Last year was full of unexpected changes and challenges, but 2021 offers a clean slate with infinite possibilities for your business. As much of the world has shifted its attention online, it’s more important than ever to make the right digital first impression. As you analyze last year’s digital marketing performance and make goals for the future, watch out for these top five marketing trends.
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1. Interactive Virtual Events
While virtual events really took off in 2020, “Zoom fatigue” has become a real issue as many people took all aspects of their life, from work to social relationships, online. Livestream events, such as virtual concerts and festival, sporting events, and conferences allow people to maintain some sense of normalcy and connectedness to the world around them. However, many long for events that go beyond entertainment or education.
Consumers are likely to seek out true human connection and place a strong emphasis on community in 2021. While webinars, celebrations, and other virtual events are a strong way to draw people in, including interactive elements that allow people to join the conversation is a great way to take your marketing to next level. Utilize more intimate settings, such as chatrooms or Q&A-style discussions, to make a deeper connection with attendees. Getting influencers involved can boost attendance.
2. Data-Driven Digital Marketing
Rather than relying on their gut reaction when making a marketing call, many business owners and marketing experts are relying more heavily on data to make important decisions. Many professionals are investing in software that help them collect data and make the necessary changes to boost results. This software can provide marketers information on organic website traffic, keyword performance, conversion rates, inbound marketing ROI, and more.
Many marketers are also utilizing machine learning to better appeal to users and understand their behavior, allowing them to better predict user preferences and adjust their strategy. According to a 2019 survey by CMO, there was a 26% increase in how many marketers utilized machine learning or artificial intelligence as an analytical tool. This data not only helps marketing professionals stay a step ahead, but it also allows them to show their clients tangible results on how their marketing spend has impacted their online presence and overall success.
3. Voice Search Optimization
Whether or not you’ve jumped on board the voice search train already, voice search is here to stay and will continue to be one of the top marketing trends in 2021. According to data from ComScore, more than 50% of smartphone users in 2020 used voice search, and insights from Google reveal that 62% of people who use a voice-activated speaker are likely to use it to make a purchase within a month.
While the most popular use for smart speakers is playing music, more and more people are using voice search to find a local business (e.g. to locate a dentist near them, discover a new place to eat, or get directions to a business recommended by a friend). It’s much easier to pick up your phone and quickly ask where the nearest hair stylist is than to type it out and browse through pages of results.
For marketing, this means prioritizing voice search optimization so you always pop up as one of the top results when a question relevant to your industry is asked. Including relevant keywords, having an FAQ page, and using local language are one piece of voice search SEO. Search engines are also are more likely to recommend your business if you have a well-developed, credible website with a schema markup, XML sitemaps, mobile-optimization, and sound site structure.
Apple’s Siri and Android’s Google Assistant are the top systems people currently use for voice search. Each of these rely on different business listing platforms to recommend businesses to searchers. Siri depends on Yelp, so it is essential your business has an up-to-date Yelp account with good reviews. Google relies on Google My Business, which similarly needs to be updated regularly with plenty of high-quality, positive reviews.
Learn about Google E-A-T and its impact on your SEO strategy
4. Strategic Social Media Advertising
At this point, most people are already convinced that social media advertising and content marketing is an essential part of any marketing campaign. From incorporating visually appealing photography and videography to easily selecting and reaching your target audience, social media is the perfect space to get your company’s name out to the world and bring in new leads.
While Facebook dominated the world of social media advertising for many years, many business owners are seeing the value in expanding their reach by branching out to other platforms. Companies are exploring which types of social media advertising would best benefit their industry and target audience.
Instagram a very successful, creative space for advertising, with incredibly high engagement rates. LinkedIn advertising has quickly grown in popularity, with eMarketer estimating that more than 50% of marketers will start using the platform for creating ads in 2021, especially for B2B advertisers looking for a more niche marketspace.
YouTube offers a creative space for running ads, and people are naturally drawn to video. It is a strong choice for businesses with a younger target audience between the ages of 14 and 49. While YouTube’s users are mostly male, Pinterest is an effective space for ecommerce brands targeting younger women.
5. Purpose-Driven Marketing
Consumers are more concerned with the values of the companies they support, and many people are taking time to learn about who they buy products or services from before making this purchase. In 2021, businesses are likely to push past the surface-deep details and incorporate purpose-driven marketing across every channel. Many companies will dedicate time and money to supporting worthy causes, emphasizing inclusivity, educating the community, or prioritizing sustainability.
As a company seeking to market your services or products in today’s current atmosphere, you need to deep dive into your company’s mission, vision, and purpose. Understanding what really makes people in your company tick and knowing what impact your business has on the community and world around you is an essential part of establishing your brand. Wherever you are on this journey, once you understand your company’s purpose, allow this shine through every aspect of your marketing.
People who are inspired by your vision are likely to become invested in your purpose and support your business for years in the future. There are several ways you can incorporate purpose-driven marketing into your current campaign including:
- Choosing and incorporating a hashtag that captures the purpose of your campaign
- Partnering with a nonprofit, which can include donating a portion of profits to the company
- Advertising choices your business makes to strive towards your mission daily, such as adopting specific sustainable practices
- Utilize creative video and imagery to bring attention to a cause while highlighting your brand
Bonus Tip: Start a Conversation
From using a chatbot or live chat on your website to responding to customer’s inquiries on social media, conversational marketing is sure to take off in 2021. While some people are happy to take the time to browse through your website and learn more about your brand on their own, others would rather get straight to the point and talk with a representative to get answers. Many people need to develop trust in your company before doing business with you, and having a conversation is a more effective way to build a relationship.
On the other hand, companies that don’t prioritize conversational marketing may lose vital marketing opportunities. If interested in several businesses, people may be more likely to choose the company that responds the most quickly. Additionally, a timely response to any complaints from current customers is essential for mending the relationship and making the situation right.
However, if your company chooses to invest in conversational marketing, regular upkeep is a must. While customers may expect to receive a response several hours or even days after submitting a contact form or sending an inquiry over email, people often anticipate a response in less than one hour after a message sent through a chat platform. Statistics from the Live Chat Benchmark Report show the average wait time for chat is just 45 seconds. Delaying your response or not having an automated chatbot in place can result in a lost lead.
There is no cookie-cutter marketing solution that works for every business. Your company and the people that make it so successful are unique, and the best avenue to reaching your ideal client may not look the same as any other business. As you look forward to 2021, a new year the offers endless opportunities for growth, take time to consider your company’s goals and identify which marketing trends will help you achieve these results. Work with the right marketing agency and you may even exceed these expectations by the end of the year.
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