A New Year’s tradition here at Vizion Interactive is to develop a list of up-and-coming digital marketing tips to help you capture success in the year ahead. While it isn’t possible to anticipate every incident that might influence the way you go about building your brand (2020, anyone?), staying up to date on the moves the best in the business intend to make this year can help you make more informed decisions regarding your digital marketing efforts.
Staying attuned to marketing trends and tendencies is especially important in 2021, as the world attempts to adjust to the most recent in a series of “new normals” during (and after) the COVID-19 pandemic. As you might expect, the virus has not only dictated the way we approached marketing in 2020 but will continue to influence trends well into 2021 and likely beyond. With that in mind, here’s what our marketing panel believes will be the most significant features of marketing in 2021, along with some tips to help you hone in on each.
Continue the Shift to Digital
Traditional sales and marketing took a severe hit in many niches once the pandemic reached its full force in the spring of 2020, forcing markets that were slow to adopt digital to get with the times at lightning-quick speeds. People have changed the way they shop for goods and services, and many don’t appear to be quite ready to go back—over half of consumers surveyed believe they will continue to choose digital purchasing in the future. To capture these consumers, many of our marketers join us in emphasizing the importance of attention to digital avenues.
“Digital channels are more relevant than ever since people are spending even more time on their computer and they are also spending more time watching TV, a marketer’s dream. A big difference in 2021 is in-person events and conferences which are either not happening or being deferred to the second half of 2021, so we reallocated our events budget toward more digital initiatives.”
“For 2021, it’s imperative that companies audit and update their understanding of their customers’ preferred marketing channels. COVID-19 has catalyzed shifts in consumer and business behavior—the physical and digital places that individuals used to spend their time have changed… As a result, we will shift our marketing budgets accordingly in 2021 to account for these new channels and changed behavior.”
“[Last] year has exposed almost everyone to virtual events and with the pandemic here to stay in 2021, a hybrid model is now emerging. This model will likely stick around, even after restrictions have been lifted. Marketers will have to adapt to this new event model strategy and find the optimal mix between in-person and digital elements for their events, depending on many factors, such as purpose, budget, location, industry and audience.”
“2021 we can prepare for. 2020 we couldn’t. We had no idea what was coming our way, so when March hit and everything went virtual, we scrambled to reinvent our strategies and find new ways to build value for our audience. In 2021, we can prepare.
We know what this landscape looks like now. We will be focusing heavily on our new digital channels: podcasting, digital ads, and social media. Our goal is to extend the reach of our brand across these channels and to provide value through multimedia content.”
“An online strategy is more important than ever. One interesting side effect of the pandemic has been a dramatic acceleration of our societal shift towards conducting our lives on the internet. In fact, this cyber Monday was the biggest online shopping day in U.S. history coming in at almost $11 billion spent. As consumers shift increasingly online, even industries that have historically leaned offline should be positioning themselves for this new reality. At Avenues Recovery, we’ll be continuing to move our advertising dollars online and avoiding many offline advertising methods.”
Focus on Social
As one of our marketers alluded to above, COVID-19 forced many of us to make more purchases online and pushed many of our social interactions into the digital arena. The result—an over 10% increase during the first peak of the pandemic in July and steadily mounting social media use since—is a clear sign that social media should remain prominent in any digital marketing strategy moving forward. However, it’s crucial to not only focus on social media but do it well; to help, our marketers talked about several ways they plan to keep social interactions in the forefront in 2021.
“Our social media engagement is still healthy, but it hasn’t worked as well as before, so we are switching a proportion of our budget to influencer marketing. Our initial product sales explosion happened in March 2017 after a YouTube video of somebody using our product went viral with over 4 million views. It created our perception of the power of influencer marketing. We believe this is the way forward, because people are at home on their phones, and connecting more with big name influencers who were previously less available. These influencers are locked down too, and promoting more domestic products. So for us, as a beauty and health brand, it feels like the right move to make in order to maintain our strong market hold.”
“Social commerce is going to be the hottest social media trend for 2021… Social commerce, to keep it simple, is selling products directly within social media platforms. This is very different from social media marketing, where we try to drive referral and high-quality traffic from social media to a website or an online store. With social commerce, the store and the entire shopping experience happens without the buyer ever leaving the social media site.
…It’s a far more streamlined method, particularly when you can implement digital tactics like chatbot checkouts, autofill payments, and delivery details. There are way fewer steps and clicks for your customers than with traditional e-commerce through a web store. This one fact alone means an incredible increase in conversion rates.”
“…We foresee a larger role played by other social media platforms that are newer and still emerging. Due to this migration of attention, we will focus also on exploring these newer platforms that hold our target audiences. After that, it’s all about seeing the best performing channels and focusing the budget allocation between them by vertical scaling (increasing budgets).
A good tip is to dive into Content redistribution by making a lot of content that targets long-tail keywords. To stack on top of the value in the written content, create content for Instagram TV (IGTV); YouTube videos; Podcasts, etc. Then redistribute the content by making “bite-size” content for social media by just adapting it to match the platform.”
“We want to ensure that all of our marketing efforts will be able to show sensitivity to the situation and empathy to our customers. In 2021, we plan to put more focus on showing support to our customers through our content to help maintain and strengthen our relationship with them. In my opinion, different social media platforms are what entrepreneurs and marketers will mostly focus on and rely on in 2021. We plan on allocating most of our marketing budget into the channels or platforms that have worked well for us this year.”
“As of now, my company is eyeing to take advantage of the User-Generated Contents (UGC) in 2021 since social media influencers have been gaining a great amount of attention in the past years. We believe that this is one of the top trends that would steal the spotlight before the year ends… at least 86% of companies are using UGCs and repurpose them to fit their marketing ideas. That said, we are planning to allot some budget in partnering with some famous social media influencers to help us with our marketing efforts.
In the coming years, especially in 2021, UGC would certainly aid various brands in their marketing campaigns due to the more personal and more relatable connection they could establish with the audience. We want to take advantage of this fact to enhance our connection with our target market.”
Health Expert & CEO, Eu Natural
“An effective marketing strategy for 2021 is to double-down on reiterating the benefits products have for customers, as opposed to features, as demonstrated by customer testimonials. A great way to highlight the benefits of a product for your target audience is to use personal testimonials from previous customers saying what the product did for them. Using Eu Natural as an example, we put selfies and a short testimonial on our Instagram and website of satisfied clients – this shows that real people really love our product, which builds credibility and authority amongst our potential consumers.”
Be Prepared to Pivot
Although 2021 may be shaping up to be somewhat less turbulent than 2020—at least in part because marketers know what to expect—it is still necessary to remain flexible with your marketing efforts. Both innovative tech (voice-activated search and other AI) and traditional delivery methods (email and SMS) can prove formidable marketing tools to reach users in all your most important demographics. With both email open and click-through rates rising throughout 2020—and the end of the stream of customers relying on digital nowhere in sight—diversifying the ways you reach out to potential digital consumers will only increase your chances for success.
“I have one main tip for brands heading into : Do not build your entire marketing strategy around borrowed audiences. Obviously, you should have a plan for reaching people via search or social media. Indeed, if you are already thriving in those areas, you should continue to focus your marketing efforts there.
But as tech continues to consolidate—and COVID has simply sped up these trends because of how much it has wrecked small business—the big fish are going to keep more and more of the value they create for themselves. You see this in the declining CTR on Google search. So you will want to focus your energies around the marketing channels and strategies that maximize your control and minimize your dependence on third-party algorithms. So brand building will be a big deal—a good brand has a loyal audience—and controlled marketing channels, like email and SMS, are also going to be essential channels for most businesses. The key is to own your turf online.”
“Email marketing helps maximize the value of our subscribers, which is why we’ll continue to focus on it in 2021. If SEO is what brings them to us in the first place, email marketing is great for getting them to come back. Any business should take advantage of email marketing in 2021 as it’s a low-cost/high ROI form of marketing.”
“Focusing on customer needs, and marketing goods and services that customers can take full advantage of can benefit you and your odds of creating loyal and satisfied customers. Don’t forget to study your market. Knowing your industry, competition, and consumers will help you know what marketing strategy you can create and promote.”
“Brands can push against that wave by rising to the occasion to reestablish their trust through customer-centric marketing. Build a multi-plan approach by laying out potential contingencies that you may face in the coming year.
- Be thoughtful.
- Organize live webinars.
- Ensure your blog contains SEO-focused content.
- Creating smart and innovative content.
- Don’t downplay.
- Don’t broadcast the same message to everyone, regardless of their relationship with the brand.
- Don’t spread unproven information or unverified claims.”
“In 2020 we [had] a surge in companies interested in speech recognition to replace and augment touch interfaces for the obvious reason that speech is touch free. We are planning on structuring our marketing efforts to reach companies with these concerns. To do this we’ll increase our lead gen strategies on social media, cold outreach, and content marketing. At the beginning of 2020, we were more interested in engaging developers with our products. Now we are more focused on executives and end-use decision makers.”
“Marketing Automation will play an even more important role in PPC strategies in 2021. Platforms are putting more emphasis on automation and marketers need to be ready to compete in a world where manual control could be taken away. That does not mean all strategy goes out the window. Human intelligence and strategy is needed to inform and optimize media platforms to gain an edge over competitors. Marketers should focus on quality of data feeds, architecture of paid search campaigns, conversion tracking, closing the loop on leads to sales funnels and more.”
Reinvigorate Your Video Efforts
We’ve all heard the stats before—over 85% of internet users watch video content each month. Nearly 80% of people who watched a brand video purchased a product. However, with the abrupt shift in how potential customers can interact with products from hands-on and in-person to online, video will be more important than ever in 2021. Several of our marketers have weighed in on how their marketing efforts will incorporate the effective use of video this year.
“Video marketing is likely to see a major boost for online advertising in 2021, with interactive messaging playing a bigger role in the shopping experience, brands will have to engage consumers through product videos to help build confidence. Inspiration through DIY and how-to videos from content creators will be a big opportunity to engage with online communities.”
CEO & Co-founder, Community Tax
“We will not be changing too much in terms of our marketing strategy, but we’re investing more heavily in our YouTube channel, SEO, and we’re currently looking to get into the media segment mostly through podcasts. We believe we have a solid strategy [for] 2021 with podcasts listenership increasing and we think our YouTube channel could be potentially a good source of leads and increased brand awareness.
I think 2021 will see a good rise in video. Whether that be creating content, video advertising, influencer advertising, and enhancing customer meetings with video tools for more convenience and flexibility, video will see a steady increase. It’s proving to be a powerful medium with no signs of slowing down. YouTube is already overtaking Facebook as the second-most visited site on the web (behind only Google itself).”
“[For] 2021, we plan to scale up our advertising through YouTube. As a result of pandemic and election fatigue, traditional television viewing is down 16%. However, people still need their fix of daily video content, and as a result, video consumption is up over 75% since March. As such, I strongly expect YouTube to continue to see an uptick of new users across all segments in 2021, who may not be as immune to the ads they see before or during videos. We plan to invest heavily in skippable video ads, as well as display ads through YouTube in 2021, and I’d suggest others do the same.”
“The biggest change we’ll make in 2021 is to leverage interviews by video content to increase our efficiency of marketing operations. For each video, we can stream that to our YouTube channel and promote it on our social media channels. We can take the audio and create a podcast, share on podcast platforms, cut it into individual clips to add as YouTube videos, and share each of those types of content on our social media platforms.
We can take the transcription of the interview and post it on our blog, use it to improve SEO, and promote all of those on each of our social media channels. Furthermore, we can cut the transcription into individual quotes to also promote on our social media channels. Finally, we can create individual pages for each video for the people being interviewed to share and promote.”
Invest In Content Marketing
As COVID-19 cases began their steep increase and fears began to intensify, more and more marketers found value in humanizing their brands and building the necessary connections to maintain a relationship with consumers from a distance. In particular, sharing information, brand stories, and more via email, social media, or company blogs became an even more essential part of a diverse marketing plan. Over 80% of companies plan to maintain or increase content marketing efforts through 2020. As 2021 continues, many of our marketers are planning a focus on this crucial strategy, with eyes on how to reach consumers effectively during and after the pandemic.
“Covid related posts and schema markup will be more important. Social media will focus more than ever on helping your fellow person. Humor, believe it or not while people are helping more, will get darker.”
“[In 2021] we hope to do everything we didn’t have a chance to do in 2020. Namely, we’d like to double down on Content Marketing and SEO to make our website the primary source of sales.
In 2021 we plan to make the biggest emphasis on promoting ourselves and growing our online authority. The reason for this is that in the past three years we have been mostly concentrating on creating awesome content, and somewhat neglecting the rest. This was a big mistake because nowadays great content is not enough. So next year will be about influencer marketing, guest posting, link-building, and other ways of growth-hacking our online marketing.”
“Study about the primary forms of media. This is crucial nowadays since it adds up to our content marketing strategy. Utilizing a blog, for example, is one of the ways to reach more [of your] audience, as most of them do browse blog posts, while some companies say that updating content is an essential move to keep your market interested. Podcasts also seemed practical, with 75% of Americans familiar about it (Edison Research, 2020). All you need is to conceptualize a catchy and effective content.”
“For the coming year, you should definitely focus on content marketing. More and more people are entering the gig economy, looking for ways to pass the time at home, or just want to learn new skills. Creating a blog with useful how-to content is one of the best things you can do. Take advantage of the massive surge in traffic for tutorial/how-to keywords, help people learn something new, and generate leads for your business all in one swoop.”
“We’ll be expanding most of our marketing in 2021, as there has been a lot of interest in our industry in 2020. We’re seeing a lot of interest in investment from ordinary people—not from experienced investors. So we’d like to look at expanding content marketing. Less experienced investors will likely be looking for more educational content and may not be as ready to make a final decision, so more top-of-funnel content might be a good idea for 2021 if current trends hold true.”
While 2021 will certainly bring its own set of challenges and opportunities for your brand, the events set in motion by the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to affect digital marketing throughout the year. Taking our marketers’ tips into consideration can help you adjust your marketing practices to capture your best audience, extend your reach, and drive conversions through the year ahead. If you’d like more information about any of the strategies mentioned here, contact Vizion Interactive for guidance and a free mini site audit.