To ensure your business stays competitive in 2021, you will need to keep on top of your marketing game. The effect of the pandemic, the rise of new technology, and the subsequent shift in consumer patterns mean behaviors are changing at a rapid pace. In 2021, embracing and at the very least, considering, all digital channels will be an important weapon in your marketing arsenal. As an indication, eConsultancy, reported that 1.4 billion WhatsApp calls made on New Year’s Eve, a quarter of online purchases were made via social media in the last three months of 2020 and Zoom recorded a revenue increase year-on-year of over 350% during Quarter 2. So, what can you do to make sure your business has a winning marketing strategy in 2021? Use Infographics Firstly, it goes without saying that digital media affords the ideal platform for showcasing engaging visual content. Coupled with this, statistics and research are also very popular and sharable. Put these two together, and the infographic comes into its own. To create an eye-catching infographic, you will need recent, interesting statistics revealing something new or different to your audience, ideally your own primary research from databases or website analytics. Naturally, you’ll need high-quality graphics to present the data visually. Embrace Virtual Events Although the easing of future restrictions may result in greater opportunities to meet up in person, many events will remain virtual in 2021. This is large because the pandemic has unearthed a few interesting facts: More people can attend online events as limitations of travel and/or distance are removed New global audiences can be found with online events Costs related to venue hire are reduced, increasing revenue potential Make Your Events Interactive In the coming year, it’s important to be prepared for the expectation of a more interactive approach with online events and meetings. Webinars proved to be a useful way to share information and educate virtually in 2020, but there is a growing interest in platforms that offer more two-way communication. 2021 will be a time when there remains a great need for human connection, deliverable through online events. Be prepared for hosting panel discussions, question and answer sessions at the end of webinars, and more live events too. Prepare for More Social Media Sales Social media platforms have become a place where consumers discover and learn about products and services, going on to purchase on websites. However, things are changing and these platforms are now the place where purchases are made directly – social media shopping. To implement this effectively, businesses should consider both organic and paid strategies. Boosted posts, paid adverts, influencer content, and brand collaborations work well. While more organic approaches may include utilizing User Generated Content, presenting product reviews, and demonstrating excellent customer service to keep you in the positive spotlight. Don’t Neglect the Power of Social Media Messaging Apps The use of social media apps such as Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp is still growing in popularity. Because of this universal uptake, it makes sense to bring this factor into your marketing mix too. Communicating on these apps allows companies to offer more personalized service and the ability to answer specific product or services related questions on a one-to-one basis. The high use of these apps does present added expectations for other ‘live chat’ opportunities too. For example, it may be more appropriate for your business to deploy the use of chatbots on your website, meaning you can provide a 24/7 service, and therefore improve customer service levels. Learn More About AI When it comes to analyzing online conversions, it’s predicted that A/B testing, where a comparison is drawn between two webpage variants to analyze which converts most effectively, will ultimately be replaced by more intuitive systems brought about by Artificial Intelligence. Content creation, chatbots, personalized email and product/service recommendations are already using AI to uncover consumer buying behavior to feed more marketing intelligence. If you’re not already, get clued up about AI. Consider Augmented Reality (AR) The use of Augmented Reality in marketing is gathering pace, with many companies already experimenting and using it successfully. It is an avenue that provides a unique way for users to access and experience what businesses have to offer. An example of AR is IKEA’s mobile app which allows shoppers to visualize their furniture and products in their own homes. This makes for a dynamic user experience allowing people to make more informed decisions about their purchases and helping companies adapt their communications to their fullest potential. Incorporate More Conversational Marketing The aforementioned methods of executing new marketing strategies for 2021, all spell out one fundamental message: consumers are looking for conversations. They want more instant responses to their questions and queries and this is done via dialogue. It promotes the human connection, acknowledges the need for quick replies, and helps build loyalty and repeat custom. Use More Video Content Video content will continue its run of popularity in 2021. Like infographics, video content is a very shareable medium, broadening reach, building trust and knowledge in products, and improving sales conversions. In addition, video helps improve organic search results and can be easily repurposed to blog posts, podcasts or by posting a written transcript of the content. It may even be used as personalized clips in email campaigns. Because video content attracts long periods of engagement, it is becoming increasingly important for SEO rankings. Creating an interesting thumbnail image, adding in relevant tags, titles, and descriptions will all help produce positive search results for video content. Consider Influencer Marketing Influencer marketing is nothing new, but there is no reason you can’t take a new approach to it for your business in 2021. Using the right influencers with the best niche audience can help to amplify brand messages and provides a greater sense of authenticity than direct advertising. You don’t need to rely on celebrities to endorse your products, but instead, use individuals with large social media followings whose own personal brand ties in with your own. It’s known that consumers place trust in third parties who recommend your business, as opposed to messages directly from brands, so it’s worthwhile considering possible influencers in your marketing plan. Broaden Your ‘Search Marketing’ Mindset In 2021, it’s crucial to keep your eye on what’s happening in the world of search. Google now updates its algorithms on a much more frequent basis. BERT was a significant update in 2019, causing lots of changes in search results and in 2021, a mobile-first indexing update (when Google ranks mobile versions instead of Desktop versions) is set to go ahead. It is therefore important to ensure all relevant meta tags for both mobile and desktop applications are completed on your Content Management Systems and to check the full guidelines from Google. Strengthen Your Website for Visual and Voice Searches Again, tapping into search, we can expect to see greater use in voice searches, so by looking at developing your FAQs with detailed answers and specific questions, you are more likely to match voice searches and therefore rank well. Using long-tail keywords, ensuring Google has up-to-date details on your business with your own Google My Business listing are just two ways you can prepare. Visual searches (using images to find information), are also on the rise and that’s expected to keep growing, albeit gradually. Leverage Data Collecting and using data has been a traditional way of gathering marketing intelligence for decades. However, with the advancements in technology, data has become a vital ingredient in marketing decision-making. With the use of data, it’s now possible to more accurately profile users, personalize and automate services and discover the most popular platforms for customers. ‘Big data’ is not only for the privilege of large organizations, smaller businesses need to utilize it too. Gather together your social media and web analytics, email insights and use this information to fine-tune marketing plans for 2021. User-Generated Content User-generated content (UGC) was a key way of building trust, authenticity and credibility in businesses in 2020, providing that all-important human connection during the onset of the pandemic. For 2021, the need for connection still remains, and so does the need to reassure existing customers that others are still engaging with you and interested in what you have to offer. Reaching out to customers and other business stakeholders for contributions through competitions or reviews can produce excellent UGC. This ‘social proof’ can be used on many different channels, for example, email campaigns, website pages, and other social media platforms. In conclusion, it’s safe to assume there are many changes on the marketing horizon in 2021. Emerging technologies and the growing sophistication of existing platforms are fuelling changes and it’s prudent to begin thinking about how and when your business may be able to use them to their best advantage.