2021 Customer Experience Trends
It’s fair to say that last year, our lives and livelihoods were challenged to such an extent that it’s difficult to know what’s in store for 2021. We work with brands across a wide spectrum of industries and each one has been impacted to varying extents by Coronavirus. Industries of all shapes and sizes have had to adapt to new demands from customers and changes in audience behaviour. Business models have shifted and we’ve had to be dynamic and agile to face the challenges presented.
Yet the role of PR and marketing has bridged a gap for so many businesses, playing a vital role in their resilience and their ability to stay connected to customers. We don’t see this reliance on marketing diminishing any time soon. Here, Sarah Woodhouse, director, AMBITIOUS PR shares her top five b2b marketing and communications trends for 2021.
- The need to build a personal brand
Customers are becoming savvy to the ethics and ethos of the businesses that they are buying from. Increasing the visibility of CEOs, members of the board and senior leadership teams builds brand identity, showcases values and demonstrates that they own their areas of expertise. When carried out correctly, a personal branding campaign can authentically engage an audience, driving leads through earned and owned media. But it also has another distinct advantage; brands are now realising the power of reputation, having realised that crisis could strike at any time. The work that goes into building an honest and trustworthy reputation can make the difference between success and failure when crisis looms.
- Reliance on human interest stories
A rapid move towards remote working and an increasing reliance on technology has led people to crave human interest stories more so than ever before. Once reserved for b2c campaigns, making communication campaigns more ‘human’ is now becoming even more important for b2b brands to appeal to customers. Whatever industry you operate in, take time to analyse your target audience and the topical events that are affecting their day to day lives. Then bring the audience into your brand story to bring it to life. Think research, case studies and plenty of imagery. Informed customer data and customer stories, when presented well, bring the kind of credibility to your brand that can truly influence buyers.
- The channels to communicate across will continue increasing
LinkedIn, Facebook, twitter, instagram, YouTube, TikTok, blogs and newsletters the channels on which to engage an audience will only continue to grow in 2021. This presents both an opportunity and a challenge for brands. Each platform requires its own brand style which means businesses need to mix up content with video, articles, posts so that each channel looks fresh and drynamic. Also, sharing content is only half the plan; the other half is community management and spending the time to build a rapport with current and potential customers. When it comes to choosing the channels that are most relevant to your business, think less is more. If you nourish your network you will get out what you put in.
- Stakeholder engagement shifts up a notch
In times of change, not only is it important to continually engage with your audience, it’s also crucial to maintain communications with stakeholders. Corporate communications have been challenged by the distributed workforce, so a strategic approach will be required by many organisations in 2021. Map each stakeholder audience that has a specific interest in your business, identify which aspects of your communications are working well and which require work. Then tailor influencer programmes around each business objective to remedy any stakeholder challenges.
- The upheaval of 2020 will force a new way of thinking
Businesses have needed to pivot according to the specific challenges in their industry. Communications plans have had to be revised and continuously reviewed. But it’s not all bad news. It has given many organisations a new perspective, challenging previous perceptions and the tendancy not to challenge the status quo. With this, we’ve seen brands finding new ways to engage audiences and a greater requirement to measure marketing practices to see which are providing most value. 2021 will see more brands willing to ‘test the waters’ of new marketing approaches, bringing about healthy change for the industry and new ways to find success.