Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the entire world has turned upside down. This pandemic has impacted almost every sphere of our lives and the worst affected are businesses. Amidst fear of spreading the virus, businesses are allowing their employees to work from home so that they remain safe. Those who cannot manage with this “new normal of work from home” are practicing social distancing even at workplaces to keep their business running.
The global crisis along with lockdown has compelled many businesses to think out-of-the-box marketing strategies to stay afloat in this tough time. And as said by Stephen Hawkins, “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change”, brands are reconsidering their marketing strategies to connect with their audience and generating their revenues. These new-age marketing trends are not shaping the future of every business but even telling the world that it is necessary to reconsider their marketing strategies as per ongoing scenarios. Adopting new marketing trends has become the need of an hour for regaining the lost touch with your audience, increasing brand awareness and competing with other brands successfully.
In this article, we will discuss some of the best online marketing trends that companies should incorporate in their existing marketing strategies to stay ahead of time not only for this year but for the coming few years also.
Marketing Trend One: Increase in Social Media Engagement
As people are travelling less and spending more time indoors, the chances of using the internet for finding anything has increased substantially. Unlike before where we communicate with our co-workers and discuss with them in-person what to purchase, which brand to prefer, etc., people are relying on social media platforms to make their purchasing decision. So, this is the time, when brands should focus on increasing their social media engagement with their prospects and existing customers and try to build transparency.
For increasing engagement, create engaging posts, videos or information. Seek their opinion to create their interests and launch an online quiz with rewards. Win the trust of customers by remaining transparent with their business dealings. For instance, if any business has announced any quiz with attractive rewards, do not forget to honour the winners. As per one of the surveys, consumers opined that they prefer buying from those brands that remain transparent on social media”.
You can show your brand transparency in the following manner:
- Answering all questions asked by users
- Admitting your mistakes in case of any
- At the launch of a product, show the hard work and time devoted by employees
- Appreciate the hard work of your internal employees on social platforms
The bottom line is a business should make it realize to their customers that they are socially active and following transparent business methodologies. This helps them to reconnect with their customers.
Marketing Trend Two: Content Marketing
This is the high time to invest time and money in creating new content for your targeted audience. Because of social distancing, people are turning towards the internet for learning. Moreover, people are searching for maximum information about the company before purchasing any product or service. So, the key to surviving this crisis is to educate customers via an online medium. This is one business strategy that educational institutions have already adopted to educate their enrolled students. But this highly effective online marketing trend should not limit to the education sector only. Even businesses can take advantage of this in the following manner:
- Use your website to create a learning center and keep updating with guides, courses, whitepapers, etc. If possible, conduct online training of employees regularly to keep them abreast of new trends.
- Take leverage of online learning tools for creating applications or automating tools. For instance, Uber is currently using an online tool for generating keyword ideas for clients. Similarly, the free Blog Ideas Generator is using for giving innumerable blog post ideas to customers and so on.
Other companies, which are not directly involved in educating customers should post the UGC content on the social media platforms. The UGC stands for user-generated content and it can be in any form ranging from texts, videos to the images. This even further strengthens your brand image and paves the way to brand transparency.
Marketing Trend Three: Video Content
Text-based content is going out of fashion; people are now more attracted to video marketing. YouTube is the testimony of the same. Let’s understand this basic fact with a simple example. If you want to learn any recipe, you have two options: either read it or watch it online. In most cases, people prefer the second medium as they get the exact idea regarding the final dish.
Video content affects a purchaser’s decision greatly. 60% of the customers agree that they watch a product video before purchasing so that they become more confident about its usage or their purchase decision. This is the main reason that “Video Marketing” will definitely become the backbone of the marketing trend in 2021.
Now, the question arises, “what kind of videos to use”? Founder’s stories in case of entrepreneurship, DIY (Do-It-Yourself) videos in case of the skincare and the healthcare industry, etc. are some of the best examples that help businesses connect with their audience. All these videos indirectly market your brand and increase its awareness. For instance, you are about to buy a new music system for yourself. Some of the questions you may ask while buying the product are:
- How to Use It?
- What are its unique features?
- What is the cost?
- What is the warranty?
- How it will benefit me?
So, incorporate all these answers in your video to promote your product and influence customers’ decisions. You can even try these tricks:
- If you notice that your customer has enquired about any product but does not purchase it, then send him a personalized video response. This gives him the feeling that he is important for you.
- Engage users in real-time via live streaming.
- Create a Vlog (video-blog) instead of a regular blog to educate customers.
Marketing Trend Four: Focus on Existing Customers
In the rat race to earn new customers, do not forget your existing customers. So, if possible, create additional services as per their new need. To value the bond with existing customers, many companies have to refund the prepaid membership amount to their customers during the lockdown period. This will definitely hurt your cash flow but in the short term only. The money which will your business return to the customers gives them confidence that you are a genuine service provider and they will remain loyal to you.
Try to relate it with this scenario, when you make a purchase from an online platform and cancel the order, the legitimate companies initiate a refund within 7-10 working days. This instils confidence in buyers that even if they do not like the product or place the wrong order unintentionally, they will get their hard earned money back. This increases loyalty amongst customers and they benefit your business with word-of-mouth marketing.
Marketing Trend Five: Search Engine Optimization
Though it is not a new marketing trend, it keeps affecting your online marketing strategy. With the ongoing changes in Google’s algorithm, it is necessary to keep pace with such changes to get a maximized return on your SEO. One of the most noteworthy SEO trends to watch out for 2021 is User Experience (UX).
As Google is giving high priority to the UX, it becomes inevitable to create such websites that are user-friendly and easy to navigate. Make your website mobile-friendly also so that customers can find any piece of information with ease. Else, you will lose not only customers but search engine rankings as well. Simultaneously, pay attention to the loading times. Customers, again and again, agreeing on the fact that if any website does not load in 3-4 seconds or have poor navigation; they will switch to another website and never return to it. So, make it a standard practice to design a web-responsive website with good design, and fast loading speed. All these features will help in gaining high rankings in the search engines.
Marketing Trend Six: Chatbot Growing Importance
Conversational marketing is fast picking the trend in digital marketing. It refers to communicating with customers on a personal or one-to-one level. This implies answering their queries in minimum time. So, companies are increasingly taking benefit of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to set up chatbots in customer care department.
In a survey, over 89% of businesses have shown their willingness to serve their customers with chatbots by the end of 2020. Using chatbots in the customer care department helps businesses to understand their customers’ needs in a better manner. Even customers agree with this and in a survey, 45% of users feel that they feel better while interacting with a chatbot over real customer care staff. Round-the-clock availability, cheaper than a real customer care staff, better response to customers’ queries and exceptional ability to handle multiple customers at a time are some factors that have been increasing the popularity of chatbots in the customer servicing.
The Bottom Line
The novel Coronavirus pandemic has already shifted the focus on emerging online marketing trends for 2021. But it is not wrong to say that these trends are here to stay in the long run and will keep benefitting our business if implemented successfully. It is hard to predict when the pandemic will get over completely, so think wisely and make your business recession-proof by implementing these 2021 online marketing trends in advance.