In 2020, the eCommerce business landscape underwent a dramatic transformation. Consumers forged new shopping habits and upped their expectations of brands. Digital marketing also evolved as more businesses moved online in light of coronavirus restrictions. Brands had to redesign their campaigns to reflect the new reality.
So what will change in 2021? Which digital marketing platforms should you focus your energy on? Which new technologies and trends should you watch out for? What is the best way to acquire, engage, and retain customers in 2021? In this article, we’ll look at some of the top trends to expect in the new year and how you can leverage them to grow your eCommerce business.
2020 Digital Marketing Recap
At the start of 2020, everyone was optimistic about the economy and everything else. Then the coronavirus pandemic broke out and turned the world upside down. Businesses were forced to adopt digital marketing as physical businesses were closed down except for essential services. Online shopping became mainstream.
The overall ad spend decreased in 2020. But some channels are already on the rebound with most economies reopening amidst the approval of various coronavirus vaccines. As things slowly return to normalcy, 2020 has had a major lasting impact on the digital marketing sphere.
What should you expect in 2021?
Major Digital Marketing Trends For 2021
The digital marketing landscape is optimistic despite the difficult year it endured in 2020. The digital marketing industry is forecasted to grow by at least 20 percent in the new year. Google and Facebook are expected to lead the way for other digital marketing platforms. These are some of the major trends to watch out for in 2021:
1. Consumer behavior change isn’t going back to pre-coronavirus
If you’re waiting for consumer behavior to go back to how it was pre-coronavirus, it’s better to adjust to the new reality. The behavior change is permanent. Businesses spent the better part of 2020 adapting to these changes. It’s now time to develop smart digital marketing strategies that are in line with the changes. In 2021, you should focus on value-based pricing and messaging.
2. Influencer marketing will be more integral for consumer brands
Brands have relied on social media influencers in the past to increase their lead generation and conversion rates, especially when targeting the younger generation. Going forward, their role in digital marketing will become even more important. This will be because of increased social media use during and after the pandemic. Influencers are able to engage with their followers on a personal level and push your products in a way that other forms of advertising can’t.
3. The focus shifts to environmental, social, and ethical responsibility
In September 2020, consumers and activists threatened to boycott Swedish oat milk producer Oatly over a controversial deal with Blackstone. It’s one of the many brands that almost fell victim to the “cancel culture” on social media. Consumers are now more enlightened and will abandon ship if a brand isn’t committed to environmental and social responsibility. Ethical businesses will have more success in 2021 and beyond. Anti-consumerism approach is the way to go in the new year.
4. Short-form videos will be the new king of digital marketing
People had to find alternative sources of entertainment as a result of lockdown restrictions. It’s one of the reasons for the growth of video consumption. Nobody’s therefore surprised that video-sharing social networking, TikTok, was the fastest-growing app in Ireland in 2020. Facebook also launched Instagram Reels besides Facebook Live.
In 2021, brands, especially those that are targeting the younger generation, will have to develop effective video marketing strategies if they’re to achieve their goals. It’s also much easier to pass your message in a one-minute video than a 3000-word text.
5. User privacy protections will impact your data collection and targeting capabilities
Data privacy scandals in recent years shifted the focus to big data and online advertising. It led to the enactment of various domestic and international data privacy laws across the world. The European Union implemented the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018. Businesses have to ensure compliance with it alongside the Irish Data Protection Act 2018. Google and Apple also made changes to their cookies policy.
These efforts by regulators and online advertising platforms to protect user privacy are changing the way brands track, target, and retarget consumers. It’s better to prepare to adapt to the same. But Google and Facebook, the biggest online advertising platforms, are introducing machine learning and smart campaigns that will enable brands to reach their target audiences better without infringing on their privacy.
Besides the above trends, brands should also expect more marketing automation and personalized marketing instead of mass-blasted campaigns.
How to Make Your Marketing Strategy Strong in 2021
Here are a few tips for developing an effective digital marketing strategy in 2021:
1. Improve your communication of availability
A study by McKinsey revealed that consumers will switch brands if products and services are unavailable at their preferred brand. You can overcome this challenge by increasing your inventory on-hand or, if you are a service provider, the availability of your time slots. Have a banner on your website that indicates which products are in stock. It’s also important to make timely communication to your customers on the availability of your products and services. Do you close shop on public holidays and can’t do deliveries? Let them know in advance. Let your customers know of any changes to your availability.
2. Provide more interactive content
Interactive elements on your digital marketing channels increase brand engagement, provide value to customers, and improve brand visibility and awareness. For example, you should have a mortgage calculator on your website if you are a real estate company. It enables your visitors to easily estimate their mortgage payments. You will also be able to gather data for creating effective buyer personas for offer-targeting. Other interactive elements you can consider include:
- Online games
- Online polls
- Interactive videos
3. Improve customer retention through segmentation
You already know how important customer retention is to your marketing efforts and business overally. Satisfied customers provide honest feedback, increase revenue generation by referring others, and reduce your customer acquisition costs. Segmenting your customers depending on their stage in the sales funnel will enable you to serve them better and increase customer retention. It also enables you to target them in a more cost-effective manner.
4. Use social media for engagement and retention
According to Statista, Ireland’s digital advertising spend will reach €880m in 2021. Search engine marketing will take the largest segment (€428m) while social media marketing will grow by 5.2% to €230m. Despite trailing search engine marketing by almost half, you’ll have to ignore social media marketing at your own peril. With increased social media use during the pandemic, social media platforms will be best suited for engaging your customers. You know where to meet your audience.
The introduction of Facebook Shops will also change how consumers use social media platforms. It will not only enable you to strengthen your online presence but also provide a seamless shopping experience for your customers.
5. Go all-in on Google Listings and Local SEO
Lastly, you’ll want to ensure that your local listings are updated and verified. This will enable you to draw in local customers, especially for businesses such as healthcare service providers and car dealerships. It also helps with your SEO ranking. Your business will show up in “near me” searches and increase lead generation and conversion.
It’s also recommendable to leverage features such as automated bidding and voice search for search engine marketing. Google automated bidding will enable you to optimize your campaigns in real-time and achieve specific business goals. The use of voice assistants such as Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri is on the rise and optimizing your keywords for voice search can help your SEO strategy.
Factors That Will Affect Digital Marketing in 2021
But digital marketing in 2021 won’t be all rosy and easy for brands. There are obstacles you’ll have to overcome to achieve your marketing objectives. Some of the expected challenges in the new year include:
- Use of ad-blockers by website visitors (up to 27 percent of internet users are expected to deploy ad blockers on their devices). This will impact pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.
- Increased scrutiny of data privacy will limit search query data collection and keyword research
- Inclusivity of younger audiences and marginalized groups will require the development of well-thought content marketing strategies
- Visual searches, through Google Lens, will change the SEO landscape
Digital marketing is evolving in line with new consumer habits and demands. This transformation will continue in 2021. It will require innovative use of technology, robust marketing strategies, and creative ideas to drive online consumer engagement and lead generation. It’s the only way to rise above your competitors. It will help to partner with an experienced digital marketing agency to expand your online marketing horizons. Salt Marketing will turn your digital marketing strategy for a one-way ad online blast to an extremely personalized two-way relationship between the brand and its customers.
These tips are key to growing your eCommerce business in 2021. It will also be important to stay informed of key changes and trends in the digital marketing space. If you’re looking to partner with a digital marketing agency you can trust to grow your brand, get in touch with Salt Marketing today.