In 2020, the world gained 93 million more mobile phone users. That’s 93 million more potential customers who may be using their smartphones to search for and buy products online. Are you keeping pace with the latest digital marketing trends to put your brand in the palm of their hand? Find out where you should be focusing your marketing efforts in 2021.
The digital revolution hasn’t quite reached its peak yet. As it continues to evolve, marketers continue to find new ways to reach their audience. So, where is digital marketing heading in 2021? Here’s a look at the 10 most notable trends in digital marketing in 2021.
1. Video isn’t an option anymore
Video is the fastest growing form of content. From YouTube to TikTok, people are consuming video content in greater quantities. Humans absorb visuals like images, illustrations, and video better than written content. With so much content to scroll through, it’s easier to watch a short video than read a long article. How does this translate to marketing?
According to a survey by Wyzowl, 84% of people have been convinced to buy a product or service after watching a brand’s video. That’s why more marketers are investing in video marketing.
In 2020, 92% of marketers said that video content is an important part of the content marketing strategy, up from 78% in 2015. Are you one of them? If not, you could be losing sales to your competitors who are.
2. Multi-channel marketing is a must
Customers want convenience and accessibility. They want to be able to interact with a brand wherever they are — at home or on the go, and on any device. That means your marketing needs to reach them on the channels they frequent and you need to provide multi-channel customer support.
Businesses that provide multi-channel customer service retain up to 89% of their customers while companies that don’t retain only around 33%. The top 3 most popular customer communication channels are phone, email, and online self-service.
Managing customer queries from multiple channels doesn’t have to be complicated. There’s plenty of help desk software with multi-channel ticketing systems on the market that makes it easy. Whichever channels customers contact you through, it all goes into one ticketing system and agents can respond via the same channel.
3. Conversational marketing
Conversational marketing is the new buzzword in marketing. In many respects, it’s not new. Businesses have been engaging in conversations with their customers for years. Social media is one channel; live chat is another. In fact, the success of live chat is probably what put conversational marketing in the spotlight. As much as 73% of customers say they are happy with live chat experiences.
Conversational marketing is about talking to your customer when and where it’s convenient for them. That could be a live chat but it could also be Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or another type of communication channel.
It also means being able to pick up on a conversation later on. Let’s say a customer contacts you at 8 a.m., then gets busy with their day and reverts back to the conversation later that night. Are you available at 8 a.m and 8 p.m.?
Chatbots are a great way to initiate a conversation with your website visitors. A chatbot can offer assistance if the customer is looking for information, wants to schedule an appointment, or needs help with a problem.
Chatbots are also a smart lead generation tool. You can use a chatbot on your website or in messaging apps to make customers aware of promotions or suggest products that will solve their problem.
4. Data-driven marketing
The most successful marketers scrutinize their data in order to better serve their customers. Businesses are acquiring more data than ever before. That gives you access to an incredible amount of consumer insights that can be used to direct business strategies. It’s right there at your fingertips, if you have the right systems and marketing geniuses to interpret the data.
Analyzing marketing metrics has become one of the most sought-after skills in digital marketing. In Altimeter’s 2020 State of Digital Marketing report, data analysis is the top skill desired by digital marketers in new hires.
Your marketing data can tell you:
- How much traffic your website gets, how long they stay on your website, and how many pages they visit.
- What products or services sell better than others.
- How effective your marketing campaigns are at attracting new customers.
- How many customers you are retaining and how many are lost over a certain period of time.
- What your email open and click-through rates are.
- What social media content attracts higher engagement rates.
- Your customer satisfaction levels and the areas they are happy or unhappy with.
- How engaged people are with your brand.
5. Nostalgia marketing
Many marketers know how powerful emotions are in marketing. Evoking feelings of joy, freedom, pride, and even anger, for example, can be very effective at swaying customers. What we’re also learning is that advertising that brings up feelings of nostalgia can be even more powerful.
Nostalgia marketing uses images, pop culture references or music from the past that stir up sentimental feelings. This can be centered around a time period, fashion, dance or music, food, festivals, or a seasonal event like Christmas. Look at how successful Coca-Cola’s Christmas advertising campaigns are, for example.
One research study showed that consumers are more likely to spend or donate money on something that makes them feel nostalgic. They’re also willing to spend more. Interestingly, feelings of nostalgia also occur in people who have a fondness for a particular decade even if they were too young to remember it or weren’t born yet.
6. A greater focus on customer privacy and security
Security breaches and data leaks have placed consumer privacy and security in the spotlight in recent years. When customer’s private data is exposed, their trust in your company is compromised and it can be hard to regain it.
Globally, many companies are implementing stricter security protocols to keep customer’s information safe. Customer verification protocols like two-step authentication, biometric identification and Know Your Customer (KYC) verification are commonplace.
The European Union (EU) clamped down on how businesses handle personal data with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) law. Companies that don’t follow GDPR regulations face stiff fines.
Triggered by the GDPR law, many companies now make website visitors aware of the use of tracking software like cookies. Marketing also needs more permissions from customers to opt-in to email subscription lists or receive promotional communication.
7. Social CRM is a growing trend
CRM systems have become more sophisticated and some have multi-channel functionality for more efficient lead generation and customer support services. Social CRM is the integration of social media channels into customer relationship management (CRM) software.
Social CRM offers these benefits in one platform:
- Rather than have a separate social media scheduling platform, you can schedule posts and engage with your followers directly on your CRM system.
- You collect richer information on your customer such as their environment, interests, hobbies, and how they perceive your brand. This means you can publish more relevant content.
- You can monitor their conversations about your brand and your competitors.
- You can do “warm calling” instead of cold calling. Customers who are already following you or engaging with you on social media are easier to sell to.
- You can manage and respond to incoming customer service queries from your social media channels.
- You can discover and reward brand advocates.
- You can identify social media influencers to reach out to.
- You can measure and analyze your social media metrics by easily generating reports. See what types of content perform better, how much traffic you’re attracting and how many followers you’re losing. You’ll be able to spot emerging customer trends and adjust your marketing strategy accordingly.
8. Trustworthy media monitoring
Media monitoring is nothing new but with so much fake news out there, sifting through the media to find false reports about your brand —or your competitors — may be a challenge. Fake news about your brand can have a devastating impact on your business if customers believe it. Finding and eliminating fake news has become a part of media monitoring.
How big is the fake news problem? Statistics show that In Q3 of 2020, there were 1.8 billion fake news engagements on Facebook. That’s only Facebook. The problem extends across all social media as well as traditional mainstream media.
Every company needs to have their finger on the pulse when it comes to their brand and the industry in which they operate. It’s a key element of business intelligence, but your intel needs to be based on sound reports.
If you hire a media monitoring agency, do your due diligence to find out what checks and balances they have in place to find trustworthy news. If you do your own media monitoring, separate truth from fiction by checking if the site is reputable, the author’s bio, the sources referenced, who was interviewed, if it’s fact or opinion-based piece, and whether other credible news outlets have covered it.
9. Frictionless customer experience
The digital world has made shopping quick and convenient. As a result, customers have high expectations. They demand efficient service every step of their journey with your company. Any obstacles that come up may cause them to bolt and find a company that is meeting their needs.
To create a frictionless customer experience, you need to identify where the friction points are from the start of your customer’s journey through to after-sales support.
Here are a few examples of where friction may occur:
- Note being able to find the product they’re looking for quickly. Collecting the right kind of customer data will allow you to offer personalized product suggestions instead of irrelevant ones.
- A complex online buying process. Having too many steps to complete to finalize a sale may result in the customer abandoning the transaction.
- Not being able to contact your company easily. Are your contact details visible on your website and do you provide multiple customer touch points?
- Poor customer service that results in long wait times, slow responses, and not resolving the customer’s query at first contact.
A frictionless customer experience can pay off in a big way. A study by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that:
- 42% of consumers would pay more for a friendly and welcoming experience.
- 52% would pay more for a speedy and efficient service.
- 73% said that a positive customer experience is key in influencing their brand loyalties.
10. Social media listening
One reason many businesses fail their customers is because they don’t know what they want or what their frustrations are. They don’t have their ear to the ground. If you find that your marketing strategy isn’t resonating with your customers, it’s time to find out why.
Put aside your beliefs about your brand and tune in to what your customers are saying. Social listening and media monitoring are connected. Media monitoring tracks brand mentions. Social listening goes a step further to analyze those mentions to determine what’s behind the positive or negative sentiment.
It’s a great way to supplement your market research. You can get a sense of where the market is heading and learn from your competitors successes or failures. You can use these insights to drive your marketing strategy and better serve your customers.
Fine-tuning your social listening skills also means you’ll be able to respond to criticism or complaints immediately and avert a potential PR crisis. The faster you respond, the less damage your reputation may suffer.
There are so many ways to engage with customers online. Not all may work for your audience and if your marketing budget is modest, you may not be able to implement all of them either. Focusing your efforts on the ones that suit your audience best is how you will achieve the best results.