NOTE: This blog was originally published in May 2019. It has been updated with the latest information and best practices for 2020 and 2021.
COVID-19 and the disruption it has brought to businesses and teams across the world has left us all shell-shocked. Rather than planning for the future, many companies are operating at a standstill. They are waiting for the next crisis with fingers-crossed that the disaster(s) will pass.
Rather than getting ahead of the crises, these companies are setting themselves up for failure. They are letting opportunity slip through their fingers and putting their business and customers at risk.
To succeed, even in the most difficult times, you need stay a step ahead of the market and competition to best provide service for your customers.
Marketing in a Pandemic: What You Can Do
Successful goal setting requires long-term planning, even during a crisis or a pandemic.
That’s where tracking future trends and technology can help. With foresight and planning, you can have the tools and processes in place and ready before a trend is realized, capturing customers and business before the competition knows what hit them. That way, as the crisis passes and everyone starts looking ahead again, it will be your business, and your marketing team, waiting for them.
We’ll examine the latest digital marketing trends, especially in light of recent disruption, and show you how they can help you achieve your marketing goals. Your goals can provide the competitive advantage every business is looking for.
Digital Marketing Trends Shaping the Future
Many companies create reactive rather than proactive marketing goals. This can be especially true during a crisis or difficult times.
These companies focus on the now, just getting through today, without considering the future market. They look at past failures and focus on “fixing” problems. This can lead to marketing campaigns that are months, even years, behind the competition.
This can not only hurt your business, but also the value you offer customers. It can leave your company handling the problems of the past, rather than offering solutions the market needs right now.
Here are the trends and technology shaping the future of marketing, and how you can use them in your current goal planning:
AR and VR Applications
Many of us — schools, businesses, homeowners, parents and more — have gotten a crash course in remote work during the COVID-19 crisis. This had led to a rapid evolution in how we connect, communicate and collaborate.
AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) offer a next generation experience for employees and customers even when working and communicating remotely. It can bridge the gap between people no matter how far apart they are. Even better, with the right system and a partner who understands the power and capability of the technology, you can provide an even more immersive experience that helps you stand out from competitors.
Even when the pandemic ends and restrictions are lifted, the world will be changed. Many employees, businesses and customers will continue to expect companies to provide the same level of service even if they are in the store or sitting on their couch. AR and VR can provide that.
Anyone with an Amazon Alexa or Google Home understands the power of voice search. With increased sophistication in word recognition software, you can talk to a smart device and get the answer you’re looking for. It’s an emerging battleground in SEO and search — and it’s time for businesses to optimize their website for not only keywords, but voice search as well.
Voice search queries are longer and more conversational. You should incorporate targeted queries and their answers on your site. Good areas might be an FAQ where you can answer questions or in a blog post. Look to naturally incorporate the query text in your site. Search engines will more easily find and use your site for answers.
Machine Learning and AI
Data-driven marketing is powerful. The problem for many businesses is managing the wealth of information. How do you transform raw information into actionable data? That’s where machine learning and AI (artificial intelligence) can help.
With AI, computers can rapidly analyze data to identify patterns and behaviors — turning raw data into insight. Customer data, social media reports, ZIP codes and addresses, memberships and more are fuel for better marketing in the hands of AI. According to recent data, 84% of all marketing organizations are implementing or using machine learning. If you haven’t started, there is no better time to.
As more and more businesses are relying on the web, that insight can be the edge you need to succeed.
Everyone knows the power of video marketing. Users watch 5 billion+ videos every day on YouTube. Videos generate 1200% more shares on social media than posts with text and images. Live video works similarly to social video — it just takes it up a notch.
With live video, you have the advantages of standard video marketing, but the videos are faster and easier to produce. The audience believes the video is more authentic. The relaxed, conversational aspect fosters engagement. Look at conducting “event” live videos to capitalize on the real-time user engagement for topical, engaging marketing.
Everyone knows the power of content marketing — content is king. Today, everyone can access and use content and media — video, text, images, music and more — at the push of a button. Content is how we communicate, especially with so many of us in quarantine or stuck at home.
Companies understand the importance of content (finally!) and are developing content strategies. Rather than individuals producing content, companies are linking content production to corporate goals. Companies are making an investment in time and resources that will further mainstream content marketing, and crafting strategies that grow business.
Link your content plan to the corporate strategy. Look at your content as a tool for achieving the strategy.
SMART Goals and Digital Marketing
Now that you have an idea of the trends and technologies shaping marketing, it’s time to use them in your goal setting. That starts by setting SMART goals:
SMART is a framework for goals that are achievable, strategic and powerful — necessary tactics to overcoming COVID-19 and the disruption we’ve all seen in 2020. SMART goals are easier to implement and deliver measurable benefits for business.
SMART goals ensure marketing efforts align with business goals. Consider the trends covered here. Look at ways you can use the trends to meet your business goals. Download our free template to help you align your goals with your strategies, to maximize your marketing efforts.
Still worried about the future of your business and wondering how you can make digital marketing work for you? Then contact the experts at GO2 Partners. With the resources and expertise from working with many of the top companies in the world, we’re ready to help you reach your goals.