Marketing is an ever-evolving industry with new trends and innovations emerging as customer needs, behaviour and demands change. As each new year end approaches, marketing teams globally start planning for the next, calculating their budgets, and developing strategies that will increase their reach the most.
But throw a global pandemic into the mix and things get slightly harder to predict. Because of the pandemic, customer behaviour has shifted, and marketing has to adapt to keep up, despite not having much time to adapt. To add more complexity, business’s revenue is down which means that marketing budgets are down.
Despite this, marketing is now more important than ever for business that, not only want to survive, but thrive. With this in mind, what are some digital marketing trends and strategies for the year ahead? Here we’ll highlight some of the trends and strategies businesses are employing in a severely restrained market.
According to HubSpot, about 80% of marketers report that they’ve seen an increase in email engagement in the past year. Now, email has long been one of the mainstays of effective marketing strategies, and we expect that its popularity will increase, especially when one considers that email marketing has the highest return on investment for small businesses.
Add to that that global email users will grow to 4.48 billion users by 2024, and it’s easy to see why many businesses will not only continue their effort, but invest more in email marketing.
In a customer-centric market, areas of investment will be on personalization strategies that ups engagement with both new customers and existing customers and email marketing automation that makes personalized campaigns easier to implement and manage.
Because of lockdown regulations globally and people being advised to stay indoors, there is a huge demand for digital consumption. For this reason, content marketing will be more important than ever with many marketers planning on increasing their investment in content marketing in 2021. And who can blame them, when there’s less exposure through other means, it’s perfect for promoting a brand or product and creating awareness.
There are some strategies that will stand out in 2021, though. For one, content marketing will focus more on inclusivity that cover a variety of races, sexualities, religions, and people with disabilities. Likewise, there’ll also be a move to content that emphasizes environmentalism and brands will benefit from broadcasting their sustainable practices.
And it’s not only written content that’s important with video content now overtaking blogs and infographics as the most commonly used format in content marketing. It improves customer engagement and the user experience with video marketers saying that it has increased traffic to their website and directly increased sales.
Likewise, interactive content plays an important role in user engagement. It’s been popular for some time but is now recognised as a best practice. It doesn’t only promote more engagement and a better user experience, but it also lets user spend more time on a website that increases ranking on search engines.
With more people spending time at home and online, more people are spending time on social media and this means more time for engagement with businesses. In fact, social media budgets accounted for 24% of marketing budgets during the second quarter of 2020.
This creates a lot of opportunities marketers to engage with new audiences and re-engage with existing customers. And this is especially important with a continuing trend of more marketers focussing on customer retention through social media marketing.
SEO will be as important as ever, and, like always, search algorithms will evolve keeping marketing teams on their feet. The coming year will be no different, but the focus will shift from getting listings on the first page to SEO visibility in position zero. So, what is position zero? Position zero refers to Google’s featured snippet that’s separated with a small box at the top of the search results. It also has more relevant information that answers the user’s question without them having to click on it.
Now, this may sound counter-intuitive because it doesn’t take visitors to the site, but it goes a long way in giving the business recognition as an authority in the field, which may be worth more than a single site visit. For this reason, many SEO marketers are prioritising this strategy.
And SEO will no longer only be about what users search for, but also how they search. With semantic search, search engines don’t only use keywords, but also the context, meaning, and intent to deliver search results to users. With this in mind, more businesses will focus on creating people optimised content that answers questions. In other words, content that’s natural and answers questions searchers have will rank higher in search results.
Another SEO strategy that’s gaining traction is image and video SEO. As more users are discovering that they’re able to search with images, more marketers are optimizing their image and video SEO
Pay Per Click Advertising
As we’ve stated before, marketing budgets are down with the effect that many businesses are scaling down their digital marketing efforts. This means that the demand is going down and when the demand goes down, so do the prices.
The upside is that businesses can take advantage of some excellent low cost marketing opportunities so it’s a perfect time to compete online.
2020 has probably caused the biggest shake-up in the marketing industry ever. Marketers need to work with lower budgets and must still deliver on conversion targets. This requires innovation and it remains to be seen what trends emerge in 2021.
That notwithstanding, the trends and strategies we mentioned here are shaping the industry as we move into the next year, and we expect them to continue for some time to come.