Okay, we’re a little early for this. But seeing as 2020 has been all but written off, we can’t help but look forward to 2021. How will marketing change in the future? And what will we be focusing on in the next few years?
Here’s what we think.
Content isn’t going anywhere
We say this every year, and it’s not a new concept. The last few years have proven that content really is king, and in the future it’s looking like it will stay that way. With Google’s updates leaning towards conversational searches and even the ‘no-click’ search, people are looking for answers - answers that they can only get through good content.
However, the way that B2B companies actually use content might look a little different in the future. At the moment, content seems like an essential part of your marketing plan - a way to attract leads and effectively convert them into customers by addressing their pains and providing solutions. In the future, we could see content utilised as part of the sales process too. Part of effective sales is answering the questions your prospects have, before they’ve even asked them. If you’ve built a library of content that is tailored to your customers’ “frequently asked questions”, then you already know what your prospects are going to ask, and when. In the future, it’s time to think of content not as just part of your marketing strategy, but as a centrepiece of your entire business.
More targeted ads
The best way to reach your target audience is to keep your content personal. However, with content this can be tricky. Personalise too much, and you alienate your audience. Personalise too little, and you end up with vague content that doesn’t appeal to anyone. So then, how can you build a marketing strategy that appeals to everyone in your audience, without sacrificing the personal touch?
One way is to take advantage of targeted ads, and show your audience content that is relevant to their interests. In 2020, many of us have developed “banner-blindness”, meaning that we no longer even notice ads when we’re browsing. This means that display ads, as they’re traditionally known, are becoming less and less effective. The key to succeeding is to ensure that the ads you create are tailored to your buyer’s journey, and that you use them to show your audience helpful follow-up information based on what content they have previously engaged with. Use the features available to you to tailor ads based on location, browsing history, age and more for the best results.
We’ve mentioned this before, so we’ll keep it short! With the exponential rise in popularity of Google Home, Alexa, and Amazon Echo products, consumers are turning to voice search to answer more questions than ever. With this, Google has also tended towards the conversational, with their big BERT update focusing on longer tail keywords and recognition of the sentence as a whole rather than individual words. Voice search is bigger than ever in 2020, and we think it’ll only get more popular in 2021 and beyond.
Optimising your website for voice search is tricky - if you’re writing content, then you're likely already working with a conversational style. The only real way to optimise for voice is to make sure that you’re targeting (and answering) the questions that are asked. If your answer is clear enough and useful to readers, then it’s more likely to come up in voice searches. We’ve broken this down in more detail here.
Changes in customer behaviour
Customers have changed - this isn’t new. However, 2020 introduced new challenges to all sectors, and this likely means even more changes in the future for how consumers interact with businesses. We’ve already made some predictions on how the B2B world will change in the wake of coronavirus, but it’s important to understand that your buyers are online now more than ever, and are looking for answers above advertising. The future also means that marketers will find themselves targeting the ever-elusive Generation Z, which may prove tricky. Trying to hit this audience will include influencer marketing, video content and maybe signing up to TikTok. Unfortunately.
The decline of social media
Speaking of social media, it’s time to admit something we’ve all been thinking: Facebook is dead. Similarly, people are abandoning Twitter, Skype - and does anyone remember Kik? The amount of Facebook users among 12-34 year olds has dropped by 17% in the last two years, and this seems to be a steady decline. From privacy concerns to an overload of advertising, Facebook is slowly but surely dropping off the grid for the younger generation, and Twitter looks to be right behind it.
Networks that still gain a fair amount of traction include Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn - maybe focus on these in the next few years, and think about your targeting carefully if you’re still keen to grab the Facebook crowd in the future.
The future of marketing is never a smooth one, but it’s important to be prepared for any big changes over the horizon. Being ready to target new audiences, adapt service offerings and fine-tune your approach helps to develop a more agile, futureproof marketing strategy, one that is ready for anything. To help you get started, we’ve created a guide to making the most of your current website traffic in order to grow your business. You can get it for free below - check it out!