According to RetailDive, 87% of buyers start their product research online. That is significant market size and businesses need to be visible to online consumers. In this article, we get a better understanding of how digital marketing has evolved in 2021 and look at 3 website marketing strategies for small businesses.
Digital marketing trends in 2021
1. Importance of influencer content and live streams
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a large number of people were staying at home. With people unable to attend live events or go out, there was an increased demand for content. One type of content that saw significant growth was live streams. Those who are starved for social interaction flocked to this video content format. In the year 2020, live streaming platform Twitch crossed 5 billion hours of watched time. Live streams can be of several types, online workshops, celebrity interviews, gaming, etc. It wasn't just celebrities, social media influencers brought in a huge number of viewers for live streams. Thus highlighting the importance for brands to connect with influencers and tap their audience. Small businesses may not have the budgets to work with massive influencers with millions of followers but they can engage with micro-influencers in their niche and area.
2. Improve digital experiences and UGC
According to a survey of 15,000 consumers conducted by PWC, 1 in 3 customers will leave a brand after only one bad expereince. Customers today have come to expect high-quality experiences both online and offline. During the past year, online experiences came into greater focus as almost all consumers were interacting with brands via digital platforms in order to comply with stay-at-home orders. All of this has made it imperative for businesses to invest in their digital customer experiences.
Before making a purchase consumers would like to be reassured that they are making the right choice. They want proof that the product or service they are considering is worth the price tag. User-generated content (UGC) can help businesses accomplish this. Examples, of this type of UGC, are reviews, testimonials, ratings, etc. UGC helps increase the trust consumers feel towards a brand. Instead of waiting for users to come to their website, businesses can share this type of UGC on platforms where consumers are already hanging out. For example, video product reviews can be shared on platforms like YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram. Brands can ask their consumers to share their opinions via their own profiles.
3. Voice and visual search
Voice and visual search have been around for a while. However increasing penetration of smart assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google has significantly increased the number of voice searches. Approximately one in every four homes in the US today has a smart speaker of some kind. Along with voice search, visual search is also gaining ground. Google Lens has become more common on devices and has made it easier for users to search what they see. What does this mean for businesses? This means that businesses must ensure that their websites are optimized for both voice and visual search. Ensuring your image sitemap and alt tags are up to date are examples of optimizations that can be done.
Small business web marketing strategies
2020 was a hard year for small businesses that could not continue operations online. The pandemic has made it clear that small businesses need to set up their online infrastructure and diversify the way their business runs. Below we mentioned three small business web marketing strategies for 2021
1. Optimize core web vitals
As mentioned above, quality digital experiences are essential for customer retention and new user acquisition. In May 2021, Google released its Page Experience Update. This update looks at new metrics that are collectively referred to as Core Web Vitals. The metrics are designed to measure a website's load time, layout stability, and interactivity. These metrics will impact overall search rankings. Businesses can find more information about their website's core web vitals via Google's search console. By optimizing their website to score high on these metrics businesses can increase their chances of ranking higher on Google search results.
2. No more third-party cookies and increased privacy
Consumers are becoming more aware of how their behavior online is tracked and how their data is used. Many countries around the world are tightening their privacy laws and adding regulations to how big tech companies can use consumer data. Apple's privacy-focused iOS 14 will also change the way consumers interact with mobile apps. One big change that small businesses should start preparing for is the decline of third-party cookies. Google has announced that it will be phasing out third-party cookies from its Google Ads platform and will not be developing any new technologies to track user behavior. The company will instead focus on privacy first advertising solutions. What does this mean for small businesses? The increased focus on privacy means that businesses will no longer be able to use niche targeting to show their ads to hyper-relevant audiences. Instead, businesses should focus on building their customer lists and create strong one-to-one relationships with customers.
3. Strong customer relationships
Small businesses should focus on creating strong relationships with their customers. The increased adoption of digital solutions due to the pandemic means that the digital landscape has become even more competitive and clutters. It will continue to get more difficult for businesses to cut through the noise and reach digital consumers. By building strong one-to-one relationships, small businesses can create loyal brand advocates. Invest in the right email automation tools so that you can personalize content for individual customers and deliver the best online expereinces.
The digital marketing and online consumer landscape are going through significant changes. Factors like the global pandemic, privacy concerns, closer evaluation of big tech companies by the government are all leading to a fundamental change in how the online marketing space functions. Subscribe to our newsletter and stay up to date with the latest developments so that you proactively prepare effective web marketing small business strategies.
1. D. Alaimo, Aug 2018, '87% of shoppers now begin product searches online', [available online] available from: https://www.retaildive.com/news/87-of-shoppers-now-begin-product-searches-online/530139/ [accessed Apr 2021]
2. Dec 2020, '61 Streaming stats you should know in 2021', Restream, [available online] available form: https://restream.io/blog/live-streaming-statistics/ [accessed Apr 2021]
3. T. Kulbyte, Mar 2021, '37 customer expereince statistics you need to know for 2021', [available online] available from: https://www.superoffice.com/blog/customer-experience-statistics/ [accessed Apr 2021]
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