Digital marketing strategy 2021: six things to consider

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Date: 7 December 2020

A woman plans her 2021 digital marketing strategy

It's no surprise that the unprecedented uncertainty of 2020 has left many marketers struggling to keep up. Global events from unpredictable weather, socio-political turmoil, mass protests, the US election and of course everyone's arch nemesis, COVID-19, have dramatically changed and shaped the marketing landscape this year. To survive, businesses have had to adapt quickly and become more creative, flexible and agile in their approach. Many businesses have adopted digital first strategies and found ingenious new ways to reach their customers even though their shop doors have had to stay shut for months on end.

It's been a year unlike any other. We still don't know when the world will return to normal again, or indeed if it ever will. 2020 has seen huge changes to our economies, to our behaviour and to our everyday life.  We have all had to adapt to new ways of living and working, and all these developments and the uncertainty they have caused have directly affected marketers.

But for those who continually scrutinise their goals, performance and KPIs and who continue to be flexible in such a challenging environment will be best positioned to survive and thrive. Staying ahead of emerging technology and trends will be an essential part of that. The exponential growth in ecommerce this year underlines how important it is to stay competitive online. With that in mind, we highlight six things to consider when planning your digital marketing strategy for 2021.

AI marketing

It's been gaining momentum for some time, but if it's something you haven't adopted yet, now's the time. AI is reshaping the field of marketing and will allow you to create better and more seamless digital marketing strategies, revolutionise your customer experience and help you to make smarter decisions, drive more revenue and increase customer acquisition.

For the uninitiated, AI marketing is the use of customer data and machine learning to help predict a person's actions. It takes huge amounts of data (from social media, emails, the web) and helps marketers segment them and create personalised experiences by feeding customers with the right content, on the right channel at the right time.

There are numerous AI platforms and tools that you can use to help with everything from automation, personalisation and enhanced ad targeting to sales forecasting, content generation and dynamic pricing.

Augmented reality

While augmented reality (AR) technology is decades old, it has been gaining traction in recent years. Although still a bit of a novelty for most marketers, AR can open the door to completely new, unique and customised experiences for your customers. It also represents a great opportunity for you to differentiate yourselves from your competitors.

It's an impressive way of getting noticed too. A report from the Drum highlights that AR can capture people's attention for over 85 seconds, increase interaction rates by 20%, and improve click-through rates.

It's certainly worth looking at how AR could benefit your business and investigating how it can be incorporated into your workflow to make your user experience more appealing.

Brand management software

As more businesses implement remote working, having the right processes and technology to support your teams in place is vital for visibility and focus.

Brand management software will help you to create brand consistency across all touchpoints and channels by creating a single source of truth for brand standards, marketing toolkits and policies.  It allows you to centralise and streamline processes so everyone is on the same page and onboard new staff and creative agencies and partners more quickly and efficiently.

Blockchain

As it already is with other industries, Blockchain could prove to be a game changer for the marketing industry. This disruptive technology, which was invented in 2008 to provide the infrastructure for Bitcoin, crypto and cfd trading, has become one of the most exciting new technologies to emerge in years. Companies across the entire spectrum of industry are racing to adopt it in their business. The possibilities and applications of this shared digital ledger seem almost limitless and it has the potential to bring unprecedented levels of transparency and trust to all manner of business processes.

Using blockchain could transform your digital marketing operations by granting the power of data back to customers, help protect your users' digital rights and provide authenticity and transparency. You can use it to streamline your online ad spend by creating a trusted and verified string that connects your ad spend to the end-user, saving a lot of money. You can also use it to create smart contracts across all of your marketing and business activities, creating automated contracts with agreed terms and conditions between buyers and sellers written in blockchain that are self-executing. This means that two parties can enter into a binding agreement without the involvement of third parties, again – saving a lot of time and money.

SEO

The SEO landscape is constantly changing and evolving. It can be a challenge for any marketer to keep on top of. Some of the top trends for 2021 include semantic search, Google My Business and the evolution of zero click search results.

Semantic search is essentially how people search for something online and how the search engine algorithm takes their search query to find exactly what they are looking for. Enquiries are becoming more conversational in nature with the use of voice assistance becoming increasingly prevalent. So, it's worth optimising your SEO strategy for semantic search.

Google My Business has become very popular as the demand for local search has increased. Google continues to add new features so those searching get the best results. So, if local business is important to you, and you're not signed up, make sure you do. A well optimised Google My Business listing can make a big difference if people are considering your business. It can also improve your local SEO ranking.

A zero-click search result is what happens when you search for something and Google provides the answer right at the top of the search results meaning no further clicks are required. These may be deemed a roadblock to ranking. However, it's still worth optimising your content for zero-click to help bring in qualified traffic.

User experience is of vital importance in SEO for rankings and will become even more so next year. Google will be updating its search algorithm to include user-centred metrics called Core Web Vitals. This will measure web usability such as load time, interactivity and accessibility across devices and platforms, putting greater emphasis on user experience.

Video marketing

Video is a critical format for all digital marketing communications and channels. It continues to grow in popularity with new formats, audience engagement techniques and innovation emerging all the time. With more videos appearing in the SERP than ever before, it's also a great and engaging way to get your content to rank.

If you are starting from scratch, there's no need to worry. Lengthy video production is a thing of the past and entering the video marketing space can be as simple as creating short informal videos to showcase your products. Another good way to quickly create rich video content is to repurpose your long form written content such as blog posts, interviews or how to's and create smaller video chunks, which you can then optimise for search. These videos can then be used on your website, YouTube, Amazon, Facebook, and most other channels you're advertising or marketing on.

If you're already using video marketing as part of your digital marketing strategy, you've probably got YouTube covered already. But it's worth thinking about other platforms too. Twitch, the live streaming platform originally created for gamers, is likely to see phenomenal growth by the end of the year as people have turned increasingly to digital entertainment amid the pandemic. There is also no ignoring TikTok's meteoric rise in popularity. It's now the sixth largest social media platform so it's worth thinking about how you can tap into this thriving platform too.

Copyright 2020. Featured post made possible by Muve Media & Marketing Ltd

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