By Guest Author: Lexie Lu:
After a very unusual 2020, it looks like we may be on track for a more normal year — or, at least, one with some level of economic recovery and a return to typical levels of demand.
However, 2021 won’t exactly be business as usual. Trends that had existed before 2020 — like the slow rise of e-commerce and demand for sustainable goods — are on track to accelerate. At the same time, new technology is reshaping how marketers and retailers approach their work.
Updated strategies may be necessary for businesses to stay ahead of the competition and continue growing as demand returns to more normal levels.
These 10 tips can put your business on track for growth next year.
1. USE THE POWER OF IMAGES WITH VISUAL COMMERCE
Visual commerce is the use of discernable information at every step of the purchasing process. Often, it means companies using dynamic, high-quality product images to give potential customers a real sense of what an item looks and feels like, as well as the benefits it may provide.
This approach can be a little bit more expensive than traditional visual content. After all, high-quality images, digital assets, and varied product photos can all be major line items. However, many retailers, manufacturers, and suppliers find that extra expense can provide a significant return on investment.
2. ADAPT TO NEW SEARCH METHODS
Voice search has become increasingly popular with the rise of smart home assistants and speakers, like those offered by Google, Apple, and Amazon. As a result, it’s more likely that potential visitors will arrive at your website via a voice search.
Search experts are still working out the best practices for optimizing a website for voice. They’ve already identified a few moves that marketers and web designers can make to improve their sites — like focusing on conversational keywords or using schema markup to add context.
If your optimization strategy is effective, you’ll likely see a noticeable boost in your search rankings or a minor to major influx of new visitors browsing via smart assistant or mobile phone.
3. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SOCIAL MARKETING
Interacting with customers on social media and taking advantage of these platforms’ advertising tools will continue to yield major benefits. Social media adoption jumped massively in 2020. In October, one report found that more than 4 billion people are now on social media, over half the planet’s population.
The same report also found that customers browsed social media even more than usual in 2020.
If these trends continue next year, social media marketing may become an even more valuable investment.
4. GET CREATIVE WITH IN-STORE MARKETING
E-commerce was a solid winner in 2020. Even the biggest names in brick-and-mortar retail found that they had to pivot toward online shopping to keep growing, and online stores of all kinds saw big surges in demand.
Stores will always be around — there are some advantages to in-person shopping that you just can’t get online. However, every company should account for the lower interest in in-store shopping, which could stick around well into the future.
More effective marketing materials can help you build your brand at the same time. For example, Gatorade offers a unique in-store display. It features on-brand colors and a variety of products, which increases brand recognition and encourages customers to pick up larger items than they would have otherwise.
A similar display, outfitted for your particular brand or product catalog, could help you stand out in a crowded supermarket or department store.
5. FOLLOW THE GROWING SUSTAINABILITY TREND
One trend, undefeated by the downturn in 2020, was the continuing growth in consumer environmental awareness. As a result, there was more demand for green and eco-friendly products.
Right now, customers will likely continue demanding sustainable goods at a steadily rising rate, regardless of how the economy is doing.
Finding ways to demonstrate a business commitment to sustainability — or show off the promises you’ve already made — may make a significant difference. Over time, it could help capture younger customers and drive new sales.
6. LOOK TO NEW, AI-POWERED RETAIL TECH
AI can help you streamline your business. For example, there’s been a significant rise in the number of available chatbots that can field customer requests and answer simple questions.
You can use these bots to cut down on ticket wait time and improve overall satisfaction with your customer service processes.
7. GET READY TO SUPPORT NEW PAYMENT OPTIONS
Most e-commerce businesses and retailers have already started to support digital wallets, like Google Pay and Apple Wallet.
Now, after years of buzz, it seems like alternative payment options like cryptocurrencies may finally get their chance in the spotlight.
For example, Overstock has supported bitcoin payments via Coinbase since 2018. Other retailers have signaled that they may be following suit in the near future.
Supporting these new payment methods could help you capture an even larger audience.
8. CREATE AN OMNICHANNEL EXPERIENCE
Consumers naturally drift between advertising channels. They browse on their phone before switching to their desktops and may ultimately come in-store for a purchase.
The omnichannel customer experience — one that is as smooth as possible across channels — is more important than ever as a result.
The reduction in friction can help decrease customer complaints and result in quicker customer movement from awareness to purchase.
9. USE PERSONALIZATION AND CUSTOMIZATION
Companies have access to more information on their customers than ever before. While consumer feelings are mixed on how much data retailers and other businesses should collect, they generally have come to expect that it’s used to create personalized experiences.
Info on customer habits can be utilized to personalize deals, recommendations, and email communications, tailoring content to fit customer preferences and desires.
Incorporating personalization into your marketing and sales processes can ensure recommendations are as valuable and relevant as possible.
10. LEVERAGE INTERACTIVITY IN ADVERTISING
New, interactive ads — like digital displays with touch screens — can promote customer engagement with in-store marketing.
These ads have interactive elements and encourage visitors to take part in the ad, rather than passively observe.
While not commonplace yet, many retailers are adopting the tech that makes these ads possible, opening up new opportunities for marketers and brands.
How Businesses Can Support Growth in 2021
Changes in the market — like new AI tech and shifting consumer preferences — mean the old strategies may not work as well as they used to. However, if you can take advantage of these trends and new developments, you may have a much better chance to grow your business next year.
By Guest Author: Lexie Lu:
Lexie Lu is a web designer and UX content strategist. She enjoys covering topics related to UX design, web design, social media, and branding. Feel free to subscribe to her design blog, Design Roast, or follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.
This article was originally published on the Red Branch Media blog by Lexie Lu.