As you enter the New Year and plan to run a thriving business for the next uninterrupted 12 months, you may feel tempted to “leave 2020 behind.” This sentiment is not without merit. All year long, the COVID-19 pandemic loomed before us with unwavering tenacity. It changed not only how we interact with each other, be it on the street with strangers or at dinner with family and friends. It has also changed how businesses engage with their customers, promote their products and services, and create enduring brands that people recognize instantly.
Consequently, how consumers approach shopping as a whole also changed remarkably. Even before the pandemic, eCommerce was a massive industry, with sales worldwide climbing nearly to $3.5 trillion in 2019 alone. In May 2020, online sales reached a staggering $82.5 billion. Even compared to the bustling holiday seasons during “normal” years, these numbers are impressive. As Adobe’s Digital Manager Vivek Pandya explained to one Forbes reporter: “According to our data, it would’ve taken between 4 and 6 years to get to the levels that we saw in May if the growth continued at the same levels it was at for the past few years.”
Needless to say, even though most might prefer to forget 2020 completely, we cannot deny that it has completely transformed how we do business. With that in mind, we will use this article to highlight five trends that you should watch out for and capitalize on this year:
Videos have become so much more than a mindless way for people to pass time while they wait at the doctor’s office or commute to work. They have become an influential marketing tool. According to the American Marketing Association, businesses that emphasize video marketing tend to enjoy 66% more leads than those that choose to forgo this medium.
What’s more, if you have a specific product you want to highlight, consider capturing it in action from every angle with a compelling video. Why? The American Marketing Association has also found that a product video can boost sales by 144%. This is especially true in the age of COVID-19, when many people likely want to avoid spending too much time in brick-and-mortar stores touching items that have been touched by countless others and trying on clothing that has likely been tried on by many. A product video allows you to show off awesome gadgets, stylish outfits, and other amazing products in all of their glory, while customers watch from the comfort of their own homes.
All that said, video marketing can be used for so much more than promoting products; you can even use video to show your audience who you are as a company. Have a few employees get on screen and share a bit about what they do to keep the business running, especially during a global pandemic. You might even consider approaching it as an interview by having them answer a few specific questions. For example: what is your position? What does your typical day look like? What has been your role in helping The Company weather the COVID-19 pandemic?
Want to get even more up close and personal? If you and your team are still working remotely, you can work together to create a video in which everyone shows off their “home offices.” Invite viewers behind the scenes to see how you operate virtually. You may even introduce them to the disgruntled cat lounging on the desk, playing the role of an apathetic coworker.
Whatever you choose, don’t be afraid to have fun with it! Remember, the goal is not just to sell something; it’s to bring your brand to life, on the screen.
Alexa, play 70s music.
Alexa, how far away is the Sun?
Alexa, add [item] to my cart.
In homes across the country, those unassuming commands have become rather commonplace. For many, asking Alexa to check up on the status of an order or to search for a specific product is as routine as telling the kids to clean their rooms or for the dog to get off the couch. In fact, roughly 25% of all American households employ the help of a smart speaker like Alexa.
Thanks to the pandemic, Alexa has become more useful than ever. When consumers can’t leave their homes due to local lockdowns and restrictions, they have no choice but to send Alexa across the web to do their errands for them. In 2021, then, you will want to take voice search into account when reviewing your SEO strategy. Most notably, you will want to make sure that you format and structure content in such a way that it can be readily detected by text to speech features. Otherwise, you may be missing out on some valuable customers.
Early in 2020, when the pandemic was in its early phases, many people watched with dread as events they had been anticipating for weeks or even months were cancelled. Some were promptly rescheduled, while others remained in limbo with uncertain futures. Many more took on a new form, free from anxious crowds and sprawling venues: the now widespread virtual event.
Perhaps at first, some disappointed concert goers and convention frequenters begrudgingly accepted the transition from rowdy live event to a more intimate virtual one. Now, however, both consumers and marketers alike have come to appreciate just how convenient virtual events are. For one, they are incredibly cost effective. Gone are the days where event planners had to spend months to years in advance securing the perfect venue and ensuring that they adhered to the budget set for them by their organizations. Similarly, consumers don’t have to spend precious time trying to secure exclusive tickets or passes to events and then hope that they can travel to the venue with ease. With virtual events, all they have to do is log in and spectate.
Prior to COVID-19, event marketers’ enthusiasm for virtual events was tepid at best. According to the 2020 Event Outlook Report, only 24% of event marketers expressed any serious interest in pursuing virtual events. Today, that percentage hovers above 90%.
Keep in mind: When the world was idling in lockdown, the web buzzed. On Facebook, live viewings increased by an impressive 50%. Things on Instagram were looking even rosier with a 70% increase. Of course, we can’t forget TikTok, which continues to capture the attention of many audiences across many different social media platforms in 2021.
What does that mean for your business? Live events are an easy way to connect with your audience, especially those who might not be able to attend an in-person convention. If you don’t have much experience with live events, you can start off simple, perhaps by devoting an hour per week on a specified date to answering any questions live that your customers may have. Once you gain a larger audience and have a better command of your goals, you can consider more extensive events like game nights, webinars, or live giveaways. The good news is that you may not even have to fully rule out in-person events. As we continue to navigate our world alongside COVID-19, many companies have decided to try hybrid events--that is, events with both virtual and in-person components.
As you likely know, customers appreciate when they feel heard. Beyond that, though, they like to feel seen. This is especially the case during a pandemic, when more people are stuck at home with more freetime on their hands. Some might use that extra time to create content that highlights things that are important to them–say, a video in which they try out a new kitchen gadget or carefully staged photos that show off their nifty new bookshelves.
The truth is, people like to see products and services in action–not just from the company itself, however. While polished product videos have their place, user-generated content tends to resonate more directly with consumers. People like when they scroll through their feed on social media and see unique products serving their purpose in living rooms that look like their living room, bedrooms with the warmth and feel of their bedroom. In fact, a report from Stackla found that nearly 80% of consumers are influenced to make purchases by user-generated content.
You can increase the volume of user-generated content concerning your products by actively encouraging it on social media. For example, if you specialize in home decor, you can tell your followers that you want to see their quarantine style with their favorite products on display. Your loyal customers will certainly be happy to show off, and your audience will be excited to see others’ creativity!
As a business owner, you may think that your only duty to your customers is to provide high-quality products or services that they want to buy. Indeed, that is a significant part of doing business. That said, many consumers want more than practical brands; they want mindful ones. In fact, a recent report found that a staggering 71% of consumers preferred to shop with companies whose values best aligned with their own.
In the age of the COVID-19 pandemic, this is more true than ever. Most companies seem to be aware of it; you likely saw it yourself not long after COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. Suddenly, every corporation joined in on a common refrain: “We are all in this together, in these trying times.”
You should note, however, that simply telling your customers that you know that times are tough is only part of the equation. You must show them that you understand their most pressing concerns and that you have a solution for addressing them. Consider: what role do you serve? What do you have to offer? How can your business better your industry and the world as a whole as show your audience that you take it seriously?
Beyond that, think of a cause that means a lot to you. Is there a way that you can meaningfully contribute to this cause? For example, maybe you care deeply about ensuring that essential workers have the equipment they need to work safely and efficiently. Maybe you decide to donate a certain percentage of your sales to a trusted charity that specializes in getting workers adequate PPE.
Consumers take notice when businesses show that they genuinely care. In fact, one report found that approximately 70% of all purchasing decisions made in the U.S. are influenced by companies’ charitable gestures.
So, make that difference and don’t be shy about it. Above all else, be sincere!
2020 might have been a turbulent year filled with uncertainty and disappointment, but that does not mean that we should forget it completely. In fact, sometimes we learn the most in our darkest moments. By keeping in mind what worked in a radically different world in 2020, you can set your business up for success in 2021.
Need guidance? We at APS Marketing Group are happy to help. Give us a call today!