I’ll admit it – I can’t predict the future. Especially when it comes to online. It is impossible to tell what digital marketing trends will emerge in 2021. As we continue to deal with the effects of the global pandemic, there’s one thing we do know: technology is evolving faster than ever and it can be a huge opportunity for us all.
To stay relevant in any industry, businesses must have a consistent and engaging digital presence. Think of your online presence as another lifeline for your organization; another way to stay in contact with your consumer base.
In 2020, it quickly became apparent to businesses around the world that without a digital outlet, you were likely to struggle immensely. The foot-in-the-door method that was the backbone of so many businesses, suddenly became an unreliable avenue for entrepreneurs to connect with consumers.
Don’t worry though, it’s the dawn of a new year, and with it brings new buying trends and online fads. Without further ado, let’s dive into the digital marketing trends you need to know about going into 2021.
The Importance of Social Media
Through 2020, the amount of time users spent on social media platforms increased tremendously. Social media is the easiest way for humans to connect with each other while in-person gatherings are restricted. It’s no surprise that this trend will continue in 2021 as we all adjust to whatever “normal life” is going to be post-pandemic. Social media is the perfect opportunity for your business to connect with your long-term customers as well as gain new ones in 2021. With a successful social media strategy, you’ll be able to attract new business, engage your current audience, and analyze customer response rates. Oh and did I mention the best part? Setting up your social media is free.
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Now that you know you need some form of social media marketing for 2021, let’s talk about the most important piece: content. Social media is not a set-it and forget-it situation, posting impactful content regularly is vital if you are looking to remain relevant in 2021. When used correctly, social media can be an invaluable tool for your business and its overall success.
The Power of Posting a Story
When thinking about your 2021 social media strategy, it is important to remember the value of useful and creative content. You’ll want to post a variety of relevant posts that are informative and visually appealing. You want to provide value to your audience. Blog posts, photos and videos are the common mediums used, but 2020 saw the emergence of the Story.
Stories are a great tool, because you don’t have to worry too much about creating the perfect edited photo. It’s ok to be raw and post on the fly to give your audience that authentic experience. Brands are now able to share interactive content and BTS footage with their audience; the world is now able to see the people behind the business in a way they never have before.
Consumers are loving the personification of brands achieved through social media stories, it’s safe to say this is one trend that is sure to stick around through 2021. You can even create an effective paid campaign around stories for very little money to get them in front of a new audience; take advantage of paid tools that may not be available to your profile through organic reach.
The Rise of Influencer Marketing
Companies around the world are starting to catch onto what we already know: influencer marketing is the way of the future. We aren’t talking about celebrities or local stars, but those online who have a significant number of loyal followers across multiple platforms. These influencers have spent a large amount of time building trust within their community, and that trust can be a powerful tool for brands to leverage and gain access to a new, engaged audience.
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Now, you can’t go collaborating with just ANY influencer. It is important to work with those online who share similar goals and beliefs to ensure any campaign would be effective. If someone is going to be a spokesperson for your brand, you ought to make sure you’re on the same page. These influencers are not only brand ambassadors, they are also a valuable source of content for you to share across your channels as well. The ultimate goal is for the brand to have a mutually beneficial relationship with influencers, helping to grow each other’s networks simultaneously.
Building Relationships Through Interactive Content
Interactive content adds value for both the customer and the brand; having conversations with your followers allows you to gain valuable insight into what consumers are looking for. This type of content helps to foster trust between you and your customers, allowing them to voice their opinions with the knowledge that they will be heard.
Types of interactive content include:
- Polls on your website and social media channels
- Chat boxes for customers to voice their opinions and to provide immediate service.
- Contests or surveys with incentives for winners
- Augmented Reality ads
Digital contests are an excellent way to give back to your community while still working to expand it. Social media giveaways are especially effective at growing your network of followers and gaining brand recognition.
Conversational Marketing Through Chatbots
Conversational Marketing is achieved through interactive content like Chats. Most social media platforms have a chat function these days; this tool allows for a more personal approach to customer relations. Chatbots are available 24/7, and can be pre-set with personalized responses to consumer questions. Implementing chatbots on your website and social channels can help to increase inquiry response times and save on payroll for customer service employees.
Ecommerce and Digital Marketing
One lasting effect from the global pandemic has been the necessity for eCommerce. In 2020, even essential services like grocery stores quickly developed a digital strategy of selling online with delivery services while in lockdown. The trend of online shopping has continued, partially due to the safety factor and also out of pure convenience. Online payment and fast and convenient delivery will bring products closer to the customer, improving the overall shopping experience.
Advancements in eCommerce have streamlined the buying process online making it easier for customers to shop. Shoppable posts on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook allows customers to purchase featured products, without leaving the social media platform. The theory is: the more accessible your products are to consumers, the more likely they are to make a purchase.
Creative Video Content
Video content will always be in style. Why? It’s more dynamic digital marketing than a photo or even a well-written blog. The customer remains visually engaged while learning about a product or business through the art of storytelling. Animations, when used strategically, can have a similar effect, making content dynamic and visually engaging. Video content can also be cost effective; with a talented videographer on set, one shoot can produce a small library of footage that can be edited — and distributed — in different ways.
It is important to remember that video content is successful when it looks professionally done and is personalized to the brand but the raw and authentic content of the day-to-day has become increasingly popular. Your audience wants to get to know YOU, so don’t be afraid to show them. Video marketing is only getting more innovative, and when it comes to your digital presence, creativity will never go out of style.
Augmented/Virtual Reality for Business
We already know that videos and images work to create an emotional bond with consumers. Virtual reality takes that a step further; it provides the context for the imagination to come to life. When used appropriately, this technology can enhance user shopping experience, helping consumers imagine how a product would fit in a space or even how a different hair colour will look. Implementing virtual reality into your business can give your consumers a personalized shopping experience that will keep them coming back for more.
Never Ignore SEO Guidelines
SEO/SEM is one trend that will NEVER go away. Google continually updates their SEO Guidelines, and it is crucial you stay up to date with the latest standards. What is the point of having an online presence if your website can’t be found on the Google Search results page (SERP)? Outside of the basic SEO guidelines, there are a few trends that will continue to be relevant in 2021 that will ensure online accessibility.
Google Verified Listings
For local businesses, it is important to have updated information on My Google Business Listings to help establish geographic location(s) consumers can visit. This is so that your business can be shown for “near me” Google searches. Customers will be able to see business location(s), operating hours, and reviews on your My Google Business Listing. Search engines prioritize relevance in their algorithms, so keeping detailed and up to date business information on Google is critical.
Voice Controlled Search Assistants
Voice controlled assistants are in huge demand right now; almost every major tech company has their own version, the most notable being Google, Siri and Alexa. The increase in voice searching has had a significant impact on trending keywords. For a business, this is another avenue to ensure your keywords are relevant and appropriately used; optimizing your keyword SEO will help to increase website visibility when searched using a voice controlled assistant.
In the last few years, we have seen the general population switch from using desktops to smartphones and tablets for the majority of their time online. Web pages designed for a desktop computer or laptop will not necessarily translate on a mobile device.
The mobile version will have adjusted image and page sizes, condensed layouts and could potentially have mobile features added. Websites have to have a strong mobile version in 2021 to ensure the best user experience no matter the device.
Google PPC Ads
With the huge online push in 2020, how do you stand out amongst all that noise? Google PPC Ads are a useful way to get your brand noticed online. You create the ad, pick your audience, and choose your budget; you only pay for the ad when a user actually clicks through to your website. New Google technology like automated bidding makes it even easier to get a return on your ads.
Running a business is a TON of work, especially when it is still in its early stages. Marketing automation platforms help your business with digital digital marketing by. It allows you to automate your digital marketing campaigns so you can create predictable revenue streams.
Using a marketing automation platform you can schedule social media posts, create automated responses, increase lead generation and share personalized content to specific segments of your customer base. It is a vital tool to help your business streamline processes; it’s easier to manage internally, and can provide a better overall experience for consumers.
Digital marketing trends evolved immensely in 2020, and will continue to do so throughout 2021. The global pandemic caused many industries to adapt to servicing their customers online in a capacity that they never had before. Users in general are spending more time online, so it only makes sense that businesses should aim to be where the customers are.
Building meaningful two-way communication with customers has never been easier with advancements on social media platforms, and is one trend everyone should be adopting. Creative and relevant content continues to be an integral part of any digital marketing strategy; it doesn’t matter how amazing your business is if you aren’t showcasing that online in a dynamic and engaging way.