The digital marketing forecast for 2021

30-second summary:

  • The team at PowerChord, Inc., offers insight into key digital and marketing trends they expect to impact the marketplace in 2021.
  • Evolving digital technologies will create more opportunities than ever to create a seamless customer journey.
  • Savvy brands must take advantage of the latest opportunities to target customers and build online relationships in personalized and meaningful ways
  • Sound research offers insight into how businesses should expect to reach and relate to customers in 2021 through technology.

Predicting trends is difficult under normal circumstances, but 2021 could present even greater challenges for those in the marketing space.

Rebounding from the upheaval of 2020 to create a strategy that’s both grounded and innovative will take a mixture of solid reasoning and expert guidance. One constant is the knowledge that omnichannel shopping is standard procedure for consumers.

That means businesses have to adapt and provide a consumer journey across digital channels and devices that’s both concentrated and simple to navigate.

It’s vital for a business’ success in 2021 to create a long-term digital strategy inclusive of multiple channels to meet evolving customer needs and expectations. It’s all about meeting customers where they are to tell your brand’s story. Industries across the board are changing to accommodate updated ecommerce requirements in the transitioning digital landscape.

The team at PowerChord, Inc., offers insight into key digital and marketing trends they expect to impact the marketplace in 2021.

1) Enhanced website search function and product details 

Consumers are spending more time online than ever researching products before making a purchase. They rely heavily on information from search queries to find new products. Because they can’t physically view, compare, or touch products, it’s even more critical for brands to offer a strong online presence including product descriptions, and ratings and reviews.

Brands have to work with local retailers to ensure accurate, consistent product and local pricing information is always available so consumers can follow through with a purchase.

2) Prioritization of mobile functionality

It’s a given now; brands must provide a smooth mobile experience onsite and across digital marketing channels to meet the needs of more than 280 million expected smartphone users in 2021.

Mobile ecommerce sales are expected to account for 54{cb3fe4c54de06d7c4b8dceae281fb32e521027d1659af7adec2f427d2f5333d9} of all online sales and shoppers will expect a seamless checkout experience. Dependable click-and-collect pick-up options and a variety of payment methods such as online checkout and touchless mobile payments are expected in 2021.

Search engines such as Google and Bing continually update their algorithms making it essential for websites to be mobile-responsive. If not, consumers won’t find a business’ website when they have an intent to purchase. Improved organic search through Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is key.

This includes strong product descriptions that enhance the customer experience as well as SEO rankings.

3) Machine Learning (AI & AR) opportunities

The ability to enrich communications, measure and analyze data in real time and track consumer behaviors through machine learning means customers can get the right digital content at the right time in their purchase journey.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR) bring new definition to the online and ecommerce experiences by presenting personalized content, which in turn increases conversions to revenue opportunities. Programmatic ads with real-time bidding will further increase the impact of the technology.

Live, automated chatbots will continue providing more information and help guide consumers to the right product to meet their needs. All this provides the support the customer wants while building data for the marketing team to build even more relevant communication profiles and enhanced chat experiences.

4) Data-driven insights and first-party data

AI technology is one way to gather consumer data to enhance the consumer journey, but with  data collection comes a responsibility to protect privacy. Ensuring consumer data is protected is one of the foremost ways to build trust while still providing a quality experience.

Google Tag Manager allows more digital advertising customization and ensures users actually get the right messaging through their online experience. Email programs can help capture consumer data and extend the relationship after a purchase by asking for reviews or product ratings. All this data then helps in market fluctuations and gaining high value from digital spending.

PowerChord’s proprietary and proven SaaS platform syndicates the local data needed to optimize the customer journey and elevate sales opportunities for local dealers.

5) Visual messaging adds impact

Video marketing is likely to be the backbone for digital marketers in 2021, with visual commerce playing a bigger role in the shopping experience in 2021. Brands will have to engage consumers through product videos to help build confidence and offer inspiration through DIY and how-to visuals.

Visual Commerce will also be a 2021 shopping trend as touchless shopping continues to offer peace of mind. Many brands will likely showcase larger images and create 360-degree imagery or videos for top-selling products. Repurposing user-generated content on product pages can both generate interest and create a tangible connection while helping keep costs down.

6) Interactive social content and the “anywhere” conversion

While new social platforms seem to appear all the time, the top five social media sites include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Whatsapp respectively, remain the recommendation for social advertising in 2021.

These platforms also are forums for customer support and ongoing engagement by enabling businesses to create an ongoing dialogue with their customers, no matter where they are.

This connection can provide a streamlined shopping experience as consumers research then make purchases through social media. No matter the social platform, it’s critical to provide a means to shop and check out in the same digital experience without jumping around to keep the customer engaged.

7) Voice search and commerce

Using voice-activated search through smart speakers from Amazon and Google is becoming more common, making mobile queries an effective lead generation tool.

According to statistics, users are more likely to call the business, visit the website for more information, or visit the store in-person. New research also suggests voice-based shopping is expected to jump to $40 billion in 2022.

8) Mobile app options

We’re living in a world where social distancing makes it more common than ever for consumers to take advantage of quality mobile apps to shop, purchase and interact with a business. Mobile app usage has increased by 20{cb3fe4c54de06d7c4b8dceae281fb32e521027d1659af7adec2f427d2f5333d9} in 2020 and is expected to increase  even more in the coming year.

Through apps, businesses can lower costs by more accurately predicting sales from advanced orders while providing a seamless experience which leads to repeat business. Users often purchase a wider range of products, especially when apps include loyalty rewards, product information, and push notifications when a user is physically nearby.

9) Values-based digital messaging

Following a tumultuous political season, values-based messaging may play a bigger role in influencing consumer decisions in 2021 as consumers are more likely to purchase from brands that align with their own personal values.

Communications ranging from an emphasis on health and safety, eco-friendly/green initiatives, made in America or even ecommerce messaging such as “curbside pickup” or “buy online, pick-up in-store” can pique consumer interest.

Nikki Vegenski has spent the last 11 years helping her client’s brand-to-local digital marketing strategies come to life. As PowerChord’s Chief Strategy Officer, she understands her client’s long-term vision, her firm’s ambitions, and helps to ensure both sides are in sync. She strives for success in providing thought leadership and strategic guidance across current and future customer adoptions of PowerChord’s SaaS and digital advertising solutions. She is an agent for change within the organization as it relates to product evolution, digital advertising, and cross-department leadership and employee mentorship.

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