Forgive me, but it really is hard to start (or finish) any blog post at the moment without writing any of the following interminable phrases:
- “wow, what a year it’s been”
- “when things do return to some form of normality…”
- “things really have changed forever”
I hate them as much as you do, but they hold significant weight – particularly when it comes to marketing.
Things have changed for good. But is it all bad in the world of marketing? Are we in for the digital equivalent of social distancing and mask wearing? Or will digital marketing in 2021 offer a clear river-like breath of fresh air?
The good news is that COVID doesn’t influence the following trends. You see, I’ve done some digging and it turns out that most 2021 marketing trend articles suggest we’ve got a fair bit to look forward to.
For instance, by next year, the augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) market is expected to be worth $215 billion. That’s exciting, and there’s no mention of the ‘c’ word.
Tell me more about AR
You’ve probably got a relatively new smartphone to hand, and, if so, that means you’ve also got a powerful device in your pocket which is capable of AR.
As 2021 comes into view, the consumer experience is expected to be significantly bolstered by AR. More people will use their smartphones and tablets to virtually ‘place’ potential pieces of furniture in their rooms or a pair of much-wanted trainers on their feet.
If you thought AR was gimmicky (I did), think again. There’s a reason the likes of Apple and Google are investing so much time and expense in the technology; it will, one day, reach mass adoption, and 2021 might be the year it finally makes its way into the mainstream.
Personalisation continues its march
Surveys suggest that 80% of consumers are more likely to buy from a business if it provides a personalised experience. It’s why 2020 is known as ‘the year of personalised marketing’ in marketing circles.
2021 will be no different. In fact, if you’re running a business that isn’t using personalisation within its marketing, you’ll struggle to compete. It’s going to be that important.
Take one look at your email inbox to see what I mean. It’ll be flooded with personalised messages, and those will be the messages that stand out and demand to be clicked.
But what about SEO?
Ah, search engine optimisation. That old chestnut.
It’s obviously going nowhere. However, many very clever marketing people believe 2021 will represent a significant shift in SEO tactics, otherwise known as the fight for ‘SERP Position Zero’.
The way people are using search is changing, due in no small way to voice and mobile search. As a result, very few of us knowingly look at Google search results in the way we once did.
Achieving a first position on Google is no longer the holy grail – position zero is where it’s at.
You’ve probably noticed this while using Google yourself. Right at the top of the search results page, there’s nearly always a listing or two that is boxed in a way that suggests it isn’t really where the listings start. Typically, this will be a ‘snippet’ from a website which is designed to give you an immediate answer.
There are lots of theories about the merits of this as far as SEO goes, and some marketers worry (understandably) that it draws people away from the websites that serve the snippets. But, regardless, they’re hotly contested, and position zero is getting smarter.
If you’re not aiming for a snippet yourself in 2021, even your number one position on Google might be under threat.
Small influencers for large gains
Spend on influencer marketing this year is estimated to have increased by 12.7%, year-on-year.
But that doesn’t mean you need pockets deep enough to be featured on MKBHD’s channel or gain a mention from Casey Neistat. No, influencer marketing in 2021 is going to be far more attainable than that.
Small time influencers can offer amazing bang for buck, and they’re the sort of external marketing assistants you should be looking for next year.
These guys and girls work incredibly hard to build their own very specific, tight niches, which results in small but highly engaged audiences. It’s a tactic which works wonders for them and the brands they feature on their YouTube channels and Instagram feeds.
Working with small influencers is fun, attainable and capable of delivering huge ROI. Find the right influencer, and you’ll discover that you both share the same audience, and it’s an audience that’s likely to trust you both the more you work together.
’Doing good’ will be an acceptable marketing tactic
Do you really think Apple sells (PRODUCT)RED stuff just for the feel-good factor? Of course they don’t; at its heart, it’s still a marketing tactic.
But that’s fine. You can do good and sell more of your product at the same time, and you shouldn’t feel bad about it.
Consumers are increasingly looking for brands and businesses that have a social conscience. For many people, it’s the one thing that can sway a purchasing decision.
In 2021 and beyond, trust will become a prized commodity in marketing. It already is, arguably, but as the way people shop changes, so too will eye they place on the brands they interact with. It’ll get more critical, and if you’re unable to demonstrate some social responsibility, you may lose a shed load of potential customers.
How refreshing was that? I managed to get through this entire ‘looking ahead to 2021’ blog post without suggesting that marketing is going to be significantly impacted by COVID-19.
That’s because, largely, it won’t be. Yes, the way we work and live is different now, but the way we buy products isn’t. This has had the pleasing effect of only impacting marketing in a positive way.
As you’ve probably noted, the evolution of marketing is driven by the evolution of technology, and that thankfully shows no signs of slowing. We’re in for one hell of a ride, alright, but when it comes to marketing your business, 2021 is going to be a great ride.