One year ends and another begins… Last year was the year that no one could have expected and 2021 is already shaping up to be equally unpredictable.
Although American businesses of all sizes have experienced challenges caused by the pandemic, startups and SMEs have been the most severely affected. Research from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index reveals that 50% of small businesses are concerned that they’ll have to permanently close in the next year if the economic climate doesn’t drastically change.
In 2021, the world as we know it is likely to transition to the next normal, and from disruption comes evolution. Already, businesses have been forced to pivot their marketing strategies to reflect changing consumer behaviors, and for many businesses, digital marketing has become critical to success.
To support SMEs achieve their business goals in 2021, we explore the top marketing strategies to adopt this year.
Get to know your audience
Identifying and understanding your audience has always been central to any SME marketing strategy and this continues to hold true, particularly in a post-pandemic world. Businesses have endured epic market fragmentation, and the pandemic has altered the touchpoints businesses have with their audience.
The better you know your audience in this new stage of normal, the more powerful your digital marketing efforts will be. Simply put, without understanding the audience, it’s impossible to know what marketing strategies to implement or which channels to target consumers through in the year ahead.
Digital marketing is powered by analytics, and therefore undertaking some localized market research to learn more about your customers, their likes, dislikes and what they expect from the business will set you up for market success in 2021. Market research allows a more comprehensive appreciation of the consumer market that helps to inform trends and determine strategic priorities for SMEs.
Explore omnichannel growth
Although omnichannel growth sounds like a buzzword, it actually reveals the evolution of consumer behavior and is changing the face of the e-commerce landscape. Consumers are increasingly expecting a seamless experience from the brands they’re interacting with. As a result, the focus on an omnichannel marketing strategy to enhance user experience and business outcomes is set to dominate in 2021 and should be front of mind for all SMEs.
To deliver this, businesses and brands should focus on integrated marketing efforts, encompassing all channels to guarantee a smooth customer experience. The curve of technology leans towards convenience, and as a result the future of business success is a harmonious relationship between brands and consumers.
Incorporate shoppable content
Consumers live online and they shop online too, with a whopping 60% of people saying they discover new products on Instagram. As a result, the social commerce trend is predicted to boom in 2021, whereby user engagement on social media is converted directly into sales.
Similarly, gone are the days of infomercials on daytime television. Amazon and NBCUniversal are reinvigorating the outdated market of shoppable TV to transform the way we consume and interact with brands. Allowing customers to immediately purchase products seen on their favorite television programs, shoppable TV is pandemic proof as it allows consumers to shop from the comfort of their living rooms.
For SMEs and retailers seeking to unlock consumer shopping desires and tap into this emerging trend, the key lies in developing a clear social shoppable strategy with an engaging and dynamic call to action so that consumers can reap the benefits.
Integrate innovative tech
With many shifting online, the pandemic has acted as an equaliser, allowing SMEs to take on bigger competitors. Therefore,now is a vital time for SMEs to gain a competitive edge by adopting smart technology such as artificial intelligence (AI).
Not only is AI technology advancing in speed and processing power, it’s application is becoming more streamlined, too. Research from Quantcast and Forbes Insights revealed that of 500 marketers, 52 per cent had noticed a growth in sales, while 51 per cent had noticed a growth in customer retention since introducing AI capabilities to their ecosystem.
There’s opportunities for businesses to embed AI into their digital marketing strategy in a number of ways. For example, AI can be used to support and enhance several traditional business practises, including social management, conversational marketing, and remarketing. As such, AI enables businesses a greater insight into audiences and traffic and can allow businesses to deliver more personalized digital experiences.
With the market in a constant state of flux, SMEs must get their digital ducks in a row for success in 2021. The unprecedented events of last year have spurred an extreme evolution in consumer behavior and digitisation. As we settle into 2021 and this next stage of normal, small businesses should get to know their customers, explore omnichannel growth, integrate innovative tech and incorporate shoppable TV to their digital marketing strategy to build a strong foundation that will lead to success this year and in those to come.