2021 Digital Marketing and Strategy Predictions 

Brands will need to embrace the monetisation of their owned media assets 

We start our 2021 predictions looking at ways in which brands can create new revenue streams to supplement their primary business. 
Today, brands have a significant amount of data and audience reach, whether this be via their website visitors, social followers or CRM lists, where the primary focus is selling their products and services. 
With the impact of Covid-19, the need to diversify your business operations has been heightened and this is opportunity we feel every brand should consider, whether you manufacture your own products or resell other brands. 
This can be achieved via fostering relationships directly with or using technology solutions to support such as Lotame, Criteo and many more besides ... the possibilities are endless! 

Customer Experience will become the biggest factor in driving performance 

Our 2021 digital predictions continue, where we focus on the single biggest change in seo. Unlike many other Google updates, the search engine giant confirmed earlier this year that page experience would become a ranking factor. This was originally due to launch in January however extra time has been given due to the impact of covid19. 
Whilst it is no secret that this change is on the horizon for May 2021, we feel that by the end of next year it will become the biggest single factor driving performance. 
Google have already indicated that they will be testing visual indicators in the search results to show how sites fair against metrics such as site speed and content load stability. Being at the forefront of excellence in user experience will not only drive better rankings but also a higher clickthrough rate and more traffic from organic search ! 
Simply delight your customers and you will gain a strong market share! 

Loyalty programmes will be key to brands retaining customers 

Clearly a topic which isn't new, with the likes of Nectar Loyalty providing rewards for increased customer loyalty since 2002. 
The importance of loyalty has however been heightened with brands increasing their new customer base in 2020. With a tough outlook for the economy in 2021, due to the covid impact and brexit, brands should focus on retaining these new customers, increasing the frequency and their customer value. 
Whether you are a pure play or multi-channel brand, make sure you are considering solutions such Smile.io, LoyaltyLion and Annex Cloud (amongst others) as part of your 2021 strategic plans. 

Subscription models are now the norm and brands will need to adjust their service offering 

Although Covid-19 has meant the world has had more time at home, arguably the biggest consumer trend of 2020 has been the need to save time and cater to customers craving for convenience. As a result, subscription models have become more popular than ever before. 
With 22% of brands launching subscription models during lockdown and with the UK subscription box market is estimated to grow by 77% to be worth over £1 billion by 2022, brands need to move quickly on this trend in early 2021, to meet consumer expectations and not be left behind. 
Considering solutions from Bold Commerce and ReCharge Payments amongst others should be on the top of brands 2021 to do list! 

A flurry of cookieless tracking providers will enter the market 

Today we look at the impact that Google's announcement back in January that they will disabling cookies in Chrome. 
With 50% of browser market share, Googles change which is planned for 2022 will significantly impact both measurement and audience targeting which, heavily rely on cookies. 
We expect changes to existing tracking systems with Google Analytics products evolving with the launch of GA4 and other solutions such as Adobe Analytics having to adapt. There will also be more solutions available for brands to review, using techniques such as shared user id's and fingerprint solutions to bridge the cookie gap. 

A growth in second party data usage and contextual advertising due to the death of the cookie 

Not only will #tracking online activity be affected, so too will your #onlineadvertising campaigns. Today, many brands are using retargeting in search, display and paid social to drive performance. 
Remarketing providers will have to adapt and brands should look at alternative targeting techniques, including contextual targeting and using second party data. 

TikTok will overtake YouTube to become the number one video platform 

Have you embraced the #tiktok phenomenon yet? This year we have seen significant user growth, with more than 10% of the UK population now using the social media platform, more than 20% of social media's market share as reported by eMarketer, in addition to the launch of their advertising offering too. 
Although at the start of 2020, the touted audience for TikTok was the younger Generation Z age range, these core users have influenced a diversification in age over the last 12 months, with #lockdown family TikTok's becoming the norm. 
Coming into 2021, we expect this audience diversification to drive more brands to trial and increase their investment in TikTok advertising, potentially to the detriment of YouTube market share. 

Netflix to offer adverstisers the opportunity to advertise to their subscriber base 

The rise of on demand TV has seen strong year on year subscriber growth for platforms such as Netflix. Usage across the globe peaked in March 2020, with demand growing by more than 100% compared to March 2019. 
Netflix have continued to maintain that their service will remain ad free, with a statement made at the start of January 2020 on the topic. Is 2021 the year that investor pressure will win out? We think so. 

Brands will need to invest more in digitising their digital offering 

If 2020 has taught us one thing, the need to diversify and adapt as a business should be at the heart of all business'. With non essential stores, leisure and hospitality companies having to close their doors more than once this year, brands have had to adapt their offering and use digital methods to support it. 
The uncertainty that lies ahead and changing consumer behavior means that these sectors have to extend beyond having a brochure website. Dependent on the customer need, this could include the development of online consultations for health and wellbeing, virtual tours of properties to buy or rent or alternative payment solutions to facilitate online transactions or video conferencing for training services. 

Brands should be focussing on developing complemetary partnerships 

The saying two heads are better than one has been front and centre of all the brands who have successfully navigated 2020. 
Not only have companies pulled together, with teams working closer than ever before to get through operational challenges covid19 has thrown at us, those who have spotted opportunities to develop strategic partnerships with complementary brands are setup for a successful 2021. We have taken this approach with the development of our premium partner network. 
It's however not too late to jump on this trend. Whether this be to assist in the marketing, selling, delivery or distribution of their products and services, there is a partnership opportunity out there for you! 

An increase in the number of people testing and adopting social commerce 

Historically, brands have faced the challenge of proving the return on investment of their organic and paid social campaigns. marketing attribution (along with engagement metrics) has helped to justify the role it plays in the customer journey. 
However, over the last two years, social commerce opportunities have risen, with the latest including Instagram launching their shopping products into reels and IGTV. 
We would recommend more retailers test selling directly through social in 2021, to understand whether this provides incremental revenue. 

Brands should put more emphasis on developing relationships with microinfluencer and creating customer centric brand ambassador programme 

A survey in early 2020 from the Influencer Marketing Hub and CreatorIQ showed many positive findings when reviewing influencer marketing market including 
>> Influencer Marketing Industry is set to grow to approximately $9.7B in 2020 
>> 300% more micro-influencers utilized by large firms than in 2016 
>> Nearly 90% of all influencer campaigns include Instagram as part of the marketing mix 
>> 91% of respondents believe influencer marketing to be an effective form of marketing 
However, one of the challenges the report highlighted was in-house brands struggling to identify and recruit influencers! 
To navigate this challenge, brands should be continuing to explore developing #influencers in 2021, especially building direct relationships with microinfluencers, who will be more accessible and cost effective. We also advocate working with 3rd parties such as rewardStyle and Brandreward to increase the reach of your influencer campaigns. 
If you do not have one already, we highly advocate the creation of brand ambassador programmes which at the core would include your loyal customers, to bring authenticity to your brand. 
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