Marketing strategies are not a set-it-and-forget-it endeavor. Creating, refining, and updating your marketing strategies should always be a work in progress, and it can be especially helpful to look at forecasted trends for the next year to get a head start. So what should you be honing in on in the new year?
Get on TikTokLet’s start off this list with a bang. It’s been impossible to miss that TikTok is the latest and greatest when it comes to Gen Z’s go-to social media platform. However, you may have the misconception that it’s filled with dance challenges and lip-syncing videos, and not much else. Believe it or not, TikTok is a haven for all kinds of video content, from sketch comedy to art videos to, yes, branded content.
2020 was the basement level for brands to get onto the world’s fastest-growing social media network — think whatever genius grabbed all the good domain names in the early 90s (when they were actually free). TikTok has certainly had massive growth this year, but this is only the beginning. If 2020 was the basement level, 2021 will be the ground floor.
If your B2C brand doesn’t establish a presence on TikTok now, your competitors will before you, and you’ll be playing catchup as Gen Z establishes itself alongside Millennials as a consumer juggernaut. But be warned! As always, do your research before you jump on a new platform. Be a Chipotle, not a Buzzfeed, in this new social media landscape.
Incorporate Opt-InConsumers get more tech-savvy with every year that passes, and you don’t want to be seen as trying to get away with sneaky cookies or spam emails. Also, given that we’re transitioning to the Biden administration soon, it’s entirely possible that the government will move in a more hands-on direction when it comes to tech regulations. It’s unlikely that the US will ever pass consumer regulations on par with the EU GDPR, but we are likely moving in that direction. Instead of waiting for the shoe to drop, be proactive about how you’re tracking and communicating with your customers.
Start by changing your emails to be opt-in instead of opt-out. It’s a simple change, but it allows customers to feel more in control of what shows up in their inbox. Not only that, a double opt-in list has more engaged readers. Consider this a way to build a high-value list of your most loyal customers and followers. And while you’re at it, make sure you’re giving your visitors a heads up about cookies and other tracking tools on your website, if you haven’t started doing that already.
Embrace AI and ChatBotsMost companies are stretched pretty thin these days across the various platforms they have a presence on. Even if you aren’t on every social media platform, you’re probably on one or two, plus your website. Wherever your customers find you, they want to be able to reach you, and that’s a lot of platforms on which to have customer service agents ready to answer questions.
To lighten the load, consider an AI chatbot. Believe it or not, building an eCommerce chatbot is not that complicated. You can program it to answer FAQs, just to thin the herd before a live chat person needs to get involved. Another bonus of this feature is that it’s always available, so no matter when your potential customers are browsing, they can get basic questions answered immediately.
Get Creative With Loyalty ProgramsWe know, loyalty programs aren’t breaking boundaries of marketing tactics — but if you’re just giving out points for buying a product, you can definitely up your game in 2021. We’re seeing a lot more of companies structuring their loyalty programs around other behaviors they want to encourage, besides just purchases.
One highly desirable action you want from your customers is positive engagement, be it a good review, commenting and following on social media, or sharing their purchase with their friends and followers online. Of course you want customers to purchase your products, but you likely are looking to boost sales during off-peak or low-demand periods. You’re also probably trying to build a nice email marketing list so that you can target high-value repeat customers. None of these behaviors are being explicitly targeted with a standard, points-based loyalty program.
Instead, try to incorporate those actionable goals into your loyalty program. To encourage positive engagement, provide a link to review or a hashtag to use, and have a coupon code tied specifically to those actions. To build your email list, try a gamification pop-up that has visitors “spin the wheel” to get a coupon code emailed to them.
Of course, the top-tier loyalty program is actually in disguise: paid memberships. Paying to access benefits works when the benefit is just that good — think of Amazon Prime and its free two-day shipping. By having a paid membership, they not only have customers pay to access the benefits, but it also incentivizes spending more money to receive more benefits. It’s not just Amazon, either: DoorDash has DashPass, Walmart has Plus. Younger generations are more willing to pay for a membership if it means unlocking better benefits, and your loyalty program should reflect that idea in 2021.
Consumer preferences are always changing, and you should change with them. In 2021, customers will be younger, more tech-savvy, and even more spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing where to spend their money. So make the choice easier for them and update your marketing strategies to reflect their needs in the coming year.