With so many unanswered questions, the marketing trends for 2021 have a slightly different focus than might be the case in a typical year. As 2020 winds down in the next couple of weeks there are still a lot of questions that we can’t answer.
How soon until a vaccine is distributed for COVID-19?
When will the pandemic end?
When will we return to business as usual?
For small business owners, that last question looms large. With COVID cases spiking across the country and the probability that we’ll be back to only essential businesses keeping their doors open to the public, it’s crucial to take a long view of the marketing landscape.
Here’s what’s on the horizon…
I’ve talked a lot before about how much less it costs to retain existing customers than to win new customers. In 2021, it’s going to make a lot of sense to put your marketing budget into customer retention. Holding steady in a global crisis qualifies as a win.
Social media and email are the best tools you have available to drive customer retention. By encouraging existing customers to follow you on Facebook or subscribe to your list, you’re gaining the ability to stay in touch with them. You can offer special deals, keep them informed, and remind them of why they chose your product or service in the first place.
We’ve all experienced issues with product availability as well as with delayed deliveries due to the pandemic. The key to customer retention is ensuring that your customers have access to your products and services. And if they don’t, letting them know why.
If you have the financial wherewithal, then it may make sense to increase your inventory and beef up your fulfilment efforts to make sure that you can ship products out quickly. For companies providing services, you may need to think about alternative or extended hours, curbside or drive-thru service, and other adaptations to meet your customers’ existing needs. At the same time, you’ll need to communicate clearly about delays and shortages to minimize the risk that customers will abandon you for a competitor.
Marketing automation has been one of the most popular digital marketing trends for years now and that’s not going to change. 51% of companies were already using marketing automation as of the end of 2019 with a slight edge to B2C companies. However, 58% of all B2B companies said they planned to add automation.
Automation can include everything from simple fixes such as email autoresponders, to complex solutions such as chatbots and digital assistants. Chatbot technology is within reach thanks to free chatbot builder tools like Chatfuel and MobileMonkey. You don’t need to pay a programmer to build an effective bot.
There’s no doubt that there’s still room for static content, meaning content that your followers read, watch, or listen to on their own. That said, one of the biggest content marketing trends for 2021 is the rise of interactive content as a way of engaging customers and providing value at the same time.
Interactive content can take many forms, including:
The reason for the rise is two-fold. First, interactive content is fun for your followers and can make them feel more engaged with your company and brand. Second, the data you collect – whether it’s in the form of quiz responses or information entered in a calculator – will help you learn about your audience. You can use the information you collect to fine-tune your marketing and increase new customer acquisition and customer retention.
Another key element of customer retention is list segmentation. With marketing budgets shrinking, it is far more cost-effective to segment your list than it is to send the same emails to everyone expecting to get a high conversion rate.
Segmentation can be done using any factors you choose, including:
You have the option of segmenting your list based on the data you’ve collected from your subscribers, or asking them to self-segment by sending out a survey or email where they can opt into and out of your content. Either way, the result is better targeting and a higher return from these types of marketing trends on your investment.
In-house automation isn’t the only way to streamline your marketing in 2021. While automated bidding for Google Ads isn’t new – it was first introduced four years ago – it has been greatly improved in the past year.
The benefits of automated bidding are clear. By taking advantage of automation and letting it handle bidding adjustments, you can dedicate your valuable time to improving your PPC ads and increasing your marketing ROI.
Voice search optimization isn’t an option anymore – it’s a must. 40% of all internet users have used voice search and those numbers are only going up. If you’re ignoring voice search in your optimization efforts, you’re making a mistake.
You can optimize for voice search by making the content on your website conversational and accessible. Keep in mind that conversational still needs to apply to your audience. If you own a B2B tech company, your audience’s conversation may include jargon.
Instead of focusing on short keywords, try building your content around common questions and responses. Using questions in your blog headings and other content – and having a robust FAQ section on your website – will make it easy for potential customers to find you using voice search.
The rise of digital has undoubtedly shaken up traditional marketing trends. When you consider the many ways that a potential customer can learn about a company or product, it’s hardly surprising that you can’t count on a linear buying journey to be the result.
How to respond? The trend is toward an omni-channel marketing strategy that includes:
Your goal should be to provide any customer or potential customer with a seamless experience across channels. Customers should get the same tone and information on Facebook that they do from a chatbot on your website, your mobile app, or your landing page.
Overall, agility is going to be the name of the game for digital marketing trends in 2021. We can’t know yet what the new year will hold, but businesses that remain flexible and adaptable have the best chance of continued growth and success.
Keep an open mind to the endless possibilities to grow your business – connect with us to learn more.
Ian Cantle is the President and Marketing Strategist at Outsourced Marketing. His 20+ years in marketing and communications in a variety of industries have provided him with a unique perspective on what works and what doesn't in marketing. Ian founded Outsourced Marketing to fill a gap in the marketplace between businesses and sound marketing strategies and marketing systems. His goal is to take the mystery out of marketing and show business owners how a systematic approach to their marketing can provide exceptional results while easing the burden on them. Ian has also co-authored the book 'Content Marketing for Local Search: Create Content that Google Loves & Prospects Devour' that provides local businesses with an unfair competitive advantage, available on Amazon. Want to discover the Outsourced Marketing difference? Book a free discovery call or call us at 905-251-8178.