Since the flare-up of COVID-19 and movement restrictions, numerous brands have adopted digital marketing to grow and sustain their business. In fact, ad spends across top marketplaces and social media platforms rose 31% in March 2021 (Mediaocean 2021). However, digital marketing changes every minute by various factors thus requires marketers to learn and be aware of new trends and tactics every day.
In order to aid marketers with ever-changing marketing trends, this article examines the 5 marketing trends of 2021. As the major marketing strategy in 2021 is digital marketing, the article focuses on digital marketing trends. We aim to explain the most recent trends that are most likely to survive. We also hope to cover as many digital marketing channels as possible to help choose the right tactic based on the marketing campaign.
1. Improve Customer Service and Awareness Using User-Generated Content
Today, with various digital platforms and devices, not only companies but consumers also share their product experiences on the Internet. Such user-generated content (UGC) includes product reviews, blog, hashtag content, video content, forum, and more. Since UGC is authentic and honest content by actual users, customers find them more trustable and helpful. In fact, 77% of customers read product reviews before making a purchase (Rodela, 2015) and 84% of people trust online reviews as much as they trust their friends (Bloem, NA).
Furthermore, UGC is very helpful for companies as well. According to a survey by TINT, 44% of marketers say that UGC supports their marketing campaign and 59% of marketers say UGC helps them easily display content online. As online social platforms are increasing, UGC is a new important marketing trend that companies should definitely use to promote the product and engage customers.
There are several types of UGC trends that can serve different marketing purposes. The first and the most common type is product reviews. Reviews are feedback by customers who have bought and used the product. There are various platforms where customers can share their feedback publicly. This includes blogs, forums, third-party sites, and the company’s website.
When reviews are shared on diverse platforms, it becomes difficult to listen to every meaningful feedback. Thus, we suggest creating an official social media account or feedback webpage to strategically manage and respond to online reviews. For example, if a customer leaves a negative review on social media via a hashtag, the company can respond using an official social media account to resolve the issue. Such a response will improve customer service and even build credibility and trust with potential customers who read the review. Moreover, companies may use positive reviews for marketing purposes. For example, a company may show statistics on the product page to illustrate the high satisfactory rate or share reviews on social media accounts to provide a more trustable opinion.
Social media challenges and trends
Another type of UGC trend helpful for marketing is social media challenges. Unlike reviews that aim to provide useful information to other customers, the social media challenges focus on creating entertaining and trendy content. As the dominant social media users are the younger generation, social media challenge UGC is a great marketing tactic to target young customers.
One good example of social media challenge UGC is Crocs’ TikTok challenge. Since 2008, Crocs started to decline their sales as demand kept falling (SmartBrief, 2019). The major cause was due to the design that did not appeal to the younger generation. To attract the younger audience, Crocs launched several TikTok challenges such as #ThousandDollarCrocs or Crocs Shoe-Throwing Challenge to raise awareness and engagement. As a result, Crocs could attract more than 100,000 TikTok followers within one week and get 95 million views with 45,000 videos within 36 hours of its launch (SmartBrief, 2019). This was a rapid and impressive result that is only possible on social media.
In order to initiate a trend or challenge, a company may consider using social media influencers. Social media influencers are individuals who have a dedicated social following and are experts within their niche. Unlike other users, they have followers who share similar interests and lifestyles. Moreover, they are experts in creating social media content that appeals to specific users. Thus, the right influencer will help a company to target the right audience and raise greater awareness.
2. Adopt CRM Software to Improve Marketing Campaigns
Customer knowledge and behavior trend are one of the most valuable resources for successful marketing. Without understanding the customer, marketers cannot deliver the right message to the right audience. Fortunately, with the Internet and online software, it became much easier to collect and organize meaningful data of customers to create personalized marketing content. Using Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software like Hubspot CRM or Oracle CRM, a company can gain useful information such as click rates, interaction patterns, purchase history, conversation history, and more to get a better insight.
Better identify the current target audience
There are two major ways CRM software can improve marketing efforts. First, CRM software can help better identify the current target audience. As every individual is unique and complex, basic information like age or gender is not enough to fully understand them. Additional information like consumption or shopping behavior is also necessary data to identify customers into a more specific group. However, this data is difficult to gain manually and this is where CRM software can be very helpful. CRM’s database provides detailed information on every customer’s touchpoint. This includes visit hours, keyword usage, surfing time, and more. Using the data and trends, a marketer can identify patterns such as location clusters or lifecycle stages to improve the marketing strategy and better target the audience.
Evaluate and improve marketing campaigns
Second, CRM software can help a company evaluate and improve its marketing campaign. CRM software can measure and track each marketing campaign by its ROI, conversion rate, engagement rate, sales rate, and more. This data allows marketers to evaluate the performance of a marketing campaign and improve weaknesses. For instance, if email marketing has a low open rate with a high conversion rate, the company may consider improving the email subject or content. By tracking each campaign using real-time data, the company can develop a better marketing campaign that brings more profit.
3. Manage Customer Relationships Using Communication Automation Tools
Every company has its own communication methods. This includes common methods like email as well as a very personal method like hand-written letters. For a small business with a very specific niche, contacting and managing customers may not be too time-consuming. However, most businesses continuously grow, thus, manual contact becomes very inefficient. To save time, effort, and cost, we recommend adopting automation tools to build and maintain a meaningful relationship with customers.
There are many helpful online tools that help marketers automate manual tasks. This includes email marketing automation, social media automation, follow-up message automation, and more. Some tools are specific to certain social media platforms while some manage several channels. For example, Expandi is an automation tool for LinkedIn while Omnisend is an all-in-one marketing automation tool for Facebook Messenger, email, SMS, and more. Thus, marketers should choose the right tool based on the industry and marketing purpose.
Another important aspect is to send the right content to the right audience. As automation tools do the task in a minute without reviewing individually, the wrong target audience or message may result in an irreversible impact. For example, if a company sends irrelevant content to customers due to a lack of understanding, it may cause the majority of them to block the company’s email or contact. Therefore, before executing the marketing campaign using an automation tool, it is crucial to carefully analyze each target segment to send relevant and personalized content. With enough consideration and understanding, automation tools will help marketers build a customer base time-efficiently.
4. Develop Progressive Web Apps for Mobile Users
The trend of Progressive web apps (PWA) started in 2018 with large companies and this option may now start to become lucrative in 2021 for small businesses as well (WordStream, 2021). PWA is a webpage that provides an app-like experience to users without actually downloading the app. Using PWA, one can experience a very similar design and responsiveness to mobile apps by clicking an URL.
Benefits of Progressive web apps (PWA)
There are several benefits of PWA. Firstly, it provides a better user experience and customer service. In the past, when the smartphone was not well developed, people mostly used laptops or computers to browse products they are interested in. However, as technology develops, more people are using their mobile phone rather than a laptop to do online shopping. In fact, in 2019, smartphones accounted for 65% of retail site visits worldwide (Statista, 2020).
Therefore, as more people are using a mobile phone for daily activity, it is vital to adapt to such change by providing PWA that is specifically designed for mobile users. For instance, instead of replicating desktop webpage, PWA may use shorter text and more visual content like infographics or videos to help users navigate more easily. Such effort will help customers proceed with their consumer journey more seamlessly.
Secondly, a mobile-friendly design can bring a better conversion rate and sales. According to Tom Karwakta (2021), the conversion rate of mobile is significantly lower than desktop due to the poor user experience on mobile, security concerns related to unknown sources, a challenge to see product details, and more. These major issues can be solved by providing PWA which combines the best features of both desktop and mobile. PWA can provide a mobile look with functionalities and user experience of desktop (Beezer, 2021). In fact, PWAs have 36% higher conversion rates than native apps and 50% higher customer engagement (Beezer 2020). Moreover, PWAs cost 3-4 times less than native mobile apps (Beezer 2020). Thus, PWA is a very powerful marketing tool in 2021.
Use several marketing channels to lead customers to PWA
There are several elements and strategies that can help marketers develop an effective PWA. This includes creating suitable content, choosing the right size of icons, providing offline mode, search engine optimization, and more. Amongst several tactics, we want to emphasize the importance of utilizing other marketing channels to lead customers to PWA. PWA is a web link just like a traditional webpage. However, most mobile users do not memorize or type the URL to access a page. This means PWA needs a marketing strategy and channel that allows customers to easily visit the PWA by clicking a link. For instance, you may put a URL on the social media description section or send an email with a URL. This will allow companies to bring potential customers to a suitable webpage.
5. Integrate Voice Technology
Today, most digital devices provide voice assistants or technology. For instance, Apple provides Siri while Samsung provides Bixby. As people do not really use voice technology, marketers often disregard it as a potential marketing channel. However, the possibilities for the future of voice technology are endless. According to the Digital Marketing Institute (2021), 90% of people are familiar with the voice-enabled device and 61% of 25-64-year-olds say they will use their voice devices more in the future (PWC, 2018). As the statistics show, voice technology has a great potential that can alter the marketing field.
There are several possible changes that voice technology can bring in the future. Amongst them, we will introduce 2 major changes that can occur in the near future.
New SEO practices using voice technology
First, voice technology will change SEO practices. For several years, many marketers focused on improving search rank via keyword, SEO content, On-page SEO, and more. These are still relevant as most people type in keywords in search engines. However, in the future, when voice search becomes a more common search method, it will change the way search engines bring the result to people. For example, as people tend to ask voice queries in longer keywords, the search engine may bring a much more specific result to each person. Moreover, as users only get one or two result pages on voice search, businesses will have to create quality content that is very specific and niche.
Changing consumer behavior
Another change would be consumer behavior. One of the main advantages of voice technology is the ability to multitask. People do not have to hold a device to search and get the result they want. Using voice technology, people can simply ask the question and read or listen to the result. This will change the way consumers shop online. Consumers will barely need to look at screens to get information. Instead, they will complete their consumer journey while doing other tasks. This will change marketing focus from eyes to ears.
Although the possibilities of voice technology haven’t yet been fully explored, there are many new trends, changes, and usage that can arise in the future. In order to adapt to rapid change, we recommend adopting voice technology early to gather useful data. By collecting meaningful data, marketers will be able to analyze the target audience better and come up with a more effective marketing or SEO strategy. For example, a company may start gathering data on common verbal keywords consumers use to develop better voice integrated marketing tactics.
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