January 14, 2021
Marketers have had to pivot so much in the past year in order to accommodate the changes happening in the world. This includes the shift to e-commerce, slashing some of their ad budgets to reduce cost and cushion possible fall and a heightened focus on brand experience. Original strategies on business pipelines were shattered and adapting to the effects of the Coronavirus became a priority for all. Things were moving at a breakneck speed and people’s situations were creating demands and requirements that need to be catered to. And as a brand that wishes to stay on their customers’ radars, you’re bound to deliver.
But spending and shopping patterns have changed. People have long since adapted to the new normal and businesses are seeing the effect that has created. The initial knee jerk reactions in terms of changes to marketing and manufacturing strategies have since eased up. Towards the end of 2020 and even before we mark the first 15 days of this new year, we’re already seeing market trends that experts believe will mark 2021.
But before you recalibrate for 2021 again, let’s first breakdown some of the most notable marketing trends that have defined 2020.
While we cannot predict what happens next, you’re free to make this list your guide for moving in an unpredictable time.
During the early days of the pandemic, we’ve written about how brands are using digital to stay ahead in the midst of the global outbreak. We mentioned that, since restrictions on in-person store visits are placed, social gatherings kept to a minimum (if not cancelled altogether) and people are cooped up in their homes, businesses and organisations have relocated most of their operations online.
By “operations”, we don’t only mean e-commerce, but other activities as well like talks, conferences, and virtual tours. Influencers and brand ambassadors are also tapped to create relatable content that feels authentic and more personal. They’re tasked to spearhead the genuine (but not in your face) type of marketing which is especially needed during a confusing time.
People are now deliberately buying from local businesses, especially online. When experts weighed in on what trends to expect on businesses’ post-COVID SEO strategies, they unanimously determined that an important SERP feature will persist and thrive better than the others—Google’s Local 3-Pack.
Think of a business or brand’s relationship with Google, the world’s largest search engine, this way; the former needs to do everything they can to make sure that Google knows who they are, what they offer and when they offer it. It’s a competitive game among brands and the victor gets its desired spot at the top of search results or even the coveted position zero. Which is a big thing, considering users tend to only look at the first page of SERPs.
Local intent marketing has always been about giving people what they want. Most searches on Google have local intent (at least 46%), which gives local businesses and services an edge—if they know how to market for it. The Local 3-Pack has more to offer, but in its purest form, it intends to provide user’s needs by giving them a choice to choose from locally-owned, organic business listings. So, make sure your brand is optimised to show details that are relevant to user’s search intent. Make sure your local page’s information is up-to-date by giving accurate information on your operating hours, contact details and addresses. Encourage (and don’t shy away from) reviews and engage discussions among customers. And finally, make your product and service listings accurate, reflecting any or all changes in your operations or repository.
As I’m sure you’re aware, the COVID-19 lockdowns accelerated the need for people to use digital services. Even age groups that weren’t too keen on social media and online shopping pre-Coronavirus have started to take notice of the ease it brings. People are starting to put more trust in digital tools and while times are surely uncertain, we can expect this trend to continue. So what can business owners get from this insight?
Southeast Asia alone has pegged a 62% increase in Shopify merchants and stores just between April and May of last year compared to 2019. With more storefronts now competing to get people’s attention, what would separate a brand from the competition is exceptional customer service.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: now’s not the time to shy away from your consumers. Brands and companies that try to keep up with the demands of the pandemic are likely to bounce back better than those that don’t. Depending on your industry, now’s the time to build a community (if you haven’t done so already) and build people’s trust.
During the early days of the Coronavirus, many companies started reducing digital marketing budgets, especially their ad budgets. Search Engine Land says it better: businesses with products and services that are non-essential (to the pandemic) are slashing their budgets to maximise efficiency. And conversely, those who relate to the fights and needs amidst the pandemic would do well to maximise their ad budgets and spending.
But to add to that, we also want to remind you that new searches are being done nowadays as new needs demand to be met. Demands of individuals staying and working from home. Demands of brick-and-mortar sellers hoping to migrate their operations online. This batch of new user search intent should match the keyword list you have, so a review of your existing keywords is a must. This means exploring keywords related to your industry before they start making noise and trends.
The unprecedented and staggering e-commerce growth brought on by the pandemic is coupled with the preference for contactless activities such as self checkout and curbside pickups. This has reimagined the shopping experience for many, and in situations where you can’t greet and assist customers in store, what can you do to amplify their customer experience?
Firstly, you meet them where they are and adapt from there. This means being available to amplify their experiences online. This requires a great deal of coordination and seamless operation across teams but one that would benefit your brand in the long run (and yes, we mean post-COVID). In another article on the future of Customer Experience, we discussed four things that will help engage customers during (and after) the pandemic:
Origin Email co-founder Ryan Phelan thinks 2020 is the year we, especially marketers, unlearned everything. In his first point, he emphasised the need for marketers to predict changes in behavioural patterns because of the unpredictable shifts in the market’s buying and spending behaviour. It’s time to keep our eyes open and become proactive. And as hope in the vaccines rises, marketers are now also trying to anticipate the answer to an important question—will the consumer shopping pattern brought on by the pandemic persist and continue post-COVID?
This, we’ll have to wait to see.
For more information about the latest updates on Coronavirus, visit World Health Organization’s (WHO) website.
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