For decades, marketing has been an ever-evolving industry. That seems to be a constant. Today, with the advent of social media and the continuous development of new digital technology, there are always new marketing techniques and trends for professionals to employ.
Recent graduates and current marketing students should be aware of these marketing trends to watch in 2021:
1. Voice and Video Search
Consumers are all about convenience, and technology has allowed people to enjoy a life filled with more conveniences than ever before. A few years ago, it seemed so easy for someone to type a few words into a search engine in order to get more information about any topic. Today, however, users are looking for even faster and simpler ways to get the search results they need.
Voice search and visual search will be on the rise in 2021, and marketers need to know how to take advantage of these search trends. Voice search is performed when an individual uses a microphone in order to relay the information that they want. Video and photo search allows a person to take a video or photo and submit it to a search engine as a query in order to get the results they crave.
2. SERP Position Zero
A few years ago, the goal was to create online content that would earn the brand a top ranking on the search engine results page or SERP. Anything in the top 10 was deemed effective, with the best spots being the coveted first three results on the SERP. In 2021, however, all brands should be striving to SERP Position Zero.
This position is a small snippet that will appear at the very top of the SERP in large, bold print. It provides a direct answer to a query and is followed by a link that attributes it to a source. At the end of 2020, almost 40 percent of voice searches were answered in the SERP Position Zero spot. With more people relying on voice and video search, this position will continue to play a powerful role in who gets traffic and who does not through the SERP.
3. Big Data and Deep Learning
Big data has long been key to the success of any marketing campaign, whether it's for a small, locally-owned business or a major corporation with a global presence. However, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it's safe for many marketers to assume that data that is more than a year old is no longer relevant or useful, as daily life has been completely transformed for people of all ages and in all locations. This means that their consumer habits, activity levels and spending abilities will have changed significantly, and there will be an increased demand for new data to create cohesive marketing strategies.
The big data that is collected in 2021 needs to be evaluated and analyzed so that business owners can explore the new habits of their target demographics. Many will find that this data can be used to employ the latest marketing automation techniques and take advantage of the AI craze.
4. Content Marketing Strategy Development
Content marketing will still continue to dominate the SEO landscape in 2021, and marketing students, as well as professionals, will want to be aware of the top content marketing trends that are taking shape this year. These include:
- Using valuable and engaging content in order to build a community for the brand.
- Creating content that focuses on the brand's most innovative products and services.
- Making high-quality SEO a priority in all content.
- Exploring the powers of AI through content, including adding chatbots and more.
Content marketing has long played a powerful role in a brand's ability to stay relevant and visible online. While new content marketing trends may take shape over the course of the next year, one thing is sure to remain constant: All content will need to be relevant, interesting and engaging.
5. Interactive Content
One thing that marketing professionals have always known is that the average online user does not have a long attention span. They are likely only going to spend a few seconds scrolling their Facebook or Instagram feed before they abandon the platform for another more entertaining option. As a result, marketers have had to constantly come up with new and innovative forms of content to keep their target audience engaged.
In 2021, interactive content will be more important than ever. Interactive content is content that allows a user to participate rather than be a bystander as they read or watch the content. Interactive content is important because it is a fast and effective way to increase engagement levels. The most valuable forms of interactive content include quizzes, calculators and infographics.
6. Automated Bidding in Google Ads
Automated bidding has been trending over the course of the past year, and it will continue to play a powerful role in the success of a brand's Google ads. While Google ads and other advertisements on social media platforms have been able to generate buzz and increase interest in a particular brand for a while, many marketers were frustrated by the pay-per-click strategy required. Automated bidding allows a company to employ a strategy that allows them to pay more for clicks that are more likely to lead to a conversion.
Through automated bidding, marketing professionals can spend less time guessing about which bids will work best. They can make targeted decisions that are designed to have the most impact possible for their brand.
7. Hyper Automation
Automation has become an integral part of any marketing strategy throughout the past several years, but now hyper automation is earning its own spot at the forefront. Hyper automation is defined as the act of using multiple automation tools and resources available to provide a customized, relevant and instantly satisfying user experience.
Chatbots are the most popular form of hyper automation, and consumers have taken to these tools with gusto. People have found that chatbots are an easy way to get the quick solutions they need when dealing with a brand online. In fact, 35% of people use chatbots to resolve a complaint or problem, or for getting detailed answers from brands. Use of chatbots is also increasing — 40% of millennials say they engage with a chatbot on a daily basis, and chatbots saw a 92% use increase since 2019. Through hyper automation, marketing professionals can take more of their brand's business into the online realm.
8. Brand Transparency
Whether they want to follow their favorite brand on Twitter or place an order through their Amazon Alexa, consumers today only want to interact with brands that they can trust. In 2021, brand transparency will continue to move past providing a superior user experience or a well-made, high-quality product. Marketing experts are going to have to work to consistently prove that their brand is being socially conscious and responsible.
Marketing professionals also will be charged with making brands increasingly transparent in an ever-connected age. Some of the ways to improve transparency in 2021 include offering behind-the-scenes look on social media, making sure that every company is upfront and honest in the event of a mistake and giving credit to others when credit is due. Transparency is important to consumers across all demographics. According to a recent survey by Sprout Social, 86% of people believe that transparency from businesses is more important than ever before, and 73% are willing to pay more for products that guarantee total transparency. Considering these findings, transparency should be at the forefront of any marketing plan in the coming year.
For years now, brands have focused on working with influencers on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook in order to generate buzz about their services and products. Influencers have come to be one of the most effective marketing tools in the digital age, and the more followers than an influencer has, the better they are. However, it seems like micro-influencers may be playing a more prominent role in the future. A micro-influencer is defined as a social media personality who has 10,000 or fewer followers.
While the micro-influencer’s following itself is not large, they do have a significant amount of pull when it comes to promoting goods to their audience. Micro-influencers are a more cost-effective option for many brands, and they can provide access to niche audiences that larger influencers may not have access to.
10. Hybrid Event Planning
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced everyone to turn daily life into a virtual experience in 2020, no one predicted the long-lasting impact that the pandemic would have on marketing and event planning. In 2021, the world has yet to return to normal, and those in the marketing industry will likely be planning a lot of hybrid events in the months ahead. A hybrid event is one that may incorporate some in-person elements as well as some virtual experiences.
Traditional in-person events require a lot of coordination between event planners and marketers, and hybrid events are no different. In addition to developing physical marketing pieces and signage for the in-person portions of hybrid events, marketers will also be tasked with creating digital assets to complement the virtual experience.
The NBA’s Virtual Fan Experience last year provides a successful example of a hybrid event that marketers can learn from. In marketing games, NBA teams “focused on conveying value to fans and leveraging the exclusive nature of the opportunity.” These NBA hybrid events also led to unique opportunities for sponsors, such as giving fans a chance to win virtual courtside seats by retweeting or liking a post from the sponsor.
The user experience in hybrid event planning is paramount, and it's important to try to create experiences that are safe, effective and fun. There are various hybrid event planning models that can be used, including a targeted virtual experience that allows those who cannot travel in-person to the event to experience it in some form as well as a blended model that allows for smaller cohorts of people to experience the same event in separate spaces.
As marketing professionals begin to navigate the changing landscape and apply the latest trends to their own strategies, students can study these up-and-coming concepts in order to be prepared to enter the workforce. Marketing students at JWU Online are uniquely prepared to enter into the industry due to an innovative educational program that combines expert information with hands-on learning experiences.
If you’re interested in a marketing career, earn your bachelor’s degree in marketing or digital marketing & social media from JWU Online. For more information, complete the Request Info form, call 855-JWU-1881, or email [email protected].