One of the biggest challenges of working in digital is learning to roll with the times. That means dealing with shifting tides and constant fluctuations. What you knew yesterday is not gospel today, meaning you always must be well and truly on the ball.
If there is one thing we have learnt as a digital marketing agency growing in uncertain times, it is that you must be ready to react and remain agile when you least expect it.
We are all aware that COVID-19 has seen many businesses change the way they operate. Those that had never touched digital channels before, have been forced to tackle the online world, the upside being that it has brought to them more opportunity than ever before.
As we make our way to the second half of the year, I have put together a forecast for you on what will be the biggest shifts making waves throughout online channels that your business is likely to cross in the coming months.
- Facebook’s still winning the popularity contest
Facebook, despite the endless negative publicity, is still the number one social networking platform, carrying more than 2.7 billion users, with that number expected to continue to grow exponentially.
Alongside individual users continuing to jump on the Facebook bandwagon, there are also more than 180 million brands now on the platform, making it a crucial part of any marketing mix.
You like many, may have thought that Facebook’s power and influence are shifting, well the giant is still well and truly in the game – and it is not likely to go anywhere anytime soon, with Zuckerberg here to stay.
Key tip: Use Facebook Groups to cultivate a community that you can nurture and engage with. Turning these audiences into loyal followers means you have on-demand attention when you need it most, and they are more likely to convert.
- Don’t dismiss social ‘Stories’
Storytelling remains a massive part of social media strategy, alongside making use of a highly strategic paid campaign. If you are lacking organic growth and engagement, your posts are probably not hitting the right balance of authenticity and credibility – something storytelling is able to bridge the gap between.
To ensure you are keeping momentum on these platforms in 2021, jump on the trend of using ‘Stories’ on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter (known as ‘Fleets’), LinkedIn and any other channel that powers up this tool. It is a super-easy way to get reach and to remind your audience that you are there and active. These channels also tend to pop the stories up at the top of their apps, meaning your story will be the first thing users see when they log on; keeping you front-of-mind.
- Email newsletters are dominating
Email marketing is making a huge comeback due to users of all kinds demanding anecdotal, humanised content more than ever before, and there is no better way to deliver that to them than through personalised, segmented email material.
Newsletters (especially paid ones through Substack or Revue) are absolutely smashing numbers in 2021, with these figures set to rise in coming years.
If you really want to engage your audience and learn more about them, nurturing them to the point of conversion, the time for email marketing is right now – that means today, not tomorrow.
Key tip: Tie your email newsletters into a well-segmented sales funnel so that you can launch high-volume digital products, like eBooks or e-courses.
- Predictive marketing is incredibly powerful
We are all aware of artificial intelligence, robot takeovers and a Jetson-like visions for the future. Whilst we are not quite there yet, when we talk about the integration of AI into marketing, what is important to note is that these innovations are scaling up in technology so quickly that virtually anything can be automated in 2021.
This even comes down to channels like SEO, where algorithms can understand how users are interacting with search engines on a whole other level, through powerful tools that are able to predict the shifts and tides of how a user behaves online – in pretty much any way possible.
As frightening as this sounds, this is also a massive opportunity for your brand, helping you to better predict and understand how to appeal to your audience. Today you have more insight than ever had before, and that is a powerful tool to have.
Key tip: Invest in quality tools and platforms that can provide you with this important data.
- Authenticity is the new normal
Gone are the days where the hard-sell was the go-to for marketers across the globe. To sell successfully brands today must engage with audiences in a way that proves they are – at their core – still human.
Audiences crave personality and humanisation, and just like storytelling, these elements give your marketing mix credibility. No one wants to do business with a brand they cannot trust, and if you cannot prove you have got a heart behind that screen, then why would consumers want to invest in you at all.
There is a huge opportunity here. Thanks to all that data we now have at our fingertips, there is no excuse not to research what your audience deems as important in their buyer’s journey.
More than ever, marketing is about understanding and evaluating human psychology. For a campaign to be successful you must learn how your audiences’ personalities work and then form your campaigns around these traits.
Rounding it up
While we are seeing massive shifts in the way we operate as marketers, the biggest point to keep close at heart is that it is crucial to show you are human. No matter what industry or niche you work in, no audience wants to invest in a company that lacks heart.
In 2021 it is a must for your business to combine authenticity with storytelling through using the in-built features on social media sites that allow you to show who you are behind the screen.
Keep front-of-mind when it matters most and appeal to the emotional side of your targeted audience. This will prove the key difference between you and a competitor who is still lacking empathy in their marketing mix.
Get it right and you will see a massive increase in engagement, growth and brand awareness, all resulting on that priceless ROI we all seek when it comes to our marketing spend.
Written by Ryan Jenkins.
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