Towards the end of every year, most marketers churn out blog posts predicting the upcoming digital trends.
Such posts either promise a marketer’s paradise or get overhyped towards new tech, say ‘AI in marketing is the ultimate future’. Maybe the adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has enhanced customer experience, rationalized marketing, and sales budget; but no one has really seen the future.
So, are we here to do the same?
Not exactly. It is certainly impossible to predict how the future of online business will play under the shadows of the current pandemic.
“For some, the pandemic is a game changer while for others, like YouTube’s CGP Grey, everything will go back to pretty much normal in the long run.”
We would like to see 2021 and beyond outside the influence of the coronavirus. For businesses with websites for online presence, what comes next? There are other year-long trends that will emerge and may affect the online business landscape.
For example, there is still a large digital divide among the global population. At the same time, the current pandemic is forcing every business to have it online. Therefore, marketers cannot blindly run online campaigns. There are different levels of digital literacy, and marketers have to aim high.
Having said that, it will be a very interesting year for Solopreneurs, Startups, Small Businesses, Medium-size Enterprises to Large Businesses who are eyeing a better position in the online market.
Let’s observe the trends in online business for 2021.
How To Start Online Business in 2021?
Pillar#1: Think With Marketing First
What To Do?
How To Do?
1. Local SEO & Local Directory Listings Over Traditional SEO
While Marketers have focused on classic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies for organic growth, there has been a saturation at the top. However, what has changed over the years is that “near me” searches have increased more than 500% than before. Implementing Local SEO is the solution to take advantage of the rise in this online market.
Read on to our previous blog for determining your local SEO checklist.
One particular case of the local SEO technique is optimizing listings on local directories. These listings provide valuable information about business working hours (many of which are in constant flux due to COVID-19), services, and geographical location.
Note: Ensure you have a geographically-defined service area within your local listings as this will help your business show up in “near me” searches. This would signal search engines, say Google, that factors-in “relevance” in their search algorithm
2. Focus on Voice Search Marketing
Technologies can be disruptive. The growing importance of smartphone devices with a voice-assistant feature is one in such direction.
Take a look at the below opinion poll conducted by HubSpot, 2019 on the use of a voice assistant
Just over 50% of respondents used voice assistance for online searches. Other experts in Digital Marketing including ColorWhistle see the need for marketing content also to be specifically optimized for voice search queries. This will help boost traffic by staying relevant and more visible to consumers.
Are you new to voice search marketing? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!
Here is one of our previous posts explaining the impact of voice search and how Marketers can implement it in their SEO strategies.
3. Shoppable Social Media Post
Marketers can now make the best use of social media by selling directly on their platform through shoppable posts – introduced by Instagram, soon followed by YouTube. Engaging with creative designing agencies now becomes even more important to come up with visually-appealing social media posts for any business.
4. Depersonalizing Ads
Yes, we asked you to follow a customer-centric approach to Digital Marketing in 2021.
A study found that despite widespread concerns about consumer privacy, 72% of shoppers will only engage with personalized marketing. This goes on to say that shoppers are unsubscribing from mass email campaigns while choosing personable web pages.
Yet, targeted ads end up showing things that consumers once searched for. Marketers are only wasting money on pushing it.
Look at this experiment run by a Dutch newspaper, Much to the amazement, it turned out that profits from non-targeted advertising were higher than from targeted ones.
As a digital marketer, you can run an A/B test with and without targeted ads and look if our approach to de-personalize ads works.
5. ePrivacy Now Matters
Over the past two years, two major regulations have had a widespread impact on digital marketers – General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) from 2018 and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) from 2020.
Marketers will now have to make the following preparations:
- Stay updated with industry-specific consumer privacy and consent issues
- Check with your automation platform vendors to discuss how potential privacy changes might impact your pipeline.
- You can convey the value proposition of data collected to customers. This is a good step to assure customers of their privacy concerns.
Pillar#2: Think With Branding
What Can You Do?
How To Do?
- Creative Content Marketing To Spread The Brand Message
- Build Your Online Reputation
- Choose Micro-influencers
Contact a Creative Digital Agency or Hire Graphic Designers
Branding will play a vital role in your business growth strategy for 2021 and beyond. It boosts your intangible assets such as Brand awareness, Loyalty & Advocacy; three assets that are priceless in this competitive age of marketing and advertising.
Here is how you should look at branding in 2021 & beyond:
1. Creative Content Marketing
- The report stated that brands will start to reposition themselves, moving away from marketing methodologies to more cause-driven messaging
Read on our previous post to know everything about a successful rebranding.
- The report said that 2021 is expected to be the year brands and social media channels focus on highlighting the truth and silencing fake news
- The report showed how memetic messaging or memes marketing is now the way to communicate
- The report predicts that the positive emotions connected with the “good old days” help boost current emotions and this can be exploited for successful branding
Wondering why strategies centered around Branding & Marketing resemble each other yet they differ a lot? The graphics image below will clear it all!
2. Build Your Online Reputation
Social Media platforms remain to dominate the landscape in building an online reputation for any brand. With features like shoppable posts (as discussed earlier), constant improvement in ad algorithms, social media will remain a vital element of every marketing/branding strategy, especially earned and paid marketing.
If we are talking about building an online reputation, it goes without saying that search engines play a vital role in generating potential leads. Learn more on how to improve branding and lead generation with Local SEO.
3. Choose Micro-influencers
Influencer marketing has gained traction with the rise in social media usage. However, since the online audience has matured enough, in the coming year 2021 and beyond, people will stop distinguishing influencer’s content from normally paid posts and will eventually turn away.
Marketers need to re-jig their strategy and instead get in touch with micro-influencers who have small still relevant reach. They can maintain closer relationships with their followers and maybe a better option than big influencers.
Additionally, brands need to project themselves as more responsible and informative. For this, they can take a leaf out from their old marketing handbook and rope-in specific not-so-popular, small-time online critics/reviewers to recommend their products/services. It still works the best!
Get inspired by 40+ Branding Ideas & Inspirations.
Pillar#3: Think With Sales
What To Do?
Sales In The Changing World / Digital Era
How To Do?
- Sales Team Enablement – Digital Ready
- Educate Sales To Listen To Customers Through CRM
- Sales Automation
1. Sales Team Enablement - Digital Ready
As HubSpot explains, Sales enablement is the iterative process of providing your business’s sales team with the resources they need to close more deals. These resources may include content, tools, knowledge, and information to effectively sell your product or service to customers.
64% of sales leaders who made the transition this year met or exceeded revenue targets, compared to 50% of leaders who had not. Moreover, 68% of sales leaders say they plan to keep or implement a hybrid or fully remote sales model.
“A dedicated sales enablement team is critical to the success of the future sales organization.”
2. Education Sales To Listen To Customers Through CRMs
Today, prospects spend time interacting with your website and content long before they ever speak to your salesperson. The embedded technology captures everything these prospects do – giving sales representatives an idea of their interests, profile, and challenges beforehand. ( How many times has a sales rep sold you an investment plan that you were looking at the day before? )
Small businesses mostly rely on spreadsheets and outdated data collection. If businesses aren’t embracing the use of Customer Relation Management (CRM) softwares, they are missing out on a lot.
“Most sales leaders, regardless of performance, ranked CRMs and video conferencing software as the most important tools for remote selling.”
3. Sales Automation
“Organizations that embrace AI will see a huge rise in productivity and profits viz. Generating only high-quality leads”
Chatbots can answer simple questions, trigger follow-up emails, evaluate responses, and make simple decisions. Your sales team won’t need to engage with prospects until they are qualified. The lead qualification process will also become more accurate, guaranteeing your sales team only receives the most promising leads. All these are possible only by embracing automation in sales.
Pillar#4: Think With Mobile-First Websites & Automation
Although the analytics was done before the onset of pandemic, Mobile commerce is still expected to surpass 50% or beyond by 2021, according to eMarketer’s Mobile Commerce Roundup.
Therefore, any online business in 2021 and beyond must do “Mobile-first thinking with websites”, i.e., build/optimize their website for mobile devices.
We would encourage you to go through this blog post about the top mobile app trends – Virtual Reality (VR) & Augmented Reality (AR) with mobile apps, Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Machine Learning (ML).
Technology is starting to catch up with the conversational marketing potential, with more AI-powered solutions, omnichannel conversations with hyper-realistic chatbots are now possible. 2021 will enable conversational marketing’s full potential.
Way Forward - Digital Agency Partnerships
“Tech partnership / digital agency partnership is a way to keep the online business agile & digital-ready for the future!”
So far, we have taken a stock of how an online business in 2021 & beyond should position themselves. They ought to think with marketing first, move on to responsible branding, explore more remote sales options, build more mobile-friendly web applications.
If you have any more questions, feel free to share it in the comments section below.