The world of digital marketing is fast-paced and ever-evolving. New trends are constantly emerging, providing fresh and exciting ways for brands and marketers to engage with their consumers, attract new ones, and keep them stimulated. With this, it is important to stay in the know and keep your brand up-to-date with the oncoming trends that are taking over the digital landscape. So, if you’re looking for new ways to enhance your brand’s online presence, keep reading. This week, we’ve put together a list of some notable trends to consider for your 2021 digital marketing strategy.
1. QR CODES
A QR code stands for quick response code. This is a form of mobile marketing that has become vastly popular within the past year. While the concept originated in 1994, they have only gained widespread popularity now, amidst the emergence of COVID-19. In fact, according to a survey by Statista, it’s estimated that 11 million US households were projected to have scanned a QR code in 2020. Though these codes only became popular due to the ongoing pandemic, there are countless reasons why they have revolutionized the industry and will not be going anywhere any time soon.
A QR code is designed to share encrypted information about a business or product when scanned by a user. Today, these codes can easily be scanned and accessed with the cameras of our smartphones. When scanned, the code’s unique pattern directs the user to a webpage or other recognizable assets from that company. Examples of assets include menus, fill-out forms, coupons, social channels, shopping and more (the list really does go on). They can be placed virtually anywhere from videos to product packaging.
Some other benefits of the QR code include:
- It promotes a call-to-action
- Visually prompts users curiosity
- Increases traffic to website and socials, ultimately increasing brands’ SEO
- Supports good health and safety practices during these uncertain times
- Promotes sustainability
- Enables quick and easy access to necessary information in the comfort and safety of their own devices
- High versatility
- Measurability — actions taken by QR codes are trackable to understand the success of digital marketing campaigns
2. LIVE SHOPPING
Live Shopping is a new, interactive way to promote e-commerce. As consumers get used to more engaging and personalized experiences, Live Shopping makes it easy for them to interact with retailers in real-time and in a digital space. This version of shopping reaps both the advantages of traditional, brick-and-mortar shopping while also immersing it into the digital landscape.
Let’s break it down even more. Traditional, in-store settings provide a means for a seamless customer service experience, where consumers can have their needs met, such as questions or recommendations immediately. With Live Shopping, retailers can demonstrate and promote their products to a live, online audience. Through live-streaming, consumers can interact with the retailer through video and chat in real-time, ask questions, and receive further insight into the product.
Many advantages come with this new digital marketing tool:
- It reduces the possibility of manipulation of imagery, which is often a concern with online shopping
- Allows for retailers to interact with multiple consumers at once
- Provides widespread reach to consumers all over the world
- Enables consumers to foster and strengthen interpersonal relationships with the brand in a digital space
- Keeps audiences more entertained and engaged
- Promoting exclusive deals through the live stream can prompt more users to tune in to keep them in-the-know
- Through the fear of missing out, this exclusivity factor can also encourage more sales.
One of my personal favourite Live Shopping retailers is @shopthinglive on Instagram. They hold different events every day on their stories where they sell authentic designer items at an exclusive price for only 24 hours.
3. VISUAL SEARCH
Visual search is another key marketing tool that is becoming more prevalent in the digital retail space. This tool uses artificial intelligence to help consumers search for products through real-world imagery rather than text.
How it works:
- A user uploads an image of any product or object of interest into the search engine
- Using AI technology, the search engine then scans the image, identifies the object, and provides search results
So, let’s say you’re scrolling through Instagram, and you see a pair of shoes that you like, but you have no idea the brand or where to buy them. You capture an image/screengrab of these shoes, plug it into the visual search engine, and voila! Results on the name, information, and where to buy them will show up.
According to an article by Invesp, over 50% of consumers say that visual information is more important than text when online shopping. Further, 74% of online consumers believe traditional text-search is ineffective in finding the right product. Visual search is a great discovery tool that not only helps consumers find what they’re looking for, but also helps retailers redirect them to their brand.
Other benefits of visual search?
- It’s new, fast and straightforward mode of searching that requires no textual information or input
- Raises brand awareness and garnering new potential customers
- Raises product awareness in brands through internal browsing
- You are essentially selling to customers who are already interested in your items (and may have even made up the decision to purchase)
While more and more brands are starting to incorporate this tool into their platforms, some great examples of brands that are currently using Visual Search include Snapchat Camera Search, Google Lens, and Pinterest Lens, to name a few.
4. AUGMENTED REALITY
With the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown regulations in place, we are left with no choice but to make our non-essential purchases online. With this in mind, augmented reality is becoming more helpful in providing consumers with a seamless online shopping experience. Gone are the days of purchasing something that looks nothing like it did online.
AR provides consumers with a unique and personalized experience to online shopping using their mobile devices and cameras. This tool allows users to digitally sample products and try them out virtually to see how it looks before making a purchase decision.
According to Invesp, 63% of consumers believe that augmented reality would improve their shopping experience, while 35% say that it would make them shop online more frequently.
There are many different opportunities to use this tool across many industries. You can virtually try on clothes, test out makeup and even see how furniture items will look in your space. In a time like this, what better opportunity to take advantage of AR than now?
Additional advantages include:
- It is easy to use
- Eliminates the need for in-person shopping, which can often be consuming (and dangerous in a time like this)
- Allows consumers to envision how products can fit into their space, lifestyle, and reality before making a purchase
- Helps users further to make a purchase decision
5. SOCIAL MEDIA COMMERCE
While the ongoing pandemic continues to restrict us from conventional, in-person shopping, social media has found a way to integrate online shopping into the user’s experience to facilitate e-commerce.
It is reported that in the last two years, social media referral traffic to e-commerce stores has increased by more than 100%, while 70% of consumers search for products they are interested in through Instagram and Facebook.
Sites like such have already adopted this in-app commercial design into their platforms, allowing users to explore, discover and make seamless purchases through the app. This capability creates a one-stop shop for catering to both your social and commercial needs. While Instagram launched this feature in 2020, it is becoming ever more prevalent now in the e-commerce space. Social commerce is ultimately revolutionizing how we consume online.
How it works:
With this design, users can explore and discover new brands and products in two ways, first, through the ‘Shop’ page. This page provides users with a personalized array of items curated just for them to explore, based on their interests and consumption patterns. Secondly, through in-feed content posted by brands. When a user sees a product that interests them, they click on the product tags in the post, and it automatically redirects them to a product page. From there, they can view more product images, details and descriptions right there on the platform. Users have the option to share products with friends, save it to their wishlist, or continue to the product’s website to make the purchase.
Essentially, consumers no longer need to be switching from social media to a website to buy what they’ve discovered on these platforms, because they now provide them with everything they need up until the point of purchase. From there, they are sent directly to the product’s website to finalize their purchase with just one touch of a button.
This tool can be used in various industries, from retail to grocery stores and even restaurants. There are many ways it can be used, and it’s a great new way to drive brand discovery while concurrently driving sales.
Here are some more benefits to social commerce:
- It enables product discovery, brand awareness and drives conversions
- Provides an easy, quick and seamless user experience from discovery to the point of purchase
- Promotes link building throughout multiple pages on the brand’s website, ultimately increasing SEO
- Measurability — analytics determine exactly which and how many purchases are made through the app
- It hyper-targets consumers, allowing brands to target their exact audience personas efficiently and effectively
With the ever-evolving world of marketing and its growing presence in the digital landscape, it is critical to stay in-the-know with the emerging trends that are dominating right now. While the impact of COVID-19 has deterred us from the in-person shopping experience, it has paved way for new and innovative modes of consumption that have indefinitely revolutionized the world of e-commerce. In this blog, we’ve explored five notable digital marketing trends ranging from social media to artificial intelligence, and virtual reality. These are just a few fabulous ways to grow your brand’s presence and stay up-to-date in the digital space.