By Carla Lottering

As the world gears up to face 2021 and its unprecedented times, the landscape of digital marketing has shifted to accommodate a new reality: one where consumer behaviour is governed by the omnipresence of COVID-19.

Its impact has rippled through a plethora of businesses around the world, causing many marketing divisions to reassess their strategies to better communicate with customers post-pandemic. Digital marketing is no exception: in fact, it is the industry that had to lead the pack in teaching companies how to sell a product to a customer that wanted no physical contact for the foreseeable future.

2021 is the year that eCommerce and online marketplaces will fully blossom into interactive spaces where consumers will be able to fulfill all their economic needs with ease. With the right digital marketing tools, businesses will be able to maximize their online presence whilst staying ahead of the competition, which will most likely increase tenfold.

While many South African industries have successfully implemented digital marketing to stay afloat during 2020, 2021 offers them the opportunity to embrace the latest innovations and techniques to optimize their marketing approaches for a year of, undoubtedly, some twists and turns.

Here are 5 pro tips for digital marketing in 2021:

1. TURN SOCIAL MEDIA INTO YOUR MARKETPLACE.

Traditionally, social media was all about aesthetics; consumers could discover businesses through gorgeous visuals, and be prompted to visit a website to learn more. Now, various platforms are geared towards helping businesses sell their products from the get-go, so take advantage of the tools that Instagram, Whatsapp and Facebook offer.

As consumers have transitioned to spending more time online, businesses can use the data to create a solid marketing plan around retaining social media customers and creating a seamless journey from discovery to purchase on the platform itself, rather than just funneling interested buyers to their website.

2. MAKE YOUR BUSINESS DIGITAL-ONLY

Fully digitised businesses might sound like a strange concept, but with consumers preferring to spend their money online rather than in person, now is the time to consider the ‘couch-customer’ your friend. Virtual consultations, online classes, live-streams, meet-ups and video interviews will allow customers easy access to products and services they love, without having to get up from the couch. A marketing plan for a digitised business might include increased online engagement, targeted ads, social media rebranding and video marketing.

3. ENTER THE AGE OF ‘PERSONAL COMMERCE’

The 2021 customer is informed, and would like their choice of business to be as informed as they are. Enter the age of ‘personal commerce’ by getting to know your previous customers to better service their future needs. Rethinking eCommerce will require businesses to dig deep into the online shopping experience they are creating for their customers – can you anticipate what your customers want, and when they want it?

When you understand the buying cycle of customers, you can create content to reflect their preferences and present it in a meaningful way.

4. VIDEO MARKETING FOR NEW-GENERATION CUSTOMERS

With an increased number of Generation Z customers entering the online space, digital marketing will move towards video – a short, engaging video can create an authentic connection with customers and differentiate your brand in a saturated market.

Some consumers are prone to giving a brand roughly five seconds of their valuable time, so getting your message across might be difficult. Keep in mind your target audience and experiment with product demos, behind-the-scenes snippets and virtual interviews to maximize engagement.

5. USE AUTOMATION TOOLS FOR MORE EFFECTIVE MARKETING

There are a number of automation tools on the rise, and it will change the way businesses approach digital marketing in 2021. Essentially, automation can help businesses reach their intended audience, personalise ads and content, track social media campaigns and view all marketing data as a condensed set of results. It will save marketers when to communicate with customers, what content to adjust and how to extend their online reach.

2021 promises to cement innovative technology into the world of digital marketing, and open the second chapter of what consumer behaviour looks like in a pandemic.

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