The Wind of Change: Digital Marketing Trends in 2021

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Wow, what a year! No words can describe the challenges and hardships faced by businesses and individuals around the world. We all feel a sigh of relief as we enter 2021 – acknowledging the pandemic isn’t over but finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.

We could linger in 2020 and review the changes that occurred – virtual won big, brick-and-mortar went online via eCommerce, and live videos were a hit – but we’d rather focus on the future. 2021 looks bright compared to 2020’s endless blows and it’s time to start planning ahead, analyzing digital trends, and understanding the new consumer behaviors that have been solidified in the past year.

Check out a few digital marketing trends we foresee in 2021 and find out how you can ride this Wind of Change coming your way.

E-commerce will Continue to Dramatically Grow

This trend is one we all felt. Compared to 2019’s third quarter, 2020’s third quarter saw a 37% jump in online US sales. And before that, 2020’s second quarter broke the record with 44% increase compared to 2019 (census.gov). Of all retail sales this year, ecommerce accounts for about 20%. This number is only growing year-to-year so you can expect it to continue to rise in 2021.

The economy we return to will be a different one than before. Once the pandemic slows down, consumer behaviors created in 2020 will likely remain. People have adapted to ordering everything online – even basic necessities like toilet paper. Why go back to a less efficient system? You should also utilize shoppable Instagram if it applies to your business to make sales directly from the app and include Apple Pay, Buy with Google, PayPal, and other one-click payments on your website.

Businesses are encouraged to get creative and bring their processes online. Whether it’s selling physical products, memberships, gift cards, subscriptions, courses, experiences, etc. Gone are the days of paying later. Businesses need revenue now and eCommerce website can definitely help.

Google Listings & Local SEO Needs to be Maintained

One of the best ways to communicate with locals is via your Google Listing. While we want to believe that everyone knows how to claim and update their listing by now, we know that’s far from true. This gives you an edge if you have already updated it. If you haven’t, don’t fret! You can jump on that right now and start communicating up-to-date info to your customers. Google listings appear in Google Map searches and on the search engine result pages.

You can update your hours, list services and products, your location or service area location, COVID-19 updates, promotions, and more. You can even start creating posts – and Google loves it. If you’re already creating social posts, include Google in the mix. People usually see your Google listing before your website so be sure to keep it consistent and updated.

Video & User-Generated Content will Improve Ad Performance

You can bet that Facebook & Instagram ads will see more ingenuity in 2021. Be sure to up your creative game in the new year by incorporating more video and user-generated content (UGC). It doesn’t have to be expensive to get good content.

Encourage employees to take video and see what content you can come up with. Put the videos together and you may just have a great ad. Encourage consumers to post and send in their own content and review videos. Offer an incentive to increase participation. Ads that feature customers have a more genuine feel.

With TikTok’s rise and other social platforms trying to compete in the video sector – like Instagram’s new Reel feature – video ads will certainly find their place above other content forms in the advertising world.

Websites will Get an Upgrade

After a year of hyper-online activity, users will get bored with the same old visual experience. If it’s been a few years since you’ve touched your website, consider a revamp. Website design has shifted to modern, clean, and to-the-point. And Google has certainly noticed – user-experience (UX) is now a ranking factor. If you decide to rebuild in the new year, take time to analyze your customer journey and map out the best UX design for your website.

A few 2021 website design trends to consider include asymmetry, scrolling effects, interactive elements (questionnaires, analyzing tools, etc.), relaxing colors, big and bold headlines.

Marketing Automation & Segmentation isn’t Going Anywhere

We all know it takes less money to keep existing customers than earn new ones. But how do you keep people interested when the market feels saturated? Utilizing a robust Marketing Automation platform can help you stay in contact with your customers – send birthday, holiday, customer anniversary emails, and more. Reward loyalty by sending exclusive offers to customers first. Lost touch with a few customers? Segment them and send “we miss you” emails.

Best of all, you can integrate automation into your website and advertising. Send abandoned cart or browse abandonment emails. Retarget those who showed interest on your website with social media ads. These marketing automation processes can all run in the background while you do what you do best – run your business.

Video Marketing will improve SEO

We’re back to video marketing because it’s that important. 70% of consumers say they’ve shared a brand’s video and 72% of businesses say that video improved their conversion rate (impactbnd.com). With a shift to mobile, video content is just easier to absorb than text on a small screen.

Since people find video content more compelling, Google has included video as a ranking factor, so take note for your SEO strategy. If your site has video, it’s 50 times more likely to drive organic search results (seotribunal.com). Include a video explaining different services or showcasing each product. As people continue to shop and do business online, give them a feel of what to expect by via video. Upload your videos to YouTube as they appear on SERPs.

And of course, video content makes great recyclable material. Transcribe the video and make it a blog. Rip the audio and make it a podcast. Upload the video to your social media to receive higher engagement – remember, publishing natively performs better than sharing a YouTube link on a Facebook post.

Be Human, Be Ethical, & Be Open

We’ve mentioned being human before (shoutout to fans of the show – American version as actually pretty great). But after 2020, it’s more important then ever. We saw people on the streets this year protesting for change, passionate about causes, from racial inequality to climate change. This will directly reflect on businesses as consumers strive to work with companies who have proven to be socially aware and ethically responsible.

Think about where your business fits on the ethical spectrum. Do you appeal to the new generations who actively seek responsible brands? Does your marketing messaging align with people’s values today? And are you communicating all this with your customers? Be where your customers are, answer their questions, be transparent, and you’ll have a better chance at winning their hearts.

Can you Feel the Wind of Change?

There are so many more digital marketing trends that we could cover but these are just a few to focus on as you plan your marketing budget for 2021. At WSI Next Gen Marketing, we’re actively seeking the best practices to help our clients grow and overcome recent challenges.

This past year has been incredibly trying and heartbreaking for many. Our thoughts are with those who have faced loss in the midst of the pandemic. We remain hopeful that the new year will bring new beginnings, prosperity, and a wind of change that will be felt all around the world.

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