As 2020 draws to a close, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact every area of our lives. With the UK currently experiencing its second wave of the pandemic, little seems likely to change with the arrival of a new year. 31st December will also mark the end of the Brexit transition period and the UK’s departure from the EU, with what looks set to be no deal in place.
2021 will undoubtedly hold more challenges and change for UK businesses – but it also offers opportunities and optimism. And we’re going to focus on the latter. Here are three of the digital marketing trends we believe will matter next year. Get ahead in 2021 by making them a key part of your marketing strategy.
Renewed focus on user experience
With two national lockdowns and the high street all-but out of operation, more consumers than ever are shopping online. In fact, data shows that 38% of UK consumers made purchases online that they had previously only made in store as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Offering the best possible user experience is one way brands can remain competitive in an increasingly crowded marketplace, and an upcoming change to Google’s algorithm reflects this renewed focus on UX.
From May 2021, new page experience signals will be rolled out which will have an impact on Google Search rankings. Known as the Core Web Vitals, these are part of Google’s Web Vitals initiative, which provides guidance on the quality signals that deliver great user experience. You can learn more about Core Web Vitals and what their introduction means for your website here.
By defining these Core Web Vitals, Google aims to simplify user experience and help site owners focus on the metrics that matter most. Whether you are an e-commerce retailer, a brand marketing your services online, or both, offering the best user experience should be a key focus for your business in 2021.
Connection in the age of social distancing
Even if the second lockdown in England ends as planned on the 2nd December, social distancing seems here to stay for 2021. According to the Office for National Statistics, Britain saw its highest levels of loneliness since the pandemic began in the week after the clocks went back in October. With many people left isolated by the ongoing effects of the pandemic, creating human connection wherever possible has become even more essential.
Many businesses will feel a sense of social responsibility to support their customers through a challenging winter. Social media offers a way to stay connected with customers even as shops remain closed and face to face meetings continue to be cancelled. Businesses should consider how they can use their channels not just to communicate with or market to customers, but to start conversations about the challenges we are all facing. Establishing this human connection could have a lasting positive impact on customer loyalty and brand image long into the future.
Increase in virtual experiences
The coronavirus pandemic has pushed brands and businesses to be more creative with their use of virtual experiences. When lockdown meant estate agents could no longer offer in-person viewings, many increased their use of video walkthroughs to allow potential buyers to take virtual property tours. Although adapting in this way was a necessity, it also improved the quality of physical viewings. Those who proceed with an in-person viewing having already viewed a property via a video tour are more likely to be serious buyers.
Similarly, with consumers unable to browse products in store, online product videos have become even more important. As well as increasing online sales, informative and engaging product videos can also help reduce return rates, as people can make more informed purchases – just like the home buyers who know more about their potential new property. And with over 70% of UK consumers planning to browse for Christmas gift ideas and buy presents online more than in previous years, virtual experiences have a big role to play in helping retailers secure sales, both during the festive period and into 2021.
Whatever the next year holds, Unity Online is here to support your business through the challenges and opportunities of 2021. Get in touch to find out how we can create a firm foundation for your future success with our digital marketing services.