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2021 Digital Marketing Predictions and Trends for the Real Estate Industry

Posted on February 26, 2021 | Read time: 6 minutes

While 2020 was a year when time seemingly stood still for many Americans, innovation in digital marketing has accelerated like never before. On the back of COVID-19, digital media has been transformed with significant changes looming for the industry.

Major shifts in consumer behavior and a renewed focus on privacy are impacting longtime industry standards, leading to big changes for 2021 and beyond.

“We’ve entered a new age of digital media innovation,” says Angelene McCullough, Cotton & Company’s Digital Marketing Strategist. “2020 transformed the way people and brands are using the internet, which in turn has resulted in an entirely new digital ecosystem.”

As more and more people were forced to rely heavily on the internet during the quarantine for work, school, and purchasing, web usage spiked, and user behavior changed dramatically. The numbers speak for themselves:

  • Pre-pandemic the average screen time was 3.2 hours per day and it is currently 7 hours per day
  • 60% of total consumers are now shopping via mobile & desktop devices as opposed to brick and mortar retail establishments
  • More than 50% of internet traffic is taking place on mobile devices
  • 68% of consumers prefer to text rather than talk on their Smartphones
  • Podcast audiences increased dramatically with 55% of Americans tuning in
  • The election has shined a light on big tech companies controlling the narrative with the data they have collected over many years. In 2021 the government is stepping in to protect consumers.

To better understand the impact of this digital marketing transformation on the real estate industry, Cotton & Company outlines what to expect in 2021:

Social Media Isn’t Dying

Some trends come and go overnight while some are built into the communication foundation. Social marketing will evolve with the platforms’ innovation, driving creativity in the techniques we use to engage in social conversation.  Expect to see Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other major platforms continue to dominate the landscape and increasing the priority of data segmentation in identifying target audiences. They will remain a vital element of every digital marketing strategy, especially with sponsored marketing.

Facebook Returns to Its Roots

The most important social media trend to watch in 2021 will be community-focused activity. As the pandemic lockdown took hold, people turned to the Internet as a form of distraction. Forums and groups rose in popularity creating communities dedicated to various fanbases. Groups and collaboration will become even more prominent therefore revealing the human side of your brand is crucial to your future success. Smart businesses will understand that being transparent, authentic, and even vulnerable makes sense.  People connect with the human race. This means the brand should be personified in a way that reveals who and what they stand for.

Posting content on your timeline is no longer enough. Expect to see brands spending more time engaging and interacting with others, sharing with groups, and collaborating with other brands. There will be a more personal approach to content utilizing new tools like unique photo effects, frames, and elements like 3D photos & videos.

2021 Will Be the Year of AI and Machine Learning

As brands spend more time interacting on platforms, they will rely on Artificial Intelligence (AI) led opportunities for ad campaigns, so more time can be spent building a community. AI is revolutionizing how brands do business. 5 years from now every website across the globe will most likely have AI at its core. Today, there’s no shortage of tools available to collect and organize personal customer data daily, but the ability to translate mountains of data into actionable insights is what is lacking. As the world begins a mass exodus to digital, delivering a personalized, targeted customer experience will be a key facet of a successful digital transformation.

Advertisers are turning to AI as an alternative to human optimization. AI uses predictive modeling, predicting the behaviors users are going to take based on historical behavioral data. Advertisers will need to shift from a human optimization approach to automation to benefit from AI and machine learning which will provide a greater ROI in 2021.

User-Generated Content

Forums & groups have risen as people want to connect & engage with like-minded individuals. Entire communities have been created dedicated to various topics. As a result, platforms such as Tik-Tok, Facebook Watch, and Instagram Reels have evolved to showcase “User-Generated” Content. Expect to see even more opportunities of consumers engaging with brands to enable more organic connections between brands and consumers.

“At a time where lives have changed dramatically, consumers are looking to personal referrals for recommendations,” says Laurie Andrews, Cotton & Company’s CMO.  “Many homebuyers are migrating to new areas of the country and reach out to local groups for recommendations. Educating the general market with timely information on your project and keeping them up-to-date with sales information helps ensure accurate engagement with the local social community.”  The rise of online recommendations will only increase and there is no better sales pitch than your homebuyers and residents sharing their appreciation for your product.

The Demise of the Cookie & Introduction to the Identity Graph

Cookies are small pieces of code that are added to users’ web browsers as they visit websites. Advertisers use cookies to collect data to help them deliver the most relevant and targeted content to specific audiences. Google plans to end support of third-party advertising cookies and the loss of tracking technologies will affect the way advertisers have the ability to target or retarget users.  The use of first-party data has never been more important, and savvy marketing professionals are finding new ways to capture the interest of online consumers.

An Identity Graph will be used to connect your first-party data to the programmatic ecosystem, in real-time, to make audiences addressable across all browsers and devices without cookies.

The Consumer is King

To succeed in 2021, consumers need to be at the center of your marketing strategy. The idiom “the consumer is king” may be cliché, but it is now more relevant than ever. Brands that fully consider their consumers’ motivations, needs, and conversations and then take decisive actions based on those insights, will be the ones that survive the turbulence ahead.

In the last 20 years, the capabilities of the web have grown tremendously, and become more complex. Figuring out how to configure, manage and drive ROI from your own website has never been more complex.

Real estate developers and builders are turning to digital marketing experts like Cotton & Company to help navigate these turbulent waters.  To create an authentic and compelling experience for real estate consumers, it is imperative to integrate the psychological consumer behaviors of real estate purchases with the ever-changing landscape of the digital marketing spectrum. Cotton & Company’s experienced team of digital marketing specialists, creative designers, copywriters, and website developers are on-hand to help capture the energy of the surging real estate market in the most cost-effective and timely manner possible. For more information on Cotton & Company, join our email list or contact Karen Cantor, Executive Vice President to schedule a review of your marketing needs.

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