2020 was a year like no other. The pandemic has altered how we live – the way we shop, the way we work, and even the way we spend quality time with our friends and family. As a result, the world of digital marketing has been irreversibly changed, with many of these changes predicted to last long after the pandemic is in the rearview mirror. With that, let’s take a look at the top 10 digital trends to keep an eye on in 2021 and beyond:
E-commerce is the Way of the Future
This isn’t exactly anything newsworthy. We all live in a world dominated by e-commerce giants like Amazon, and we’ve been fast approaching a future where we can get everything we need without ever leaving our homes. Still, brick and mortar stores have persisted for various reasons. But in a post-pandemic world, the future of e-commerce is coming even sooner than expected.
This doesn’t necessarily mean we’ve reached the end of brick-and-mortar stores as we know them. However, it does mean that they will now have to adapt quickly. This means improving your online presence, or building one if you haven’t yet. Some businesses have patched websites together just to stay afloat during the pandemic, but may not fully grasp that their need for an online presence is a long-term one. Your business needs to be able to function entirely online.
Content is (Still) King
The old adage remains true: content is still king. With the shift away from in-person interactions, it’s even more important now to make sure you are surrounding your product or service with quality, informative, and SEO-friendly content for your audience. Face-to-face conversations with your customers need to be replaced with helpful, user-friendly content on your website to build trust with your audience.
This content could be in the form of an SEO-targeted information center or blog that answers customer questions about your products and your industry in general. You could include the same content in a series of videos, which can be embedded on your website and shared across all of your social media platforms. What’s important here is that you have a plan to create content and get it out to your audience in a way that keeps them connected.
Focus on Visual Content
We’ve all spent a good amount of time in 2020 engaging with video, whether it was during countless Zoom meetings, bingeing Netflix shows, or scrolling through our Instagram feeds. TikTok exploded onto the scene, becoming one of the most popular social media platforms for young people creating and sharing content. This shows that video, and visual content in general, is incredibly popular and engaging.
Businesses should focus on utilizing visual content for their marketing purposes – use video and images in your advertising, and create original videos to reach your audiences across all of your social media platforms. Several platforms, like YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook, also allow you to Livestream and interact with your audience in real-time. This is a great way to get your followers excited and interested in a new product and to hear their thoughts and feedback in real-time.
Double Down on SERP Positioning
The global shift to digital marketing means the competition for those precious top spots on Google’s SERPs (search engine results pages) will only grow. This means it’s vital that you focus on improving your positioning there, doubling down on both PPC and SEO. Each has its merits – PPC may start bringing people to your site much sooner, but getting organic traffic may be more beneficial and cost effective in the long run. Most successful businesses use both to some degree. It’s important to see what combination works the best for your business, both in the short and long term.
Utilize Data to Understand Customers
It’s more important than ever to know who your audience is and to understand the customer’s journey from the first time they encounter your brand all the way through to their first purchase, and possibly to repeat purchases later on. An important way to understand your audience is by collecting and analyzing data, which allows for you to see and understand who your audience is and how they behave. Detailed customer data allows for more focused and cost-effective marketing campaigns, whether that’s with more targeted ads or specific, segmented email campaigns.
Segment Your Audience
Building off of the idea of collecting data to understand your customers, it’s important to use that understanding of your audience to create segments. Rather than cast a wide net with a few large marketing campaigns, it’s better to have a bunch of smaller ones. As the number of brands continues to grow, and as people begin to interact with them more, it’s become even more important to be as targeted as possible with your marketing.
Group your audience by certain traits, such as demographics like age and gender, or by specific behaviors, such as spending habits. It is even more helpful to segment groups further by persona. For example, if you sell musical instruments, you’d likely have a segment of beginners or hobbyists, and another segment of professional musicians. The language and messaging you’d use to communicate with each of these groups, the products you’d show them, and the amount you’d expect them each to spend would likely be very different. Targeting each of them with specific ads, newsletters or other campaigns would be much more cost effective than lumping them all together into one general group.
Ranking Position 0
You’ve likely heard about getting to the highly coveted Position 1 on Google. But now there is an even higher spot, known as Position 0. This is also known as the featured snippet. Essentially, Google is presenting snippets of information from websites at the top of the search results to give a user the information he is looking for without ever having to click on anything.
This isn’t ideal for businesses who want clicks to their website, but rather than lament the loss of potential clicks, you should focus on using this tool to your advantage. Even if you don’t get that click to your website, you can still get a lot out of showing up in featured snippets. Mainly, you can build brand recognition and trust among potential customers.
The best way to target this position is to create easily digestible bits of content. When a user searches for a specific query, Google wants to present them with a short and to-the-point answer in their snippets. This means answering specific customer questions in the form of an FAQ or informative blog post or creating neatly organized bulleted lists. Having some of your content organized this way is not only easy to understand for a user, but for Google as well.
Create Interactive Content
When we think of content, we often think of blog posts like this one, with a few images or videos sprinkled in. But content means so much more than that, and as brands continue to compete for attention from their audiences, interactive content has started to become more prominent.
Interactive content is any content that encourages users to actively interact with it. This includes surveys, polls, quizzes, games, interactive infographics, and calculators, to name just a few. Anything that gets someone on your website to actively engage with your website will not only keep them on your website longer, but will also increase user enjoyment and therefore build affinity for your brand.
Additionally, this can also tie back to the idea of data collection and audience segmentation. Using various polls and surveys can provide you with valuable information about your audience, what they are looking for, and how your business could improve. You can also use them to collect their email addresses for future marketing campaigns.
Establish Local SEO Presence
If you still have a brick-and-mortar store or provide a local service, you’ll want to take advantage of Google’s local SEO features. In a post-pandemic world, even people still opting to shop in person will likely do some Googling before leaving the house. This means you need to optimize your website for local searches so that if, for example, you sell cameras, you’d want your store to show up if somebody searched for “camera stores near me” or “camera shop in Los Angeles.”
There is a lot you can do with SEO to get your website ranking for these keywords, but the easiest place to start with local SEO is to set up your Google My Business listing, where you can input all of your necessary information (address, phone number, business category, and so on) for Google to display in search results.
Start Collaborating with Influencers
The rise of social media platforms has recently given way to a new type of marketing, known as influencer marketing. Influencers are generally Instagram or YouTube personalities with sizable and devoted niche followings. They’re sort of halfway between being a celebrity and your everyday regular Joe, which can make for the perfect person to advertise your products for you (unless your small business can afford to get George Clooney, in which case, you probably don’t need our help).
Since influencers aren’t quite big name movie stars, audiences generally find them more authentic and trustworthy, especially if they are marketing a product specific to their niche. For example, if your camera shop is advertising a new video tripod, partnering with a YouTube filmmaker and having them share their thoughts on it with their audience would be a great way to earn the trust, and purchases, of potential customers.
Need e-Commerce Strategy?
As you seek success in your e-commerce venture, getting the strategy right is critical. We have ample experience working with online retailers and delivering outstanding results. Reach out to us for a comprehensive eCommerce audit and marketing strategy that suits your business.