With people forced to stay home in the pandemic, time spent online has increased dramatically. From increased emphasis on social media and video content to more innovative ways to measure performance, here are some of our predictions for how digital marketing will continue to evolve in 2021.
1. The move to digital is here to stay
Many businesses have made the move towards a digital model during 2020, and this is likely to remain permanent.
The shift from high street shopping towards ecommerce has been steady for a number of years, and the events of 2020 have just accelerated the process. But for many businesses, 2020 was the crunch point for turning their attention to their digital presence and 2021 will keep the focus on online business for the foreseeable future.
With many new consumers accessing ecommerce for the first time last year, the digital marketplace continues to expand rapidly, with lots of potential for sales growth.
2. Social media will be used for purchase, as well as discovery
Social media budgets will need to increase significantly in 2021 as social media starts to play more than just a supporting role in the conversion process.
Social media channels are streamlining the journey from discovery to purchase, taking consumers right to the point of purchase without the need to direct them towards the store itself.
More focus is also being put on customer retention to Consumer Lifetime Value (CLV) and social media is a primary tool in achieving customer engagement and retention at a low cost, with promotions and sales offered directly to customers on these channels.
3. Virtual events will retain their new popularity
Whilst the concept of virtual events was born out of necessity last year, these events have many advantages and are likely to become a regular feature. Cheaper to run and with the ability to draw in a far wider audience, virtual events promise a greater return on investments than a live event, with a lot less hassle to organise.
Interactive content such as videos, webinar and live streaming enable consumers to feel connected without leaving their own homes. By 2022 more than 80% of consumer internet traffic is likely to be focused on video content.
The ability of virtual content to reach consumers at home is a big advantage and one that will continue to be heavily relied upon. In 2021 your content production will want to be driven by virtual, interactive experiences and engaging, immersive content.
4. Websites must be more Mobile
When it comes to device trends, mobiles are outstripping the pack.
From video calls to gaming or shopping, mobiles are likely to become the go-to device, with the pandemic estimated to have accelerated mobile usage by 2 or 3 years. And over 70% of the global population are expected to have mobile connectivity by 2023. Sectors such as gaming, entertainment and shopping are seeing particular growth in mobile usage.
So developing mobile apps and mobile-friendly websites will be key to business growth. By downloading an app, the customer is demonstrating a commitment to the brand. App users spend on average 3 times more than other mobile users, so it is a worthwhile investment for long term CLV.
Websites that are not mobile responsive will see users bounce as they become frustrated with an unresponsive format.
5. Demand for sustainability
Conscious consumers are raising the demand for sustainable practices from the brands they buy from. The online market offers greater accessibility to information about brands and their ethics and practices. So consumers can easily identify brands with sustainable environmental practices and vote with their wallet.
To stay ahead in 2021, make sure you are able to communicate a sustainable business model to your consumers. Consumers connect well to the narrative of the brand. And now more than ever they will be looking for transparency and social responsibility in the businesses they buy from.
6. Informed buyers want informed brands
Today’s online consumer has a high expectation of their customer experience. With so many competing products at the click of a button, consumers are looking for a brand that understands them and wins them over.
Beyond basic personalisation, your brand must demonstrate a knowledge of their needs and preferences, and be able to persuade them of why they need your product.
Look to using conversational search experiences* on your site to educate your customers, find out more about them and lead them to the best products for them.
7. A world without cookies
Worldwide data protection laws are evolving the way customer interaction can be tracked, and marketers should work towards becoming independent of cookies.
Data tracking has relied heavily on cookies up till now, and so marketers need to think outside the box to find new ways to measure the success of their campaigns. 2021 will have a big emphasis on data privacy and businesses must respect their customers’ privacy in order to build trust.
As well as ensuring you have the right consents in place to respect your users’ preferences, you will also want to invest in a robust system of performance measurement, using methods such as durable tagging and analytics on your site, as well as more advanced conversion modelling. It is also worth building on your first-party data – sourced through interactions with customers on your site.