenges you’re dealing with in your digital marketing strategy.

As a quick note, before you dig in, none of this data was collected by IMPACT. I did my best to vet every study and source to be sure it’s not purely hypothetical or conducted for the sole purpose of selling something. These stats should inform your decisions, not dictate your every strategic move.

Content marketing and search

1. Messaging approaches are shifting with only one-fifth of marketers saying they haven’t changed their creative approach in response to COVID-19. 47% say they’ve increased focus on emotional and human-centric content. (LinkedIn)

2. More than half of marketers say they’re increasing the prevalence of social (55%) and thought leadership (53%) in their content marketing strategies. Also high on this list were direct customer outreach (48%) and corporate social responsibility (46%). Product-focused content has seen the largest decrease at 19%. (LinkedIn)

3. Voice-based shopping is expected to jump to $40 billion in 2022 in the US and UK (OC&C Strategy Consultants)

4. The top 3 most common keywords in voice search phrases are "how", what," and "best." (Backlinko)

5. There has been an 85% increase in mobile searches starting with “can I,” a 65% increase in mobile searches for “do I need,” and a 65% increase in mobile searches for “should I.” (Think With Google)

6. B2B digital content engagement increased significantly after the COVID-19 lockdown: There were 17% more visitors, 40% more unique asset views, and 15% more time spent reading and viewing content. (Pathfactory)

Want to learn more about how today’s buyer prefers to consume content? Check out this free online course or read the book, “They Ask, You Answer.” Looking for blogging tips and how to get your subject matter experts involved? Check out this online course and this guide full of blogging tips.

Video marketing

7. Globally, total internet video traffic (business and consumer, combined) will be 80% of all Internet traffic in 2021, up from 67% in 2016. (Cisco)

8. Globally, internet video traffic will grow four-fold from 2016 to 2021, a compound annual growth rate of 31%. (Cisco)

9. 54% of people want to see more video content from marketers. (HubSpot)

10. 85% of businesses use video as a marketing tool. This was 87% in 2019, 81% in 2018, 63% in 2017 and 61% in 2016. (Wyzowl)

11. 80% of video marketers say video has directly helped increase sales. (Wyzowl)

12. People watch an average of 16 hours of online video per week – a 52% increase in the last 2 years. (Wyzowl)

13. 83% of video marketers that have used YouTube said it had been successful for them. (Wyzowl)

14. Overall, 83% of consumers worldwide prefer YouTube to watch video content. (HubSpot)

If you want to continue building and growing your video strategy, check out this course about the fundamentals of video marketing and selling, this course on how to create better videos, and this guide about using video in the sales process.

Want to master “The Visual Sale?” Grab a copy of the new book by Marcus Sheridan and Tyler Lessard. If you’re interested in learning how to become better on-camera, we have a full course here on IMPACT+.

🎓 IMPACT+ course: Video sales and marketing strategy for businesses

Virtual sales strategy

15. The number of sellers conducting more than half of their sales activities virtually increased by 163% from pre-pandemic to now, (Rain Sales Training)

16. Only 26% of buyers believe sellers are skilled at leading a thorough needs discovery virtually. (Rain Sales Training)

17. The web and video conferencing category for business technology saw a 500% increase in buyer activity since the COVID outbreak began. (TrustRadius)

18. 67% of companies increased their spending strategy for video conferencing too. (TrustRadius)

19. Zoom daily active users increased 2,900% in the span of 4 months. (Bloomberg)

20. Most common mistakes made by virtual sellers are:

  • Experiencing technology problems: 89%
  • Using poor or no visuals during online meetings: 86%
  • Not responsive to my question or concerns: 84%
  • Not prepared: 83%
  • Lacking presentation skills: 80%
  • Sending poorly-written emails: 80% (Rain Sales Training)

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Social media marketing

21. An estimate of 151.5 million monthly live video viewers is 15.1 million higher than predicted in early 2020. (eMarketer)

22. 14% of shoppers are making purchases through social media. (Deloitte)

23. 74% of brands surveyed are posting less on their company social accounts at present (Influencer Marketing Hub)

24. 34% of marketers have shifted social time from Instagram to Twitter (Influencer Marketing Hub)

25. Instagram has seen a 14% drop in engagement by followers (Influencer Marketing Hub)

26. The B2C product sector, in particular, has relied heavily on social media, with CMOs in that sector estimating that close to one-third (29.7%) of their marketing dollars are going to social. (Marketing Charts)

27. A majority of top B2B marketers surveyed say that their social media use during the pandemic has been used for brand awareness and brand building (84.2%), retaining current customers (54.3%) was second on the list, ahead of acquiring new customers (51.1%). (Marketing Charts)

28. This same pattern can be seen across B2C sectors, with close to the same percentage of B2C Services marketers using social media for brand awareness (76.5%) as to retain customers (73.5%). (Marketing Charts)

🔎 Related resources:

Digital sales and marketing alignment

29. 87% of sales and marketing leaders say collaboration between sales and marketing enables critical business growth. (LinkedIn)

30. 90% of sales and marketing professionals point to a number of disconnects across strategy, process, content, and culture. (LinkedIn)

31. 76% of customers expect consistent interactions across departments. However, 54% say it generally feels like sales, service, and marketing don’t share information. (Salesforce)

32. 78% of customers say this year’s crises should catalyze business improvement. (Salesforce)

33. 88% of customers expect companies to accelerate digital initiatives due to this year’s events. (Salesforce)

34. The average enterprise uses about 900 different applications, but only 28% are connected. (Mulesoft)

35. 85% of organizations report integration challenges slow down the pace of their digital transformation, with more than half still providing disconnected customer experiences across channels (Mulesoft)

🎓 Related IMPACT+ courses: 

Paid search and social

36. eMarketer forecasted 5.9% growth in search ad spending this year.

37. Amazon Ad Revenue Growth is forecasted to increase by 29.4% in 2021 (eMarketer)

38. Google Ad Revenue Growth is forecasted to increase by 17.3% (eMarketer)

39. eMarketer estimates that digital ad spending worldwide will rise 2% in 2021 to $389.29 billion. (eMarketer)

40. Cost per 1,000 impressions are down and cost per click is flat or down (Influencer Marketing Hub)

41. Images of human interaction drops 27.4% in social ads (Influencer Marketing Hub)

42. Increased spending on social media will continue into the near future, with forecasts from CMOs suggesting that social media spend will account for about 23.4% of total marketing budgets 12 months from now. (Marketing Charts)

🔎 Related resources:

Conversational marketing

43. Conversational marketing interactions are up 107% vs. a pre-COVID benchmark (HubSpot)

44. More than 45% of businesses today have implemented bots as part of their marketing efforts. (HubSpot)

45. 64% of consumers and 80% of business buyers said they expect companies to respond to and interact with them in real-time. (Salesforce)

46. 53% of people are more likely to shop with businesses that they can message. (Outgrow)

47. 56% of people would rather message than call customer service. (Outgrow)

Email marketing

48. In April 2020, 50% of respondents said they plan to invest more in email marketing. (Seventh Sense)

49. 78% of marketers have seen an increase in email engagement over the last 12 months. (HubSpot)

50. Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened. (Campaign Monitor)

51. As of November 2020, sales emails sent has increased by 117% vs. a pre-COVID benchmark (HubSpot)

52. As of November 2020, sales emails responses has decreased by 32% vs. a pre-COVID benchmark (HubSpot)

53. As of November 2020, marketing emails sent has increased by 45% vs. a pre-COVID benchmark. (HubSpot)

54. As of November 2020, marketing email open rate is up 18% vs. a pre-COVID benchmark. (HubSpot)

🎓 IMPACT+ course: Inbounder’s Guide to Email Marketing

Self-selection and configuration

55. 72% of consumers and 89% of business buyers say they expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations, while 66% of consumers say they’re likely to switch brands if they feel treated like a number, not an individual. (Salesforce)

56. According to Salesforce, 58% of consumers say that a personalized experience is important to them when making a purchase. (Salesforce)

57. 61% of millennials are happy to share personal data if it leads to a more personalized in-store or online shopping experience, while 58% will share personal data to power product recommendations that match their needs. (Salesforce)

58. Buyers have increased value placed on digital experiences (83.8%) (Influencer Marketing Hub)

🎓 IMPACT+ course: Self-selection and the touchless website buying experience

Website UX strategy

59. 50% of people won’t purchase from a brand that has a poorly designed mobile site. (Think With Google)

60. For every $1 invested in UX, you get $100 in return. (Forrester)

61. Website visitors up 31% vs. a Pre-COVID benchmark. (HubSpot)

62. In the US, 43% of internet users polled by GlobalWebIndex in May 2020 said their laptop time had increased, and 24% reported spending more time on a desktop. (eMarketer)

63. 62% of US Shoppers Say They Shop Online More Now Than pre-COVID. (Influencer Marketing Hub)

🎓 Related IMPACT+ courses: 

Marketing budgets

64. Due to COVID, 42% of respondents cited budget cuts as a “significant challenge,” more than any other answer (74% said cuts were presenting a challenge at some level). (LinkedIn)

65. The next-highest responses were switching in-person events to virtual events (34%) and being forced to shift marketing priorities (31%). (LinkedIn)

66. Similarly, 34% of marketers named budget cuts their biggest concern over the next three months, followed by switching to virtual events (16%) and lack of engagement from their target audience (13%). (LinkedIn)

67. 72% of marketers cite budget reductions as a top reason for pulling back digital marketing investments. (LinkedIn)

68. In February 2020, respondents' firms planned to spend 11.3% of their total budgets on marketing, on average. By June 2020, this rose to 12.6%. As an additional comparison, the figure was only 8.1% back in February 2011. (Influencer Marketing Hub)

69. 68% expect COVID-19 To Result in Reduced Ad Spend Into 2021 (Influencer Marketing Hub)

Virtual events

70. Webinars and virtual events contributed to 43% of sales pipeline vs. 20% pre-COVID. (Demandbase)

71. When asked how COVID-19 has affected customer event strategies, 40% of marketers said they’re planning to move events online, if they haven’t already. (LinkedIn)

72. Another 13% are considering the possibility of virtual formats. (LinkedIn)

73. Meanwhile, 38% say they are pausing or canceling all upcoming events. (LinkedIn)

74. Marketers have adjusted their tactical mixes in the midst of this COVID. Here’s where we are seeing the biggest increases: Webinars (67%) Organic social (56%) Online video (44%) (LinkedIn)

🔎 Related resources:

Ready to execute your best work in 2021?

Right now, you might feel a bit overwhelmed by how many things really have changed lately, but remember, change is oftentimes uncomfortable, but it can be exciting. Don’t lose your optimism. Don’t just react. Be proactive in your thinking and you’ll be more likely to succeed.

What’s going to be your biggest sales and marketing challenge over the next 90 days? How can you get ahead of the challenge and take the next best step based on what you know now?

Way leads on to way, and I believe 2021 will be your best year yet.

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