The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has upended how businesses operate. We’ve seen more products and services move online and many employees will continue to work remotely or in a hybrid setting for much of next year. Months of varied customer responses to COVID-19 have given us some insights into the marketing trends that are working in this new normal and what you can expect in 2021.
What are the key digital marketing trends for 2021 that your business needs to consider to engage and retain current customers and generate more traffic, leads, and revenue? We’ve identified 5 areas where savvy managers should invest their time and resources next year. If you don’t know where to start, start here — because these eight industry trends might prove the best bang for your business’s marketing buck.
1. Social Media To Engage & Retain
Organizations should be prepared to dedicate more resources to social media marketing in 2021. Social media budgets accounted for 24% of total US marketing budgets during Q2 of 2020, up from 13% last winter. During the COVID-19 pandemic, marketers are increasingly making customer retention a priority. This will continue well into 2021. The pandemic has dramatically increased the amount of time people spend online which includes how they research products, brands, and organizations.
This consumer shift creates new opportunities for marketers to increase their reach with new audiences and re-engage with long-time customers. For only a few hundred dollars a month, a good social media marketer can develop a content plan, make regular posts, monitor and drive customer responses, and attract new business. If your small business has been putting off adding social media services to your marketing mix, now’s the time.
2. All-in on Google Listings and Local SEO
If you own a small business, THE most important things you can do is ensure your local listings are verified and kept current on various search platforms. That’s because for B2C businesses that draw customers primarily on a local level (think dentist office or car dealership), the Google My Business listing provides valuable information about your hours (many of which are in constant flux due to COVID-19), services, and geographical location. It’s one of the key factors in search and business owners are often blown away to learn how many directories there are out there.
One tip to implement today: ensure you have a geographically-defined service area within your local listings as this will help your business show up in “near me” searches. That’s because many search engines (especially Google) prioritize relevance in their search algorithms. It may seem counter-intuitive to limit your business service radius, but by doing so you’ll more deeply penetrate that market in search results. Keeping your listings updated also allows your customers to know of any changes in your hours, promotions, blogs, or any other information you would like to quickly convey.
3. Automated Bidding in Google Ads
Speaking of automated… Google Ads marketers constantly tweak and adjust campaigns, keywords, and bids to get the most for your advertising dollars. The problem is all of the tweaking comes at a cost: more hours, and higher management fees. Enter Automated bidding, which allows Google to automate prior moves to adjust your bid in real-time.
Now, automated bidding isn’t new, having made its debut way back in 2016. But continuous improvements, especially in the past year, mean that it’s due to break-out in 2021. Our increased reliance on automated bidding tactics means that we can devote our time to optimize other aspects of PPC performance, which ultimately delivers a better outcome at a lower cost to our clients.
4. Improved Retention via Segmentation
Because it takes less money to keep your existing customers than earn new ones, marketing experts always recommend exerting more effort into later stages of the buyer’s journey. Happy customers tend to tell their friends and provide referrals to help increase revenue. They’re also more likely to give your direct and honest feedback about issues that will only strengthen your brand.
Be sure to keep them informed on your organizational changes or processes that would impact your relationship through email marketing or engage with them on social media. By collecting data and segmenting your customers, you have an opportunity to save costs while delivering on your products and services. You can also target them in a more cost-effective fashion, allowing you to stretch your marketing dollars even farther.
5. More Interactive Content
Adding interactive elements to your website or social media is a great way to provide value for visitors, get them to engage with your brand, and learn more about them. For example, suppose you are a realtor and add a simple but effective mortgage calculator to your website. You’re now offering value to your visitors while also learning more about them based on the data that they enter into the calculator. This info, in turn, can help you refine your personas and offer-targeting.
Other examples of interactive marketing includes assessments, quizzes, games, polls, interactive videos, surveys, and contests. Contests are a great way to exponentially increase your reach and visibility, quickly. The fastest way to get your brand in front of lots of new prospects, cheaply, is to have your current customers share a Facebook post of a contest. Many of our clients take it a step further and make it a referral contest, often promising an attractive reward to the client who helps bring in the most new business.