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Top 5 Digital Marketing Trends of the New Year

January 4, 2021

NCET panel members
This year’s NCET State of Digital Marketing panel took on a fully digital format inspired by The Brady Bunch, equipped with the recognizable blue background, squares filled with members of two agency families and a special guest appearance. Here’s the story. For the 5th annual event, Noble Studios CEO Jarrod Lopiccolo and The Abbi Agency’s Abbi Whitaker led a Zoom panel of esteemed colleagues in tackling the issues that are affecting the industry right now.

In a year full of uncertainty, change is a given. So, for the annual panel rather than sourcing experts outside of the two companies, we looked within. We called on our team of trusted internal talent, covering many areas from social media to search marketing. Representing the Abbi Agency were Evynn McFalls, Director of Insights and Strategy, and Steven Z. Smith, Social Media Director. Representing Noble Studios were Solutions Architect, Somer Athari and Director of Performance Marketing, Rick Saake.

Speaking on the current digital climate as well as looking forward, we spent just over an hour in discussion of everything from “sharpening our tools” to “Zoom ass.” And in true 2020 fashion, there were some technical difficulties in the form of dropped calls and cries of “you’re on mute,” in unison.

Here are the highlights.

Online Presence Transforms from Important to Essential

Social media is becoming increasingly valuable for businesses, but is it a great sales tool? The short answer is – it depends on the company. Some businesses have had great success relying on Instagram to sell products. And why shouldn’t they?“ If you can make the path to purchase quicker and easier for people, why not?” Steven reflected. But for the businesses that sell a different experience, the journey isn’t so linear. In those cases, social media is an awareness platform and shouldn’t be relied on directly as a tool for sales.

In that same vein, a website has now become integral to any business’s toolbox. “It’s the place where people are looking to find you,” Somer pointed out. And its importance is, in part, because, “it limits the amount of touchpoints you have to engage your audience.”

With its increasing significance, there are other factors to consider including privacy, security, accessibility and more—ll with the idea of making your online tool safe and reachable to all your current and prospective customers. If you haven’t started thinking about how to handle these factors, “it starts with coming up with a plan,” Somer quipped.

The big-name brands are ahead of the pack when it comes to implementing these tools to their website, which is giving them an advantage. “At the end of the day, people want what’s easy and safe for them during these times,” Steven said. “If you want to compete with something like Amazon, you have to make your path to purchase as easy as possible.”

Tip for 2021: If your business doesn’t have a web presence yet, now is the time!

Streamlined Messaging Is More Valuable than Ever

With everyone online bombarded by websites, images and handling various communication methods, how does a business fine tune its messaging to ensure it’s standing out among the masses? “It’s important to zero in on the foundational aspect of the conversation,” Evynn pointed out. “Our strongest tool as communicators is empathy.”

He goes on to explain that when we focus on having real conversations and discussions with people, in addition to automating and using digital tools, we can truly connect with our customers. Rick agrees. If we focus on listening more than speaking, we’ll understand our customer more than ever, he said.

“2021 is all about the consumer,” Rick pointed out. With that in mind, it’s vital to push service to the front of our thinking. That can be done by focusing on the speed of our response and communicating a consistent message across all channels.

Tip for 2021: Figure out what your customers need and deliver every time.

Content Must Be Nimble

There’s a lot of content coming at us every day, and the information is ever evolving. How do we, as marketers, pivot on a dime?

“In this time, it’s beneficial to focus on people’s needs. Their opinions, worries and core anxieties,” Evynn said. “When we go beyond the scope that are our typical concerns as marketers. People are responding very positively to the messaging that is more empathic and connected.” When our messaging emphasizes community and responsibility, we can connect on a human level.

Using geotargeting to pinpoint individual communities makes it possible to create hyper-local content that will resonate more powerfully. With that, Rick pointed out that Google is no longer only a search tool, it has become an “answer engine.” When we think of things on that scale, we can predict the questions that people may have about our brand and create pages that are based around answering those questions. This creates a relationship higher in the funnel and will make your company the trusted resource when the time to buy is right.

Tip for 2021: Get creative and start developing the content that will resonate with your audience.

Welcome to the New Tech Renaissance

Of course, as we spend more time online, new tools and technology are emerging to fit our new set of needs. Beyond evolving our meeting etiquette for the omnipresent Zoom meetings (including learning how to properly use video technology), there are many new programs and resources that are here to stay.

Telehealth and digital healthcare have seen huge growth for obvious pandemic-related reasons, and there’s even room for variation in that realm. Rick pointed out that Mayo Clinic set itself apart by offering remote monitoring, rather than encouraging patients to go to the hospital, they are equipped with tools to monitor their own condition. With these new tools now available, it’s hard to imagine going back to the doctor in person.

Entertainment is another industry that had to swivel to not only meet the needs of consumers, but also the entertainers themselves. Cameo, a service that allows users to request personalized messages from celebrities, has seen a 160% increase in talent signups. Giving entertainers a new outlet, this new digital greeting is a fun way to spice up a campaign.

Other software and apps that have been adopted by the two agencies are two factor authorizations, which adds an additional layer of security. Slack has helped us streamline communication. Otter intelligently transcribes meetings for reference later. Canva is a web-based graphics generator chock full of templates and designs to quickly create high quality visuals that fit your brand identity.

In this new climate, we must experiment with new things as they come. “We must evolve or dissolve,” Jarrod said. “It’s time to get creative again and get curious again because there are a lot of innovations right now.”

Tip for 2021: Don’t be afraid to experiment with technology, content and ideas.

Globally-Based Is the New HQ

One unexpected change that COVID encouraged was the dissolution of being on-site. As people are working remotely more frequently, geographical location has become less important. Now, the focus can be on talent, rather than place. This opens up hiring to a global scale. And as Abbi says, your team can now be composed of “the best of the best.”

Watch the whole event for some insight on digital marketing now and looking ahead. For additional insight, Noble Studios stays up to date on what’s happening in the industry. Let’s work together.

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