By Saranya Babu, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Wrike
There is no doubt that last year had its challenges. With the economy at rock bottom and the majority of businesses facing severe financial hardship, marketing departments across the world felt the pinch. Industry-wide cut-backs resulted in a dramatic decrease in spending throughout the year, accumulating in the fourth quarter with 24% of marketers recording a further decline in budgets as a result of the pandemic.
However, with new vaccinations bringing the hope of recovery – both in terms of the country’s health and economy – the marketing industry is preparing to bounce back. After spending 2020 in crisis mode, many are ready to boost their investments. Earlier this month, the CMO Council found that 65% of marketers plan to increase their marketing spend in 2021.
The challenge for marketers moving forward will be knowing where to spend that money. Despite future prospects looking bright, the road to recovery is likely to be a long one. There is no guarantee of success, and marketing teams must ensure that the tactics and strategies they choose to deploy deliver the ROI (return on investment) they need.
Yet, with so many trends and the naturally fast-paced nature of the marketing landscape, it can be difficult to know what to focus on. Although the future is impossible to predict, there are three areas that marketers should take note of this year:
1) The face of content marketing will change
Content marketing has long been considered one of the most effective ways to increase audience engagement and develop a brand presence. However, in recent years, we’ve seen a noticeable shift away from its traditional written format.
Although blogs and whitepapers will remain an important tool for brands wanting to communicate to their customers, the majority of today’s consumers are really after something a little more digestible. This is where video content, in particular, is set to play an important role. In fact, The Content Marketing Institute recently discovered that 71% of B2B marketers and 66% of B2C marketers already use this format to connect to their audiences. Whether in the form of short tutorials or live webinars, we can expect to see even more video content moving forward.
If this video content is to be a success, we need to apply the usual principles when it comes to personalisation and the consumer journey. Today’s consumers expect more targeted and relevant marketing than ever before, with 66% admitting that encountering non-personalised content would stop them from making a purchase. Therefore, the most successful material will target customers directly and offer true value, without trying to explicitly sell them anything.
2) Search intent will matter most when it comes to SEO
We all know that SEO is one of the most important ways a brand can drive traffic to its website. The higher a page ranks on a search engine, the more likely users will click on it and begin that initial interaction.
In the past, some have relied on keyword stuffing and other dicey strategies to boost their ranking. However, Google has worked hard to improve its algorithm over the years. So much so that it can now determine the search intent behind a specific search query. Whether a user is looking for information about the weather or searching for a product to buy, Google will rank its results based on what it thinks the user wants to see.
This, in turn, makes it really important for marketers to focus on the end user and their search intent. Regardless of what marketing collateral is being produced – whether written or video – teams need to ensure that it is relevant to the user’s search query. That might mean making sure your landing page is informational as opposed to transactional, with links to separate sales pages for those looking to buy.
3) Virtual events will become the norm
When the pandemic hit, in the interest of keeping people safe and limiting the spread of the virus, industry events and tradeshows across the world were put on hold. For many, the solution was to go virtual. Surprisingly, this monumental change has brought about some positive results.
Companies have found themselves saving money and time. Meanwhile, the pool of potential invitees and attendees has exploded, as people from across the world can instantly join without even having to think about travelling. This virtual landscape also enables marketers to collect valuable feedback and measure results in order to inform future events. Speakers can insert real-time polls or surveys into their presentations and it becomes much easier to gather certain data – such as number and location of attendees – when everyone logs on online.
Even when things do return to normal and physical events are able to go ahead, the likelihood is that this virtual trend will continue in some format. In fact, 80% of people predict that in-person and virtual events will co-exist moving forward. Therefore, marketers need to prepare themselves for a hybrid future.
Making the right choices
The role of the marketing team has never been more important. In today’s climate, implementing the most effective marketing tactics and strategies could be the difference between an entire business surviving or collapsing. With this year promising an increase in budgets, marketers need to ensure that they are making the right choices and setting themselves up for future success.
Regardless of what trend the team decides to focus on, the key will be to think carefully and monitor efforts in order to understand what works best for the wider business and its key audiences. It is only then that marketers will be ready for whatever comes next.