No one can deny the COVID-19 pandemic forced extreme changes in the way people live their lives. As the pandemic raged on in 2020, online shopping has become the only route for consumers to shop due to strict quarantine protocols. Likewise, the majority of brick-and-mortar businesses, if not all, were forced to move their products and services online to stay afloat. Those who were transitioning online for the first time did so with little to no guidance at all.
Now that 2020 is over and vaccines are beginning to roll out, businesses can’t wait to reopen again to serve their clientele. But here’s the thing. If you’re a business owner, expect that the changes you’ve made in 2020 will most likely become the trend for 2021 and beyond. What used to be normal marketing strategies before the pandemic will more likely be long gone. As a business owner or marketer, you must be able to adapt to the ‘new normal’ of marketing.
Don’t misunderstand, marketing principles will stand the test of time. But the tools you use to market your products and services may not be as relevant and effective these days. For example, cold calling to drive sales may not be as effective as it was in the 60s, but surely it can still drive some conversion for your business. But to do that, you need tools like a predictive or progressive dialer to get the job done efficiently.
The point is, brands hope to survive in the new normal of conducting their business, which is why they should be able to adapt to technological advancements and continue to serve their customers.
The New Normal for Marketing
In 2021, digital marketing trends are fixated on two aspects: (1) authentic campaigns with an individualistic approach and (2) using data to optimize products, marketing campaigns, and customer service experience. These two will be the main focus for the marketing strategies and tools you can implement in your business.
To boost your presence online and build your authority you need to:
1. Apply a Multi-Faceted Marketing Approach
Most 21st-century business owners tell you that the wave to obtain prospects is done only through digital marketing. Although there is some truth to it, you have to admit that marketing has never been a linear approach.
Combining digital marketing efforts and traditional marketing is still a smart move in 2021. If you’re making use of SEO and social media marketing, don’t be afraid to add cold calling into the mix.
Cold calling can still be an effective marketing approach to obtain leads. In fact, the process of dialing numbers has been made more seamless, thanks to auto dialer app.
Some digital marketing techniques need time to get traction. But incorporating a few traditional techniques can help pick up the pace for your business.
2. Take Advantage of Virtual Events
Other than closing down mom and pop shops, 2020 also frustrated a great deal of in-person marketing events due to health and safety concerns. However, instead of fully canceling those events, some have adapted by holding virtual events. In 2021, you can expect that virtual gatherings will continue to be a trend for most marketing events.
If you’re doubting how effective virtual events are, think twice. Many businesses have found that virtual gatherings can be highly beneficial and profitable when done right. In fact, companies have been able to reach a fresh group of audiences simply because virtual events are much more accessible than in-person events.
In terms of return on investment, companies have also discovered that virtual gatherings cost less for them and their customers yet it’s value-adding just like the past alternative.
With that said, virtual events are a powerful marketing tool that can attract new customers and nurture existing ones. But how do you exactly organize an event that people will want to attend?
Consider these five elements to elevate your virtual gatherings to the next level:
- Creative: If you want people to attend your event, you need to make it appealing to them first. The first thing people think about when they hear the word webinars is that it’s usually dull. Marketers need to be able to break that barrier by incorporating creativity into their virtual events.
- Highly Engaging: Foster an engaging and interactive environment in your events. Incorporating a two-way communication with your audience is a powerful way to keep your audience engaged. Take note that your customers crave attention and recognition from the brands they’re loyal to. Listening to them can strengthen your brand’s relationship with its customers.
- Guest Speakers: Speaking of engaging your audience, nothing can promote more engagement than inviting a guest speaker to your event. Inviting influencers to speak and represent your brand’s message is one of the keys to attracting more customers to attend your event.
- Rich Content: There could be many reasons why a person would want to join your event, but their most important reason is the value it’ll bring to their life. Your message is the most important aspect of any event. So, when planning, identify your message and make sure that anyone who sets foot on your virtual meeting comes out a better person in the end.
- Entertaining: Events should be fun. Nothing can ever beat the excitement of meeting new people and attending an in-person event. In most cases, it’s difficult to feel that way with virtual gatherings. But marketers have the ability to create virtual events that’s equally fun and exciting as an in-person event.
Yes, everyone is excited about the idea of gathering in one physical location to attend a seminar or other events, but virtual gatherings are here to stay. As businesses realize the marketing and profitable opportunities of virtual events, the more it’ll become a popular route to reach and engage with new customers, this year and beyond.
3. Streamline your Social Media Campaigns
With businesses transitioning into the digital space, social media platforms will remain a strong marketing avenue for companies. Social media accounts help businesses showcase their brand’s voice, message, products, and services. This is where the majority of your customers can engage with your business and learn more about your company.
In social media, people expect to have two-way communication between themselves and brands. Consumers are more vocal on social media about whether they like your products or not. If they do like your products, make sure to appreciate those people by thanking them. For those who don’t, ask them why and what you can do to improve.
People are looking for businesses that are authentic. And, nothing says authenticity than letting them know that you listen and you care about their opinions. Companies that engage with their customers are more likely to build brand authority and awareness over time.
Utilizing social media platforms to streamline the buying process for your customers is equally important in improving your marketing efforts. Facebook and Instagram have recently introduced changes on their platforms that make the discovery to purchase phase more seamless for customers. Take advantage of this new feature so potential buyers can quickly access your products on social media without having to go to a different website.
4. Use Data to improve Marketing Campaigns
In today’s highly digital environment, data plays a key role in making better business decisions. But this is only possible if businesses learn how to make better use of the data they collect from customers. These actionable data will allow marketers to gain an insight into their customers’ buying habits.
Take the streaming giant, Netflix, for example. Did you ever wonder why Netflix recommendations are so spot on? That’s because they have data scientists analyzing their subscribers’ viewing activity. At the end of that process, Netflix generates a list of movies and shows a person what would they want to watch next.
Businesses can leverage their customers’ online behavior to help customize their marketing message, pricing, products, and other offerings across different channels. The end result–having the ability to provide customers with products they would want to buy next and when they should purchase.
5. Optimize your Content for Human Consumption
Many marketers say that content is king. Although there’s truth in that saying, it would do your business a huge favor if you follow this–content in the correct context is king.
Content and context go hand-in-hand in today’s extremely competitive business environment. It’s not enough to be posting content regularly to gain traction. Instead, create content that’s relevant and authentic.
Blogs, social media posts, and video content are powerful marketing tools. They help establish your brand as an expert in your industry and allow customers to get to know your product offerings. But if your content doesn’t add value to your customers, they surely won’t add value to your company.
Trust is especially important these days because one bad review can give a negative impression on your business. When you post topics that are relevant to your audience, you’re catapulting your business’s brand awareness and customer loyalty.
So, the next time you publish a blog article, post on social media, or send out a newsletter, make sure you’re giving your customers sound advice first before telling them they should buy your products.
6. Invest in Chatbot Software
The best thing about technology is that it helps increase your productivity, giving you more time to focus on the most important aspects of running a business. If you like to do it the traditional way, accept the fact that technology will soon take over the majority of your business process.
One such technology that’s taking over the customer service industry is chatbots. A chatbot is a software application that can automate online conversations. Businesses add chatbot features on their websites so they can answer consumer inquiries whenever and wherever. Unlike direct communication with a live agent, chatbots respond faster to queries and can be cost efficient in the long run.
Contrary to what others believe, chatbots are far from providing robotic responses. In fact, most are AI-powered so they have become more lifelike to the point that customers don’t even recognize any difference.
7. Adjust your Content Strategy for Voice Assistants
Did you know that 50% of online searches come from mobile devices? Also, did you know that 20% of mobile searches come from voice searches
Voice searches is a term used for questions asked via voice services, like Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple’s Siri. Through AI technology, voice services have become more sophisticated in recognizing spoken words. This eliminates the need for typing your questions onto a search bar and provides quick and spoken answers.
The convenience alone can ensure you that voice services are here to stay and will continue to grow in the years ahead. In your efforts to stay on top of Google’s search rankings, make sure to optimize your content so voice services can recognize it. Voice-friendly content should be conversational and answers questions concisely.
8. Aim to be on Position Zero
For years, marketers have done their best to decipher Google’s search engine algorithms to rank high on search engine result pages (SERPs). SEO experts have found that optimizing website speed, content, and authority are key elements to ranking in first place on Google’s SERP. But, recently, Google has introduced a new position that trumps the number one spot on its SERP.
‘Position zero’ is the term used for Google’s featured snippet. It’s a separate box located at the very top of the results page that shows different information based on the type of question a user asks. Featured snippets display a ‘snippet’ of the website that provides the most relevant answers to the user’s question. This provides users with quick and concise answers while also eliminating the need for them to click and wait for a website to load.
Although it might seem counterintuitive to prevent users from visiting your website, being in position zero will help people recognize your business as an industry expert. At the same time, Google’s voice assistant typically favors reading featured snippets aloud. This way, you’re not only easily visible to your audience but you’re also hearable.
Your competition is fierce in the digital space. You’re facing giant, well-established businesses, as well as fresh new companies. In order to catch up and remain competitive, you need to embrace new technologies, like chatbots, auto dialer apps, voice searches, big data, and virtual events.
Be prepared for more changes in the coming years. Focus your marketing efforts on these strategies to stay relevant to your target audience.