2020 had a dramatic impact on industry the world over. Almost universally, businesses have been forced to re-evaluate their customer's needs and innovate niche strategies to market and retail their product or service in order to adapt to the restrictions that COVID-19 contingency plans have dictated as well as the restrictions and opportunities it presents them with.
Employees have predominantly worked from home unless supporting front line, customer-facing businesses. With the vaccine in sight, hopes are high for a return to some semblance of normality soon. However, in some cases, remote working will continue to be necessary to reduce unnecessary exposure to infection well into 2021. Inbound marketing strategies for 2021 will continue to require intelligent, considered processes which provide fit-for-purpose solutions for social distancing issues.
An uplift in posts planned across social channels
Throughout 2020 the amount of time an average user spent engaged with their social media channels skyrocketed. With so many people isolated during lockdown, the need to engage with friends and colleagues intensified. 4.5 billion people now regularly use the internet and of these, the number of social media users have passed the 3.8 billion mark. The opportunity to grab your users attention and convert this into sales is massive. Each time a person uses a device to access a contact or lead in search of that dopamine fix, the opportunity to present a post that appeals to users unmet needs is presented. By increasing the activity on your social media with links to blog posts, podcasts or limited offers, more eyes are directed towards your brand. 2021 is the year to establish a social media strategy that keeps the conversations going. By encouraging users to interact, comment and be on the lookout for your daily input, the return on this content will increase revenue and help establish you as a forward-thinking brand.
Get yourself on the map
Maximising your visibility with local listings can be lucrative. There has been a huge push to support local businesses and keep them afloat throughout the pandemic. With so many startups and independent companies struggling, many consumers are making a conscious effort to invest in their local outlets. Looking over local listings online and checking that your business is verified and your SEO is vital. 'Google My Business' is a useful tool for listing opening hours and updating customers on changes to them. When a customer arrives at your outlet to make a purchase, if your business is closed and the hours of opening are incorrect, this could not only lose a sale but also the opportunity for capitalising on returning business. Make life as easy for your customer as possible; The 'near me' feature on Google is great for drawing direct attention to your proximity to other businesses as well as customers. If you are noticing your SEO is struggling, consider paying for your listing to be upgraded for a time to make you more visible. This in turn can organically increase your future SEO.
Make yourself more available
With lockdown reducing the working hours of many businesses, there is sometimes a mismatch between the need for access to products and services and their availability. With social distancing rules limiting the numbers of customers allowed in store, new laws are were in place to allow shops to open 24-hours a day in the run-up to Christmas. To help ease the considerable strain and demand this is likely to have on employees, think creatively about what you can do about this. With many employees remaining at home during their working days and children back at school, there can be more flexibility scheduling day time and weekday appointments. Use your socials to draw attention to time slots, availability or opportunity to provide for your customer needs, without having to eat into their precious evening and weekend time. Create a subscriber list so you can contact customers directly to confirm upcoming appointments or orders via text, email or phone call.
Interactive content to engage with your consumer
Using intuitive tools to market your assets helps improve customer engagement and retention. Think laterally when designing software to promote your brand. Something as simple as a new filter on Instagram, a budget calculator on your web page, a quiz or game on Facebook or a competition for a giveaway which requires users to tag friends and share posts, all get your brand pushed to front and centre of fresh eyes. Not only does this entice people to spend longer learning about your product or service, but in turn, you can retain and utilise the data harvested from these strategies. Once you have trialled various methods, you will be able to identify the things that improve your visibility and this will help you focus in more detail on replicating this software progressively. Ultimately independent tools used to entertain or inform your customers will substantiate your brand's reputation as trailblazing and enhance its appeal.
As pointed out earlier in this feature, social media engagement increased substantially from week to week throughout the pandemic. We are all in search of information or entertainment to bring hope or escapism from the reality of the difficulties we have all been facing in our lives during the pandemic. Although this created opportunities for marketing strategies, it also potentially diminished productivity. Distracted by the constant background noise of our social channels, the home environment, those we live alongside also working remotely, as well as the constant draw of the fridge and television to ease our boredom or waning attention span, helping to motivate our employees is imperative. Invite them to contribute to the inbound marketing strategies and offer engaging working culture activities to keep their morale high and their focus of attention in check. Offering incentives for those who conceptualise inbound marketing strategies is a great way to keep everyone feeling part of a team, inspired by new ideas. The key message for 2021 is to be open-minded and optimistic. If your team can keep at the front of the race during this incredibly challenging era, success will be yours by the time the pandemic has run its course.