The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way how all businesses operate. The quarantine and social distancing norms forced everyone to work remotely. Along with operations businesses also had to change the way they marketed and advertised to their customers. Due to the rise in online shopping, customers preferred digital interactions. There was an increase in preference to place orders through mobile apps. The most used digital self-service tool was Live Chat. In the B2B scenario, sales teams shifted to remote selling, which proved to be very effective.
All these different changes have led many marketers to adopt various strategies to reach their online audience. Although 2020 has come to end, the pandemic has not. There is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and the impact it continues to have on every business. Many businesses will continue using some of these digital marketing strategies to connect with their target audience.
Let’s take a look at some of the key digital marketing trends for 2021 that every business will need to attract, engage, convert and retain their target audience.
Creating content to nurture leads
Content Marketing Institute’s (CMI) report this year explored the impact of the pandemic on B2B content marketing. According to this report the most successful marketers were the ones who focused on nurturing leads and relationships. The report explores the differentiating factors between the “Most Successful” and the “Least Successful”. The report shows that 73% of marketers from successful organizations say that they nurture subscribers/audience/leads. While only 38% of least successful organizations do this.
This goes to prove that companies who invested in nurturing their leads through content marketing saw more positive results. Lead nurturing is the process of developing relationships with potential buyers through every stage of the sales funnel. You can personalize your content for every stage of the buyer’s journey to push them further along the sales funnel. This helps you build valuable relationships, maintain communication and provide valuable information to your buyers.
In B2B scenarios buyers take more time to consider if they want to invest in a brand or not. Hence, the lead nurturing process is important here. Content marketers should focus on quality over quantity. This means that they should focus on a select group of buyers who are more likely to convert. Build personalized content to help nurture relationships with these buyers.
Focusing on content experience
Consumers are looking for valuable, informative and personalized content, but they are also looking for a good content experience. A blog article with too many ads, pop ups or CTAs will force the consumer to exit that page. Content that is easily accessible and interesting is what consumers are looking for. A good user experience or UX is a key element to help your visitors engage with your content.
Interactive content like videos and infographics helps keep the attention of the users. The more your users engage and navigate to different pages, the more likely they are to convert.
Use of social media for shopping
In March, Statista reported a 21% increase in social media usage when all the countries had implemented quarantines. Throughout the year consumers have been using various social media platforms for entertainment, daily news and updates and connecting with other people. Along with all these activities, consumers have also been using social media to shop. Majority of ecommerce shoppers are influenced through social media to make a purchase decision. Hence brands will continue to advertise and market on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
Facebook and Instagram have features that allow users to conveniently go to the website directly to purchase a product. This ease of shopping has led more consumers to purchase through these channels and they will continue to use them. Businesses should share various types of content, regularly update users and leverage shopping features to encourage sales.
Live-streaming and virtual events
Use of virtual events increased in 2020 as the pandemic forced everyone to stay indoors. According to the CMI report in-person events were down from 73% to 42%. There was an increase in virtual events, webinars, online courses and live streaming. Companies started using these virtual events to reach their target audience and discovered their tremendous potential. With the help of these virtual events, they could reach new audiences which was not possible if it were in-person.
Audiences found these virtual events to be very engaging and exciting. Webinars and online courses give the audience the opportunity to hear from industry experts. These resources can be available to anyone across the world. Businesses hosted these events to educate their target audience with rich and informative content. Virtual events are cost-effective and less time-consuming. Audiences can watch and engage in the comfort of their own homes. Hence, these virtual events, webinars and online courses are expected to thrive in 2021 as well. It is a great way for businesses to connect with their audience and deliver valuable content.
Increase in online ad spend
The pandemic brought along a surge in online shopping. This increase in ecommerce encouraged businesses to invest more in online advertising. Online advertising is a widely used tool for marketers and advertisers. But due to COVID-19 many ecommerce businesses increased their advertising budget as customers preferred online shopping. According to eMarketer, advertising on ecommerce platforms increased by 39% in 2020 and will continue to grow by 30% in 2021. Marketers and advertisers use various platforms like social media and Google ads to reach their target audience. These ads allow them to segment their audience by demographics and interests. They can reach the right customers at the right time.
Image from Statista
As seen from the graph above, businesses are going to keep increasing their budget for ads. Social media ads and search ads are estimated to have a higher spend compared to the rest. As discussed above many audiences preferred shopping online and through social media platforms and this will definitely impact the future ad spend.
Search engine optimization or SEO is an integral aspect of digital marketing. Every business needs SEO to help their website rank higher and become more visible. Hence, businesses are always going to need it. Local SEO is especially important because people searching for businesses in their location have more intent to purchase. In addition, Google frequently updates their local SEO algorithm. Which is why constantly updating your local business is important to improve your ranking.
Local businesses can use platforms like Google My Business to add their business information and verify their business. Creating citations in local directories also helps Google see that your business is legit. This can help businesses improve their ranking on search results pages.
Live chats and chatbots
Lastly, live chats and chatbots are continuously gaining more popularity. These are convenient and helpful tools on the website that can improve customer experience. Live chat statistics for 2020 state that 79% of consumers prefer live chat as they offer immediate responses. Further, live chat has a 92% consumer satisfaction rate (99Firms).
A live chat software allows users on a website to chat with a human agent in real time. Whereas chatbots are apps that engage visitors by chat interface based on pre-programmed rules. Chat bots make it easier for visitors to conveniently search for a particular section or information on a website. With live chats customers can talk to agents about very specific issues they may be facing. Both these programs are important to assist customers when they are navigating your website and ultimately impact customer satisfaction. Hence, businesses will keep using them to improve customer experience.
With the ongoing pandemic the coming years seems quite unpredictable. However, businesses have now learnt to adapt in this changing environment as technology has helped them survive this pandemic. Businesses have come to rely more on online marketing and advertising to reach their target customers. The digital marketing trends discussed here do not cover all the marketing trends out there. But this is a good place to start when you are planning your marketing strategy for 2021.
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