The 2020 global pandemic impacted the world on every level, including how we do business. Given the turbulence of the last year, and the many things that has changed, this is what will be coming next for the digital marketing sector.
Here are the key digital marketing trends to consider for 2021 and beyond.
1. A focus on quality content through the use of machine learning
With the rise of Facebook, Google and Amazon as the main deliverers of digital content worldwide, it can be hard to get a word in edgeways. This has led to some brands focusing their efforts on delivering top-level content in order to capture their audience’s attention. This will continue into next year, with more brands investing in high-quality, long-form content which is engaging and informative. But how will they do this?
The answer lies in machine learning tools that allow brands to automatically source social media data and extract insights tailored to specific demographics. These analytics can then be used to find out what people are saying about your brand and how you can better engage them online by delivering the quality content they want to see.
2. A focus on authenticity-through customer centricity or an accentuation of that which is unique about your brand or product.
In 2020, we saw an increasing focus on authenticity and social responsibility. Brands that did this well were those that were able to connect with consumers on a human level. These are brands which have a personality that resonates with their audience, and are not afraid to show it. This will only continue into 2021.
But for brands who don’t yet see the value of being authentic, they must instead find ways to emphasize what makes them unique. It may be an innovative element of their product or service, or something about the way they deliver their marketing message, but in order to stand out from the crowd they need to emphasize this uniqueness in some way-whether it’s through a subtle change in brand essence or via a new visual identity.
3. A focus on customer experience at scale-by enabling frictionless customer journeys that start without a digital touch point (but might end there)
One of the biggest challenges for organizations today is understanding how to deliver quality customer experiences at scale while keeping costs low-which can prove extremely difficult with teams stretched thin by multiple projects and competing priorities.
This means that brands need to refocus their efforts on leveraging tools and technologies which give them a glimpse into the customer journey. It’s not enough to know how many people have visited your website within the last week, or even which channel is bringing in the most conversions. Entire teams are necessary to work on this-not just marketing departments-and in syncing data from multiple sources, it will make more sense to talk about frictionless customer journeys than individual channels. Having a true understanding of all touch points along the way will enable brands to deliver a better experience for their customers, resulting in higher retention rates and a reduction of wasteful spending.
4. A focus on better data collection-through active consumer engagement and social listening
The world has changed since we first saw Google Analytics come onto the scene many years back, and while GA still remains one of my personal favorite tools for driving detailed insights about traffic and visitor trends, it can no longer be relied upon as the only tool for collecting audience insights.
Instead, the focus for marketing should also move towards tools like Facebook Audience Insights, which gives marketers a detailed understanding of who their target audience is and what they’re doing online. The implementation of these tools alters the way marketers engage with their audience and their content, with companies looking to build more personal relationships with consumers as a result.
5. A focus on branding-through disruptive product strategies which are both innovative and inspiring
Brands already know that consumers have been conditioned to look for products which are inclusive in some way-you need to think beyond your product and think about where it fits within the wider picture. This means using new materials or expanding your product range in order to deliver an experience that is different from your competitors while also making them stand out from each other – and, by delivering exciting product demos to customers in stores or on social media.
6. A focus on customer acquisition and retention-through better targeting, integrated CRM systems and ‘true’ multichannel marketing
The result of this is a more active approach to the way marketers interact with their audience, as well as an increased emphasis on gaining more insight into how customers are engaging with their brand during every stage of the buying process.
Rather than being limited to just a few channels, marketers will be looking to leverage all tools within their toolkit in order to understand which channels people are taking and what they can do at each opportunity-and then truly implementing those tactics across multiple channels at once. This will eventually help them build a stronger link between each channel through tracking metrics like conversion rates. And don’t forget that communication is required between teams across different departments.
7. A focus on building bridges-between consumers and brands by transcending online communities and embracing real-world interactions (retail stores)
The stuff you can do online can be pretty great, but there is a lot to learn from ‘the real world’ as well. In fact, it’s not always about doing things the same way you do them online-there are advantages to going against the grain and trying something new with your customers.
Brands will be looking at ways to deliver a better customer experience by leveraging the physical environment in which they want to interact with their consumers, whether it’s through pop-up retail shops or window displays, or by tapping into mobile augmented reality technology and using tags to tell stories about their brand in a virtual space.
These are just some of the digital marketing trends which will continue to permeate next year; we’ve barely skimmed the surface here. As always, brands looking to create a competitive advantage will need to think beyond just their digital offering and begin thinking of how they can empower their consumers on all levels-whether that’s through how they engage with them online or offline.