Well, 2020 has been a year to remember so far (and that is the understatement of the year!) – businesses have faced more unexpected struggles than anyone could have ever predicted.
Whilst business owners expect there to be the usual ups and downs, who would have thought that a world-wide health pandemic would have reared its ugly head and had such an impact to business as we know it!? Still, we all find ourselves in this situation, and now businesses the world-over are having to adapt to the current economic climate and a new way of trading.
A big part of business adaptation is focussed on digital marketing. As consumers use the internet more than ever, and at record numbers in 2020, we have summarised our trends and predictions for 2021 that all business owners should take advantage of to help evolve and emerge out the other side of this pandemic as unscathed as possible.
Like no more on Instagram (and possibly Facebook)
In late 2019, Instagram started testing the option of removing the option to like a photo, meaning that only users (account holders) would be able to see the number of likes per photo, but followers would not be able to as they will be removed from photos.
Facebook may be following suit, and this will be a challenge that both businesses, users and influencers will have to overcome. Should Instagram remove likes permanently, it will completely turn social media marketing on its head, meaning businesses that rely heavily on social media marketing will have to overhaul their digital strategy, one possible option is to increase the number of posts to ensure a consistent and regular level of follower engagement among other changes to help keep your business socially on-top.
High street ‘bricks and mortar’ retail and digital worlds collide
If 2020 has taught us anything, it has shown without doubt, that high street retailers who didn’t previously have an e-commerce / online presence have now appeared online in a baptism of fire – when push came to ‘lockdown’ shove, there was really no option.
With lockdown and the near constant threat of Coronavirus restrictions forever being bandied about in the media, businesses have realised the importance of being visible online more than ever before, and this necessity revolves around a having good website, implementing Google search engine optimisation (or SEO for short) and a robust social media presence.
In 2021, and as COVID-19 continues to overstay its welcome, we predict that more and more businesses will move to the online space, placing heavy reliance on customers that may have once visited a high street shop instead staying at home and visiting them via Google search or Social Media and purchasing products/services in this manner. Whilst this might seem obvious, what with the almost inconceivable profits Amazon reported in 2020 this in itself shows that business owners need to seriously consider a move into the digital world and investing in the tools (web design, Google Search Engine Optimisation and social media management) to boost their online visibility, sales and ultimately profits.
TikTok will continue to gain momentum in 2021
TikTok, the comparatively new kid on the social media block isn’t going anywhere. Right from the start we’ve predicted TikTok will be here to stay and, if anything, it’s only going to blow up even more in 2021.
As far as using TikTok for marketing, especially for lifestyle and fashion related brands, it is still early days for TikTok but they are developing their paid-ads offering at an incredibly impressive rate, so we reckon there will be swift progression with their paid-ads as more and more users and brands join the platform and businesses include it as part of their digital marketing strategy.
Local SEO will increase (and social media too)
COVID-19 has unfortunately seen the temporary closure of many businesses, and in order to conserve funds, digital marketing was the first overhead to be dropped days after the first lockdown was announced. As we very tentatively emerge out the other side of the pandemic (albeit with a few bumps in the road) businesses are now realising that they need to embrace digital marketing once again to recover their visibility in Google search (SEO) and/or to improve their presence on Social Media in order to sustain sales and income.
Local SEO will really be a business owners’ best friend. As consumers are more aware of shopping local and supporting small businesses to help businesses survive COVID-19, local search has increased, with shoppers looking for products and services within their local area(s), so business owners should prioritise local SEO and implement a strategy to ensure they remain visible online. Setting up Google My Business is also important to help businesses remain visible locally too.
Business owners will adapt to changed circumstances
For businesses that are already online, a period of rapid change has been forced upon them during 2020, which includes extending their offerings with new options and giving customers the opportunity to choose online. For businesses (especially in leisure/hospitality) that want to stay afloat, they will find a solution. Here are some ideas to consider:
Bricks and mortar only restaurants / food outlets
For eateries that have never previously offered takeaway / delivery services, now is the time to get your ducks lined up in a row. With COVID-19 causing more uncertainty than ever when it comes to social distancing and mixing, the threat of restaurants / food outlets that would ordinarily welcome customers through their doors having to close for short or even longer periods to combat COVID-19 continues to linger.
Whilst you will continue to function in a ‘normal’ way, how you serve customers will differ, so developing a flexible approach to delivery and takeaway services is key – if your loyal, regular customers know that they have the option of delivery or takeaway (when permitted) they will definitely use it. It’s great to introduce this system in advance so customers will get used to it, and most importantly, become aware of it sooner. In addition, with distancing comes the reduction of tables/covers, so supplementing your daily income with takeaway/delivery services will be a lifeline.
Announcing changes to your service on your website as well as regularly publicising this on your social media channels and through SEO will ensure that customers know that you are offering delivery and takeaway services, no matter how they search for you online.
Video and photo tours, and Google My Business COVID updates
In these COVID-Secure times, your customers are more aware of protecting themselves and others. Showing your customers that your shop / restaurant / business is COVID-secure will help to build confidence.
videoing a walk-through of your premises showing the measures you have put into place, or perhaps taking and posting photos on social media to show customers you have taken the correct steps will ensure your customers will keep using your business.
Make sure you post the measures you have put into place on Social Media, add COVID guidelines and the steps you have taken on your website, prominently featured on your homepage or navigation menu and also update your Google My Business profile if you have one – (profiles tend to display to the right-hand side of search results on Google). Google My Business now includes several COVID features to build customer confidence.
Ensure your website is mobile-optimised
In 2021, it will be more important than ever to ensure your website is optimised for mobile and tablet browsing.
Older websites that have been optimised for desktop browsing only (such as laptops or PCs) will lose out on a huge chunk of business, and right now, businesses of all types cannot afford to risk losing new custom.
What’s more, Google announced back in 2015 that mobile-first / mobile-optimised websites would become compulsory if business owners want to remain searchable on Google mobile search, with Google placing preference on websites that are designed to be mobile-first optimised, so if your website is dated and needs replacing, now is the time to get it sorted.
Content driven SEO will still be key
Many SEO factors will change as we go into 2021, but the fact that “content is [still] king” will remain as important as ever. SEO focuses on 4 main disciplines, these being:
All 4 of these disciplines are required to ensure that an SEO strategy is a long-term success, but the one constant that has never changed is the need for high quality text content that is both meaningful to the customer and answers a question, provides a solution, offers advice or describes a product/service in the form of a landing page.
In 2021, businesses will rely on Google search (SEO) more than ever, so to ensure maximum visibility in Google search results pages and a decent return on investment, the need to include high quality content on website landing pages is priority (especially for localised SEO as well).
Quick plug here – we offer SEO services and can help drive traffic to your website, improve your visibility and help you generate more enquiries and sales – have a read and if you have any questions or need any advice, feel free to get in touch!
Conversion friendly/focussed websites will become even more important
We live in a fast-paced world and the need for websites to load near-instantly is becoming more important than ever before, especially so since Coronavirus has led to record numbers of people browsing the web. Not only does a fast loading website mean your visitors are more likely to stay and browse through your website, but it also leads to better sales conversion too.
If your website is also super-conversion friendly, not full of fluff and unnecessary pages/content – (instead, focusing on quality text content as mentioned above) – this will also help your sales conversion. Customers want to find what they are looking for with ease, so minimal clicks, no fluff and fast loading (mobile-optimised) websites with prominent call-to-action sections that encourage customers to take action and use your services or buy your products will be key for 2021.
Keep an eye on your reviews/reputation
Online reputation management and generating positive customer reviews to help elevate your business online has always been incredibly important; nothing helps to sell your business better than positive reviews from other customers that have received an excellent service from you.
To gain new reviews does take some effort on your part though, so emailing customers after they have used your services or purchased products from you to talk about their experience is necessary, and a gentle follow-up as well if required.
In the same sense, if you have customers that have left a more negative review, it is important to address their complaints and respond to the review. If you can offer a resolution or explanation to justify the situation, this can go a long way to diffusing a potentially contentious exchange and ultimately lead to a happy customer.
So that’s our round-up for 2021 and what we think you should be actioning with your digital media and marketing strategy. If you need any help, please feel free to get in touch for a chat!