As the world becomes even more dependent on all things digital and online, re-evaluating your business’ marketing strategies regularly should be a priority. This is especially true given how the ongoing crisis not only altered the attitude and behavior of consumers, but also pushed for the digitization of every facet of marketing. From the unstoppable shift to ecommerce to the increasing need for data-driven initiatives, the landscape and plan scenarios for marketing strategies are indeed dramatically changing.
Yet despite huge upheavals, the marketing industry remains stronger than ever, particularly in terms of digital marketing. In fact, in order to move with evolving consumer trends every aspect of marketing has had to evolve. This ranges from how companies target new markets to how advertising is taught through in-house training programs, and even how it is now studied at higher education. Today’s bachelors in marketing are now taught through blending traditional strategies with advanced technology. This includes skills in analytics, SEO, content management, multimedia, and basic UX. The demand for these digital skills is why the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 21,800 new jobs by 2028.
This year will be one of the most important for marketing agencies as businesses react to a post-pandemic world. In order to stay ahead of the competition here are the top 5 marketing trends of 2021 to be aware of.
The rise of virtual events
When the pandemic started spreading, events of all kinds, including marketing launches, had to be postponed, canceled or turned into an online event. As the New Year unfolds, a lot of experts believe that virtual events, which became popular out of necessity, will likely play an even bigger role in the changing landscape of marketing post-pandemic.
Chief Marketing Officer of Veeam, Jim Krueger, reasons that virtual events will continue not only because of the safety concerns that continue to worry many, but also because of the benefits they offer. For one, unlike in-person events, issues like visas, travel restrictions and costs aren’t as much of a concern for participants in virtual events. This then allows for greater attendance and more participation, which, in turn, translates to higher ROI and lower costs for more attendees.
However, Krueger further explained that for these advantages to be achieved, it is imperative for marketers and event organizers to zoom in on initiatives that will drive engagement and induce a certain level of fun. As companies become better at holding virtual events, the popularity of this marketing strategy and method of engaging with a wider audience will only increase from here on out.
The growing importance of social awareness
Needless to say, the ongoing global health crisis unveiled and exacerbated many of the world’s problems – be it political, environmental, economic, or social. This reality is one of the strongest forces that have been driving the change in customer behaviors and attitudes. Nowadays, consumers are not only after brands that produce quality products and services. They also expect them to take a stand and be very vocal about certain issues – especially the most pressing ones.
In addition to this, a recent study from the Journal of Public Policy and Marketing noted that customers also want brands to “match activist messaging, purpose and values with prosocial corporate practices” and engage in what can be considered as authentic brand activism. However, it is important to note that before brands can mirror this in their marketing campaigns and advertisements, thorough and careful research must be conducted.
This is to avoid being tagged as a brand that’s woke-washing or is cynically preying on the customers’ social awareness. While consumers’ do appreciate brands that are socially aware and accountable, brand-activism that is tone-deaf and not well thought of can do more harm than good by degrading customer trust, therefore damaging their brand image.
The need for omnichannel marketing
In recent years, ‘omnichannel’ has been the buzzword among marketers and it continues to be relevant as we enter the third decade of the century. The primary rationale behind this is its ability to facilitate and maintain brand-customer interaction across devices and mediums. Constant communication and engagement with clients through a variety of channels can help foster brand loyalty, improve business analytics, and increase brand recognition.
Moreover, when omnichannel marketing initiatives are done right, they can also help businesses achieve 91% greater customer retention rates in comparison to those who just stick with a few mediums. The keys to effective omnichannel marketing are consistency and the continuous expansion of channels. A great example of a medium that brands should further look into in 2021 is podcasting. As this easy-to-consume content gains traction, studies show that there has been a spike in the number of podcast listeners. In fact, 55% of Americans now listen to podcasts through popular platforms like Spotify.
The use of UGC in enhancing customer experience
As it has always been, customers are still more likely to buy products and services from brands that deliver the best user experience. This is where user-generated content (UGC) can come in handy. As data and information successfully evolves into the new oil in this tech-driven world, UGC will play an even bigger role in marketing this year.
UGC can help brands enhance their customer experience by reinforcing trust and reliability. They also need to increase user engagement and interaction in the most natural, non-intrusive and non-spammy way possible. Apart from these advantages, UGC can also showcase authenticity and drive conversions and revenue all while staying relatable, uplifting, and personal. Like customer feedback, UGC can also identify products that require improvements, generate recommendations, increase customer retention and bring about new leads.
You can increase your UGC by having accounts on a variety of platforms, so that users can tag your brand easily, incentivizing positive customer reviews. It would also pay to strategize product coverage so more of your products get reviews. Personalizing requests and timing them appropriately can also be a great idea, especially since some days of the week tend to have higher response rates.
The evolution of social media platforms
As the world shifts into the digital space, the role that social media platforms play in a buyer’s journey is getting bigger. If in the past few years apps like Facebook and Instagram were being used mainly for product and services discovery, this year they will likely turn into the top channels for purchases. The main reason for this is the continuous growth of social commerce or social shopping fuelled by the pandemic-related lockdowns.
Sooner or later ‘shoppable posts’ will become the norm in all major social media sites simply because they have significant power in maximizing a brand’s ecommerce presence. Furthermore, ‘shoppable posts’ also presents a hassle-free way of shopping since customers can just easily click the shopping icon of a particular product and be directed to the brand’s ecommerce website page or straight to the check out.
2021 is going to see another evolution in digital marketing. And by being aware of the above trends, a company will be able to keep ahead of changing consumer trends to provide a better service.