The previous year was not a normal year at the office (pun intended). Even though no calendar year is a stroll in the park, 2020 still managed to fit medical, social, and economic crisis on a global scale in twelve months. It forced every industry to do some inflection, and it was no different for marketers. It made both short and long-term planning difficult – almost impossible. Nobody knows when we can return to normal or what normal would look like then. That does not help the situation either.
However, there is a silver lining. We had a front-row seat to 2020 in the law, education, and healthcare industries. Armed with this information, we can make educated guesses about the new digital marketing trends. They are not all entirely new, but the landscape is changing, and you need to keep up with the times.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is an ever-changing landscape, and 2021 will be no different. There are minor glitches in the matrix, as expected. However, we’ll focus on five trends projected to be the real deal.
- User Experience (UX) – The user’s experience has become more important than ever to get a good SEO score. Organizations can now use tools like Core Web Vitals to quantify user’s experience. User experience is a significant factor in customer satisfaction. Google recognizes this, and they are moving in that direction too. Speed, site organization, and device-friendliness are trends that will be worth the investment in the current clime.
- Semantic Search – According to Alexa Blog, “Semantic search refers to the ability of search engines to consider the intent and contextual meaning of search phrases when serving content to users on the web.” Google, arguably the biggest search engine in the world, has a lot riding on this. You cannot always trust people to search in grammatically correct and coherent language – more searches are done in natural, conversational question formats. That is why natural, topic-optimized content has to give way for simple keyword optimization. You can monitor your semantic search ratings with tools like Moz and SEMRush.
- Search Intent – Understanding intent and optimizing to meet it has proven to be a sure way to generate traffic to your website organically. There are fundamentally four intents to cater for – informational, transactional, commercial, and local. Some websites have even reported up to a 677% increase in organic traffic after search intent optimization. Search engine results pages (SERPs) can help you identify the user’s intent.
- Zero-Click Search Results – These are search results that do not require users to click any buttons before finding answers. About 50% of search results as of 2019 fall in this category. They include featured snippets, videos, graphs, and lists. However, because Google provides most of these results, it translates to fewer clicks to third-party websites. To have a bite of the apple, we advise that you create well-optimized videos to YouTube and update your profile on Google My Business to include your locations and events.
- Google My Business – More Google searches are getting focused on local businesses than ever before. Services, business hours, reviews and ratings, are big components of searches now. More than one billion people and five million apps use Google maps every month. To make your business rank high on local searches, you should try to provide as much information as possible.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising
PPC advertising continues to go strong in 2021, even though there will be some changes in methods. Below are three ways that PPCs are more likely to shift this year.
- Privacy Concerns and Limited Data Availability – More users are concerned about how much of their data gets shared, especially in this era of internet frauds and data breaches. Google and others are becoming more stringent with the data they share. However, it remains a worthwhile investment as long as you can assure data privacy.
- PPC Automation and AI Domination – PPC campaigns are judged by their efficiency – minimizing costs while maximizing profits. Machine learning and artificial intelligence are the trendsetting technology in PPC automation and efficiency as they allow marketers to focus on marketing. Some of the PPC parameters that you can improve to increase efficiency are – dynamically generated ad copies, bids, PPC reporting, and error checking.
- Responsive Search Ads (RSA) – This also kinda falls under automation since it takes off some responsibility of creating ads from you. RSA from Google refines your headlines, ad copy, and call to action (CTA) bases on prevalent search trends. The data supports RSA as an upward trend too. Now, you need a proven copywriter to provide the nuggets that Google or Microsoft’s RSA needs to improve your conversion.
Conversion Rate Optimization
With the new automation processes promising to improve your website visits, how do you get them to commit? Commitment could mean making a purchase, filling a form, etc. These are some trends worth investing in 2021.
- Mobile Optimization – The odds that someone visits your website on mobile are higher than on any other platform. This is because about three billion people have smartphones worldwide and spend more time on their smartphones now more than ever. Taking advantage of this information is to make your site more mobile-friendly and make processes less redundant and more straightforward.
- Personalization – People have reported that they are more likely to buy stuff if the experience feels personal – less robotic. You can achieve this by finding ways to cater to users based on their access locations. A tool like Optimizely deserves a shout. This, coupled with a similar advertisement structure, can increase efficiency since you only talk to your potential customers.
- Transparency – Privacy concerns are similar to what PPCs will face. Finding a safe ground between conversion techniques and respecting privacy will be a balancing act that can make you company. Investing in security systems to prevent breaches will save you a lot of hassle. Also will full disclosure in clear terms and keeping track of apps that have access to user data
- Data and Design – There is a general sense of agreement between users, web designers, and copywriters on guiding user experience. Data designed to collect data on user behavior to create better user experiences? Yes, please!
Social Media Marketing
Social media remains a fast-paced revolving glass door that we must master because that is where everybody is. Below, you will find four trends that will be relevant for the fiscal year.
- Increased Adoption – Post-COVID, more people spend more time on social media, which is almost inevitable as they have more idle time. The data shows that more people have downloaded the Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram apps. More people are seeing and engaging with your social media content now more than ever. Nobody can say how far into 2021 this trend will continue after ‘normalcy’ returns. However, we feel confident enough to add this to our list.
- Be Socially Aware – Whether you agree with it or not, cancel culture exists. It is like public shaming, but because everybody is online now, it is digital – digital shaming. Examples of brands (MyPillow, Goya) that have taken a ton of backlash and subsequent dip due to poor association and lack of awareness should be cautionary tales for you. To avoid this bad press, keep your review team as diverse as possible to cater to as many groups as possible. Also, maintain oversight on your automated processes, so you do not show up at the wrong place at the wrong time.
- Social Media Accountability – Not dissimilar to cancel culture, more of what you post will be checked for political and factual correctness. Even the biggest social media platforms are under more pressure than ever to control misleading and incendiary content on their platforms, even though it is a losing battle. What you can do is avoid getting caught on the wrong side of the law.
Paid Social Ad Campaigns
The expert analysts at Statista predict spending on social media advertisement will remain on the up in 2021. Company eagerness to commit to social media ads can be explained by the presence of sub-communities within social media spaces. Also, while retail is down 10%, e-commerce is up by 18%. It just makes sense to follow the trend.
- Facebook Ads – Statista predicts that ads will generate up to $94 billion in revenue in the next year alone. If these figures are to go by, there is a sizeable cake to be shared among businesses that go this route. However, not all products sold in this current economy. Put your best foot forward, advertise your most in-demand products, and show how helpful you can be.
- Instagram Ads – There are about one billion unique Instagram users every month. The data also shows that these people spend – about $20 billion. A good number of businesses already leverage this media-sharing platform. It is not too late to join them if you have not already.
- LinkedIn Ads – Unlike the Facebook and Instagram ads, LinkedIn ads don’t have the same far-reaching effects. However, it is a specialist at what it does – B2B marketing. Businesses and professionals connect on LinkedIn. Advertisement is more expensive on LinkedIn, but the risks match the reward if done correctly. LinkedIn Campaign Manager can help you with a laser-focused approach at your target market than on anywhere else.
Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, Zoom. These platforms did well in 2020 because they presented solutions to video content creation and sharing. YouTube is still the second largest search engine in the world. As more people watch videos, it makes sense for you to go with the flow.
- More Videos appear on Search Engine Results Page (SERP) – Google will prioritize videos when they think it is needed, which is often. As more people search “how to” questions, Google will respond accordingly with content from its resources, hence, YouTube. You can optimize your content to make it to the SERPs using SEO best practices like thumbnails, descriptions, and transcriptions.
- Pandemic Era Video Platforms – TikTok and Zoom were relative unknowns before the pandemic hit in 2020. Since then, they have experienced meteoric rises and have far-reaching influences. When used correctly, you can reach a broad audience with your content on these platforms. About 32.5% of TikTok users are teenagers, while 37% have household earnings of over $100,000. It is still not clear how you can use Zoom for marketing. However, you can always make videos that you can share on other platforms.
In the face of innovation and embracing new trends, some old-timers continue to wax strong. Email marketing is the old-timer in question here. Data shows that more people are opening and acting on emails. Businesses also have an incentive to stick to email marketing because it is cheap compared to other options, and they remain the best lead generation method. Personalized emails are a safe bet to improve responsiveness. You can also find ways to re-engage users that visited you in the past.
- Automated Email – Automation is not an option but a necessity for businesses with large customer bases. Personalized emails look like you care and take your time to reach out. People do not need to know that it was automated.
- Omnichannel Marketing – This is an advanced form of multichannel marketing that improves conversion and retention rates for B2B ad campaigns. Some of these facets of omnichannel marketing include reaching out to people that have searched for you online, engaged with your social media content, etc. They are aimed at nurturing B2B leads as they are usually time-intensive and long-term.
Next year will be a year to test new strategies and double down on the ones that still work. However, success for digital marketers will be in how we treat people. COVID-19 has affected everybody one way or the other. Some empathy and human touch in your approach can make all the difference.
Even when we return to “normalcy,” a vast majority still plan to continue engaging with brands and shopping online. Your online presence (video, SEO, email, paid ads, etc.) will determine your success in the post-COVID-19 era. The most important thing in Digital Marketing is to find what works for you and your business. It is by no means not a one size fits all business.
Have a great year ahead!