As we are approaching the end of the year, it is a great time to look ahead at where are we heading and the marketing trends that we are likely to see in 2021. To make a solid plan for the short term, it is significant to keep an eye on where you are moving in the future. No one can say with 100% assurance what the future of marketing beholds, but industry experts can provide useful insights as well as predictions into some of the opportunities that might be available in the coming years.
Of course, there is no guarantee that these predictions will come true. As marketing experts, it is important to keep an eye on research, statistics, and data trends to spot opportunities. But make sure there is a lot of space to adapt and change in your marketing strategy.
For instance, nobody could have guessed how 2020 would change the world of marketing. Those who planned out their marketing activities based on what they knew at the beginning of the year found themselves wanting to abandon their plan and start from scratch.
But a few things are certain. The future of business and marketing will be more inclusive, diverse, and connected to the needs of real customers. It will not be about spending more on obvious self-promotion to outdated notions that no longer fits the reality of the world where we live.
Technology continues to advance at a fast pace, so obviously, some of these trends are focused on technology. However, there is a negative thing against the improved digitization and automation of interactions between consumers and brands, and a need to make marketing more human. While enhanced technologies like AI and data-driven marketing continue to expand, the focus will be on the people, and not on technology.
World-class customer experience
Every year is the year of the consumer. We are seeing a huge shift in beliefs about marketing. It is no longer about trying to encourage people to buy from you or work with your organization. Instead, the focus has moved towards offering the best customer experiences that will keep people coming back again and again. In a sense, when you focus on building a positive business culture and offering great service, the marketing takes care of itself.
Customers are not only impatient, but they also want those tacos to be delivered on the silver plate. Not literally, but they expect a seamless experience from the initial stage to customer service even after the sale. From personalized messaging that helps them to solve issues to make a purchasing decision to a client-focused culture throughout their client journey, an experience that delivers the best quality across all the channels is more probably to earn their business.
In addition to personalized marketing messages, find ways to listen and respond to their queries. Coordinate your online marketing team with your sales and customer service teams to offer quality throughout their experience.
The growth of online content has given customers more power. Nowadays, they are not a passive party when it comes to know about products and services. They do not wait for you to tell you how great your products and services are. Instead, they are doing their research and finding out.
So, you need to offer them something more than basic information. Nearly 73% of people say that customer experience is a significant factor in their purchasing decisions, but at present just 49% of the US customers say that today’s firms offer a great experience.
A look at the front-page headlines shows the importance of inclusivity in our present time and place in history. Greater numbers by day, mainly young audiences, and marginalized groups want to see an optimistic portrayal of equality in the content which they consume and the brands they buy from. Or more accurately, they do not want to see the similar content we are accustomed to from the earlier decades.
In 2021, online marketing includes media and subject matters that cover a huge variety of sexualities, religions, races, etc., as well as representation for people who suffer from physical and learning disabilities. This includes the content from your videos and imagery, but also the topics you discuss in blogs and social media, or even the line of items you provide.
Programmatic advertising means using AI to automate ad buying so that you can target more precise customers. For example, real-time bidding is a kind of programmatic ad buying. This automation is more efficient and faster, which means lower customer acquisition costs and higher conversions.
With the growth of smart speakers and voice search, you would be forgiven for thinking that “readable” content is more significant compared to design and visuals these days. This could not be further from reality. While advancements in voice search are influencing the way that we will create content now and, in the future, you should not neglect visual content either. Several studies have proved that people prefer visual content to plain text. You must look at the growth of image-focused platforms like Instagram and Pinterest to see the evidence.
Pinterest, Google, and various other companies are investing in visual search technology. Images are returned for 19% of searches on Google, and nearly 62% of millennials say that they are more interested in visual search when compared to other new technologies.
Visuals can be remembered easily than plain text. Adding infographics, data visualizations, videos, and images to your text not just make it more attractive and interesting, but it can help your message to be absorbed by your audience better also.
No-click searches and featured snippets
For several years, SEO has aimed to get your listing in the 1st position of search results. Now, going into 2021, the end-aim is continuing to move towards SEO visibility in “zero position.”
Position zero means Google’s “featured snippet”, and the SEO marketing trends are keeping it in priority. The featured snippet works differently than other search result entries- for one single thing, it is separated by a small box and placed at the top. More significantly, it displays additional, relevant information with an attempt to answer the user’s query without them clicking on it, urging the nickname “no-click search.”
Though it may sound counter-intuitive to forego someone clicking on the link, the recognition you achieve as a thought-leader overshadows a single visit/click. Also, featured snippets are sometimes read loudly with Google Assistant voice searches.
If you are going to target a featured snippet, there are a few things to understand. For beginners, featured snippets are mostly for the long-tail keyword phrases like questions. They come in various forms, from step-by-step lists to straight-up definitions to even the videos, so it is necessary to match your content with the right format.
This will continue to be a vital part of online marketing in 2021. This AI-based technology makes use of instant messaging to chat in real-time, no matter what time it is, with your site visitors or customers.
A survey shows that:
- Chatbots will power nearly 85% of customer service
- Major benefits of chatbots are 24-hour service, immediate response to inquiries, and replies to simple queries
- About 63% of customers prefer messaging an online chatbot to communicate with a brand or business
- By 2022, chatbots will help businesses save more than $8 billion per annum
Some customers prefer communicating with chatbots as they respond 24/7, replies quickly, perfectly recall your whole buying history, and never lose patience. These virtual assistants provide the best customer service by meeting customers’ expectations and automating repetitive tasks- which signifies that you can focus more on your work.
Just like the online marketing trend of inclusivity, people in 2021 are passionate about ecology. They want to ensure the brands receiving their money are as concerned for the earth as they are.
With 80% of customers feeling that companies should help enhance the environment, what we are seeing is a popularity lift for sustainable and eco-friendly brands, mainly for young audiences. This goes well-beyond the market for green items- every brand can attain benefits by broadcasting their environmental practices.
The key is communicating your sustainability through branding and content to make environmentalism a part of your identity. There are a lot of ways based on your style of branding, like displaying a banner prominently on your website or discussing it continuously on social media. You can even choose more subtle methods, like branded reusable tote bags and conveying green themes through the visual identity of the brand.
This is a trend that has been around for a while, but it is just now being identified as the best practice. Interactive content not just promotes more engagement, but it also enhances the user’s enjoyment. Interactive content like open-ended queries, quizzes, contests, surveys, calculator widgets, giveaways, etc., can do great things for your brand. Such content increases the length of time users engage with you, which helps you stand in searches and feeds. But more significantly, people want to be engaged, so interactive content always enhances the user experience.
Google updates its SEO algorithm frequently, so if you are a local business, you must continuously update your brand’s appearance in the local results also. In a way, local SEO is stronger compared to broad SEO- customers looking for a certain type of business with their geographic location have a plan to buy, so it is easier to convert them.
For beginners, you must get verified by Google. For doing this, sign up for Google My Business and either you can claim your listing or create a new one. This helps you achieve a high rank in Google SERPs and offers the chance to provide extra information about your company to online searchers.
Also, you want to include local keywords notably into your SEO strategy. Prioritize the name of your town or city as a top keyword, but yes, you can go that extra mile by combining related keywords. If your location has a popular landmark, mention it one or two times.
So, there you have it- the most important digital marketing trends of 2021. For anyone in online marketing, change is an important part of the job. You must keep looking forward and strive to embrace new tools, technologies, and strategies to attain an edge over your competitors.