Digital Marketing Forecast 2021
December 29, 2020
2020 has been a crazy year for digital marketers all over the world. The pandemic has greatly accelerated digital adoption rates across all industries, in particular in retail and F&B. Consumer habits have transformed overnight, leaving businesses and digital marketers scrambling to find new ways to attract, engage and retain customers.
Luckily, in Singapore, grants such as the Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) and Digital Resilience Bonus (DRB) have been set up to help local businesses stay afloat. Business owners were more receptive to marketing campaigns to go online, now seeing the need to do so. E-commerce transactions skyrocketed overnight, with more Singaporeans turning to online platforms to shop, even for items like groceries which are traditionally brick-and-mortar strongholds. But the question on everyone’s mind is whether this e-commerce boom will continue its momentum into 2021. Our opinion here at FirstCom, based on the steady flow of ecommerce developments even in the 4th quarter, is that Singapore’s e-commerce scene will continue its growth into the new year. To help you take advantage of this, here are our predictions on digital trends in 2021 so you can plan for your digital marketing strategy for the new year.
#1 Facebook: News Feed Ads Will Remain On Top
Earlier in 2020, Socialbakers’ Q3 2020 Media Trends Report found Facebook’s Newsfeed ads to have the highest click-through rate (CTR) than any ad format on the platform, at 1.82% compared to 0.85% for video feeds, and 0.65 percent for instream videos. With circuit breaker measures keeping us cooped up in our homes, it is no wonder people are paying more attention to their news feeds to connect with friends and family.
To the marketeer, how you write and style your captions has never been more important. Whether it’s picking a relevant image for your Newsfeed ad or adopting good copywriting practices, your audience’s attention span is not one you can take for granted in 2021.
#2 Facebook: Short Video Ads Are Key
So it is clear that newsfeed ads with gifs or static images are the best way to get eyes on your digital advertisements — but what’s the next best format if you’re really looking to maximize your Facebook advertising dollar?
The answer is video marketing. After images, videos are the second most consumed content on Facebook. According to Socialbakers, video content has been steadily increasing, rising 2.6% in from 2019 to 2020. With increased boredom levels from staying at home, this should come as no surprise. The most effective video formats on Facebook are 8 to 15 second GIFs and short videos between 65 seconds to five minutes long. In fact, the average watch time for videos on Facebook is around 4.57 seconds.
Also, having your video ad being able to be conveyed equally well without sound is something many marketers don’t optimize for. You can either opt for automatic captions, or alternatively, add them in your video before publishing it on Facebook. Research has shown that video ads with captions correlate with an average of 12% more video view time.
Whatever type of video ad you are planning to run, Facebook’s flexibility gives marketers a variety of ways to showcase their products or services — a worthy addition to your toolkit.
#3 Instagram: Reels Are the New Trend
In response to TikTok’s increasing popularity, Instagram launched Instagram Reels in August this year, enabling users to easily create short videos up to 15 seconds within their platform. Users can choose to upload a recorded video straight from their mobile phone, or shoot and edit multiple clips into one — adding their own sound and visual effects using Instagram’s in-built editor.
Many businesses are taking advantage of this new format by producing short, easily digestible tutorials or step-by-step instructions or industry tips for customers. The fashion industry in particular have embraced Instagram stories, using it to showcase outfit combination and styles. Other forms of content to explore include behind the scenes, or the building of a product from start to finish, which are topics your potential customers would be interested in.
Over here at FirstCom, we took the opportunity to run Instagram Reels and videos for our client, Tankfully Fresh, by engaging influencers to feature cooking recipes using their seafood products. This was a huge success with audiences during the early days of Covid-19 restrictions where there was a huge increase in searches for home-cook recipes and tutorials.
With its ability to create easily shareable content and the potential to boost your brand’s organic content reach, savvy digital marketers will surely be looking at adding Instagram Reels to their arsenal.
#4 Ecommerce Goes Social
With both Facebook and Instagram launching their respective “Shops” platform, social media users can now purchase their desired products without having to leave the platform. This feature is free, which means even smaller businesses with their limited budget can setup an online store to sell from.
Going into 2021, this feature is sure to pick up steam as more social media users become accustomed to its convenience. Existing e-commerce merchants will need to maintain a presence on multiple platforms. Great care should be taken to ensure a smooth user experience on your social media shops.
For us digital marketers, we would want to take advantage of in-app purchases, exploring advertisements with direct links to shop products that spur urgency amongst consumers. Using retargeting ads and implementing a robust retargeting strategy will be of utmost importance. Consumers on social media are unlikely to purchase on their first visit, and are best captured when reminded of your product throughout the day. According to research, retargeted ads have increased conversion rates of 43% and click through rate is 10 times that of regular display ads. Hence, the winning strategy is not just going social, but also having a robust conversion plan in place.
#5 SEO: Google’s Featured Snippet Takes Center Stage
SEO strategies in the past have always centered around getting your website to the front page. While this isn’t changing, Google’s new featured snippets can now answer a user’s questions without them having to even enter any site from the search results. While the idea of appearing on a listing that doesn’t get clicks into your website might sound strange at first, it is significant in boosting the authority of your overall website in the eyes of Google’s algorithm — which is potentially worth much more than a single site visit.
Hence, optimize with the goal in mind of being featured in Google’s snippet results. Doing so not only helps you to streamline your site’s content, but also makes you ask yourself what your audiences would find valuable to them. Research has shown that audiences were more likely to convert to a purchase from how they can benefit from a product, rather than the number of features the product has, or how established the seller is. In 2020, relevancy is key and will be in even greater focus ahead.
#6 SEO: Don’t Ignore Google’s Context-based Searches
Google’s algorithm is ever evolving, and digital marketers often need to adjust their SEO strategy to address semantic search. Rather than just focusing on keywords, semantic search takes into account contextual factors and user intent to deliver accurate search results.
So, what does all this mean if you’re an owner of an e-commerce store looking to market your product online? Simply put, stop focusing on product keywords and start answering potential questions your customers might have. A good place to start is to look at frequently asked questions you might receive on a daily basis. Rather than tossing them into an FAQ page on your website, you could opt to create a detailed answer in the form of an article or instructional video in order to capture those search queries. The similar idea of addressing your user’s questions and needs first as priority is also key here.
#7 SEM: Expertise is in demand
In a time where customer journeys are fragmented across multiple touchpoints, platforms and devices — knowing how to trawl through large amounts of data, when to switch strategies, and how to maximize your ad budget ROI are skills that will set you apart from your competitors.
Hence, getting an in-house staff to learn on the job might not be the best for your business, especially in paid search where advertising dollars can be spent in the blink of an eye. Luckily, resources to learn SEM are aplenty, such as from Google itself which features courses and certifications for marketeers to learn the ropes of paid advertising.
The SEM specialist should be familiar with Smart Campaigns or Goal-optimized Shopping Campaigns, and bidding wise Automated Bidding and Responsive Search Ads.
An alternative to having a dedicated staff to learn the ropes of SEM would be to engage a SEM agency in Singapore. There are numerous SEM packages available in the Singapore market tailored for different industries, so choose wisely if you are going that route.
#8 SEM: Voice and Visual Searches Rise Up
With the rise of smart home devices and voice-activated assistants, voice search is unsurprisingly on the up. At the same time, apps like Google Lens are allowing people to identify unknown items and search just by snapping a photo.
While both of these methods have been around for a few years, they’ve been refined to a point where they’re able to be much more accurate and reliable — leading to their mainstream use. In 2018, Google reported that voice searches accounted for 27% of all searches made by the global online population.
But people aren’t just using voice search to find information. Two years ago voice commerce was touted to be the next big retail disrupter, the industry was predicted to jump from $2b a year in 2018 to $54b a year in 2022. Another study by Walker Sands found millennials to be the primary group most likely to make repeat purchases with voice assistants. And with millennials set to surpass the post-war boom generation in the next few years, adoption is likely to increase even further.
But what does the rise of voice and visual searches mean if you’re marketing for an e-commerce store?
For voice search: include long-tail keywords in your landing pages and ensure their titles sound conversational. This will help match with the natural way people make voice queries. Consider how you, as a user, will search for a product or service. Will it be “best hairstylist for men in Yishun Singapore”, or “hairstylist Singapore”? As Google seeks to refine its algorithms to match how people search, marketeers should also start putting themselves in their consumers’ shoes first for any proposed marketing strategy.
For image search: Pay attention to proper metadata information on your website pictures and give them user-friendly names so they can be picked up by search engine crawlers easily. For instance, a product named gothic-tablelamp-10A is easier to read than an image titled, say lamp23433a. If it’s friendly for humans to read, it will be friendly for search engines too.
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From social media marketing to SEO and pay-per-click ads, the world of digital marketing can feel overwhelming to the small business owner. Whether you’re a new startup or an established brand, understanding the nuances of each aspect of digital marketing can take away valuable time and resources better spent on running your business.
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