The changes of the past year have made their mark on almost every industry, and looking towards the year to come, all of them will have to adapt and shift in order to continue to survive. Marketing trends constantly evolve to meet the new requirements of a business environment, and looking ahead to 2021 businesses of all sizes will need to be prepared to embrace new technologies and tools, as well as changes to working patterns, and much more.
Pay attention to the digital experience
The digital environment has become one of the most important aspects of the customer experience over the past year, and this is not likely to go away any time soon. While initially the sharp shift to more remote and digital ways of presenting information and connecting audiences was a response to the necessities of the global pandemic crisis, it has also shown itself to be a potentially more economical and beneficial route.
Digital and virtual experiences can open a business to larger audiences and provide more scope for creative thinking. Having a clearly considered digital strategy is a good idea at this point in time, to ensure that it is carried out well. This may include embracing newer technologies such as AI and VR presentations, as well as optimizing existing platforms and spaces such as social media channels.
The benefit of doing good
Another important shift emerging in marketing trends is the increased desire in customers to see a business making a positive impact on society in general. The dramatic and serious repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted areas of social inequality and struggle, but has also put under the spotlight those who have actively made concerted efforts to help and support others, through a clear social responsibility plan. Customers are also likely to see through any superficial or contrived efforts, so it is essential to develop a plan that is in line with your existing brand values and strategy, and can be implemented successfully.
The role of analytics
A closer look at customer analytics will reveal how these concerns shape their decisions to make a purchase – have a read here to find out more about the role of digital analytics. In line with this, having a broader understanding of metrics is vital in order to compete effectively. While there is a growing amount of information and data available to businesses, gathered from a variety of platforms, it is often given only a cursory look. A detailed investigation can bring to light findings about customer behavior, preferences and market changes, helping a business to respond with agility and accuracy.
The growth in user-generated content
User-generated content is the latest evolution in influencer marketing, which first came to the fore after 2015. For many industries, this meant that partnerships with influencers could be a mutually beneficial exchange, providing exposure to a wider audience, with a trustworthy presence through an influencer figure that already has a strong relationship with their followers. For influencers, bigger brand partnerships and promotions have been immensely lucrative, helping many to catapult themselves to establishing their own product lines and businesses.
Influencer marketing may now be seeing the next level of change, as audiences move away from following a core influencer figure. Instead, brands are adopting more direct user-generated content, where customers can directly interact and engage with the brand and its product. This can provide a more authentic and trusted experience, akin to word of mouth marketing. It can also give brands essential feedback from their markets much more quickly, helping them to innovate and respond to changing requirements easily.
The integration of social media and commerce
Social media is no longer just a pure marketing channel, but instead, in the past two years, the line between providing an e-commerce platform and marketing space has become more blurred. As customers look for greater convenience and faster processes, social media platforms have increasingly integrated ways to embed e-commerce services within them, where customers can make a purchase as easily as they browse for new inspiration and ideas.
For many businesses, this means that they will need to evaluate and adapt how they develop marketing strategies, as posts, adverts and other forms of information will not only need to communicate a message to the audience but entice and encourage them to take the next step and buy.
Voice searching technologies
With an ever-increasing amount of voice-activated devices on the market from all the main technological brands, as well as more niche players, voice searching has already become an important strategy for marketing departments to factor into their plans for the year ahead.
The use of voice searching, as well as the continual refinement of the accuracy of which this is done, is having an impact on how people search for information, as well as the kind of information they will be directed to. The rise of voice searching can be integrated into a business’s marketing strategy in infinite ways, from embedding the technology into their own services to ensuring that their services and products are easily accessible via common voice searching channels.
AI and the increased use of chatbots
The refinement of artificial intelligence not only shapes the kinds of products and services that may be possible in the near future, but will also influence how marketing strategies are implemented across all industries. Chatbots have grown in popularity across websites, providing a useful and effective way to give instant feedback and support to customers online, around the clock, and creating a greater sense of connection and trust between the customer and the brand.
By providing real-time answers to queries, not only do they satisfy customer demands quickly, they also collate valuable market data, which can be used further to create more specialized and specific marketing campaigns. As more and more customers become familiar with seeing these on all forms of digital communication, businesses cannot afford to overlook them for long.