Your roadmap to maximize opportunities with 2021 digital trends
In this webinar, Milestone experts Erik Newton and Benu Aggarwal discussed key 2021 digital trends. The audience can use these trends to shape their comprehensive marketing for when business returns to normal.
Key topics in this recap video:
- Top macroeconomic trends for 2021
- Digital transformation and how to leverage all the opportunities aligned with it
- Key steps to adapt to deliver better digital experiences
- Technologies that will be key in 2021 – Entity, Schema, Speed, and Core Vitals
- Culture and how to organize your teams to deliver a customer experience
2021 Digital Trends Explained
What we’re going to cover today is eleven major trends that we think have a lot of impact for digital marketers and the things you have to organize and get ready for 2021. We’ll start with the macro economy, like where do we expect growth and rebound.
A big theme is digital transformation, which we use as our primary theme really for the whole year because of the pandemic and how it has accelerated. We’re gonna explain the mechanics of digital experience and all the things that go with the right digital and website experience: speed on mobile and still local, and then we’ll talk a little bit about the kind of teamwork and collaboration that’s even more required now than it was in prior times when things were just accelerated and compressed.
At Milestone we bring together the best of software and services, and we put them together in solutions that help our customers organize and amplify digital information to reach the right audience. We have a history in hospitality, but we serve restaurants, retail, finance, automotive, healthcare, and technology we have Fortune 1000 customers in most of those categories.
So whatever business you’re in, we break it down to the fundamentals. We’re technical experts, and we use research and expertise to figure out what’s coming in the next year or two, and we get our products ready for that, and we get our customers ready to jump on to those opportunities.
Our first trend is the macroeconomic trend and that is that the US economy will grow next year so this year was an absolute which saw with Q2 down thirty three percent in the United States GDP in Q3 up thirty one percent.
Overall for 2020 down three point five percent so undeniably a recessionary year with a lot of restrictions with stay-at-home orders and so forth.
Right now the prediction for 2021 is to be overall up 4.4 percent from 2020 so that’s a that’s a good solid to solid growth here and I.
I think it could even exceed that, and that growth is going to be driven from stimulus and from the recovery generally. Then there’s a lot of pent-up demand for everything for shopping and traveling to be entertained to go to sporting events to go to music events.
Wedding Boom in 2021
In particular, weddings where our data shows that this January and February will see huge most likely inbound demand for setting up weddings for the second half of the year. The twelve months from mid-year 2020 to 2021 and 2022 will be the most significant wedding volume that anybody has seen and probably in the history in the United States and worldwide–just because people have been deferring their wedding plans. These kind of things are going to really help the economy bounce back, and if you’re interested in some of those trends you can look on our blog and see what we’re recommending to be ready to capture that kind of return of corporate events and weddings and be prepared for that growth.
Digital Transformation in 2021
But the bigger and more complicated theme is digital transformation, and what the statistics and the data we’re looking at say is that the digital transformation has accelerated by five to ten years. So, if you look at the trend lines of people using ecommerce, people delivering groceries, people getting food from restaurants delivered, and even people delivering cars–it jumped up dramatically.
Those things had to adjust to about what was expected in 2025 or 2026 and later. Digital transformation was a necessity during the pandemic in 2020, and those companies that were prepared for it did well. There are some companies that prospered with it and a lot of companies adjusted and muddled through.
But the basic principles of digital transformation are that we automate, and that when we automate we are better able to create a personalized experience for our users.
Interacting with people won’t scale unless it’s digital. You can’t have a personal interaction like a concierge does or a clerk in the store. You can have the personal interaction with ten thousand or a hundred thousand people without obviously adding that many more people. So that’s the basis of digital transformation and the evidence of this has been going on for twenty years.
Even something with as much structural physical inventory as real estate also has a major online component to it where people are looking at looking at the houses. They’re going through lots of pictures and going through three hundred sixty degree video and they become more ready to buy. Or some people might even be transacting. That’s particularly important when people aren’t comfortable going to an open house or being exposed you know to other people if they want to quarantine or be separated.
Our shopping carts became digital shopping carts and even our signature became something digital that we could we just stamp on and not have to print and scan and fax. We might have done presentation in person in the past, but we’re doing it virtually here by webinar, which gives us a lot more reach and creates a lot of opportunity for us. We all have to figure out what type of transformations are occurring in our industry, and which ones we can emulate.
So, as I said before when you digitize, you are able to personalize at scale so think about dynamic emails with injecting people’s names, injecting being aware of what people have purchased in the past, and creating campaigns that are even more relevant to them. Digitization creates this opportunity for us to do that at scale.
So yes, to the degree that you thought your website and your digital programs were important relative to physical programs, point of purchase and so forth; it’s even more important to invest now in the end of 2020 and be ready for 2021 and 2022.
Digital Experience Is King
So we’ve all heard that the content is king, and that the customer is king. Well, it’s a little more specific now in 2021 because so much of the basis of our relationship is digital. Now, the digital customer experience is king. What we saw when we look to research from some big companies like Robert Half and Dentsu, we saw that prepared CMOs who were reacting in 2020 once the pandemic hit, they were changing the customer experience in a whole range of industries. That’s a good time to take a look it’s always good to be focused on it but how do you understand the customer journey and what do you do with it and.
Understand and Optimize the Customer Journey
The basic thing is to map the customer journey. Shockingly, Think with Google reports that a car-buying customer journey included before the pandemic 900 touchpoints in ninety days. People are doing ten things a day when they’re thinking about buying a car.
It seems like the larger purchases, like real estate or putting in a pool, some of these really big projects might have that many, but map out five touch points that people on how people buy your product. Help people contact you at these touch points, and then look at the user experience at each touchpoint.
- Is there friction?
- Is there confusion?
- What can you do in the faqs?
- What can you do with pop ups and hover and different things to give people more clues and scent to follow towards the engagement and conversion that we’re looking at?
- And then figure out if the messaging is consistent across those different platforms and different steps in the cycle so that’s how you make your digital experience king.
- There’s a lot more to it: your website, your email, all of your assets, the integrated campaign and do something marketing has been saying for years.
- What’s changed in the pandemic is that much more of your business is digital. So if it was twenty-five or thirty percent bookings or purchase or interactions or leads that proportion is going to be hire because we were not doing trade shows for a couple of months.
You have to be good at this, and if you’re not good at this your competitors going to be good at it. They’re going to do more, and they’re going to get more customers, and they’re going to use that competitive advantage to fund other channels and pay for the paid media paid channels with their organic and conversions success.
Local searches have the most purchase intent by far
Local intent is skyrocketing. What that means is, for small businesses, 81% of queries are unbranded. You have people who are more committed to helping local businesses. People feel in this craziness, there is a need to help local businesses and the feeling is mutual across all channels, and that’s why it’s really important that as a business, you’re engaging with your customers and understanding what your customers are looking for. They may not be looking for transactions right now but that engagement is key for winning. It’s a must have as a business to engage with customers. As a business, when you’re on social media channels engaging, you know what customers might be looking for.
Reviews have become more stronger this year. Google released an algorithm and trusted signals from brands have higher values. If a business has a high number of reviews, it doesn’t have to be all 5-star reviews but good interaction and good engagement attracts the highest trust signal to your domain.
All the voice devices surface information from GMB, Bing, Yelp, and if your information on these channels is not accurate, even hours of operation, it is massive. Everybody is now looking for a store that has offline pickup and what kind of security measurement they have for their staff. All this information is now available for consumers by businesses. This is a huge opportunity for businesses to engage with the local community, connect and solve their problems.
Omnichannel perspective needed to make good marketing decisions
What is the most important thing?
Cookies is going away and what does it have to do with your tracking? When 3rd party cookies are going away, it means attribution cannot be tracked from channels to channels. You have to think about the customer’s journey, tracking point and have a better dashboarding, so that you can see where your customers are and how they’re interacting, which channels they’re coming from. Are they coming from WhatsApp? Are they calling you online or offline? If they’re calling online and they’re picking offline, or working with you offline, that’s a trend you want to bring-in in your dashboard. A lot of online to offline conversion is key for a business to measure success.
Online-Offline Attribution analytics
What makes a lot of difference is how you’re producing consistently on all the channels about your business. For example, for one of our automobile customers, we were trying tons of businesses across every channel, built a dashboard and it showed offline-online attribution, online-offline attribution in which channels are helping or not. We used to do a once-a-quarter heat map study and now we increased the frequency. Because consumer pattern is changing here, tracking consumer tracking point to ensure we’re giving customers the best UX possible.
Speed is critical
Speed is one of the biggest trends across every search engine in more than a decade because mobile web pages are 2X slower in 2019 and availability of information is still slow and that’s why google broke speed down to three brackets;
- LCP (Largest Contentful Paint)
- FID (First Input Delay)
- CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift)
Since your customers are consuming information through different channels, your site should not just look good on a desktop.
If you have a gorgeous site built on some amazing platforms, it’s not going to do well because it doesn’t have the basic stability and basics of how your information is reading.
Mobile-first becomes mobile-only
Google is reporting that desktop content may be ignored and they’ll be using mobile first or mobile only. If you are only updating the desktop site your new content may be missed, so it is critical that first you have a responsive site.
You are making sure as a business to update your mobile presence and mobile presence should lead into your desktop presence. We now make sure our design works on mobile first and renders well on desktop. Optimizing your mobile X through different heat map is key and speed is absolutely a must-have for us to do well on mobile searches.
Security, connectivity, reliability and availability required to maintain customer relationships
There has been a huge impact of remote work because of COVID and we cannot just troubleshoot things when customers are facing problems. Our customers experience a large increase in traffic overnight and you need a cloud infrastructure to make sure we can do the adjustment on availability. It’s not only IT team’s role, it is important for marketing because every touch point for your customers is critical.
Their experiences when they start interacting with your software. What is your first time of repeat experience? How do we make this information available in real time. We have to make a decision based on real time information. Connecting with your customers through channels. Find out the channels your customers are using and connect with them.
Entity is the way to ensure consistent presence across all your channels
Entity is the way to ensure consistent presence across every channel. You can now make entities for;
- Special announcements
- Online events
- Temporary hours
- Cleaning Protocols
- How tos
Ensure you’re constantly creating content and you have a perfect recipe to stay ahead. Entity is becoming more important today because of a lot of these reasons.
Priority and Collaboration
It is hard to do remote work but it can only happen when you align your team. Align your external and internal vendors, establish a common goal and outcome.
Have ruthless prioritization and make sure your executive team are to customers and they have customer-centric mindsets. This is when you spend more time in discovering the customer need and aligning everybody within the company to make sure they are delivering to newest customer problems.
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