It’s a given that just about everyone in business has experienced some level of change due to the pandemic, with many companies quickly pivoting to keep revenue coming in while strategically cutting down on overhead. Even as we prepare to plunge into spring, many brands have permanently adopted the changes they’ve made after realizing how it’s improved their companies as a whole.
Despite what good might have come from 2020, everyone is waiving good riddance to last year and setting high hopes on this year. From a digital marketing and tech standpoint, what does 2021 bring?
We’ve been a part of some pretty cool trends, but have also done research on others that stood out to us! Here they are!
1. Many Digital Pivots are Now Permanent
During the mass shutdowns across the globe, businesses were forced to learn to swim or drown. From restaurants, gyms, small retail shops, and more, practically every business quickly learned how to offer their products and services digitally to stay afloat. Whether it meant incorporating an online order system, eCommerce integration, chatbot, or Zoom meetings, companies are realizing that their customers have enjoyed the digital add-ons and will continue to keep their digital changes permanently.
We’ve personally seen such digital pivots boost sales for companies like Carolina Mailboxes. As a way to simplify the shopping experience and cut down on calls midway last year, we integrated Tidio chat with their online store. This simple integration helped boost online sales by approximately 20 percent. Similarly, service-based brands have invested in complex custom software that not only simplifies how they book events and take payments, but have also streamlined the way their business works, cutting down significantly on administrative hours for the long-haul.
It’s these positive digital pivots that will certainly stay this year and will push competitive brands to follow suit to stay ahead of the game.
2. A/B Testing Quickly Becomes a Thing of the Past
If there’s anything last year brought to the tech and marketing world, it’s been more time to enhance technology and increased creativity when it comes to digital marketing.
When it comes to marketing, A/B testing has always been a key element in successfully launching and optimizing a campaign so that it’s a success. Human guesswork has long been a part of deciding when and where to deliver a message, not to mention the labor that goes into creating the message in the first place. Until now.
Since Google’s initial 2018 enhancements to machine learning as it relates to responsive search ads, technology companies continue to release advanced AI that handles the A/B testing for us. Without focusing on any one brand offering such AI, they all claim to deliver results with fewer visitors or traffic than traditional A/B testing solutions. Not to mention that they could potentially cut out thousands of dollars in “testing” ad spend, and reduce human hours that were traditionally spent on analyzing and optimizing during an A/B testing period.
3. Apple Continues to Release Privacy Updates, Hindering Digital Ads
If you haven’t heard the extremely entertaining controversy between Apple and digital advertising platforms like Facebook and Google toward the tail end of last year, I’ll fill you in now. Apple announced that they intend to push a new privacy update to their IOS 14 users that will prevent advertisers from tracking them — they’ve already pushed several privacy updates.
Currently, applications like Facebook use a tracking pixel that collects users’ data, helping businesses learn more about their audience for marketing purposes. With the new update, however, IOS users will be met with a notification that allows them to opt-out of such tracking.
“...App Tracking Transparency will require apps to get the user’s permission before tracking their data across apps or websites owned by other companies. Under Settings, users will be able to see which apps have requested permission to track and make changes as they see fit,” according to Apple.
Digital marketing professionals have a few recommendations from Facebook that can help them optimize their campaigns for better performance, but they will still be out of luck tracking Apple users if permissions aren’t granted. On the other side of the coin, Apple users are overall excited to have more say in what information they share online.
If you need to tweak your Facebook campaign, check here.
4. Digital Collaboration Keeps Growing
With businesses forced to work remotely during pandemic shutdowns across the globe, many are realizing just how much easier it is to collaborate through chat, video, and voice. Some data indicates that collaborating with team members digitally actually boosted productivity and increased collaboration by 30 percent. Another study conducted by Prodoscore revealed that productivity has gone up around 47 percent since the start of the pandemic in March of 2020.
Many companies that were once afraid to go digital are now realizing that it’s improved how well their employees work. Additionally, they’ve experienced firsthand how new technologies such as project management systems like Asana and video conferencing software like Zoom can cut down on the need for long meetings and even reduce overhead for office space.
5. Live Video Usage is Up and Here to Stay
It should come as no surprise that the use of live video streaming is at an all-time high due to widespread shutdowns. In 2021, you can expect that live video streaming will continue and perhaps increase even more as many have realized it has simplified how their teams communicate, and digital marketers and content creators are realizing it’s enriching their content strategy in unexpected ways.
“According to a roundup of data from Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, and Mixer by Daily Esports, there has been a 99% year-over-year growth in hours of live stream video watched between April 2019 and April 2020. Given that this data was compiled just a month after nationwide school and workplace closings went into effect, it’s safe to assume this growth has steadily increased throughout 2020” (2playmedia.com).
Shutdowns pushed brands to create virtual events, and conferences, and seminars pivoted quickly to streaming live on YouTube and other live streaming platforms. Additionally, many small YouTubers tested out live streaming on their channels last year, only to see them grow exponentially. An example of this is the channel Code Pioneers, a coding channel that only had approximately 1,000 subscribers in the fall of last year, but shot up to over 24,000 subscribers after introducing live streaming to his channel.
There's additional research that sheds some light on how the YouTube platform ranks videos, with newness and relevance playing a key factor. Since live videos are happening now, it’s safe to say that YouTube has favored live video in search results. There’s nothing necessarily saying that live videos will show up more than a pre-recorded video, but it’s safe to say that a mixture of live and pre-recorded content isn’t going to hurt your channel!
Regardless of your brand, you can expect video to continue trending upward, so you might want to think about incorporating video content into your marketing strategy along with blogs this year.
If you’re needing help with your website, software, or marketing this year, feel free to plan your project here.
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