The National Retail Federation found that 83 percent of shoppers say that convenience is a bigger priority now than it was five years ago, with online shoppers feeling even more strongly. They have a price they are willing to pay for features they deem to be most convenient, whether that be speedy delivery, a short time window for a required attendance, or locker-style pickup. Because this is a personal choice, e-commerce brands should give their customers a range of options that balance price and convenience. Having a range of options helps the retailer to support both the convenience shopper and the economical shopper and to sustain a more efficient delivery operation.
Brand authenticity is all about being open, honest and true with your customers. Without brand authenticity, consumers won’t be able to trust your business. And a lack of trust means consumers will be less likely to buy. According to the Consumer Content Report from Stackla, 86 percent of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support. Every company should have a set of values that they stand for. But it’s not enough to just tell consumers what you believe in; you have to show them. Any company can write on its “About Us” page that they believe in giving back to the community, for instance. But that doesn’t mean much if your customers and prospects can’t see it in action. If you put a strong emphasis on giving back to the community, you had better show your customers you mean it by giving back to local charities with donations or offering your time and knowledge to empower others. Whatever you say to your customers and want them to think about your business, you should be keeping it consistent everywhere, even with simple communications on social media. It’s not what you say that matters, it’s what you do. So, make sure everything your company does is in line with your brand values and mission.
Audiences today don’t just want their content to be personalized — they expect it to be. In fact, according to a report from SmarterHQ, 72 percent of all consumers will only engage with your marketing message if it is personalized to them. Marketers have already witnessed just how effective interactive content can be. In a report from the Content Marketing Institute and Ion Interactive, 87 percent of marketers said that interactive content was better at grabbing audiences’ attention than static content. Another 87 percent said it had helped them achieve their marketing goals, and three in four were planning to use more of it. Small business marketeers need to be testing the use of such things as: Interactive Infographics incorporating animation, hyperlinks, and clickable components; Micro-sites for telling a particular story that include video, social-media embeds, etc; Interactive Timelines allow you to include video, animations, source links, etc; Clickable Maps ensure that your audience can quickly find the information that relevant to them; Widgets & Calculators unite each experience when you input information, you get a result unique to you; Interactive Quizzes help customers learn something new and highly personal about themselves.
Small business marketeers must embrace these needs if they are going to represent their brands effectively this coming year. With that in mind, here are three steps every marketer should take to prepare for 2021.
- Go all in on earned media…think third party endorser. In 2020, marketers began to realize that earned media is more important than ever before in increasing credibility and closing sales. In 2021, marketers will have to transport that insight into action. As that happens, they will start to look at B2B influencer marketing (third party endorsement) as well as branded storytelling as key gateways to connecting with their audience via already established and trusted sources. The reason? The online “noise” continues to grow, accelerated by the shift that we all made this year to online work. As that noise increases, consumers need more filters and more gatekeepers. As a result, branding (from branded search to branded content) will explode in value and importance.
- Embrace what some are calling the “metaverse”. The “metaverse” refers to a persistent, shared virtual space that encompasses all shared virtual worlds, the internet, and augmented reality…beyond gaming avatar glasses. There’s no doubt that the virtual and real worlds are beginning to integrate faster than would have happened had the Coronavirus pandemic not shut down so many of our physical spaces. People for years have thought of holographic communication as sort of idealized magical future and that is actually happening in 2021. IKIN’s chief technology officer, says “IKIN’s accessories create 3D holograms viewable in daylight from Android or iOS smartphones with a specialized proprietary chemical polymer lens.” Most hologram applications including the concert “performances” of holographic versions of Michael Jackson, Tupac Shakur, and Roy Orbison were done in dark conditions. Expect to see in 2021 a product which would allow holograms to exist in ambient light with no headgear and no goggles. For the purposes of small business owners, the “metaverse” is useful as a way to understand the new office. Think of virtual offices using both augmented and virtual reality, in which users are represented by avatars. The event industry is also heavily represented in the “metaverse”, with virtual concerts in worlds like Roblox and Fortnite bringing in not just millions of views, but hundreds of thousands of dollars for music artists like Travis Scott and Lil Nas X. Whether it’s massive A-list concerts or small local area performances like the The Lyric Theatre of Leadville debut event “An Evening of Celebration: Songs for a New Year”, we aren’t going back to full-on physical events any time soon — most likely not until 2022. Even then, we’ll see a hybrid model become more prevalent than totally physical.
- Prepare for the push to exclusive content. Up until very recently, the appeal of social media had largely to do with its inclusivity. Any user can follow a celebrity, a brand, communicate with an influencer, and so on. However, in 2021 expect to see a push for more gated content and communities. Patreon, a site that allows people to create subscription-based communities, content, and more, had 4 million active subscribers in February 2020, with 100,000 active creators. With the growing popularity among typical social media users of content formats like Instagram’s Reels and Stories, influencers and creators are drifting toward gated content more and more — providing exclusive offerings only for those in the know.
2021 will be a year of recovery and adaptation. Get ready for it now by signing up for a free mentoring session.
Copyright ©John Trenary 2021
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