As we watch 2020 burn in the rear-view mirror, we can't help but wonder what the road ahead might bring for businesses around the world. Navigating the new normal can be overwhelming when you don't know what to expect, so here are five digital marketing trends we're seeing for 2021 that could help your business plan, protect itself and prosper this year.
1. Remote Working And Hybrid Events Are Here To Stay
Working from home may be here for the foreseeable future, at least in some measure. PwC found that 78% of the CEOs surveyed said "the shift towards remote collaboration is enduring, a nod to the momentum building around flexibility," so be sure to keep your home office ready.
I think we'll also be seeing increased interest in hybrid events, meetings, seminars and conferences that combine in-person and virtual components. In my experience, this gives organizers the chance to regulate the number of attendees for social distancing requirements without excluding their online audiences.
To make hybrid events productive, prerecord speaker presentations to keep audience attention, share the meeting recordings with attendees, check the post-event analytics (e.g., unique visitors and average dwell time) and use only high-definition video.
2. E-Commerce Will Become Your Best Bet
With global e-commerce sales expected to reach $6.54 trillion by 2022, according to Statista, it's clear that e-commerce businesses are in for exponential expansion. I believe that investing in the e-commerce experience is a fairly safe and rewarding opportunity for businesses everywhere.
To prepare for anticipated growth in e-commerce, put payment preferences in the hands of the consumers, and give them options such as Apple Pay, Google Pay and Venmo. Consider adding financing options such as Affirm or Afterpay. Simplify the checkout process, and pay special attention to fraud protection.
3. Content Consumption Will Become Even Simpler
We're seeing an increased need to streamline how audiences access and consume online content. Companies are fighting to stay relevant in this cutthroat online advertising space, and brands that can't evolve may be left behind. In my opinion, focusing on features like voice search and easily accessible content — like podcasts and engaging social media posts — is vital for brands to reach an audience that's geared for at-home browsing.
4. Befriending AI Is Becoming Essential
From my standpoint, consumer behavior is more confusing and unpredictable than ever, which is why I recommend investing in the power of artificial intelligence to connect and communicate with your audience. Not only can AI give you greater insight into consumer behavior, but you also can use automation tools to meet your audience's needs. For example, Amazon has long used AI to promote relevant products to customers.
Chatbots and virtual assistants can help you improve, simplify and personalize customers' online buying and browsing experiences. Data is the key for this. It's essential to train chatbots and VAs during implementation by feeding them as much data as possible and connecting with customer relationship management tools and other internal data sources.
5. Sustainability Will Remain In High Demand
Sustainability is more important than ever before, and business leaders should pay close attention. Sustainable digital marketing is the promotion of socially and environmentally responsible projects, practices and brand values. It's important to educate your audience about environmental issues, and to share and support sustainability innovations.
If 2020 taught us anything, it's that we, as individuals and business owners and leaders, have the ability to evolve and adapt at an unbelievable pace. That's why we also predict a huge focus on collaboration, communication and consistency when it comes to how we structure and implement our marketing plans.