By Lauren Swidenbank.
While 2020 has been tough for many retailers and brick and mortar brands, one area that has flourished has been e-commerce. Customers have flocked online, with large rises in e-commerce noted at the beginning of the pandemic in Australia back in March and April which stayed steady, with year on year growth from October 19 to October 20 of around 70.8% (ABS).
With the vaccine roll-out potentially bringing hope for more freedoms in 2021 and Australia tipped to come out of recession, what will brands be focusing on in the ecommerce digital space in 2021? From the trends I’ve spotted over the last few years, these are what I’m forecasting to be in focus.
There’s no slowing down for video and its ability to engage the customer. According to a recent study, we spend nearly four hours a day on our phones, most of it watching videos.* Facebook is continuing to invest in its offering here and its ad formats will continue to evolve. I predict that augmented reality will gain popularity, especially with Spark AR where you can create augmented videos for advertising. I imagine Facebook will be the first off the mark with this in early 2021, with other platforms following not long after.
Facebook mobile studio
This app launched in 2020, a mobile functional version of its Creator Studio tool. I anticipate its use will increase in 2021, with more and more consumers, brands and advertisers familiarising themselves with the platform. Digital marketing used to be cloak and daggers, with only a niche group of people as experts – able to charge huge fees to market on behalf of brands. But with this new platform, Facebook is making it really easy for everyone with simple to use creative tools that allow users to design and share amazing ads within minutes. The democratisation of digital marketing is exciting for the industry!
There’s still an art to influencer marketing to ensure authenticity, affordability and connection with audiences. In 2021, we’ll see more brands using influencer ad accounts to run their ads through their own personal accounts. By doing this, they’re reaching new audiences that they previously may not have reached. Brands in the swimwear space, along with the beauty and wellness industries, have done this well. There’s a lot to be said for third party endorsement – while some consumers are reticent, many are hugely influenced by the weight of someone they admire promoting a product or service. As long as they make it clear if payment or in kind sponsorship is involved, it’s a savvy use of funds.
A report last year stated that the Global ChatBot industry is anticipated to reach US $9.4 billion by 2024. We’re seeing a lot of growth at the moment, and this will ramp up in 2021. Businesses see the value of the function as a way of reducing incoming queries, and managing simple customer issues simply and effectively. Investment is growing, meaning the experience is being steadily enhanced to ensure value so it becomes the norm for all brands.
Brands and marketers can’t get enough of this. What better advocate for your company than someone who actually uses it and loves it? Businesses are catching on that real and authentic imagery works magic. Not only does it go back to understanding customers’ and future customers’ buying behaviour, but it also allows the end user to forge a closer connection to the brand, a feeling that their relationship is a two-way one which builds loyalty. Next year, we’ll see the savviest companies reaching out to their followers, asking them to share and connect – free, genuine content is a marketer’s holy grail!
I’m excited about 2021. Digital marketers have so much opportunity to reach customers in new and creative ways that don’t necessarily have to be complicated and expensive. By understanding what their customers are looking for, how they are using their devices and spending their time online, they can maximise the ecommerce space, monetise it, and nurture brand advocates for life.
Lauren Swidenbank is an award-winning advertising expert, director of Cali Social and winner of Digital Marketer Of the Year Award 2020/21. As a numbers-nerd, Facebook specialist and certified Google partner, Lauren scales luxury online brands to seven figures by combining both data and creative to calculate, optimise and convert successful campaigns for her clients, uncovering the perfect recipe for both advertising and long-lasting business success.