It's tempting to think that this horrible year will be behind us on January 1, 2021, but at least judging from today's news, 2021 promises more of the same. Fighting over laptops as employees are working from home while juggling their kids' school work that's in person, then virtual, then back again; restaurants open for indoor dining, then closed but offering carry-out or delivery services; B2B companies adopting work-from-home models and making the workplace safer for those who must work in person. All businesses are trying to continue to serve customers under ever-changing guidelines, keep their workforce employed and maintain enough revenue to weather this pandemic.
Understanding that COVID-19 will continue to impact us in 2021 (but maybe not the WHOLE year...), these are trends that marketers see for the coming year:
- Social Media remains an important mechanism to attract, engage and retain customers. Both B2B and B2C companies consider retaining customers a top priority. Working from home has given people a LOT more time to shop around online and compare. Marketers are looking for new ways to retain customers and social channels are the way in which they're communicating those messages and offers.
Branded Content in 2021 will have to do more than just list the features & benefits and sell the product or service. Marketers will stretch the limits of branded content to use it to create a unique experience for their customers that is consistent with their brand.
- According to Hubspot, 39% of smart phone users have used voice search such as Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant on their phones. That leaves a large percentage of smart phone users who have not used voice search yet, but that number is expected to grow exponentially. Because voice search often yields different results than text inquiries, it makes sense to adapt your SEO to include search components for both text and voice search users.
- Speaking of SEO, the most important thing you can do is to make sure you are properly listed in all search engines (not JUST Google), especially local search engines if there's a geographic area in which your business operates. That said, Google My Business provides important info such as your hours, whether you're temporarily closed or your hours have changed due to a COVID-19 outbreak, etc.
Brand Activism. Businesses are taking bold steps to communicate their values and beliefs. Whether it's taking a stand on Black Lives Matter or other social or political movements, committing to products and services that are environmentally safe and sustainable or energy efficient, companies are being much more vocal in the causes they support and their commitment to social responsibility.
The Holidays will certainly look different as we close out 2020 as well. Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving - whatever that looks like this year - and the ability to focus on the things for which we're grateful.