One of the most challenging aspects of digital marketing is that it’s always changing. While certain elements remain both timeless and universal, like creating high-quality content for website visitors, it’s up to those who run their own digital marketing agencies to keep up and evolve to serve their clients.
As we transition into a fresh new year, it’s time to look ahead to what’s on the digital marketing horizon. Whether you’re an agency owner or run your own small business, you’ll want to stay on top of these trends. Below, Semify reviews some of the most important factors for digital marketing agencies to keep in mind for 2021.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic brought about major developments in terms of how we conduct internet searches and connect to brands online. From voice-powered search and local SEO tools to how agencies can create safer workplaces, here are just a few of what Semify has highlighted for digital marketing success throughout this year.
Voice-powered search functionality is nothing new, but it’s poised to take on even greater importance throughout 2021 and beyond. If you’ve ever asked Siri or Alexa to find an answer on your behalf, you already know just how convenient voice search can be.
As voice recognition improves its accuracy, our reliance on voice search features will only continue to increase. Whether you’re optimizing your own site or executing an SEO strategy for a client, you’ll want to consider voice search in your decision-making. For example, you should include an FAQ page featuring the questions that voice search users are most likely to ask. Long-tail keywords will also become more prominent as the public embraces voice search functionality.
Because mobile users are the ones who are most likely to use voice search, you’ll want to cater to these users as part of your digital marketing strategy. Agency owners should ensure their clients’ sites are mobile-friendly and easy to view and navigate on any device.
Mobile users are also more likely to look for search results nearby. And during the pandemic, we’ve seen an increased interest in local search results as consumers sought to support independently owned businesses in their area.
It’s consequently more important than ever for digital marketers to emphasize local SEO with their clients. When Semify reviews campaign setup for new clients, they make it a point to encourage the use of location-specific keywords, where applicable, and the ongoing use of Google My Business Listings.
Google My Business, or GMB, can be useful to both agency owners and small business owners across the nation. By claiming and updating your GMB profile, you can communicate hours of operation, contact information, and up-to-date service changes (particularly as local COVID-19 ordinances evolve). Not only can this be an additional way to connect directly to customers, but it will also increase your chances of appearing in the Google Map Pack — which can undeniably increase your visibility in search results. Agencies and other small businesses should take advantage of this platform’s features in 2021 in order to compete.
Google updates its algorithm thousands of times per year. And if you want to improve your agency’s or clients’ search rankings in 2021, it’s important to prepare to the best of your ability. While we don’t always know when an update will take place, we do know that Google is preparing to launch its Page Experience update sometime in May of this year. That gives you just a few months to get your site (or your clients’ sites) ready for what’s to come.
The Page Experience update will essentially target what users expect to see when they navigate to a specific webpage. Namely, they want the webpage to load quickly without delays and to enjoy a web experience that’s secure and consistent on any device.
We mentioned earlier how it’s wise to be accommodating to mobile users. Mobile web traffic now accounts for at least half of all web traffic, so you can’t put mobile-friendliness on the backburner. You’ll also want to prioritize switching to an SSL, improving load speed, reducing interactivity delays, and removing obtrusive pop-ups. While these action items might not seem to be part of a marketing plan, it’s important to remember that your strategy won’t translate to success if the site isn’t serving customers’ needs. As Semify reviews digital marketing trends for 2021, we know it’s crucial to include some web development aspects to support your strategy.
The pandemic changed a lot about the way we work. While many businesses have reopened to varying degrees and welcomed both employees and customers back for an in-person experience, others have opted to continue with a work-from-home model. Even if you’re eager to get things back to “normal,” it’s worth considering whether continued remote work may be best for your agency or small business, when possible.
Because Semify reviews cultural surveys from employees on a regular basis, they’ve known for years that their team values the freedom to work whenever and from wherever. Remote work has been an integral piece of the puzzle for many digital marketing agencies, as this work can easily be performed from anywhere in the world — provided with the right technological tools. And although this transition was a difficult one for some businesses, embracing the benefits of remote work can actually allow for success in other areas (like digital marketing).
Remote work can allow agency owners to save time by eliminating commutes, social distractions, and traffic delays. It can also help cut costs like unnecessary overhead and even sick days. Data shows that employees are often more productive when working from home, which can ultimately increase business efficiency and allow for more growth. And since staff members tend to experience greater work satisfaction while working from home — particularly during an ongoing pandemic — this can be to a business owner’s benefit, the costs associated with turnover will decrease as employees become more invested in their jobs.
What does this have to do with digital marketing? As an agency or business owner, the concept of remote work can provide both you and your employees more freedom. You’ll be in a better position to grow your agency due to the savings you’ll experience — and you’ll probably see even greater results for your clients. Working with a leaner business model can allow for more wiggle room and give you the chance to focus on the areas of your business that need your attention, rather than getting caught up in the everyday trials of traditional office work. And since many digital agencies can continue to serve their clients remotely without any disruptions to their work, there’s an expectation that this type of work setup will keep its popularity even in a post-pandemic world.
Above, we mentioned that remote work can increase efficiency and help operations run more smoothly. The same can be said for artificial intelligence, particularly in the digital marketing realm. While AI was once a term that many found to be threatening, it’s since been embraced as a supplemental tool that can make marketing even more economical and effective.
Artificial intelligence can already be used in a number of digital marketing applications. From personalized email blasts to programmatic advertising, AI can make it easier to automate tasks that would otherwise require substantial resources. Although the use of AI doesn’t mean you can or will completely eliminate your workforce, it does mean that they can make better use of their time and skills to help your business grow. Voice search already takes advantage of AI, so it makes sense to dive deeper into what this technology can do for your agency. Simply put, businesses that adopt the use of AI in some capacity this year will be in a great position to outpace their competitors and keep costs low.
As Semify scans the growing power of visual content, it’s become clear that static images — while still a crucial part of content marketing — won’t be the be-all and end-all of content development.
Video marketing has become increasingly important because it’s incredibly engaging. Videos are highly shareable, increase the time users spend on a page, and can have a huge impact on sales. Overwhelmingly, consumers say they prefer to learn about new products through short videos — and as we continue to live in a virtual world, video marketing content will continue to play a major role in how you promote your brand.
Remember that you don’t need your own film studio to produce compelling video content for yourself or your clients. When in doubt, keep things simple (or hire a professional designer and video editor to help you). Customers care more about the value a video provides than whether it looks like you’ve invested thousands into production. Be sure to caption your videos; not only will this make your content more accessible, but statistics show that many viewers prefer to watch with the sound off!
There’s no doubt that the pandemic hit many American businesses hard. If your agency has a client roster of non-essential business owners, you might have had no choice but to cut costs last year. And while many organizations are operating at full capacity again, there are others who are still adjusting to the challenges of COVID-19.
As you attempt to prepare for the unknowns that 2021 will bring, it makes sense that you’d want to do whatever you can to improve cost-efficiency without sacrificing quality. As Semify reviews digital marketing trends for this year, it’s likely that outsourcing services will continue to play a role in this sector for the sake of budgetary constraints.
That’s actually not a bad thing. While some business owners may not like the idea of relinquishing control, outsourcing certain digital marketing services — especially those that take up a lot of time or that are beyond your own skillset — can actually allow you to better serve your clients and grow your agency at the same time. As long as you can find a fulfillment partner that can offer affordable and high-quality services on your behalf, that can free up your schedule to devote to sales, customer service, and lead generation.
Whether you need SEO support, PPC expertise, web development assistance, or help with graphic design, freelancers and agency partners can take the work off your hands and ensure it’s completed in a way that will maximize your clients’ success. In the majority of cases, outsourcing will allow your business to save money while delivering a superior product.
As Semify reviews the digital marketing agency landscape in 2021, it’s clear that businesses will have to be more agile and innovative than ever before. As the pandemic rages on, agencies will likely continue to cut costs through the adoption of technology and more efficient processes. What’s more, digital marketers will have to factor customer behavior and user intent into their strategies at an even greater rate now. With consumers spending even more time online and businesses grappling to adjust to our new normal, it’s essential to retain flexibility and stay up-to-date on the trends that will shape our digital world.