Retailers finished strong in 2019. Holiday sales went up by 3.4% during the holiday shopping frenzy Nov. 1-Dec. 24 while eCommerce sales saw an 18.8% increase in relation to the previous year. Let’s be honest. As adamantly as your family members may say they have everything they already need in life, we know they still really want that pair of noise-cancelling earbuds for their workout sprees.
Want to see your own brand’s numbers inch higher as we continue into this new year? Here are seven digital marketing trends to keep in mind for 2021.
From Amazon’s Alexa to Apple’s Siri, voice search capabilities continue to grow in popularity. About 25% of U.S. adults own a smart speaker and use it regularly at home. Juniper Research estimates that by 2023, about 8 billion voice assistants will be used, with a growth rate of 25.4% occurring between now and then. Clearly, Alexa’s episodes of random, creepy laughter in 2018 haven’t diminished the desire for voice assistants.
How can you make your brand more discoverable through voice search?
If you’re doing really good, ongoing SEO work, you’ll be priming your website for voice search. Focus on structured data markup and inverted pyramid writing. Plus, be sure to develop content with a solid readability score and a focus on long-tail, question-based keywords that you know your customer base is asking for.
The more aggressive approach with voice search, which also requires more investment, is building out Google Actions and Alexa Skills that pertain to your brand and help users answer certain questions (check out The Home Depot Tutorials). This gives brands more control over brand-related questions and even allows them to create more awareness.
Why this all matters: About 22% of U.S. smart speaker owners have made a purchase when using their devices. And you want to be more competitive.
Live video, also referred to as live streaming, is the broadcasting of a live video feed to an audience online, in real-time. Vimeo calls the live video “a must-have for marketers,” with 80% of customers preferring to see live video from a brand versus social posts from that brand. With this tool, customers can get a look behind the scenes of your business, follow your brand during an event, ask questions in real-time and more.
It’s easy to join the game, with almost every major social media platform now supporting live streaming video (methods include the TikTok app, the Instagram Live feature and the Facebook Live feature). And people are watching. During Q3 of 2018, ad views by audiences on live streaming rose by 56%.
The options here are vast, and audiences want to take action and feel immersed in an experience. Start by keeping an eye on augmented reality, shoppable posts on social media and 360-degree videos.
(a) Augmented Reality
Companies like Aircard are creating app-less AR campaigns that make messages appear on print flyers, while companies like IKEA are launching apps that enable users to see how a piece of furniture would look in their home before purchasing it. Reports show that 42% of shoppers believe the try-before-you-buy option of AR would help their decision process. As for virtual reality, its cumbersome headset requirement can be a deterrent for audiences, so just keep it on your radar for now.
(b) Shoppable Posts
Pay attention to what you can do beyond just pushing out messaging on social media, now that users are regularly shopping on these networks. For instance, 72% of Instagram users have bought a product on Instagram. And a survey of Pinterest users revealed that 70% of them use Pinterest to explore new products. For marketers, these posts are about as easy to build out as they are for users to click and shop.
(c) 360-Degree Videos
These videos, in which 360-degree views are recorded on a device like a GoPro, feel more accessible to audiences than virtual reality at the moment since all they need is a screen to experience them. Additionally, viewers can use a cursor to choose the angle they’re viewing as the video plays. Hubspot reports that the most popular videos in this category showcase travel destinations and various unique experiences. Expect higher viewer engagement with 360-degree videos than with standard videos.
People want to feel seen, even in the digital realm. Make a point to connect with them on a personal level. With generic ads getting stale, personalization is already key. Forbes reported that 90% of audiences are drawn to personalization efforts. Those can range from the common email blast to Starbucks’ gamified mobile app that’s boosted drink sales with personalized content, to Amazon’s personalized recommendations on their eCommerce website.
The benefits can work in two ways. First, brands are prompted to improve their own accountability process by ensuring they pinpoint why they need consumer information and exactly how they intend to work with it. Then they can grow customer enthusiasm toward their brand because they are able to use that information to personalize their messaging. Luckily, stronger customer trust could be the result.
Meanwhile, adherence to privacy standards benefits consumers, because they’ll receive content from brands that is relevant to their needs and that offers value. Read more about privacy in this article.
Let’s face it, even in this age of eCommerce, there’s a special sort of satisfaction that comes with walking into a store and checking out a product by hand. The Online-to-Offline marketing strategy gets customers to make the jump from online interaction with a brand to purchase in physical stores. Also called O2O, this approach ensures that a brand’s online and offline marketing channels complement each other, rather than compete with each other. It supports audience behaviour, as 76% of consumers who search for products or services locally tend to visit a store in the span of one day. For brands, this can reduce the costs of returns and delivery (consider Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods).
Artificial intelligence, a system that handles tasks that typically need a human mind for completion, is a game-changer for automating processes. Popular applications in marketing today include content generation, PPC ads, web design, chatbots for customer service and optimization of campaigns. For a content generation, AI programs are capable of generating news headlines based on articles, topics to consider and even full articles.
But one of our favourite applications in the AI marketing realm is programmatic advertising. With this automated buying and selling approach for digital advertising, our strategists can set up client ads to be served to the right target audiences based on algorithms and data, reaching people when they are more likely to convert.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is augmented reality used for?
Augmented reality (AR) is an experience where designers use computer-generated input to enhance parts of users' physical world. Digital content responds in real time to changes in the user's environment, typically movement, and designers create inputs ranging from sound to video, to graphics to gps overlays and more.
What is a Shoppable post?
Instagram Shoppable posts are one of the easiest ways to turn followers into customers on Instagram. With Instagram Shoppable posts, businesses can tag products (listed in their Instagram Shop catalog) directly in feed posts, Instagram Stories, IGTV videos, Reels, Guides, and Live broadcasts.
What is 360-degree video format?
360 video is a spherical video format which, when viewed on a virtual reality headset, gives viewers the illusion of 'being there'. It's generally a non-interactive format and it can be seen in 2D or 3D. Most web browsers now support 360, so videos are also viewable in a 'magic window' format on YouTube and Facebook.
What is the best definition of personalization?
Personalization is the act of tailoring a service or a product to accommodate a specific individual or group. As the name suggests, personalization is centered on the person, fulfilling a particular customer's needs and reflecting them in the product or service.
What is online-to-offline marketing?
Online-to-offline (O2O) commerce is a business strategy that draws potential customers from online channels to make purchases in physical stores. This type of strategy incorporates techniques used in online marketing with those used in brick-and-mortar marketing.
What is the purpose of artificial intelligence?
In summary, the goal of AI is to provide software that can reason on input and explain on output. AI will provide human-like interactions with software and offer decision support for specific tasks, but it's not a replacement for humans – and won't be anytime soon.
Need Digital Marketing Help in 2021?
Does your brand need a marketing lift as you move into this new year? Our team at Sphere is here to talk through any of these digital marketing trends for 2021, and more. Contact us today.