In the following list you will find insights into many strategies you’ve already heard of, including SEO, customer retention, ecommerce, video marketing, and influencer marketing. There are also new approaches to cater to the new COVID-weary and social change-conscious consumers in 2021, as well as new cookieless advertising techniques and privacy changes.
No matter the strategy, the goal is the same: market efficiently so you can save time, scale up, and keep running the day-to-day.
#1. Be prepared for Google’s next update
Google’s Page Experience Update is coming in May 2021, and new metrics called Core Web Vitals that will look at site load times, interactivity, and content stability will begin to influence overall search rankings.
According to Mark Coster, owner of web design agency Web Design for Businesses, anything that annoys a user of the page could negatively impact the metrics provided by Core Web Vitals, and result in a lower ranking in search results.
The result is that brands now have to be more user-friendly than before in order to be optimized for Core Web Vitals.
The delay before a first input must be very short, so users can interact with the page as fast as possible, said Lee Savery, executive content at Ricemedia. “Pages and elements should load quickly, and should not keep users waiting.” There should not be any unanticipated changes in the layout while users are loading and scrolling the site. Failure to address these issues could lead to your site loading slowly.
#2. Get ready for the end of third-party cookies
Marketers will also be facing two changes in 2022: the end of third-party cookies and new privacy laws in California.
Harry Maugans, CEO of consumer privacy service Privacy Bee, said recently, “We need to get comfortable with privacy-first data collection practices. This means developing list-building strategies and developing one-to-one relationships with customers.”
According to Pathfinder Alliance’s Dave Toby, there is still “considerable confusion” about how the death of third-party cookies will affect digital marketing campaigns.
“The coming year will be the last chance for marketers to learn more about the impact of cookie-less advertising and to prepare for it,” he added. The most important actions are to improve access to, and effective use of, their first-party data and to ensure agencies have a clear plan for placing and measuring campaigns after the change.
Companies will need to build internal data collection infrastructure to be able to comply with the coming regulations in 2021, as well as learn to get along with private-first data collection practices.
Maugans points out that fines in California are starting at $2,500, so it is financially prudent to plan ahead.
#3. Fostering first-party relationships
Direct relationships with customers will be even more important in 2021 as the online landscape becomes even more crowded with brands trying to reach digital consumers. In addition, brands will be able to personalize content for better customer experiences when individuals are connected with them on a one-to-one basis.
Houman Akhavan, CarParts.com’s CMO, said the company’s first-party data strategy set “record conversions” in 2020.
It has been crucial to use the right customer data platform technology to handle millions of customer insights including real-time signals that must be acted upon immediately before they go stale, he said. We’ve reached more than a quarter billion personalized messages using our customer data platform, and click-through rates have increased as much as 400%, and email revenue has almost doubled.”
#4. Retention of customers should be a priority
Brands struggling to recover from the events of 2020 may find it wise to focus on existing customers.
According to Jonathan Frey, CMO of electric bike retailer Urban Bikes Direct, “in an uncertain economy, most brands, especially niche retailers, should focus on existing customers.”
Jim Pendergast, vice president of commercial finance platform AltLine, expects B2C brands to emphasize mobile marketing for customer retention.
“Think customized push notifications on smartphones or loyalty incentives if you download a mobile app to shop or transact directly,” he said.
“Keeping existing customers happy is cheaper than acquiring new ones,” said Pendergast. “Brands have bypassed the early stages of the customer journey and have more data to work with for targeted advertising.”
Furthermore, mobile interactions such as SMS (and even email) allow brands to connect directly with their customers—and bypass intermediaries.
#5. Sell on social media
There is also the emergence of social commerce, which could have implications far-reaching.
In 2020, Facebook will launch Shops on both Facebook and Instagram, allowing users to shop directly on the platforms.
The focus on social commerce, new marketplaces, and shorter customer journeys are expected to be a mainstream feature of the management consultancy industry by 2021, according to Bruce Biegel, managing director of management consultancy Winterberry Group.
According to Jeff Anning, founder of electric skateboard brand Evolve Skateboards, it presents a whole new way for marketers to get their products in front of consumers. Retailers are using in-app shopping on social media channels to reduce the friction from product to purchase.
According to Anning, this is why Evolve will be “heavily testing and attempting to reduce drop-offs by selling directly from social media channels” in 2021.
#6. Take action on what you say
Consumers and brands alike took stances on social justice issues in 2020.
“After George Floyd’s murder and the global outcry over human rights displayed in late May, brands and companies must maintain their commitments to inclusion and cultural competency,” said Tara Miremadi, digital brand manager at health and fitness marketing agency Margaux Agency. Some brands have released several statements, but they must follow through with continued action in order to solidify their relationship with consumers.
Kent Lewis, president of digital marketing agency Anvil Media, believes brands will do this in 2021 as they appeal to “educated consumers who care deeply about a company’s commitment to social and environmental sustainability.”
#7. Establish trust
In the meantime, the pandemic has accelerated a trend in which consumers look to spend money with brands that are trustworthy and that also share their values.
In addition to becoming more selective about where they spend their money, consumers want to know the companies they support have their interests at heart,” said Colin Palfrey, CMO of espresso equipment retailer Majesty Coffee. It doesn’t require a big budget to build trust. All you have to do is make a promise to your customers and keep it.”
As Mark Wood, CEO of glass fence manufacturer National Pool Fences, says brands must give consumers peace of mind—even after the vaccine.
“The pandemic will profoundly impact customer mindset, and messaging that focuses solely on product or service will not fly,” Wood said. “Since our business already focuses on safety, adjusting our message to focus on cleanliness and peace of mind will be an ongoing goal through 2021.”
#8. Community growth
As well as proving their trustworthiness, brands should cultivate communities of loyal customers in 2021.
“The notion of community building is not novel, but brands in 2021 need to realize that loyalty is returning and those brands that understand what their customers want, as well as how to engage them through transparency and humility, will succeed,” said SEO consultant Itamar Blauer.
Olga Petrik, CMO of Gmail CRM firm NetHunt CRM, said brands should invest more in customer loyalty and retention in 2021.
Despite the pandemic, their existing customer base has remained relatively stable. “By switching from customer support to a customer success strategy, a business can ensure customers receive the maximum value from a product.”
#9. Optimize your voice search results
We have witnessed voice search in previous year-end predictions. However, 2021 may be the year that voice search really takes off as consumers use their voice-enabled devices more during the pandemic.
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In turn, this resulted in people being more willing to explore what their smart home devices could do and begin to understand and rely on them,” said Polly Kay, senior marketer at English Blinds.
To stay ahead of the curve, brands need to optimize for voice search by focusing on longer-tail keywords that reflect how consumers ask questions or request services verbally.
As voice search popularity increases, it is highly likely that Google will place a heavier weighting on ranking and rewarding content that successfully fulfills voice searchers’ needs,” she said.
Shiv Gupta, the CEO of digital media marketing agency Incrementors, said small businesses have a real chance to take advantage of voice search.
Google voice search uses about 22% of users to find local businesses, he said.
#10. Make local SEO a priority
Speaking of which, local SEO is another marketing strategy that is likely to make a repeat appearance on this list. Sarah Blocksidge, a digital marketing manager at Sixth City Marketing, explained that when brands update their Google Business Profile by updating their Google My Business accounts through their Google My Business Accounts, the profile will reflect pandemic-friendly details like online appointments and curbside pickup and delivery.
Since people will still want to stay in close proximity to home, while also supporting small businesses, it is important to make sure your Google My Business account is active and optimized,” Blocksidge concluded. Strong ratings and reviews are critical because if a customer needs to hire someone for any type of service, they’ll want to read about other people’s experiences with how they handle safety protocols and the like.”
You now have 10 ways to grow in 2021
Can you try them all? Perhaps not. Most people will give a few a shot. Other people will find it more worthwhile to choose just one and concentrate on it. All depends on your industry, your audience, and your business goals. Make a list of what you’re doing, what your audience is saying, and what your competitors are doing, so you can begin developing your plan.
About the Author!
Sajid Hussain is a senior content specialist at TechNerds with proven digital marketing experience under his belt. He harbors a passion for writing on a diverse range of topics related to futuristic technologies, innovation, and digital marketing to educate and inspire his readers.