With the onslaught of the global coronavirus pandemic, 2020 was an undoubtedly a tough year for marketing professionals. However, 2021 is proving to be an excellent time for marketers to be successful in their efforts. Through new innovations and the rollout of several unprecedented marketing opportunities such as voice search, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality – the current opportunities are truly endless for marketers.
Although there is plenty of literature out there detailing the latest marketing trends and predictions for 2021, it is important that marketers keep their expectations in check and remain practical when it comes to the actual rollout of new and unprecedented marketing activities.
Embracing Virtual Reality
The virtual reality (VR) industry is truly booming. With a value of over $7.9 billion in 2018 to a predicted valued of $53.6 billion in 2025, ignoring this potent marketing tool could be a risky move.
VR uses computer technology to create simulated, 3D worlds made real by wearing a head-mounted device for display.
Providing an immersive, personalised, 360-degree interactive experience for users, VR allows for engaging storytelling, enabling customers to connect with a brand with an intensity that is virtually impossible to achieve through traditional media.
The expectation here is possibly creating a truly innovative experience for your customers that will set you apart from your competitors. However, the reality is that developing VR technology is a costly exercise and would only be worth it if the consumers you are targeting are able to afford expensive headsets in order to experience VR.
Adopting Artificial Intelligence
As marketing professionals, adopting and artificial intelligence-first approach is hugely beneficial if you are looking to provide a super sophisticated, targeted experience to your customers.
Artificial intelligence (AI) can dissect and analyse demographic and behavioural data far more effectively than humans can using a manual approach. AI can study every detail of the personal preference of your customers including their profile information, purchase behaviour, demographic information and even their browsing history. This allows brands to provide an experience specifically customised to each user.
The expectation is that this highly tailored approach towards creating experiences for customers would garner a larger interest in your brand. The reality is, however, that at least 41% of marketers believe that they are not particularly skilled at segmentation for digital experiences. The trick is to educate yourself as much as possible to be able to fully tap into this trend.
Utilising Voice Search
When it comes to the advent of voice search, being on the first page of a search or even being one of the first five listing is no longer enough. With voice search, the top spot is the most coveted. This is because when consumers use voice search, they phrase questions differently to how they would type them into a search engine. With text searches, users tend to scroll through the various listings on a search results page. When it comes to voice search, the user is more inclined to go with the first result that pops up as it generally fully answers the question.
The expectation is that the rise of voice search puts your brand in a better position to be discovered on the web. The reality is that without the inclusion of special SEO in your website content that relate to what people are more likely to ask Siri, Alexa, or Cortana, voice search is not going to benefit your brand.
Hiring Virtual Marketing Companies
Another trend that is seeing massive adoption in 2021 is the hiring of a virtual marketing company to either handle every aspect of your marketing efforts or to take over certain specialised aspects of your overall strategy.
Hiring a virtual marketing company not only saves you time and money (these companies are generally able to offer packages for a lot less than a traditional marketing agency) you also have access to a broad range of specialist skills that you might need assistance with. Most virtual marketing companies will not lock you into a long-term contract like bigger agencies would, which gives you agility to scale your business as your needs change.
The expectation when working with a virtual marketing company could be that you would like to see massive bang for your buck. The reality is, however, that most virtual marketing companies cannot guarantee exact results or ROI immediately.
Personalised and Conversational Marketing
A trend that has been on the marketing horizon for quite some time is personalised marketing through conversation. However, in 2021 it is now far easier to make conversational marketing a reality.
Perhaps the most recent development in this trend is that brands are recognising that they can no longer just talk about themselves and hard sell their products or services. Many brands are now discovering that effective marketing involves listening to their customers and offering assistance in resolving their problems or pain points, individually. Through this dialogue, marketers can nurture the customer’s journey through the marketing funnel by providing a digital experience that is unique to each individual.
The expectation when it comes to personalised and conversational marketing is that consumers will love interacting with brands so much, through the personal journey being provided to them, that they will fall in love with the brand and make a purchase. And, in this case, the reality pretty much mirrors the expectation. Why? Because psychology proves that when customers feel like they are being cared for individually, they are more likely to remain loyal to the brand that made them feel that way.
Although these trends are a sure-fire way to boost your marketing strategy in 2021, it is important to measure up the difference between what you may expect the results to be and what they realistically will be. Explore, experiment and find out what works for you and your brand.