Ryan Sauer from King James Digital highlights key 2021 digital marketing trends

Technological innovations which will inform digital marketing strategies for the year ahead.

Ryan Sauer from King James Digital highlights key 2021 digital marketing trends

Ryan Sauer from King James Digital has a few insights as to the changes that are happening in the digital space that are worth paying attention to and possibly informing your strategy.

This article was sent to us (so not written by us), but there are indeed some important changes in digital marketing, which have been highlighted by the article, that will affect how you plan for the future.


Covid-19 has certainly fast tracked digital transformation. With many offices still empty as people work from home logging onto digital platforms like Zoom to connect with colleagues or shop online or via apps for their groceries and avoid gyms by training virtually using their devices or smart TVs, it means marketers must rethink how to reach their audiences.

Ryan Sauer is the Managing Director at King James Digital. They specialise in performance marketing and have their finger on the pulse when it comes to the latest trends. With access to mobile and social media at an all-time high, Ryan says the following technological innovations are going to be considered in how digital marketers strategise for the year ahead:

App tracking settings to effect Facebook

Social media channels and many other media platforms rely on the hardware and operating system from our handset devices be it IOS or Android. If the roles change in these environments, user behaviour changes too. iOS 14 brings with it app tracking settings that will affect Facebook tracking and thus monetisation. Whilst a minority of South Africans are on an Apple device compared to Android operating systems this should be a sign of things to come. It’s going to be essential that you consider how this is going to affect your campaign.

If a native App user of Facebook has turned their App tracking setting off, then you cannot run re-marketing or location specific adverts to them as an example. Plan to work on first party data plays in the next few months, they will become critical in the cookie-less world.

Social Commerce

Since 2004, we’ve seen our social posts mature from mostly text based communications to image and videos. We are going to start to see social commerce fulfil a through-the-funnel-role, which hinges strongly on content and product discovery, fusing social media and e-commerce without you leaving your favourite social media channel.

The way in which this will affect you is that because a brand’s calls to action lives in their content, it will end up changing the engagement and conversion of social media content pieces. Instagram and Facebook, and many others to follow, will allow for e-commerce conversions on their platform, reducing drop-off and driving revenue.

How can you be one step ahead of this change? By developing a strategy that will require you to enable business e-commerce that can be linked to a Facebook shopping environment.

With sectors such as Fashion and beauty 30% up and food and furniture and appliances 23% up for example, the challenge for many brands will be the logistics of fulfilment if they don't have direct e-commerce distribution in place. In other words, if you rely on Takealot (or any other fulfilment partner) at the moment to distribute your products, social commerce will take a little time to become available to your products.

Conversational Commerce

While chatbots are not new, their functionality has advanced. Using natural language processing and decision tree methodology chatbots can easily answer generic questions as well as pick up on sentiment offering that personal touch and also assist in lead generation by gathering 1st party information.

With this in mind, we suggest considering conversion journeys and ways of getting 1st party data from your customers while addressing their initial reason for engaging the chatbot function. Giving a customer a price for a product or stock availability at a store level are some examples of how conversational commerce can drive digital conversion.

The Rise of the Super App

People want to stay in native environments; leaving platforms spends marketing budget and results in a high drop-off rate. If you can keep a user on a particular platform, they will be more likely to engage and convert. What we suggest you do is to build native platform experiences and should a user move out of a platform, reduce the lags and loadings to the best of your ability.

Virtual Lifestyles

Customers are spending way more time in alternate realities while they are online than they did pre-Covid. With 5.3% of South Africans surveyed by Wearesocial confirming they use a VR headset and Google and Apple investing in this space, it’s time to start planning how products and brands feature in this space. If your brand lives in an alternate reality gameplay, the probability of a user engaging it in the real world increases. What you can do to improve your visibility in these worlds is to first establish which environments they are spending most of their leisure time in and place brands with medium frequency in these environments.

With Internet connections for mobile increasing by 24% and fixed Internet connections increasing by 42.4% according to Wearesocial, the streaming trend is here to stay. Binge watching and multi-video binging on YouTube has increased dramatically thanks to smart TVs. What we’ve seen is that to feature on a "TV" with a high frequency and a powerful sequential brand message can be powerful, if you apply your messaging systematically. To do this, consider producing content that is evergreen and seed this on YouTube at high impact times over a one year timeline.

Security and privacy

49.2% of South Africans surveyed are using an ad blocking tool already with a further 56.8% saying they have deleted cookies from their web browser in the past month. Thanks to new rules and restrictions it’s not going to be as easy to track cookies and target audiences by past behaviour, as user identifiable data is going to disappear. Because performance and conversion tracking is changing, brands and businesses will need to plan and prepare for a different tracking environment. The way you can combat this is to invest in 1st party data by building a direct relationship with your clients. Keep your data connected and clean, and consider using the latest Google Analytics (GA4) for better analytical tools and reporting.

E-commerce, FMCG, Retail

E-commerce and ROI (return on investment) and ROAS (return on advertising spend) is becoming a factor in digital media budget planning. What we’re seeing is that more 3rd party e-tailers are waking up to data sharing in order to drive sales and attract media spend. Ideally what you want to be doing is to tap into brand retailer partnerships to drive adoption and analytics feedback with an agency that is well connected, who can do this on your behalf. Seeing as consumers are buying FMCG low price point products bundled in with their regular retail shop, it’s going to be necessary that you consider driving sales in moments of consideration through packaged deals with strong incentives to encourage a purchase. This could be by including or excluding price discounting to drive trial and adoption.

In conclusion, with digital marketing a buzz with so much innovation and movement right now, it’s going to be those brands that reap the rewards and improve leads and sales by staying ahead of trends in order to identify opportunities as they appear.


To connect with Ryan and King James Digital, go to https://www.kingjames.digital/ to find out more.