After a whirlwind of a year called 2020, predicting trends and preparing a forecast for the year to come may seem redundant. Who would have thought that one virus would cause the entire world to come to a standstill, disrupting areas of the economy, healthcare, education, employment – impacting billions of lives across the globe?

Many companies across various industries have had to radically pivot, restrategise, reinvent and reskill their workforce to keep themselves relevant in the current climate and in the foreseeable post-Covid world.

What we witnessed was a massive leap to digital content marketing strategies, search engine marketing and optimisation, and technologically-driven strategies. Digitalisation plans were accelerated; communication channels reimagined; and consumer preferences evolved.

While some brands may still be grappling with the breakneck speed of change, 2021 will bring about its own marketing landscape. Spanning social media marketing to influencer marketing to digital marketing to events marketing, we highlight the top marketing trends for 2021 that all brands and marketeers need to be aware of. While everything remains in flux, we have come this far to know that empathy mixed with a little ingenuity, and a whole lot of heart, will get us through 2021. Here are seven more tips which may just be that extra boost you need for your business

1.Create a Consistent Customer Experience Online and Offline

Marketers have their work cut out for them to attract the attention of customers and gain their trust, and to reframe The Why underlying the buy so that it’s relevant.

According to MarketingProfs, Nancy Harhut, Chief Creative Officer, HBT Marketing, says “Old segmentations, strategies, and selling points may fail because customers now have different mindsets and motivations; however, humans are still hardwired to rely on decision defaults. And that means it’s even more important to understand human behavior and the decision-making shortcuts people use, so that marketers can increase their likelihood of success.”

Brands should use this framework to strategise their buyer experience online and offline. Use social media to diversify online activity and connect with more engaged users, create chatbots and quick-response channels to help your customers round the clock, and make online purchases and e-commerce platforms seamless and user-friendly.

2. Demonstrate Empathy

“As businesses face one of the most challenging climates in history, brands will need to demonstrate empathy in dealing with strained customers—working to accomplish their own lofty goals with limited budgets—in a challenging environment of their own. And when the issue is empathy, it’s much easier to talk the talk than it is to walk the walk. It’s going to require a lot of listening and understanding. Switch off the automated responses and focus on being even more human in 2021,” Nick Westergaard of Brand Driven Digital says.

3. Innovative and Ingenuous Brand Collaboration

Sometimes it takes a crisis find the true core of your business. Many businesses have done that during this time and innovated to keep their core essence alive – by finding the right people to do so with. This is apparent in especially harder-hit industries such as retail and F&B. We’ve seen brand collaborations, new product launches, and return of brands in the market in a timely manner.

4. Human-centric Initiatives to Strengthen Customer Engagement

We’ve been disconnected from human-to-human interaction in 2020, and depersonalised automation has been building that disconnection for years. Businesses that flourish in 2021 will be the ones focusing on using their systems, automation, and processes to personalise and foster a human connection. Customers are craving deep personalisation now more than ever, and those businesses that find a way to connect deeper with their audiences are going to be the ones that win.

5. Use of Augmented Reality in Digital Engagement

2021 will be the year that digital growth experts have to learn and incorporate AR into their digital engagement channels. Other outlets include augmented shopping experiences where customers can model, sample products and try out a wide range of home-related products without needing to interact directly with them. Creating a novel and original augmented reality experience can create a significant buzz for  brand if executed well.

6. Full-time Influencers for Brands

After a tough year of disruption, a lot of influencers are ready for a steady paycheck. Couple that with years of high agency fees and flat results, and a lot of brands are ready to try a new approach to social media. Put those together, and in 2021 you may see smart brands making full-time offers to influencers. And some influencers will welcome the opportunity. The brand that can land one of these highly visible subject-matter experts gets instant reach into a large, engaged audience.

7. Informed buyers want to buy from informed brands

“This means evolving even beyond the age of personalisation and entering an age of personal commerce, where consumers co-curate their experiences with brands to reflect their preferences at any given moment. They expect for brands to understand what they’ve bought in the past and help them to determine what they should buy next, based on all the data that they’ve consciously shared with them by engaging with their sites and channels. This is not just a matter of brands meeting consumers where they are; it’s about brands telling them what they want, when they want it. If brands and retailers are going to continue collecting first-party shopper data, they will need to begin actioning it in meaningful ways, predicting what their shoppers want to see next, and understanding where shoppers are in their buying cycles to predict when they’ll want to buy.”

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