As 2021 brings in a hopeful start after a chaotic 2020, we can’t help but wonder what the new year will look like for marketers and brands.
We’re currently in the middle of a global pandemic, and as a result, our behaviour online has adapted to suit a new lifestyle many of us didn’t foresee: isolation. Now more than ever, people are connected online to their friends, family, and colleagues, and the way we as consumers shop, learn and connect with others has gone into turbodrive. Some brands reacted to our changing behaviours and engaged with their customers in meaningful ways, while others are still struggling to adapt and react.
Here are our picks of digital marketing trends to think about implementing in your 2021 strategies.
2021 SEO Trends
In 2020, local SEO became a huge priority for businesses as most consumers were isolated at home. Online shopping drastically increased in 2020, with many sales resulting from local searches. In fact, 78% of consumers made a purchase (either online or in store) following a localized search on mobile.
Although many businesses struggled to get customers in the door, Google searches with “Near me” or “Where to buy” increased by 200% over the last few years. This means consumers are searching for product recommendations that are nearby, while also being presented with alternatives from other businesses. So, if you want your brand to get noticed online, you need to make sure you stand out from your competitors. Having an active Google My Business listing and incorporating a local SEO strategy in your content should be a priority in 2021.
When was the last time you used Siri to settle a debate, asked Google Home what your day was looking like, or searched for the nearest gas station on the road? Odds are it was recently. Voice search has become an everyday practice, with many having invested in voice assistant products in 2020. Aspencore reported that global sales of smart speakers in the beginning of Covid-19 rose to 30 million units, an increase of 6% compared to Q1.
What this means for SEO
According to a study of 10,000 Google Home voice searches by Banklinko, “Google prefers short, concise answers to voice search queries. The typical voice search result is only 29 words in length.”
Businesses will be fighting even harder to get that coveted top spot that voice search engines choose (74.9% of Google voice search results were from the top 3 ranking results). If you can manage to get in a featured snippet, your chances of being the voiced search result increase exponentially! Of the same study, approximately 40.7% of voice search results came from a snippet.
Keep in mind that voice search queries tend to be longer than conventional text searches—their long-tail keywords are around 3-5 keywords long and usually begin with a Who, What, When, Where, Why or How. With this information, marketers and SEO specialists can analyze user intention based off of these interrogative words.
Many consumers in 2020 discovered Google’s visual search features that allow them to submit a photo or video to find similar or exact product matches. As more consumers use this feature, the overall landscape of SEO is shifting. Modern visual search technology uses AI to understand the content and context of these images to return a list of related results.
To capitalize on the increased amount of visual searches we anticipate will occur in 2021, marketers will want to make sure their visual campaigns are in tip-top shape. Optimize your content to:
- Include alt text in your image descriptions
- Add images to your sitemap, or create a dedicated visual sitemaps
- Include your target keywords in the file name of your image
- Use high-res imagery
By 2021, Gartner predicts that early adopters of visual search optimization will increase digital commerce revenue by 30%.
2021 Content Trends
Consumers are passionate and intentional about purchasing from brands with strong and transparent sustainability practices. A new Capgemini report shows that 79% of consumers are changing their purchase preferences based on social responsibility, and 54% of Gen Z consumers consider a brand’s environmental efforts to be imperative when it comes to buying decisions in 2020.
79% of consumers are changing their purchase preferences based on social responsibility
A good product is no longer enough to win over consumers. Instead, consumers are increasingly looking for brands that align with their values. Millennials and Gen Z in particular are expanding in both influence and purchasing power. This means brands should consider if their product and messaging is actively promoting their commitment to social responsibility.
Tapping into nostalgia
Nostalgia Marketing captures the memories from the past that render positive emotions for the customer. Understanding the link between nostalgia and happiness can highly benefit your company by incorporating it in your marketing campaigns. Pre-pandemic nostalgia is definitely worth introducing into your content mix. It’s especially effective now since people are longing for a time where we didn’t have to stand six feet apart.
Make them happy, unlock more sales
Leveraging happier, nostalgic memories into your brand strategy can create positive emotions toward your brand through the eyes of the consumer. The more relatable the content, the more likely a customer will engage with it. Even more, studies show that generating nostalgic feelings in consumers can cause them to spend more money on goods and services.
Nostalgia marketing works especially well on boomers, so be sure to account for them (if they are a product fit, of course). One month into the pandemic, we saw an increase of boomers switching to online shopping—from 8% the month before to 23%. This means brands will have to account for this boom in new users and use tactics that appeal to them.
Personalized customer interactions have become an integral part to selling both online and in store. Tailored experiences are now a staple among e-commerce brands since it improves the customer experience significantly. What’s more, those who have automated their personalized experiences have gotten ahead of the game.
How to personalize for success
To succeed at making every customers’ experience unique, you need to have a well-oiled digital ecosystem that tracks, measures and segments your audience with data touch points to customize content like product recommendations, emails, social ads, and more.
The challenge? Balancing how to use this information to give consumers an engaging experience without coming off as knowing too much about their personal preferences. Creating interactive content that provides ‘delight’ while meeting your business objectives will be a huge trend in the new year as more and more users are at home taking online surveys, quizzes and polls to find product recommendations virtually.
Make Participation a Priority
Today, companies are choosing to take a more strategic approach when it comes to considering their customers. The customer is your brand ambassador. They are the influencer, the collaborator and innovator of your product. The more they engage with your brand, the more your offering suits their needs and wants. Tailoring your offering to what the customer says and does inevitably creates a better customer experience.
The customer is your brand ambassador. They are the influencer, the collaborator and innovator of your product.
Don’t forget to take full advantage of the many tools social channels like Instagram & Facebook offer to interact with your audience! Using Instagram Stories to poll your followers or hold a Q&A on Live can drastically increase engagement and boost discoverability as most channels favour feature adopters in their algorithms.
This is by no means a complete list of the digital marketing trends to watch out for in 2021, but they highlight some of our picks to lean into this year to connect and engage with your audience.
As always, make sure your SEO strategy is optimized for isolation and changing shopping habits. Bring back those pre-Covid memories and combine them into your marketing strategy to have your customers reminisce on better days. And make your digital experience as interactive and personalized as possible. Since we can’t interact in person, let’s interact online!