Since the creation of the internet, slowly but surely more of our lives have been moving online. However, the COVID-19 pandemic created a mass adoption of new digital behavior at a speed we could never have imagined. Our digital behavior and habits accelerated 10 years into the future in just 12 months. Your day-to-day activities now look more like the digital behavior of a 2030 consumer, than a 2020 consumer, and many companies are struggling to catch up. To wrap up 2020 we put together a list of what we see as the most impactful trends from the big shift –
1. Increased Digital Ad Spending
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies realized quickly that they needed to abandon their print marketing tactics when their direct mailers sat in empty office buildings. Without residential addresses to send to, many companies decided to take this money and invest it in digital marketing. To give you an idea of just how big digital advertising has become, three years ago it accounted for just one-third of all U.S. ad spending, next year it is predicted to hit 54%. Meanwhile, investments in more traditional media like newspapers, magazines, and radio continue to shrink.
2. Focus on Analytics
With digital activity on the rise, the sheer volume of consumer data available has exploded. As marketers try to catch up to digital advanced consumers, they are going to need as much data as possible, to recognize new habits and behaviors. To give you a sneak peek at the data from our next survey, 95% of the tech companies we surveyed said analytics would be important or very important to their companies next year.
3. Shifting Away from Generational Marketing
If you are a frequent reader of our newsletter, you are likely familiar with the “Impulse Generation”, which is a mono-generation that includes consumers of all ages that have one big thing in common - their constant digital behavior. The big shift to digital has made it difficult for marketers to target based on fixed characteristics like location, time and age. Consumers of all ages are shopping at unpredictable hours and at stores without a fixed location. Before the COVID-19 pandemic boomers typically made less than half of their purchases online, but two-thirds now say accelerated adoption of technology like buy online, pick up in-store and curbside pickup has improved their shopping experience. With older consumers now experiencing how easy it is to shop from home it is unlikely they will return to the same level of in-person shopping. The idea that digital behavior equals a young consumer simply isn’t true anymore, and marketers will need to adjust accordingly.
4. Privacy Regulations Becoming More Complicated
Many states have passed different privacy regulations surrounding digital advertising. In our recent blog, we covered the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which impacts any business that advertises to one of California’s 40 million residents. With geographic boundaries losing relevance in a largely digitally transacting economy, companies are struggling with how to comply with these new laws. On top of the mismatch of state regulations, the major platforms like Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn, each have policies and procedures for companies to follow. In 2021 we predict that complex privacy regulations will continue to present new challenges for marketers.
5. Telehealth is Here to Stay
We surveyed healthcare executives about digital transformation in the healthcare industry and the survey results overwhelmingly showed that telehealth is here to stay. In our survey, 63% of healthcare executives said telehealth initiatives were going to be important or very important next year and 57% have said that it improved patient care. It is safe to say that having greater digital access to your provider will become a standard part of the healthcare experience.
6. Emotive Content is King
If consumers are only spending an average of 2 seconds looking at any given piece of content does it matter what you are saying? The answer - Yes! Now more than ever creating content that resonates and connects with your viewers is key. 60% of brand-loyal consumers use the same type of emotional language they’d use for family, friends, and pets when speaking of their favorite brands—words like love, happy, and adore. The only way your content is going to stand out is if it connects with the unique needs of your audience and forms an emotional bond.
7. Remote Work
We have all read many articles about the remote work revolution. However, one aspect that is rarely mentioned is how remote work impacts the decision-making process. With a remote workforce, decision-makers are spending less time discussing purchases and more time focusing on online research. Up to 99% of B2B buyers claim they will make a purchase in an end-to-end digital self-serve model and the majority are comfortable spending $50K or more online. This remote decision-making process is something marketers should take into consideration when targeting potential customers.
8. Digital Demand Generation is a Winner
While we haven’t released the full results of our Q4 survey on digital and the tech industry, one thing we can tell you is that digital demand generation is going to be huge for tech companies and other B2B businesses. 72% of the tech executives we polled have increased or significantly increased their demand generation activities since the start of the pandemic. As companies looked to replace in-person sales and tradeshow leads they have turned to digital demand generation and are seeing positive results.
9. No Stopping Social Media
During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become clear that there is no social media bubble. We will continue to see growth on both mainstream and niche platforms. TikTok exploded in popularity this year, with a 210% increase in users. Across all social media channels expect to see more video content, more ephemeral content, and more targeting. The big shift has made social media an even larger presence in our lives and that doesn't seem to be changing anytime soon.
10. All the World is a Screen
For many reasons, our lives will never be the same after this year. While digital usage may not be the first change that comes to mind, it just may be the most profound. For most of us, the majority of our daily human interactions take place online. Before 2020 this would have been unimaginable.
At Boston Digital, we are a team of digital nerds, and despite this year’s challenges, we are fascinated to see where digital goes next. We hope that you join us on this journey in 2021 as we unlock the latest digital trends, science, and technology.
Happy holidays and happy New Year from the Boston Digital Team.