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By Michael Bush, Commercial Director, Climb Online

Over the last 12 months, video conferencing tool Zoom experienced exponential growth, B2B social media platform, LinkedIn, saw a 60% increase in user content creation and 55% of UK buyers revealed they will continue to shop online even when the high street re-opens its doors.

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly accelerated the use of digital and now as we embark on another 12 months of change, it’s vital for brands to keep pace with the latest tech developments in order to resonate with their target audience and remain at the forefront of their marketplace.

Social Media to Drive Conversions

With social restrictions present for the duration of last year, it comes as no surprise that the use of social media platforms and online engagement soared throughout 2020.

It’s, therefore, clear that social media will continue to play a significant role for brands during 2021. However, instead of social content driving consumer interest and purchasing intent, platforms like Facebook and Instagram will form an integral part of the buying and conversion process, with increasing and easy-to-use integrations, like Instagram Shop, encouraging more and more consumers to complete their purchase without leaving the app.

This reinforced by a recent study from leading social media management platform, Sprout Social, which revealed 46% of Instagram users purchased one or more products advertised via sponsored IG Posts.

The lesson here? If your customers cannot purchase your product via social media, you’re not in the game.

Increase in Voice & Visual Search

At the start of 2020 it was forecast that 50% of all internet searches would be voice-based and that 30% would be completed using a device without a screen, such as Amazon Alexa.

While it is unclear as to whether this figure was reached, we know that increasing numbers of consumers globally are shifting to voice search, whether via voice-activated AI assistants on their desktops like Siri or via their smartphone devices.

Michael Bush

Michael Bush

With SEO experts revealing that voice search yields different results to text based searches, this is something all brands need to consider when executing their digital marketing and SEO strategies for 2021, particularly if they want to compete in increasingly saturated marketplaces.

In addition to voice search, visual search is continuing to climb, as the continuous evolution of Google Lens – Google’s image-recognition AI and AR algorithm – drives more and more web users from the use of text to image and video-based searches.

Like voice search, visual search is something all brands will need to consider as the trend continues to evolve throughout 2021, particularly when it comes to eCommerce. Simple but key starting points include the optimisation of image titles and descriptions across all imagery uploaded to the brand website, together with the use of alternative text or alt tags. Both make it easier for Google to locate imagery and engage potential customers in the product[s].

Brands with Purpose will Continue to Lead

For millions, 2020 will always have connotations of suffering and sacrifice, but it will also have connotations of change. Change that saw humanity become more human, change that provided us with the opportunity to evaluate how we live, work and operate and change that forced all of us to focus on what matters most.

For brands, this focus and intent moved beyond personal relationships with family, friends and colleagues to the relationships we as consumers have with the products and services we buy; where the brands with true and authentic purpose are those that have and will continue to come out on top as we navigate through 2021.

This supported by Deloitte’s 2021 Global Marketing Trends report, which confirms that consumers are seeking more human-centric businesses, with over 70% of those surveyed advising they appreciate the brands that have deepened their relationships with others during the pandemic.

Ultimately, technology will continue to accelerate throughout 2021 and beyond. To remain relevant, brands need to keep pace with the latest digital marketing trends, whilst taking time to consider how they communicate their purpose. Overall, a strategic balance between effective digital marketing activity and brand authenticity will be key to success.

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