It’s 2021, and it’s all about digital. While it’s true that the world was rapidly digitizing before 2020, it’s fair to say last year sped things up. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, companies were faced with switching to digital as quickly as possible to keep their business thriving. Employees needed to work from home, and customers required to receive the same great experience despite the upheaval going on in the world. First, let’s look at some of the most significant digital trends you need to be aware of in 2021.
Digital Trends You Need to Know in 2021
Reassuring Your Customers is More Important Than Ever
You probably heard the word “unprecedented” more times in 2020 than ever before. Towards the end of 2020, the word became so overused that it was more likely to induce an eye roll than grabbing attention. However, the fact still stands; 2020 was unprecedented. The things we used to rely on suddenly became uncertain, and this led to widespread anxiety.
Your customers are experiencing this anxiety, and that’s why reassuring them is so important. In your messaging to customers, you should include statements about how you prioritize health, safety, and well-being of your customers and employees. You should also communicate clearly about any challenges you’re facing with supply chains. Customers feel reassured if they know their delivery might be a little late, but they know the reason why. If you don’t communicate this, they might believe your company is facing hardship and they might never get their product.
Digital Transformation is a Top Priority
2020 proved that digital transformation is a must-have, not a nice-to-have. The companies who had already embarked on their digital transformation journey vastly outperformed those who hadn’t. In 2021, your customer’s lives have become, or are rapidly becoming, digital-first. They not only want a digital option; they now prefer the digital option. If you fail to deliver these digital experiences, you’re adding unnecessary friction to the buying process and stand to lose customers as a result.
The Key to Efficient Remote Work is Cross-Functional Team Collaboration
In 2020, vast swaths of the workforce started working remotely, most of them for the first time. This new way of working presented many challenges for some companies, and productivity and efficiency were impacted as a result. However, after a whole year of learning and collecting data, we now have a much clearer picture of what makes efficient remote working. It turns out; the key is cross-functional team collaboration.
According to creative giant Adobe, 53% of large organizations say that outdated workflows slow down their process and get in the way of digital transformation efforts. The reasons behind this are data silos and a culture of not sharing. In 2021, companies should focus on breaking down these silos, updating old processes, and promoting data sharing between teams.
Customers are Attracted to Brands that are Socially and Environmentally Conscious
Smart brands understand that ousting your competitors requires more than competitive pricing and regular discounts. Consumers today are more focused than ever on what the companies they buy from stand for. Is this company I’m about to give my money to environmentally conscious? Do they support the charities I like? Do they stand up for the human rights or animal rights causes I care about?
In the digital age, customers not only have a lot of options, but they’re also exposed to more options than ever before. Twenty years ago, consumers may have had a similar number of options, but due to social media and online experiences being somewhat limited, they would only see a select few options. Today, when consumers are faced with multiple similar options, they pick the company that most aligns with their world view.
Storytelling is Everything in 2021
Storytelling isn’t new. You only have to look at the Norse, Greek, Egyptian, and Sumerian mythologies to know that human beings have been reframing their existence and experiences through stories for thousands of years. And these mythologies just represent our earliest written records. You can bet that human tribes and societies have been telling stories since the beginning of time. Stories are how we make sense of the world.
Currently, there’s a massive focus on the power of storytelling for digital marketing. By selling your products through stories, you draw consumers in emotionally and create a memorable impression. You spark excitement in your product and help the consumer visualize what your product can do for them. In 2021, we expect to see more companies becoming experts at digital storytelling.
6 Digital Experiences You Should Adopt Today
Omnichannel is a term that means creating a cross-channel unified business strategy that promotes user experience. The idea behind omnichannel approaches is to break down silos and create a consistent and cohesive experience across different channels. These can be communication channels like email, live chat, chatbots, and so on. It can also mean unifying employee software so workers can do everything from one app, rather than switching between multiple different windows and repeating data. In 2021, Omnichannel is becoming the new normal.
What’s the Difference Between Omnichannel and Multi-Channel?
Many people get confused between the two because they both involve using several channels. However, they are distinct approaches.
First, let’s start with channels. A channel is a medium through which a brand can communicate with its customers. A channel can be anything from the website, physical stores, an online ad, online social media profiles, and even product packaging. Some channels are digital, and others, like physical stores, are not. A multi-channel approach is when a company uses multiple channels to spread the message about its brand. These channels usually function separately and are not linked or dependent on each other. By contrast, an omnichannel approach is about integrating all of the channels together to provide a seamless customer experience.
In 2021, through the rise of smart technologies, consumers interact with more devices and mediums than ever before. For example, a user might have a smartphone, a smartwatch, a smart refrigerator, a computer, a car, and so on—these present multiple opportunities for brands to think outside the box and attempt new ways to reach customers.
Webinars, or web seminars, are video workshops, lectures, or presentations where you interact with customers to impart knowledge. The goal of a webinar is to teach the viewer something. They should come away having learned something new that they can apply to their life.
Webinars are excellent digital experience tools for several reasons:
- They help you generate lists, which ultimately results in more leads. Every viewer is a new potential customer.
- They establish you as an industry authority or expert. Consumers like to buy from companies respected in their field and who know what they’re talking about.
- Webinars help you create content you can share in the future. You can upload your webinars to your website and YouTube and attract new customers long into the future.
- Every webinar is a branding and marketing ou opportunity. Webinars help build your brand and communicate your skills and what you offer. You can also have a background with your logo etc., to market your company while talking.
- They’re useful for training new employees.
Since consumers are spending more time indoors and online, webinars have become a great way to learn something new and advance their skills. By offering webinars, you offer a richer digital experience to your customers.
What Type of Webinar Should You Create?
When it comes to the types of webinars, we can split them into style and purpose.
The webinar style is whether you want to use a whiteboard, slide show, or just talk at the camera.
The purpose of a webinar can be anything you want it to be, but the most common are:
- Product webinars (showcasing how your product works).
- User onboarding (great for software).
- Customer retention (connecting with existing customers by offering them a free digital experience with a high value).
Customer retention webinars can be highly effective because their main appeal is exclusivity. You’re making your customers feel unique and valued by giving them an offer no one else can get.
Chatbots are no longer the clunky, awkward, and sometimes downright dumb robotic alternative to real customer service agents. Today, with the rise of AI, automation, data analytics, and machine learning, chatbots are more intelligent than ever. They can understand context, dialect and remember details from the entire conversation. They can also expertly pull data from applications around the business to make high-quality decisions based on individual customer needs.
These are the reasons you need chatbots if you don’t already have them:
- 58% of B2B companies have a chatbot on their website, compared with 42% for B2C websites. The percentages are increasing every year.
- 40% of Millennials engage with chatbots daily.
- Chatbots saw a 92% use increase in 2019, becoming the brand communication channel with the highest growth.
Chatbots allow you to communicate with your customers outside of your operating hours, ensuring your customers always get the help they need when they need it.
4. Self Service Knowledge Bases
Self-service has become a significant focus for businesses in the last few years, and the reasons for this are numerous. A self-service knowledge base is a collection of short and concise articles that customers can navigate to if they have a problem. Typically, the help page will ask the user questions or ask them to select an area and then use a tree structure to provide the user with the right information. For example, on the Apple website, users have to choose whether their problem is with their phone, iPad, iWatch, Mac, etc. They will then be asked what type of problem they have—for example, Connectivity, Passcodes, Physical Damage, Battery, etc.
In 2021, customers have come to expect access to self-service content. They don’t always want to take time out of their day to talk to an agent.
5. Close the Gap Between Digital and the Real World
Do you like to host events for your employees? Well, why not hold an online party or event. Events are often a great way to generate content for your marketing. For example, if you have an Instagram account, you can share photos, videos, and lives from your company event. Doing this allows your customers to see behind the scenes and get a feel for what kind of company you are and what your employees are like. In a hyper-personalization world, getting a closer look inside a company is a powerful way of connecting with your customers.
6. Focus on Hyper-Personalization
If you’re not already using customer data to deliver more personalized digital experiences, then you should be. The first thing to do is get your data in order. Decide what customer data you want to collect and how you should go about doing this. After a short while, you’ll start to get a clear picture of who your customers are and what they respond to. You’ll find that some customer segments respond better to some content than others. You’ll find that your conversions skyrocket when you start offering personalized content and offers to your customers.