Marketing is essential to increase your brand’s exposure and drive revenue.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur working on your first business plan and starting a new business, working on your third startup, or helping a small business grow its revenues as a marketer, marketing will influence the business’s success or failure.
Here are the 10 biggest marketing trends for 2021:
Let’s look at each of these 2021 marketing trends.
1. Purpose-driven marketing
2020 was a challenging year.
The pandemic impacted every country globally and pushed smart brands to change how they communicate with customers and prospects.
Many smart brands embraced purpose-driven marketing.
What is purpose-driven marketing?
In purpose-driven marketing, a brand connects with its audience through a common cause they both believe in. All of a brand’s actions and decisions are stripped down to a simple question: is this representative of our purpose?
Some brands promoted environmental awareness, while others focused on human rights, poverty, race, and gender inequalities.
Businesses that pursued and publicly defined a clear and consistent purpose did better in 2020 than brands that did not articulate a clear purpose.
That’s not surprising. A recent study by the Zeno Group found that consumers are four times more likely to purchase from the brand when a brand follows and articulates a strong purpose.
They are also 4.5 times more likely to recommend your brand.
If you’re still communicating using brand messaging developed before 2020, take a step back and reassess what you’re doing.
Your brand messaging must change to better resonate with your customers and prospects.
2. Reconnecting with your customers
In 2020, brands struggled to find the right words when communicating with customers and prospects.
Some brands chose to stay silent.
Others mostly ignored the pandemic and continued to communicate as if nothing was happening.
And, some leaned-in to important and controversial issues that polarized their target audience.
As things calm down in 2021, brands must find ways to reconnect with customers and prospects.
One-on-one feedback, surveys, and questionnaires can provide personable and unique responses to help you understand how the pandemic impacted your customers and how they’re currently thinking about the world.
Here’s a good place to start: 6 important questions every business should ask their customers.
These questions will help you reassess how your target audience views your brand, whether your brand identity continues to be appropriate for your target audience, and how people view the products and services you sell.
3. Loss aversion
People don’t like to lose.
Whether it’s losing a game, an argument, or an item we want to buy, we don’t like it.
In fact, people make buying decisions that are motivated by their desire to avoid a loss.
Studies show that loss aversion is twice as powerful, psychologically, as the acquisition of something.
Smart brands understand how to leverage loss aversion to improve their messaging and marketing campaigns.
In marketing, a loss aversion strategy takes the form of limited-time deals, expiring coupons, holiday sales, or even limited resources.
But, in 2021, loss aversion strategies need to be more human.
To effectively use loss aversion in 2021, you must appeal to your audience’s situation and present your product or service in a way that helps them avoid loss. But you must recognize that people have incurred huge losses in 2020 so the messaging must be more sensitive than ever.
We saw great examples of loss aversion marketing in 2020, like this one from Ford, and hashtag frenzies like #AustralianWildfires (which led to exposure and substantial donations).
Just the idea of a loss is enough to create a strong reaction.
4. Relatability will drive growth
Social media is fast, easy to use, and very far-reaching. For many businesses, it happens to be one of the best ways to market products and services.
As social media continues to expand, many brands are taking advantage of its high traffic attraction through user-generated content (UGC).
User-generated content is created by customers or users, not by the brand.
UGC has been growing exponentially for the past five years (largely due to influencer marketing). It is a great, authentic way to market your products and improve your brand image.
UGC has many benefits, including better engagement.
Studies show that people are 28% more likely to engage with user-generated content than traditional company-based posts. And, user-generated content reflects relatability and trustworthiness.
UGC’s use of real people breaks the mold of traditional, often cold marketing campaigns. By leveraging UGC, brands can showcase honest reviews, real emotions, natural reactions, and real people – a marketing campaign’s gold mine.
Also, UGC isn’t bound by the typical constraints brands have when marketing their own products.
And, UGC is more likely to become viral.
Tens of millions of people watched a video of a man riding the back of a truck while drinking Ocean Spray cranberry juice and lip-syncing to a soundtrack of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.”
Hundreds of people posted their own videos doing the same thing.
That’s the type of free publicity that most brands only dream about.
5. Social E-commerce is blowing up
Now that social media apps are utilizing user-generated content, we expect another significant development in these online platforms – the rise in social E-commerce.
It has never been easier to buy something online.
Recently, apps such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest all updated or introduced shops directly in their apps. Chances are, if you scroll past something you like, you can buy it instantly from that app with just a few taps.
In fact, social E-commerce is already shaking up traditional e-commerce. According to HubSpot, 71% of people are more likely to purchase from a brand based on social media referrals.
This isn’t just a fad. More than half of online shoppers have made at least one purchase through social media channels.
With the integration of shopping in social media apps, online shopping will be a force to be reckoned with in 2021.
Plus, if you pair social E-commerce with UGC, your brand’s social media presence will be stronger than ever!
6. Video and storytelling will rule
In an age where social media is impossible to avoid, people consume and interact with hours of media every day.
Most of the content we consume is in the form of images, text, and videos. But, videos are quickly becoming the king of attention-grabbing marketing.
Videos allow you to integrate more content but in a more friendly and bite-size serving. TikTok and other streaming platforms’ popularity is signaling a significant shift to the way we consume content.
The best videos are usually fast-paced and share your brand’s product, story, and call-to-action quickly and efficiently. A strong video is highly memorable and comfortable to watch over and over again.
There are many great examples of how brands use video, including this one from our friends at M1 Finance, a popular fintech startup helping people build and execute long-term stock investment strategies. M1 recently launched its TikTok channel with this video:
@m1_financeNot advice. Investing involves risk, including the risk of loss. Member FINRA/SIPC. #m1finance #investment #finance #fintok #fyp #investing #stock♬ original sound – M1 Finance
TikTok is hot, and many brands are trying to figure out how they can best leverage that platform. TikTok doesn’t make sense for everyone, but you won’t know if a new platform can help you unless you experiment on that platform.
But be careful. Too often, companies create videos that aren’t derived from their written content marketing strategy. This screams inconsistency and distracts from the main message.
Instead, use video to enhance, extend, and reinforce your existing content marketing efforts.
In the M1 video example above, the video is based on an original blog post on how to choose stocks.
Here are some other great examples of storytelling through video.
7. Reduce, reuse, repurpose
2020 forced most brands to shift to a virtual work environment.
It’s not easy to release unique and creative content across all mediums when you don’t have the same tools or spaces that brands traditionally used to create content.
Instead, companies focused on repurposing content they created for one channel (like a podcast, for example) and edited it to publish on another medium (on Twitter or Facebook, for example).
Repurposing content saves time and money. And it creates more consistency across different touchpoints with your target market.
Plus, if you create engaging and high-quality content, it makes sense to share it on many platforms to expand that content’s reach.
Content atomization is one of the best techniques when repurposing content.
Content atomization involves breaking down a long piece of content into smaller, more focused, and strategic components.
Content atomization is useful because it uses resources efficiently, improves relevancy across platforms, and amplifies your content across many channels.
8. Going virtual
2020 radically changed the way people interact. It wasn’t possible to hold in-person conferences, meetings, sales pitches, or do what we all took for granted before the global pandemic.
Many brands pivoted to digital events and meetings. Those experiences proved to be cost-effective and allowed brands to reach more people at a lower cost.
As the world improves in 2021, companies are not in a rush to return to traditional business ways.
We do expect to see more physical conferences and events. But, virtual events will transform the events and experiences industry in 2021 and for years to come.
9. Marketing is getting smarter
Artificial intelligence (AI) is expanding what you can do with marketing campaigns.
Not only is AI expected to influence product design trends, but it’s also expected to push the limit on content creation and automation.
AI will help deliver fast, accurate, and personalized content – directly to your target audience.
AI will also help create content by supplying data, sources, and references.
Smart chatbots powered by AI will help to support your marketing campaigns seamlessly by providing relevant information to your sales and support teams.
If the marketing technologies you’re currently using don’t incorporate AI, reassess and consider whether your current tools can scale over the long-term.
10. Website speed is more important than ever
In mid-2020, Google announced a new ranking factor called “Core Web Vitals,” set to debut in May 2021.
Core Web Vitals are designed to measure how users experience a web page’s speed, responsiveness, and visual stability. They measure the time it takes for the main content to load (ideal is 2.5 seconds or faster), the time it takes for a page to become interactive (less than 100 ms is ideal), and the amount of unexpected layout shift in the visual content of the page (ideal is less than 0.1).
Google believes that when a web page loads quickly, is interactive quickly, and the layout doesn’t shift much, people will generally be happy, improving peoples’ search experience.
Page speed times have always been important. But they’re becoming even more important in 2021.
If you want to compete with established businesses in your target market, you’ll have to focus some of your efforts on ensuring that your website design is optimized and performs well.
Few brands will succeed in 2021 by marketing as they marketed before 2020. The new normal requires brands to adapt, evolve, and rethink what they’re doing.
Keep these ten marketing trends in mind as you’re planning your marketing strategy.
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