Consumers are actively looking for brands that they trust and want to interact with, and your brand’s online visibility has never been more important.
This time last year, marketing and advertising professionals had a fairly clear line of sight on how to successfully guide and usher clients into the coming year. We were ready for the rising reliance on search engine optimization to drive our clients’ performance in search engine results, and we were ready to usher in a year of success and profitability for all.
And then in March 2020, the entire economic landscape shifted as the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting quarantine measures wrought havoc across every industry. And because marketing and advertising reaches across industries, it was one of the hardest hit. Reduced media spend was one of the most common initial responses to quarantine measures, with the average decrease in marketing budget dipping 24% in the United States.
This average is a reflection of the rebound the marketing industry experienced just after the summer when some sections of the economy started to reopen and other segments reorganized and adjusted their strategies in order to stabilize and recover. During this recovery period, the marketing and advertising industry latched on to the shifting behaviors of consumers and helped businesses reposition their marketing efforts to dial into those changes.
Because this incremental recovery is happening so late in 2020, we find ourselves at the end of December making predictions and identifying trends that we historically talk about as early as the start of the fourth quarter. But it’s 2020, and we’re finally ready to take what we’ve learned from the year and talk about how it will influence the marketing and advertising landscape in 2021 as new technologies and new strategies emerge as a result of drastic shifts in consumer expectations and demand.
Lessons of 2020 Your Business Cannot Ignore
In hindsight, the marketing community started to notice the consumer behavior shift in response to COVID-19 quarantines almost immediately. Many organizations recognized that as consumers sought out brands they could trust, that there was a very specific approach in marketing that had to be taken at that point. Some businesses listened to their marketing teams or service providers, while others instead cut advertising.
Consumers are prioritizing knowledge and information about your company before they make a spending decision.
Months later, we can see that the organizations that are thriving and even growing market share are those that addressed several consumer expectations throughout the pandemic thus far.
- The first is that consumers are looking for brands that help them solve their specific problems or challenges. This isn’t exactly new, but it’s certainly been magnified.
- The second is that they want to interact with brands that have shown themselves to be trustworthy and capable of acting with integrity throughout the pandemic.
- The third shift is that monthly web traffic volume increases of upwards of 20%-30% and rising since the start of the outbreak show that consumers are prioritizing knowledge and information about your company before they make a spending decision.
These behaviors have only become stronger over the last few months, and it’s from this mentality of ensuring your organization is providing the types of solutions consumers are looking for that we lay out the online visibility trends that will help your business stand out relative to other brands in 2021.
Trends for Boosting Your Online Visibility Moving into 2021
Because consumers are actively looking for brands that they trust and want to interact with, your brand’s online visibility has never been more important. You want to focus on technologies and content strategies that will help customers find your brand on their own, which in turn builds brand reputation for meeting those needs.
Sustainability and Integrity Remains Crucial to Attracting Attention
Before you’ve even spent a single advertising dollar creating content or implementing technology of any kind, it’s vital that your brand puts its best public face forward across social media and your web presence in general. This will be an absolutely necessary step for maintaining customer loyalty and trust.
Some ways that you can easily accomplish this include:
- Be visible and public in how you are protecting your own staff to the degree that your business is able to do so.
- Partner with other businesses to create synergy and build resources that are necessary for the local community and economy.
- Volunteer and donate to local organizations as much as possible to show that you value your business’s place in the community.
- Donate equipment and resources to local schools.
Voice Search Encompasses Many Search Initiatives and Still Hasn’t Reached Its Full Potential
The smart home trend has been growing steadily over the last few years, and with more connected devices being sold than ever before, it’s not showing any signs of stopping. With more and more households embracing the Internet of Things (IoT), voice search is becoming more and more ubiquitous. As a result, businesses are adapting the way that they optimize their content for IoT platforms.
Businesses must learn how to evolve their SEO for natural language processing and optimize their content for semantic search to be considered the best answer in response to a verbal query. Local SEO paired with voice search in situations like “Find [specific service] near me,” requires your organization to have both optimized your site for local SEO and to have claimed your Google My Business page and optimized it with information about the services you provide to be considered among the most relevant results. In other words, if you don’t optimize for voice and IoT, you’re missing out on a potentially effective channel for reaching your audience.
Creating Relatable Content Rich in SEO That Will Drive Your Content to Position Zero
In a related but very much its own category, search engines are increasingly putting weight on results that provide strong content that directly answers a consumer’s query. High-quality content that can be conveyed in a concise manner could net your content the coveted Position Zero on Google. These zero-click results import your content and display it as an answer to the search query, including a link back to the website and original content, but more importantly position your brand as a topic expert and increase your visibility and brand credibility without having to pay for the advertising space.
AR/VR Continue to Gain Traction
Neither augmented reality nor virtual reality is a new technology platform, but with recent technological advancements and interfaces becoming more accessible to the public, AR and VR experiences have quickly become extremely useful tools in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Providing virtual experiences that could be described as the closest thing to an in-person shopping experience, AR and VR allow for a level of visual discovery associated with your brand not possible with traditional video content. Now users can test out products, place them into virtual spaces—or even “real-world” spaces via an augmented reality interface—helping them decide to make a purchase.
Customer Segmentation Allows Integration of Other Useful Strategies into Marketing Campaigns
Segmentation according to behaviors or demographics, again, isn’t a new marketing approach. However, these attributes can be used to generate extremely granulated consumer data. By creating particular cohorts, the organization can launch more small-scale, hyper-focused marketing campaigns versus several expansive and extremely expensive ones, and have a greatly improved result.
Highly individualized segmentation allows the marketing team to create extremely targeted high-quality content that can be automatically distributed at intended segments to attract and improve brand visibility.
2021 Will Continue to Be a Game of “Wait and See”
While marketing and advertising companies have seen businesses start to bounce back, the uncertainty in the economy stemming from the COVID-19 outbreak continues to dampen enthusiasm for what 2021 might bring. For certain, however, is how much impact consumer loyalty and trust will have on the activities and strategies that companies do adopt.
Regardless of the trends, your brand might choose to follow, your company must establish a culture of transparency about what you’re doing for your employees and the local community. From here, strong SEO and content generation will drive consumer traffic and help to segment your consumer base in ways that allow for more efficiency and precision with your marketing efforts. From there you can pursue the bells and whistles of new technologies and clever traffic-building strategies built around consumer trust.
Looking for a business to partner with that can help you navigate improving your online visibility? UpCity’s B2B platform helps connect businesses with service providers they can trust to provide results in building your brand. Explore our credible and trustworthy community of service providers today to make sure you’re ready to make an impact in 2021.