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Five Digital Marketing Trends to Watch In 2021

Marci Trares, Director, Marketing Services, Dominion Dealer Solutions

Marci Trares, Director, Marketing Services, Dominion Dealer Solutions

It seems that marketing technology reinvents itself almost every day, and this makes it increasingly difficult for brands to keep track of the latest tools. Taking a look at the overall trends behind the tools, however, and the search becomes much more manageable. Here are five trends that are changing the digital industry — and deserve your full attention.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence, “AI,” is a game changer for the sales and service industry. With Al, you can automate functions in your company, eliminate redundancies and free up your staff for the human tasks they’re best equipped to perform — like greeting customers, walking them through the process and solving their problems.

AI technology

monitors a customer’s progress through each stage of their interaction with your brand. By centralizing all the data collected on them, AI serves personalized responses to their questions. Moreover, your staff has access to consumer information when it’s their turn to enter the process.

AI is critical for providing help and answers through online, text and telephone helplines. With technology such as Natural Language Processing and chatbots, consumers can interact with your dealership in a low-pressure way, day or night, getting the information they’re looking for quickly and easily. According to business insider, 80% of businesses will implement chatbots by 2020. Since chatbots can “live” on familiar platforms, such as Facebook Messenger and iMessage, the interaction is smooth and simple.

The point is – every consumer’s wants and needs are different, and the path to purchase is not linear. Businesses will benefit from being able to analyze substantial amounts of data, build more accurate consumer profiles, and respond to the consumers at the moments that matter most.


The efforts of Amazon, Apple, eBay, and other online retailers have trained customers to expect a customized shopping and service experience from all their online activities. Thanks to advances in AI, other brands can follow suit.

  Marketing is an ever-evolving field, but by keeping up on the trends behind the products, you can determine what your dealership needs to serve your customers both today and tomorrow​  

Consumers generate vast quantities of information during their day-to-day activities, and AI uses this data to serve both them and your dealership. For example, in a typical car-buying journey, an individual customer can leave behind hundreds of digital touchpoints — search engine queries, video views, interactions with dealership and manufacturer websites and so on. These data points can be collected and used to personalize every interaction. Research has shown that 80 percent of consumers are more likely to do business with a company if it offers them a personalized experience.

This not only gives a consumer the information they want but also finds the way they’ll be most likely to use it. An

AI-powered platform

, for instance, can determine the best time of day to send an email to an individual and what type of message would resonate best with them. This creates an individualized path for each consumer for the biggest impact.

By anticipating consumer needs, brands can proactively help customers by presenting them with products they’ll be most interested in exploring. Being served with relevant information makes them feel valued and eases their journey to the sale. For businesses, this means being able to see the most value for your ad spend. Remove the guesswork and instead send personalized marketing that brings the sale home.

Check Out: Top Digital Marketing Companies

Multi-Point Attribution

There’s an old saying that “Success has many fathers, while failure is an orphan.” When transactions are made, and customers leave happy, there’s often no shortage of people or suppliers who want to claim credit. Studies show, however, that 67 percent of online shoppers use more than one channel in their decision-making process; the last “click” rarely deserves full credit. Connecting the dots of consumer engagement can be challenging, but businesses that can gain this insight will come out ahead of its competition.

Multi-channel funnel reporting can shed light on this topic. This type of reporting takes into account each channel’s overall role in an individual sale. Calculating the impact of paid digital marketing media such as direct advertising, organic search, referrals, paid search, social media efforts and more provide clear views of how each channel is performing and how it best fits into your overall marketing strategy. True attribution reporting allows businesses to hold their vendors accountable with unbiased, accurate data and reduces the risk of wasteful spending.

Voice Search

The one truth about online retailing is that what worked in the past will probably change in the future, and this includes how people search for information. According to ComScore, by the year 2020, half of all online searches will be carried out by voice, and 30 percent of them will be made by using no screen at all. You know Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and Google Voice well, and more are on the way. At this time there is not a specific search terms report for voice searches — but that may be coming. Meanwhile, analyze your reports and look for key voice indicators like, “Ok Google…” which are voice searches. You may be surprised at how often these are starting to appear in your Search Terms reports.

Also, think about the intent of the consumers using voice search. Many of these searches are used to find local business information such as hours of operation, addresses or phone numbers. Is your business listing up to date so that these searches can find you? Are you creating relevant content on your website to match how consumers are searching?

Natural Language Processing allows users to be more conversational and less “keyword” focused. Finding results becomes more of a conversation than a search engine hunt. Voice search optimization will become more crucial as this change takes place, and dealerships who get ahead of the curve will have a smaller field of competition and can reap the benefits.


If you’re not taking full advantage of video, your marketing efforts need an overhaul. More than 50 percent of shoppers watch at least 30 minutes of video content daily, and that number is growing. While online video views are up across all demographics, it’s especially true among younger groups, with 96 percent of users between 18 and 24 accessing YouTube in 2018.

And it’s not just a matter of “exposure.” Google has found that video watching increases purchase intent by 97 percent and brand association by 139 percent. Specific to car shoppers, 43 percent said they learned more about vehicles through videos.

Part of video’s strength over other forms of marketing is emotion and immediacy. Instead of describing what a car feels like to operate, a video test drive gives the viewer a true feel for how it handles. Video connects with customers in a way that other forms of marketing cannot touch.

Because of increasingly accurate methods of targeting viewers — AI, again — dealerships can serve both full-length videos and bumper ads (which play before the viewer’s video selection), offering entertaining, relevant information for low-funnel potential customers.

Stay on Top

We continue to see shopping behaviors change, and dealerships need to work even harder to exceed expectations to win the sale. Marketing is an ever-evolving field, but by keeping up on the trends behind the products, you can determine what your dealership needs to serve your customers both today and tomorrow.