It’s safe to say that 2020 threw some curveballs no one could’ve predicted.
But even with a global pandemic, one thing stayed constant for companies: The best marketing strategies still involved connecting with consumers as humans.
During 2020, people craved brand connections more than ever. They wanted to know their favorite companies still cared for them during challenging times. They wanted to know there were people behind the logo who were there for them, even in small ways.
So in 2021, don’t be surprised to see more companies focusing on making customers and prospects feel more comfortable and supported. And if you want to have one of the best marketing strategies in your respective industry, you need to take note of these five elements.
Fast, Responsive Communication
Customers and prospects in 2021 want to connect with brands, and they want to do it fast. They expect answers to their questions when they need them. According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2020, “Half of customers choose a channel based on how fast they need a response.”
And if you want to communicate quickly as a business, there are plenty of options. Instant messaging apps like Kik and WhatsApp became increasingly popular in 2020. Meanwhile, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are still channels where people seek answers. Having a presence on these channels can help your business communicate with customers and prospects faster.
Of course, in an ideal world, you would have the budget to hire hundreds of live customer service reps to work 24/7 to help you do that. Unfortunately, most businesses don’t have room in their budgets to hire that many live reps.
Don’t worry, though — we’ve got a workaround for that.
Investing in a chatbot is a great customer service alternative that can give your business the fast, responsive communication your customers and prospects want without adding an extra burden on your live reps. Chatbots won’t replace live reps who still play a critical role in the marketing and sales process, but they can streamline many simple asks.
Investing in a chatbot is a great customer service alternative that can give your business the fast, responsive communication your customers and prospects want without adding an extra burden on your live reps. Click To Tweet
Let your chatbot handle small inquiries about your product or service so your live reps can focus on more complex tasks. Take our word for it: It’s the customer service duo you need in 2021.
More Detailed Audience Insights
It’s critical to learn what things matter to customers and prospects. Having a strong grasp of those items can help you create better content for consumers, which can also be used to market to their specific interests and needs.
Social listening technology, such as Alexa’s Content Exploration tool, can help you uncover content that is generating interest on social platforms — and getting amplified by an audience — for a given topic.
Learn from the content that’s striking a chord to help develop your brand voice and insert your unique angle into new and existing content.
Personalized Recommendations at Scale
Technology continues to evolve, and how consumers get information is evolving along with it. There are so many ways to build connections through technology now, many of which will become a part of the best marketing strategies.
One prime example of technology that builds trust is chatbots. And there’s a great opportunity to start utilizing them more in 2021. Less than 30% of businesses offered self-service, live chat, social messaging, in-app messaging, bots, or peer-to- communities in 2020.
And outside of their most obvious use case as customer service boosters, chatbots can also function as trusted confidants for potential customers and prospects.
In the example above, from Levi’s, their Virtual Assistant chatbot helps a user choose the perfect pair of jeans. With such a wide array of different product styles and fits, the Virtual Assistant can be a good way for Levi’s customers and prospects to get the exact style and fit of jeans they want.
In many ways, a chatbot is like a helpful retail store clerk guiding customers through different product options to find the right fit. This individualized service makes people far more likely to trust your brand because it’s actually helping them simplify a potentially complicated purchase.
We love to be entertained. We want to be moved much more than we want to be sold to.
Some brands have caught on to this and are producing a form of entertainment that doesn’t feel like advertising. The idea is that when you provide entertainment, you’re likely to build awareness through social sharing. And, at the same time, you build affinity for your brand.
Google, for example, made this commercial for Super Bowl LIV in 2020, which has since amassed over 62 million views on YouTube. It featured an older gentleman trying not to forget the love of his life, who had presumably passed away. He used Google to help him take a trip down memory lane and remember all the good times they’d shared.
Not every marketer has the budget to support a video like this. But there’s an opportunity for branded entertainment on a much more attainable scale, too. Think of podcasts and do-it-yourself YouTube videos, both of which have been embraced by many small-business owners. Some are even combining the two to give audiences double the options for tuning in.
The beauty of branded entertainment is that it brings your values to life. It shows your company’s personality and helps people decide if they really like you, all before you’ve asked them to buy anything. So when it comes time for them to make that choice, you already have a foundation of trust.
Accountability and Transparency
Marketers often struggle with showing the real, authentic face of a company. It’s natural for business leaders to want to spin a story and create a face that’s perfect in the eyes of the customer.
But customers know that no business is perfect. And the more we try to gloss over the not-so-perfect parts, the more we erode consumers’ trust.
Take, for example, social media company Buffer talking about the mistakes they themselves have made on social media. They were able to create an insightful piece of content for their audience by focusing on past missteps made as a brand. It’s a valuable lesson wrapped in an entertaining story.
Build the Best Marketing Strategies in 2021
Getting to know your customers on a deep level isn’t necessarily new for marketers, but the importance it will have in 2021 has grown. With more people staying at home during the pandemic, it’s important to prepare for digital interactions and make sure they run smoothly at all times.
If you need a little extra help getting access to critical data on your competitors and your audience and on popular content in your industry that can help guide your own marketing strategies, we’ve got you covered. Start your free trial of Alexa’s Advanced Plan today.
This article was originally published in October, 2019 and updated on February 8, 2021.