Talking about how the pandemic is changing the way we do things isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Even as we adjust and start learning how to navigate a post-COVID reality, you can count on it to make even more significant transformations, especially in business.
How much will the landscape change as we flow between the boom-induced openings and closures? How will this affect the trajectory of the small business? How will they expand without teetering on the brink of closure?
With these ideas, your business can be ready for next year.
1. Consumer data privacy protection
In the Philippines (as with the rest of the world), e-commerce is booming.
During Philippine Startup Week 2021 last December, citing data from Google, Temasek and Bain and Company, these key figures related to the e-commerce landscape in the Philippines were reported:
- 132% e-commerce growth last year;
- The number of new digital consumers reaches 12 million, and;
- 99% of digital consumers are likely to continue using e-commerce.
But while these numbers show hope for Philippine MSMEs, they also indicate challenges. Small businesses can look to recover from the blows of the pandemic but not without adequate support.
To start things off, there is a growing concern about data privacy. In response to loud calls to better protect data privacy online, tech giants are slowly rolling out their own data-tracking restrictions.
For example, Apple rolled out the iOS 14 security update that restricted user data tracking by App Store publishers earlier this year. This has been welcomed by users concerned about data breaches as an extra precaution, so we may soon see similar updates rolled out from other tech companies.
In light of this, you will have to re-evaluate how well you are prepared to protect your organization’s consumer data privacy and how transparent you are with these practices. Remember: the consumer who trusts you is the most likely to convert.
Ultimately, protecting your customers’ data privacy is non-negotiable in digital marketing – even if it comes at the cost of reporting your online marketing efforts. At the end of the day, solving this problem is just a matter of optimizing your ad campaigns and finding innovative and relevant ways to reach your existing customers.
2. Less people click on search links (searches without clicks)
No-click or no-click searches are one of the biggest trends in online marketing today. (Given Google’s latest algorithm update called MUM, you can count on this trend to survive.)
Data from a similar site found that between January and December 2020, approximately 65% of searches on Google were without clicks. Meaning, fewer people are clicking on links to search engine results pages to get the answers they need.
The reason for this is simple: Google has introduced search features that serve results in alternative forms. These include featured snippets, tag information, and other SERP features that reduce (if not completely eliminate) the need to click on a ‘blue link’.
As these other features take up more real estate on the SERP, it may result in you losing your website links. In the end, it can lead to fewer chances of picking up conversions.
All of this entails the need to improve your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts in 2022 to cover every possible aspect you can improve. Look at the technical SEO improvements you can implement to compete for a featured snippet or answer on your dashboard.
3. Shorter video content is more attractive
The streaming of online content makes it critical to deliver your brand value as quickly as possible. If you can help, your videos shouldn’t be longer than 60 seconds.
This is further demonstrated by the growing popularity of short video social media platforms such as TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Pants. This encourages posting videos no longer than three minutes – even better if you can post them for a shorter period.
To be precise, data from video analytics platform Vidyard shows that short videos are better at keeping viewers engaged. Videos posted by brands are more likely to sustain the majority of viewers (58%) to the end if they are under 60 seconds. The longer the video, the fewer viewers it will have to complete, and the sooner they leave it.
This trend of short videos is likely to continue as more people and brands post content and compete for attention share. The best way your brand can rise above the noise is to gain attention quickly and, depending on the purpose of the video, excite or educate your audience.
4. Audio content benefits brand and advertising
At Nielsen’s Podcasting Today, which reports on key podcast market trends, podcasts have sharply become a major vehicle for advertising opportunities.
And before you wonder if this case applies to the Philippines, you can note that the country is the sixth largest market for podcasts. Spotify reports that podcast consumption in the country more than doubled from March 2020 to 2021 — numbers they hope will grow as they collaborate with more local creators.
But this still begs the question of whether or not enterprise podcasting or podcast sponsorship goes beyond just a branding activity? Does it have any positive impact on difficult metrics such as sales? For this, we take a look at the data revealed by Nielsen in terms of how audiences interact with podcast ads.
As you can see from the figure above, for types of podcast listeners, heavy users are more likely to inquire and/or benefit from a product or service mentioned in the podcast than are light users. These stats are welcome news for both creatives looking for sponsors and advertisers whose audiences have developed a distrust of traditional ads being offered online.
Close and harmonious cooperation with the brand maker will be beneficial in achieving the desired brand and revenue results for broadcast and audio content. Whether you’re starting your own podcast or sponsoring an episode, make sure your values and goals are aligned so you can really reap the rewards.
5. If you’re not using local SEO, you really should
With the economy returning to normal performance, we hope that small online business owners will soon experience both customer blessing raging to exit.
On the other hand, the small businesses that have thrived amid the pandemic are already equipped to meet the needs of larger numbers of customers. While, on the other hand, the resumption of economic activity is a competition with offline and online shopping experiences.
As illogical as it may seem, the best way to attract new customers in this case is with the help of local SEO. Use local SEO so your business can rank higher for inquiries that are nearly accessible to customers who are ready to convert.
After all, why would your customers drive to the supermarket when the store is just around the corner?
Proper implementation of local SEO should ensure that your company’s geographic data and contact details are up to date. At the very least, update and complete the information requested on your Google My Business profile, or create one if you haven’t already.
6. Consider if your business needs a mobile app
Your customers are always looking to cut through the steps of the transaction, and so should you. That’s why mobile apps are becoming more and more popular.
In fact, App Annie reports in its State of Mobile 2021 analysis that combined, there are more than 200 billion app downloads on third-party iOS, Google Play and Android in China. Even mobile app spending is on the rise, with app store spending capped in 2020 at $143 billion.
Which makes sense, given how everyone does everything on their phone – from working and paying bills to shopping for essentials and connecting with loved ones.
For business owners, you will have to make a careful assessment of whether or not your business – and most importantly – your customers need an app. In the same report from App Annie, you will find that many industries are making more investments in mobile app development.
7. More people are shopping on social platforms
Social commerce has become a huge part of online marketing, as it offers consumers the ease of purchasing merchandise within the platforms they frequent. For small businesses, on the other hand, operators can now market more cost-effectively and directly to customers versus an e-commerce site or foreign trade sites.
Before COVID, many of us were already shopping on Instagram and Facebook Marketplace. But today, global uptake is rising, and more platforms are adapting to consumer trends and needs.
Zooming in on Southeast Asia and the Philippines, iKala reports that the Philippines is among the top 15 countries in terms of usage and time spent on social commerce. We’ll soon see WhatsApp Stores join the mix of brand-owned Viber groups, in terms of platforms. Ultimately, Twitter Commerce will also rise to counter this trend, along with Pinterest, which is actively expanding its commerce efforts with partner platform Shopify.
But as with many things to come in digital platforms, it all starts to get tough. To ride this trend effectively, you need to put a lot of effort into providing friction-free shopping experiences. In the iKala report itself, you can note that social commerce shoppers mainly suffer from exorbitant shipping fees, lack of return and exchange policies, and a lack of customer service.
8. Connect better with audiences with user-generated content
User-generated content (UGC) is one of the most effective social media marketing tactics you can use to engage your audience. This is thanks, in large part, to the fact that people love the feeling of being heard and being listened to — and what’s more, contributing to the brand they like.
User-generated content offers many benefits to brands that don’t just involve conversions. It’s also an excellent way to make your brand relatable to people and help new customers learn what existing users like about your brand.
As the pandemic has spawned content creators in many of us, you have plenty of opportunities to collaborate with your loyal fan base and customers. Reach out to those who have tagged you in posts and ask for permission to share their content on your brand page.
Not only does it allow you to have easy content for your brand, but it is also one of the best ways to let your customers know the importance of their experiences and stories.
9. From pure online / offline to mixed experiences
When the world opens up again, many companies are expected to offer mixed experiences to their customers.
With consumers appreciating the offerings of online commerce, they are unlikely to stop turning to them for their needs. Thus, it would be wise to use your online solutions as aids to your brand’s offline experiences rather than abandoning them entirely.
Furthermore, live online interactions still hold unique value in expanding your market opportunities. Direct selling has become a major trend in China that inflated its cumulative annual growth rate to 280% from 2017 to 2020. Streaming live on TikTok still allows creators to reach new audiences.
They should not compete offline and online when they can work well together to achieve different business goals. Implement mixed strategies to take advantage of these two channels to sustain business growth.
If you try to do it all, you won’t get anything done. So while keeping up with trends is critical to business survival, you shouldn’t expect yourself to tackle everything on this list. This may lead to strategies that are not aligned with your business objective – delivering nothing, despite the effort.
Take a step back and look at your own business and customer data so you can be guided on which of these trends would make sense for you to adapt to. Staying on the basis of this data helps you navigate these trends masterfully instead of being swept up in the tides. – Rappler.com
Ming Lagman is currently a content specialist Propelrr, a digital marketing consultancy in the Philippines and the United States, and a former digital communications specialist for Rappler. Her digital marketing experience spans the agency and client side, working with multiple brands to handle both online and offline marketing efforts.