30 Jun, 2021 Negotiating Digital in a Post Lockdown World 30 June 2021 Rachael Hand Digital Insights and Performance Manager Coronavirus restrictions have been with us for over a year now but finally, as vaccinations continue, the light is at the end of the tunnel as the roadmap out of lockdown, so far, looks to be more or less on track. That means at long last, teams can get back in the workplace, meetings can happen in reality as well as virtually, colleagues can truly collaborate and businesses can get back to, well, business. Now while this has felt like a long time coming, now it’s actually happening, it’s time to start preparing for what this transition out of lockdown may bring with it. Businesses are going to need new support, new services, new systems and new ideas, and that’s where digital can help. In this blog post, we’re thinking about the things we believe businesses need to consider as they look to continue and to grow in a post lockdown world. Returning to the workplace For many businesses, COVID-19 has meant working from home. In some cases, this has been a positive experience, in others a more complicated experience. Now, as the end of lockdown approaches, it’s time to think about returning to the office. Here at Pixelbuilders, our transition to remote working was helped greatly by having the right IT services and IT partner in place well before any hint of a lockdown was announced. We think this focus on IT, technology and digital services must be a priority for all businesses going forward too, especially if they’re looking to embrace a hybrid working approach in the future. We’re practicing what we’re preaching here too, as we’re looking to move to a hybrid way of working ourselves, taking the best bits from our lockdown experiences and combining them with the best bits of our office. Keeping up to date with digital trends Given the chaos and disruption of 2020, it’s no surprise that we’ve seen several changes across the digital landscape. The unprecedented uncertainty the pandemic created has directly affected advertising, marketing and sales especially, so as we continue into 2021, it’s important to get to grips with those changes and new trends. Here’s our list of things to think about specifically to get your marketing back on track and your business not just surviving but thriving post lockdown: UX will become even more critical for SEO. Google has already confirmed that UX signals are now factoring into their rankings, and Core Web Vitals further underscores this change. Going forward websites, apps and other digital experiences will need to be fast, simple and convenient if their going to perform well in organic search. Semantic search will continue to grow, especially as natural language searches via voice assistants increase. Now voice search and search intent have been around for some time but going forward Google is expected to invest even more effort into semantic search, so they can deliver even more relevant search results to their users. That means marketeers need to gain a detailed understanding of how their audiences conduct searches and create content and digital experiences to meet the demands and intent of those searches. Zero click search results will become even more prominent as Google strives to keep users in their own properties and to increase their success delivering answers and information to users, as quickly and effectively as possible. That means you could see fewer clicks and conversions from organic search as zero click results remove the need for users to actually visit your website. Despite that though, you still need to prioritise zero click results as part of your SEO strategy by creating content for Google’s own entities such as YouTube, Google My Business, the Knowledge Graph and so on. Speaking of Google My Business, local search is going nowhere in 2021 and your Google Business listing will be vital in ensuring your services, menus, products, business hours, phone numbers, photos, videos, content, and reviews can support your presence in local search results. Privacy concerns and limited data is going to continue through 2021. Apple’s iOS14 update is a good example of the type of changes we can potentially expect and these evolving data privacy regulations are going to create new challenges for marketing teams. Rethinking how your teams collect and track marketing data is going to be key, to try and avoid some of the disruption changes here could make. Get ready to concede more and more control over your PPC advertising to the likes of platforms like Google Ads. PPC automation and AI look set to dominate this area of advertising and with things like Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) already the default, you’re going to be doing a lot more killer copy writing. Making the most of mobile! As COVID saw many of us move to a home-based existence and a reliance online shopping, it’s no surprise we’ve already seen an uplift in mobile phone usage over 2020 and into 2021 and we think that’s a trend that likely to stick. Habits have changed; many of us who perhaps didn’t interact with brands and businesses online much before, do so now and in most cases, it’s been an eye opener for speed and convenience IF and it’s a big if, those businesses got their mobile platforms right. To make sure you’ve got your mobile platforms ready for post-lockdown, we recommend auditing your website on mobile devices specifically – especially if you’re an ecommerce business – to ensure the checkout or conversion experience is simple, smooth and successful. Building trust with your customers As more of us turned to digital to get stuff done over 2020, it’s a sad but true fact that more and more data breaches, hacks and other general cybersecurity issues arose. That means now more than ever, consumers won’t buy from brands they don’t trust. To be a success post lockdown, we recommend doubling down on your trust metrics. Our top tip here is to be transparent. That means doing things like being clear and upfront about how you use your customer data, it means investing in secure systems, software and platforms with good reputations, so you can borrow a little of their credibility AND giving your customers a safe and secure digital experience. It means investing in SSL certificates and perhaps even regular pen testing to find and solve security issues before they arise. Getting ahead of cancel culture & making the most of social media If you don’t already know what cancel culture is, then you need to get up to speed quickly. To be “cancelled” on social media is to be collectively targeted for backlash or even boycott and there were numerous examples of this happening in 2020 which you can read about here. For 2021, brands need to make sure they stay on the right side of this trend and take key steps to protect their brand reputations. A few ways you can do this include regularly reviewing any ad content, especially automated ad content to ensure you avoid posting at sensitive or inopportune times. Scrutinize copy and check, check again and triple check before committing anything to social media and finally, dedicate time to social listening. This will help you stay ahead of current events and social media trends that may have a relevance to your brand and your messaging. Being aware of this kind of content will help you then make amends accordingly and avoid getting on the wrong side of cancel culture. If you need help getting your website and digital marketing up to speed for 2021 and the end of lockdown restrictions, why not get in touch with us today to find out more about what we can do to help.