It's time to look forward to what we should expect in the next 12 months, with the uncertainty of 2020 now behind us.
2020, to say the least, has been volatile. That means, while some of the pre-pandemic patterns that were forecasted ended up coming to light, others did not appear at all, reshaping elements of the marketing landscape with various forced adaptations. Most importantly, sales of eCommerce went through the roof, people spent far more time on social media, and video conferencing became the new trend. This has contributed to a drastic improvement in the way that brands interact with their customers. But what marketing patterns will continue to permeate in 2021 as we turn a corner into the New Year?
1. Live-streams and a rise in content from influencers
Stay at home orders meant that events were postponed, and in-person events were unable to
be attended by customers. Their friends and relatives were not even able to socialise with them.
Whether it was a branded live-stream, a live video from their favourite celebrity, or an online workshop, this led to a rise in the number of people tuning into live-streams.
On Facebook, live viewings during lockdown times increased by 50%
Viewings on Instagram increased by 70%.
The use of TikTok shot up in 2020, and there is a fair possibility that we will see this upward trend continue to play out.
Human-drive content such as live-stream influencers will build trust and tap into the 'in-the-moment' link that customers want in 2021.
After the pandemic, Amazon Live really got moving. Influencers have taken to site during live events to market their favourite brands.
What's more? the live streams were shoppable, which meant that while streaming, viewers could make purchases.
NYX Pro Makeup ran a similar campaign, where influencers for their annual Pride celebrations were invited to live-stream make-up tutorials.
2. More goodwill and purpose-driven missions from brands
The 2021 Hootsuite Social Trends report notes that: “The smartest brands will understand where they fit into customers’ lives on social media, and they’ll find creative ways of fitting into the conversation.” At the core of this is often the necessity for transparency. It’s impossible for consumers to attach with brands that they see as 'shady' or insincere. Why would they need to take a position in something that they can’t trust or don’t believe in? this is often why a connection is going to be pivotal for brands that want to stay trusted sources in 2021. Now quite ever, brands are having to dig deep to seek out out the way to flourish in turbulent times. A report from Deloitte states that to try this, brands got to “be deeply attuned to why they exist and who they're built to serve”. We’re no strangers to seeing brands doing goodies, but there'll be a good bigger emphasis on this next year. We’ll see more brands running campaigns like Hilton’s #HotelsForHeroes, where they gave away free rooms to medical workers or Chanel’s contribution to the pandemic where they tasked their seamstresses with making face masks.
3. UGC to reinforce the customer experience
Customer experience has never been more important. Consumers crave enjoyable experiences with brands that are easy and memorable. they need proof before they buy and they want to be reassured - in any case, nobody wants to form an incorrect decision. User generated content (UGC) ticks all the boxes when it involves connective content:
It builds and strengthens communities
It’s relatable and uplifting
It enables brands to satisfy customers where they’re already hanging out
It helps brands generate tons more content against a backdrop of stay-at-home orders and restrictive measures.
UGC has long been an efficient way for brands to form relationships with their customers and supply social proof, and this may be a standard theme in 2021 also.
4. Voice and Visual Search Increase
Through voice-activated tools such as Alexa, a growing number of consumers are surfing. Maybe that's because people have been trapped at home, with fewer conversation options, or maybe it's just because this form of technology is more readily available. (Fact: about one in four American homes has a smart speaker of some kind). But it is not just voice search that will dominate in 2021 - we can also expect other types of innovative search, such as visual search, to rise to the top. Tools like Google Lens allow customers to scan for something they can see. This suggests that advertisers would need to rely even more on alt-text image and image sitemaps. Visuals will become increasingly important in the SEO game over the next year. It will also be profitable: by 2021, Retail Customer Experience forecasts that: "Early adopters who redesign their websites to promote visual and voice search will increase their revenue from digital commerce by 30%."
5. Content for easy-to-consume
2020 also saw individuals leaning on easy-to-consume content, such as podcasts that can be consumed on-the-go or updates that land directly in the inboxes of subscribers.
Studies show that 55% of Americans are now listening to podcasts, while during the lockdown, newsletter mentions were up 14%.
Advertisers are now investing more on podcasts, which is an indicator of their continued 2021 performance.
Comfortable and easily accessible content such as podcasts and newsletters can help brands communicate with consumers more deeply and offer a more personal way to keep in touch. Take a leaf out of a book by Nisolo. Before offering relevant services that could support them in turbulent times, they used their newsletter to communicate with customers and check in with them.