It’s December. It’s nearly the end of another year. Let’s look forward and go through what I believe are a handful of digital marketing trends we could be seeing in 2021.
The continuation of digital transformation
The digital transformation had been touted to happen over the next few years with many businesses having five or ten-year plans in place to go digital. However, Coronavirus has led to businesses needing to accelerate this process with this digital transformation continuing to take place into 2021.
Businesses will continue to transfer their services to a digital world in this ever-changing landscape to keep up with existing consumer demand but to also tap into uncharted revenue streams.
Forbes reports that 48% of organisations believe their revenue will be negatively impacted if they don’t transform their business into a digital platform within the next 12 months – which is key for survival in the year ahead.
Just this week, the Arcadia Group, which owns Topshop and Burtons fell into insolvency due to being unable to compete with the online-only clothing brands such as ASOS and Pretty Little Thing.
This need to digitise to survive will also lead to the availability of more accessible 5G services in order to keep businesses online as we depend more and more on mobiles, tablets and laptops in our day-to-day working environments.
With the majority of new models being made to handle 5G, if you’re looking to get a new Huawei or Samsung tablet or mobile device in 2021, it’ll surely come with 5G as standard. The need to connect on a faster and more responsive online highway has been discussed for years and finally, 2021 will be the year that it comes to fruition.
Brands must adapt to this new reality in order to survive in this digital world otherwise they must assume the worst. The IDC report that only 34% of companies will have fully adapted to a digital transformation whereas the State of Digital Business Report showed that 47% of companies haven’t started their digital transformation.
Customers expect to receive information relevant to them, at a time that suits them, on a device of their choosing.
They are the ones driving this transformation.
Artificial intelligence: chatbots
Many view AI as a trend of the future, however, you may not realise that AI already affects certain aspects of our lives.
Whether it’s displaying what content we see on our social media platforms to providing us with suggested movies on our streaming services.
For 2021, we’re more likely to see conversational chatbots at the forefront of the customer journey.
Whereas dated and current chatbot experiences are more stoic, premeditated and lack that human touch, the chatbot experience for 2021 will look to become more personalised for each user, offering a more unique experience. This includes tailored products, the ability to process more advanced queries and developing an element of human feel.
As businesses look to optimise their customer journey, the increase in organisational use of a more advanced chatbot could, rather sadly also be linked to the increase in job losses caused by the Coronavirus with businesses looking to save on costs in a bid to direct consumers to their required destination.
The return of user generated content
User generated content (or UGC) has seen a resounding resurgence in use in 2020 which I’m anticipating to continue into 2021.
This has mainly been down to the fact that the way campaigns are put together has had to change. Brands do not want to be seen as insensitive by spending thousands of pounds on large scale campaigns, or by flouting the regulations regarding social distancing, which means UGC is the ideal way forward.
UGC allows brands to connect on a personal level with their target audience bringing a certain human level of interaction to their message, but also providing the opportunity to bring communities together during uncertain times.
It’s seen as the perfect marketing messaging to ensure more engagement with users with more opportunities for shares which ultimately builds trust in a brand.
Stats for the year also back up this way of thinking with ads promoting user generated content receiving 4-times higher clickthrough rates and a 50% increase in paid adverts when compared to standard ads. (TintUp)
During a time of crisis, more people are directly searching for uplifting, often inspiring and relatable content, and I think we’ll see more brands using UGC to depict the world’s feeling of coming out of 12+ months of uncertainty.
In 2021, expect to see some interesting changes in relation to how businesses interact and ultimately communicate with their customers.
I anticipate many businesses will be thinking of how best to connect with consumers on a more personal and human level whilst simultaneously looking to digitise and optimise their business operations in what is no doubt the toughest economic landscape we’ve seen in decades.
- Author Thom Cakebread - Digital Marketing Manager
- Date 1 December 2020