Hottest marketing trends in 2021

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Remember 2020 and the macroeconomic crisis it led to?

Yeah, I wanna say that I don’t either. It was a brutal ride for many businesses, especially for small business owners. Even those that continue to run today had to make some sacrifices along the way just to make it to 2021.

But the downturn (and everything else that came with it) from 2020 isn’t something that we should forget. We mustn’t pretend it didn’t happen or that we’re no longer affected by it just because it wasn’t pleasant.

So now that it’s a brand new year, we have to move on and forward for sure, but we also need to look back at 2020 and see it as a learning experience and an opportunity to grow.

During this recovery period, it’s crucial that small business owners take every step they can to turn the tide and make things work in their favour.

This means reassessing your marketing strategy and reviewing the trends that are emerging in 2021.

Digital marketing has become a lot more visible, given how we’ve all mostly been staying at home. With no other means to constantly connect to the outside world, it’s no surprise that everyone’s been flooding the internet and social media day in and day out.

By learning and applying new marketing initiatives that will be “in” for the foreseeable future, you’re opening up new customer streams and boosting your chances for success.

And even if things go back to the way they used to be (i.e. not having to wear masks outdoors, freedom to travel around the world, etc.), online marketing has in many ways become the “new normal” for marketing. So with its convenience and reach, I doubt any sane marketer will think it’s a good idea to turn back.

If anything, I believe this shift to digital is irreversible.

So it’s time to keep pace with the changes.

5 marketing trends for small business 2021

It takes a lot to get back in the game after the storm that was 2020.

So to help you keep up with the new trends and get ahead of your competitors, here are five marketing trends you need to know in 2021:

1. Build a community

To gain more customers, it’s crucial that you first earn their trust.

Customer trust is earned not only through product reviews, but also through their impression of you as the seller.

The human element is always important in business. Customers want to buy from businesses that can empathise with their situation and are sincerely willing to help them by providing real solutions. 

To make customers experience this human element more, they need to feel like your business is a safe place. One way to do that is to build an online community where you can engage with your customers directly, and they can also talk to one another about their ideas, problems, and shared experiences.

Many business owners start their own online communities on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and other online forums. There, you or your customers can start discussion boards and allow the members to engage with each other.

Having a positive community will attract loyal customers and fans who will speak highly of your brand, products, or services publicly.

2. Virtual events/forums

Most of us prefer having forums and events face-to-face, right? That way we get the full experience of being in the company of other people.

But we couldn’t do that at all last year because of restrictions. So what’s the next best thing? Holding these events online.

Back in 2019, most of us didn’t even know what Zoom was, let alone how to use it. Fast-forward to today, and everyone - from students to working adults - have this app on their devices.

It took awhile for many to get used to the video conference environment, but once they did, the benefits of holding events online became hard to ignore:

  • It saves you money - If you’ve ever tried planning for an event, you know how expensive it can be. From the venue and catering to production equipment and decor - it can be a nightmare for business owners trying to save more money. Hold the event online, and you don’t need to think of any of those. That, and without those expenses, you might have the extra budget to incentivise attendees.
  • It saves you time - No time wasted on travel, and significantly less time spent on logistics. And, you don’t have to wait an hour just to have the seats filled up (we all know how starting events in a half-empty room is practically taboo).
  • You’ll have significantly more reach - Want to invite people from across the globe? No problem. Holding events online can make that possible. 
  • More attendees - With schedules being more flexible, it’s less likely for people to not show up for the events. And with the event being online, they don’t really have much of an excuse to not show up.
  • Measuring results is easier. Holding events online makes data much easier to collect (e.g. time people log in and out), and thus, seeing whether it was a success or not is easier.

3. Artificial Intelligence

AI has been changing the game in recent years. Bots are now taking over a lot of tasks previously done by humans.

And with its growing popularity, more and more businesses are considering implementing these in their own organisations.

Here are the top reasons why businesses are interested in adopting AI in their systems:

I know this seems contradictory to what I said about the importance of the human element in business - but it isn’t.

These smart bots take away the burden of menial, repetitive tasks from staff so that they can do more productive work to grow the business, which requires more strategising and innovation.

Some examples of rising AI technologies include chatbots, content creation, email personalisation, e-commerce transactions, and product recommendations.

4. Personalisation

As I mentioned earlier, forming a connection with each customer (or potential customer) is vital in gaining their trust.

Mass marketing doesn’t work anymore, and for good reason: people hate feeling like they’re just a number. In fact, according to a recent survey, 63% of consumers are highly annoyed with generic advertising blasts and 80% are more likely to do business with a company that offers personalised experiences. 

Common examples of companies that do personalised marketing are Netflix and YouTube, which highlights recommendations based on what you’ve already watched in the past.

You can personalise your own brand marketing by using segmentation which involves studying your customers demographic (e.g. their age range, interests, history, and location) through their social media, their past purchases in your website, or through your customer avatar.

By knowing both your actual and target demographic, you can use dynamic content or customised recommendations to be able to connect with your audience on a more personal level.

A more personal approach will allow your customers to feel that you’re speaking directly to them, rather than just to a general audience. 

5. Multichannel micro-influencer marketing

Micro-influencers are influencers with around 10,000 to 100,000 followers across various channels like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok. They exist in every industry so you can find one without searching too hard.

Working with micro-influencers can boost your reach and get you more customers because their followers will actually be interested in your advertised product or service, given how the influencer is within your industry. 

You won’t have this advantage with macro-influencers, since they have followers from multiple domains and therefore don’t directly address your target market.

And aside from this, you’re more likely to be able to work with a micro-influencer, since they endorse even small businesses. The same can rarely be said about macro-influencers.

In this era where everything is going digital, it’s crucial that small business owners keep up with the pace and follow these trends to have an advantage over your competitors.

Especially now where many businesses are slowly recovering from last year’s unfortunate economic downturn, you must prioritise finding new marketing strategies to adopt so you can continue to widen your reach, gain more loyal customers, and eventually scale as a business.

If you want to know more about the hottest marketing trends this year, let’s have a chat.

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