Top 9 NZ Digital Marketing Trends In 2021

Discover the top digital marketing trends in New Zealand for 2021, from the leading social platforms to up-and-coming trends like TikTok, Instagram Reels, and voice search. With insights from Kiwi startups and SMBs, this guide covers everything you need to know for effective digital marketing.

We asked Kiwi Startups and SMBs about digital marketing and here’s what we learned. 

Let’s face it. Digital marketing changes fast. If you’re looking for marketing trends and tactics that are going to make an impact today, this guide has you covered.

We looked at which platforms are performing well and compared digital marketing channels with traditional print media. We found up-and-coming trends. We even considered the current challenges in the digital world. With the help of all of you who filled our survey, we uncovered some interesting findings. 

And today we’re going to share what we found with you.

Here’s a Summary of Our Findings


Our data shows that the leading social platforms are still delivering some serious results: With 92% of businesses in this survey active on Facebook, 72% on Instagram, and 65% on Linkedin. Of the people that we surveyed 73% stated that their overall digital marketing performance either met or EXCEEDED expectations!


87% of businesses use emoji 👋🏽 in social posts, with 15% using them in EVERY post. Of course, this will depend on the nature of your business and your overall brand tone and personality, but on the whole, we’re seeing that emojis are an effective way to thumb-stop on a newsfeed. 


Digital marketing is one of the most effective ways to build brand awareness. 65% of businesses surveyed use digital marketing for generating brand awareness and reach. Lead generation and email sign-ups is the second biggest focus for business with 53%, and 41% of businesses use online channels to drive purchases. 


When it comes to paid advertising, Google and Facebook lead the way in terms of performance. Businesses that paid for ads in NZ Herald and Stuff reported mostly that they were either in the dark about performance, or that it didn’t have the desired effect. We’re seeing a mixed performance from Linkedin currently, but as they start to roll out new advertising features and grow in popularity, we’re noticing B2B businesses especially giving more attention to this platform as a paid advertising channel. 


When it comes to challenges, time, tactical knowledge and consistency seem to be the downfall of start-ups and SMBs. Add algorithmic changes, platform & best-practice updates and new feature roll-outs, it starts to become a bit tricky to stay on top of things. This is especially true when resources are stretched and the budget is tight. We see many smaller businesses dropping the ball and losing the consistency required to keep an engaged and active audience. 

With oversaturated social feeds focused on platform specific media, users expect tailored content and creative ideas. Without a full-suite, in-house marketing team this high-calibre level of content can be difficult to produce week-in-week-out. 

Another common challenge we highlighted from the survey is: “We can’t tell if our ads are achieving tangible results.” Paid digital ads generally require regular monitoring and optimization to work effectively. Many businesses will leave underperforming ads running because they lack the knowledge and technical expertise to analyze and carefully refine the ads to generate trackable results.  

Making sure you have a clear way to analyse marketing spend is critical when it comes to making budgeting decisions that affect your business’ development. See our blog post about Simplifying Your Website & Marketing Insights here.


TikTok, Instagram Reels, Influencer Marketing and Voice Search – The up-and-coming trends to look out for. Founded in 2016, TikTok has exploded in popularity. The latest TikTok statistics show that, as of June 2021, the platform has over 700 million monthly active users around the globe. 


Inspired by TikTok’s features of easily creating short videos with interesting music pairings, Instagram Reels was introduced in 2020. Reels offer you the ability to string multiple clips together into one video and can keep attracting viewers long after they are shared. 


Influencer marketing is becoming a HUGE trend in 2021 and beyond. More and more brands are looking for ongoing partnerships with influencers across social media platforms striking win-win performance-focused deals. 


There’s no doubt about it: Voice Search is on the rise. Current voice search stats show that 31% of smartphone users worldwide use voice search at least once a week. And, it doesn’t look like this is a passing fad. In fact, a recent study by Comscore estimates that half of all searches will be performed by voice in 2021.

And finally, some of you also noted that authentic video content will be on the up in 2021. 61% of marketers see video as a “very important or extremely important” part of their marketing strategy. 68% of marketers say video has a better return on investment than Google Ads! 

Food For Thought

The world of digital marketing is ever-changing and fluid. Whilst there are a lot of new and exciting channels popping up, it makes sense to focus on the key players (Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin and YouTube) and building understanding of TikTok. 

As a startup or small-mid business, focusing your resources in digital will tend to pay off better than investing in print media for brand awareness and lead generation. Although getting an ad in NZ Herald or Stuff may seem like a good idea, our feedback shows that its unnecessarily expensive without clear evidence to justify the spend.  

If you can partner up with a digital team who will take care of your marketing needs this will free up a bunch of time and resource. It means you can focus on what you’re actually passionate about: your business!


We’d like to again thank all of you who participated in the survey for providing a lot of the raw data that made this study possible.

Now We'd like to hear your thoughts: What’s your #1 takeaway lesson from this analysis?

Or maybe you have a question about the findings. Either way, feel free to get in touch and let us know your thoughts.

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