All marketing is multi-channel at this point, with needs to be addressed in social media, SEO, PPC, email, and more. Marketers and business owners need to follow what's trending or they'll fall behind, possibly hopelessly behind. There is no shortage of digital marketing tips, tools, tricks, and trends across all industries. Here are our suggestions for the trends to watch as the year progresses.
Beyond the Funnel
Many marketers have fully internalized the marketing funnel as their basic model for marketing. It's looking like it may be time to acknowledge this approach is a bit stale and that could be why you're not seeing sales results that are to your liking.
What is called the flywheel marketing approach may just be what's next in marketing models. First presented by HubSpot, this model takes a new view of the buyer journey. Here all customer-facing roles—including customer service, marketing, and sales—interact with customers at every stage of the buyer's journey and past the point of purchase.
The funnel focuses on getting new customers and engaging them so as to turn them into a quantifiable lead. Using the flywheel means continuing to attract, engage, and delight past the point of purchase. Your company continues to interact with customers rather than treating them as one-time-only prospects. This, in turn, keeps you top-of-mind so they are more likely to recommend you to their personal network.
Shop with Social Media
Close to half the world is now using social media and that makes it more or less mandatory that your brand, products, and/or services are available on these platforms. This has resulted in the sales funnel being shortened by the combining of the steps from awareness to purchase through the proliferation of shoppable posts. A single click of a button takes you from prospective buyer to customer on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. These shoppable posts have been gaining traction and should be the norm in 2021 marketing strategies.
Customers Want It to be Personal
Regardless of the surging use of artificial intelligence, customers still want to relate on a personal level to a company they're purchasing from. Generic mass email efforts no longer work. Segmented newsletters, with segments based on customers' history and data, outperform email blast-style generic mass mailings. Use consumer behaviors to personalize categories within your email lists.
Every customer wants to feel they're being seen as an individual. You can also use personalized social media ad campaigns to drive customer numbers.
Content is (Still) King
Although content does remain significantly important in 2021 marketing strategies, the trend is to present quality over quantity in your content, and also to present more diverse content. High-quality content shows your expertise and allows you to communicate with your customers from a place of authority.
Diversify your 2021 content strategy by varying the way you attract customers. Try creating more video and interactive content. Regular blogging and other, longer, forms of written content are still invaluable, as they drive visibility and strong SEO. Likewise, they provide a great way to show your brand personality.
Do stay aware that overused or saturated content, or content posted just for the sake of posting, will affect engagement in a negative way. You don't have to have something to post every day. Work on attracting and engaging your audience while being careful not to annoy them instead by presenting low quality and simply space-filling content.
Optimizing for Voice Search
When you're trying to attract a consumer's attention via a social media post, blog post, or search engine results listing you can use a number of keywords to help that consumer find you. But when the customer is shopping using, for example, Alexa, the only keywords relevant are within the command actually spoken to Alexa. You need to have the most relevant words all over your online marketing and in your reviews and ratings as well.
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)
It is admittedly early in the game when it comes to using VR and/or AR in digital marketing. The impact will become huge, but the timing is unknown as of now. These methods are not the same and no one can say which will dominate.
There is a bit of a consensus that initially AR will dominate. A good example is IKEA's app that allows customers to bring furniture home digitally before making a purchase.
For a bite-sized version you can look to the AR Snapchat filters that put dancing figures wherever you point your camera. This enables placing a brand figure or logo directly in a space that's personal to each user.
Normal is a Chatbot
The novelty of chatbots will fade—or maybe it already has—but the use of them will become more widespread and they will be ever more easy to use. To be ahead of the curve, develop a chatbot for your brand. This can be the difference between closing a sale or losing the customer to a competitor that has an easy to use chatbot already up and helping customers.
With more and more manipulation of the news media being discovered, it is more important that top executives be visible in the social media universe. This boosts your company's reputation, builds trust with users, and can make your company more appealing to top job applicants.
CEOs and other executives can be heard by customers and potential customers by posting to your blog, writing on Medium, tweeting from a personal account, and/or posting think pieces on their LinkedIn page.
Greater interactivity provides new experiences for buyers when they go online.
- Interactive content is different and still new, so it stands out.
- Visitors will tend to stay on your page longer when there's interactive content presented.
- This kind of content is very shareable and that sharing of your content helps build brand awareness.
- Interactive content is simply more engaging and users enjoy it more than other types of content.
Promote Community-First Content
To create more of a meritocracy for content makers Instagram has been testing not showing likes to anyone but the poster. The intent is to help nurture community and smaller creators. This reflects an emerging trend of focusing on community instead of status chasing.
As platforms focus on quality and ad-friendly content that both users and platforms can monetize there will be a move towards promoting community and connection. Probably a good trend to watch and encourage in 2021!