Here at the end of 2020, the dominant story of the year remains COVID-19. Beyond the impact on our health and economy, the pandemic has accelerated a number of technological and lifestyle trends for all of us. Developments that may have taken years to come to fruition arrived in a matter of days as employees began to work remotely, retailers shifted to delivery, and marketers grappled with understanding consumer needs—and how to reach them.
One key trend we believe is here to stay is the transition to a digital world. Not only are people consuming information through primarily digital channels, but digital vehicles represent how many of us work, live, and even connect with those we love. From Zoom or Teams staff meetings, to mobile or tablet business operations, to online grocery deliveries, we have all learned to manage our lives via a phone and an internet connection.
As marketers, our job is to understand people—the way they live, what they want, and how they interact with the world. In this new digital landscape, understanding people means understanding technology. Here are a few trends we have seen in marketing in this new frontier.
Mobile marketing is nothing new, but as the science fiction writer William Gibson once said, “The future is already here. It’s just not evenly distributed.” Digital natives (millennials and zoomers) have been mobile-first consumers for a decade, but thanks to remote work this year, office workers of all generations cut the cord on desktops and are now all in on mobile.
What this means for marketers is that we must understand that when consumers log on to check the news or search for something of interest, they’re likely using a mobile browser. Websites must be optimized for mobile use. In fact, Google puts mobile speed and usability as a top priority, and search rankings are negatively affected if the mobile site does not meet certain standards.
For instance, if you visit a business website, how easy is it to navigate from the home page to a successful interaction with the business? Interactions include filling out forms, clicking calls to action, purchasing items for checkout, and more. We live in a world of instant gratification, so web development demands a fast, frictionless experience for the user.
Over the years, marketers have tried all sorts of gimmicks to game search results, but consider this: How do you feel as a consumer if a company over-promises and under-delivers? What happens if you search for something, and the top results are all SEO style with no underlying substance?
One key everlasting principal of marketing is that “content is king.” People are hungry for helpful, interesting, credible information, and if you can deliver that type of content in an authentic way, readers will take notice. If you are marketing a brand, your best bet is to develop an honest voice and deliver valuable content. You may see a slow build, but cream always rises to the top.
Google developers understand this principal, and the search engine prioritizes quality content over keyword stuffing, irrelevant content, and other bad tactics. Last October, the company rolled out the BERT algorithm update, which analyzes websites for readability—all in an effort to deliver the best, most useful content to readers.
As marketers, we strive to help you develop the right voice and build content that will rise to the top of search results.
The digital world has changed consumers, but it has also changed our work as marketers. Salespeople have long understood that it takes multiple points of contact to earn business. The more complicated or expensive the offering—such as a house or a retirement community—the longer the sales cycle will be. It takes time for your brand to cut through the noise, connect with a consumer, become “sticky,” and ultimately earn their trust.
We use digital technology to help with this process. Automated marketing allows us to earn a prospect’s trust through multiple points of contact, offering information and incentives that move the prospect from lead to customer. The key with automated marketing is to remember the trend above—content is king—so when you deploy a system that feeds quality content to your prospect, you build a connection with them over time.
As we look toward 2021, we are optimistic about the future. With any luck, the vaccine will help us get the pandemic under control, but we believe many of the trends we have seen are here to stay. The pandemic was an accelerant, and ushered in a new world of digital marketing—and with it, digital consumer behavior.
We anticipate the marketing of the foreseeable future will be targeting busy consumers who are constantly seeking out volumes of information at their fingertips. Cutting through the noise requires credibility, constant communication, and a mindset of always looking for the next new thing, from virtual seminars to automated delivery.
We are ready for the new year and the new frontier.