10 marketing channels you should focus on in 2021
A strategic marketer acknowledges that while there are numerous available marketing channels to display your brand, focusing on a selected few and performing well in those saves you time, effort, and marketing budget. Having a wide perspective in weighing the pros and cons of each channel, vis a vis the current pandemic situation is required from all marketing professionals.
Communi presents your ultimate guide on marketing channels to focus on this year, along with the respective trends in each channel.
1. Search Engine Optimisation Marketing (SEO)
If your brand seeks immediate attention (like all brands should), mastering and executing an effective search engine optimization is a must in your marketing strategy. After all, that familiar search bar on Google/Bing/Yahoo is our go-to destination whenever we need to know something. Making sure you show up on the search results though is tedious and tricky work. Tides have changed and the old-school understanding of SEO as a collection of algorithm does not hold anymore.
The key is understanding your audience’s search intent and making sure your content suffices his or her need.
Above all, a great SEO strategy should start by putting yourself in the user’s shoes and asking yourself if the content is truly valuable, the brand is trustworthy, and the website is easy to use (especially on mobile).
Apart from understanding search intent, focusing on user experience (UX) is also important. According to a recent study by Small Biz Genius, 88% of online consumers do not return after having a bad user experience. 70% of online businesses fail due to bad user experiences, which is why UX testing is crucial. This also means that providing an attractive and efficient UI (user interface) is also important.
While it may appear daunting to understand all these under the umbrella of SEO, all these contribute to your search ranking.
2. The Rise of Voice: Podcasts and Clubhouse
While podcast marketing started emerging in 2019, it gained massive traction in the second half of 2020 and is anticipated to be one of the most effective marketing channels in 2021. TechCrunch reported a 27% surge in podcast creation from the year before, bringing the total to 29 million podcast episodes, across 700,000 podcasts.
From the familiar Spotify and Apple capturing the 12-34 year old demographic, another promising key player called Clubhouse emerges this year. Clubhouse is an invite-only social networking app based on audio-chat. Users can listen in to conversations, interviews and discussions between interesting people on various topics – it is just like tuning in to a podcast but live and with an added layer of exclusivity. The Clubhouse trend started when Elon Musk hosted an audio-chat on Clubhouse with Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev. The event maxed out the app conversation room limits and was live-streamed to YouTube. It helped propel Clubhouse to the top of the startup charts and sparked a scramble for invitations.
These appeal to the audience because of the ease of use, enabling them to access it seamlessly at any time.
Secondly, there has been a looming fatigue setting in for smartphone users and video content watchers, owing to the increase in screen time for all efforts and purposes.
Podcasts serve a vital role in delivering information, where the audience often pick their podcasting hosts based on the quality. People have the thirst to be informed and stay motivated, and with no end in sight for the pandemic, podcasts will continue serving as the choice of platform to a significant audience slice.
3. Social Media Marketing – The Rise of Tiktok outside China
Focusing on social media for your brand’s marketing is a no-brainer. But the question is which channels should you give your attention to and what are the strategies you should be employing.
Let’s briefly touch on Instagram, a platform which was able to cut through all demographic and psychographic. When it comes to preparing for 2021, especially with Instagram marketing, there are two things that all marketers should take advantage of – SEO and Reels. Last year, it was officially announced that Instagram would become more search-friendly. Now, without the use of hashtags, if you search for a keyword in the search bar, relevant videos, profiles, and posts should populate.
The next Instagram trend is Reels, IG’s short-form video content feature aiming to battle Tiktok. Reels can be as easy as talking to your camera, just like stories. What makes reels so engaging is the fact that you can add music and text to keep things interesting. Leaks on IG algorithm early this year revealed that the platform prioritizes Reels content over other Instagram metrics, like comments, likes, and saves.
And then we move on to the elephant in the room, Tiktok. TikTok’s new trend report provides insight into the types of content likely to generate the most engagement in 2021.
Knowing which topics are resonating with TikTok users can help marketers stay ahead on the platform and connect with more consumers. What started as a platform for DIY hobbyists and short-form entertainment has quickly become a business platform for numerous brands.
Based on nearly a year’s worth of performance, Tiktok has identified the content categories that grew the most and the ones that remained among the most popular ones in 2020. These categories will continue to shape the platform in 2021, but at the same time, we expect the TikTok community to come up with many more new trends and topics. They always do.
4. Influencer Marketing
With the rise of short-form video content, comes the demand for influencers who has video channel presence. While Instagram continues to be the dominant force in influencer marketing, TikTok is gaining ground.
With the popularity of influencer marketing in recent years, consumers have started to distinguish between paid and inauthentic campaigns, and sometimes, this can hurt your brand more than help it. To make sure your influencer strategy is beneficial to your brand, make sure to inject genuine cause into your campaign. Most brands enter long-term partnerships with influencers who advocate the causes they are supporting.
5. Word-of-Mouth Marketing
According to Nielsen, 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family over any other type of advertising. It’s brought by the overall saturation of marketing in all forms and aspects that consumers rely heavier on the word of mouth (WOM) and shared experience of their peers.
The question is how can brands leverage word-of-mouth marketing to power their business. The answer is SATISFACTION.
According to Jonah Berger, a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, there are six basic principles behind creating content worthy of word-of-mouth and social influence, which he describes in detail in his book Contagious.
1. Social Currency: People like to give WOM recommendations if the recommendations will increase their status among their peers, make them look knowledgeable or smart or wealthy.
2. Triggers: Recommendations are top of mind or tip of the tongue.
3. Emotion: When we care about something, we are much more likely to talk about it.
4. Public: Since we look to others for information and advice, making your brand and products visible helps to boost WOM.
5. Practical Value: Human beings like to help others, so brands that offer practical value are likely to be more recommended.
6. Stories: We love good stories and memorize them much better; hence, they are more likely to be shared.
Brands have to leverage this information and focus on the clients’ experience to make sure their WOM strategy is in place.
6. Email Marketing
The digital marketing landscape is constantly changing, but one channel that consistently performs is email marketing. A key benefit of email marketing is its ability to tie together all of your digital marketing efforts. Email is usable on multiple devices and it can include social media, online video and other marketing elements all within the email marketing message.
Because it’s easy to track and measure, email marketing is also an excellent vehicle for testing new products, marketing messages/creative, promotions/offers, and more
The audience also craves authentic, informative, and positive content due to the unsettling feeling brought by the pandemic. According to data, an exponential increase in subscriptions was recorded last year during the height of COVID-19.
With that said, brands have to strategize their email marketing efforts as the channel itself has to be a completely positive experience – from the time a guest sees your subject line until he or she follows your call to action. If not properly, it may appear like spam which can bring adverse effects to your brand.
7. Events Marketing
One word – VIRTUAL. Holding brand events that add value to your audience is one foolproof way to ensure brand affinity. 95% of marketers agree that live events provide attendees with a valuable opportunity to form in-person connections in an increasingly digital world.
It may be tricky to gather people and hold live events depending on the restrictions of your location, but in whichever case, your events have to be audience-centric. How does your event meet their needs? What are their pain points?
How can your event solve a problem or offer a solution to them?
Just like other channels of marketing, events marketing has to be an entire experience by itself. From the moment you announce and allocate slots, the platforms where you announce it, the flow of your event until your post-event resources – reviews, recommendations, attendance proof, value, etc – everything has to be planned to the smallest detail.
8. Forums Participation
QUORA, REDDIT, tech boards, etc – while they may be considered a social media channel, we have decided to discuss this separately. There has been a massively growing interaction among like-minded individuals in forums. This is why it is an ideal platform for marketing. You have to remember, however, to tread softly. Remember that people aren’t hanging out in forums to listen to your marketing pitch. And yes, forum administrators typically have their antennae alert for anything they consider spam.
How do you establish your brand? Signature is key!
Participate in discussions and make sure to establish your affinity to your company through signatures. Of course, always remember to post and comment responsibly.
9. Video Marketing and Thought Leadership
Another trending marketing channel or form is video marketing, focusing on thought leadership. Thought leaders are not limited to the CEOs and founders of the company, as subject matter experts can also speak about their craft. The catch being, you have to be precise on what you are discussing.
Developing a community filled with engaging thought leaders should be the goal of any company.
These communities improve the user experience. Thought leadership is not one specific strategy for converting leads. Instead, it aims to encourage and foster interaction and participation with your target audience.
10. Brand Partnership
Brand partnerships may not be taken as seriously as other marketing channels, but this is a very effective way to achieve brand awareness. It allows you to branch into new markets and it also offers a fresh perspective of your brand.
There are three types of brand partnerships one can explore, depending on the industry your business is in:
1. Affiliate marketing. A mutually-beneficial strategy which involves collaboration with a publisher, such as a brand, blogger or website.
2. Distribution partnership. When a certain brand will bundle up other brands products or services among their products or services. And in some cases, a brand will also cross-market both products or services to their customer base.
3. Cross-promotion. Business partners will promote each other to their particular audiences. Or where each of the partners will perform joint-marketing tasks.
In choosing a brand partner, make sure to select one that mirrors the similar values and beliefs of your business.
When it comes to finding a great partner, this is when research counts a great deal. Whatever a potential partner does in the future, will reflect either positively negatively on your brand, so this is an important decision for you to make. Researching also makes sure you refrain from potential conflicts of interest.
Your Brand Ally
While identifying this year’s key marketing channels is important, finding your brand a trusted ally makes the difference in attaining business success. Communi will walk you through the fundamentals of marketing, branding, and will position your brand as market leaders using an optimized budget, and tailored and strategic marketing.
Our passion is to assist brands to make the best use of their digital opportunities across all platforms to retain and even expand customer base From strategy to execution, we work with you as a partner, making our marketing solutions integrated and highly effective.