So, here we are. Following a tumultuous, unpredictable, and economically devastating start to the decade, the year 2021 has arrived. When I compiled the Digital Marketing Forecast for January 2020, there was no telling what was about to unfold or how COVID-19 would turn our world upside down – not least for professionals in the mobile DJ and wider events industry.
As you’ll see from this year’s forecast, the pandemic has changed digital marketing in a number of ways. Increasingly, customers are doing all their shopping online, making digital channels more important than ever. Social media usage has sky-rocketed, as you’d probably expect, resulting in the rise of new platforms like TikTok. And people have turned to video conference platforms and messaging services to communicate with friends and family. All of these factors have changed how and where we need to market our businesses.
When I summarised the predictions of the world’s best digital marketers in my 2020 Digital Marketing Forecast, the top trends were:
1. Niche social media platforms
2. Smart speakers
3. Focus on awareness and branding
4. More AI and AR
5. Social media for customer service
6. Stories and ephemeral content
7. Data analysis
8. Interactive content
9. Dominance of video
10. User-generated content
Many of these trends still stand. But, as always, digital marketing is at the mercy of the big tech companies, whose developments dictate where we need to focus our efforts. Changes from Google, such as the increasing importance of its Google My Business feature in local search results, require our attention. While newcomers to the social media scene, like TikTok, provide exciting new avenues for reaching potential customers in 2021.
There are also some predictions from 2020 that simply haven’t lived up to the hype. Experts predicted that artificial intelligence, such as website chatbots, would be widely adopted, but the reality for many small businesses is that AI is too expensive. Furthermore, research shows that users still prefer to speak with a human rather than a chatbot, because AI is yet to reach the point where it can deal with complex customer needs. In terms of booking a DJ for their next party, customers would rather speak with you on the phone or via Facebook messenger than receive automated answers that don’t properly answer their questions.
With these recent developments and the ongoing impact of COVID-19 in mind, I’ve compiled 10 essential digital marketing focuses to help you market your business in 2021. Throughout, I’ve tried to cover all bases while avoiding the topics that you, as mobile DJs, may not find as useful.
At the time of writing, we still don’t know for sure when live events will open up again; when you can get back to doing what you do best. But factoring the trends below into your digital marketing plan will ensure that you’re ready and raring to go when the curtain lifts and the country can finally hit the dance-floor again...
There was no mention of TikTok in our 2020 forecast, which only goes to show just how swift its meteoric rise has been. Over the past 12 months this absolutely bonkers Chinese app has grown to become the sixth biggest social media platform globally, attracting celebrities, influencers and 850 million others. TikTok is all about video content and music, making it well-suited to DJs. And while TikTok’s main demographic may be on the younger side, its growth in popularity inevitably means older users will start moving over to the app (just like they’ve done with Instagram). Get ahead of the curve and you’ll be ready and waiting when those brides-to-be start scouring TikTok for DJ recommendations. If you’re yet to delve into TikTok, don’t worry; I’ll be writing a piece about TikTok marketing in a future issue of Pro Mobile.
2. Video content is king
No change here, then. If you’re yet to embrace video in your marketing strategy, now is the time to start! Not only does Google prioritise videos in the search results, but it’s universally accepted that video content is more engaging than static images and graphics. So, if you want to reach more people on social media and engage potential customers on your website, video is the answer.
The big challenge is how to fund and create this video content; videographers can be expensive and the process of making a video can be time consuming. But bear in mind that the results really do outweigh the investment. If you can’t afford to hire a professional, try using free software to create your own short videos for social media; 30 seconds is more than long enough and you’ll soon notice the increased engagement your videos get in comparison to static images.
3. User experience, site speed and mobile-friendly design
I won’t get too technical here, but in 2021 the performance of your business’s website is more important than ever. When Google displays pages in the search results, it prioritises websites that it knows are fast, well-structured and browsable on a smartphone. This makes sense when you consider that our average attention span has dropped to just 8 seconds, the average time spent on a website is 15 seconds, and mobile phones now account for over 50% of all web traffic.
To ensure you don’t lose potential customers, it’s worth revisiting your website. Is it mobile-responsive and user friendly? Most free website builders, like Wordpress and Wix, offer optimised templates that work on desktop and mobile, so if cost is an issue then explore these free options. Does your site load quickly? Ideally, you want your pages to load in under 3 seconds. 40% of users will abandon a website if you force them to wait any longer than that! You can use Google Analytics to check your load times, or there are free online tools that can test this for you (search ‘website load speed checker’). If the load time is too slow, you may need to seek technical help from your website provider, hosting service, or an IT professional.
4. Webinars and video conferencing
Along with TikTok, the other big winner from the 2020 lockdown was the video conferencing provider Zoom, which saw exponential growth as millions of people turned to video calls to stay in touch with friends and family. OK, so video calls are hardly a new concept. But people from all age groups are becoming more and more comfortable with this form of communication, suggesting that it won’t be disappearing anytime soon. From long-distance client meetings to local DJ meetups to free webinar content and live streaming, there are loads of ways mobile DJs can utilise video call and webinar tools. If you need some inspiration, sign up for some webinars yourself and see what others are doing.
5. Google My Business
We’re all familiar with Google My Business, even if we don’t know it by name. When you search ‘Mexican takeaways near me’ on your phone and you receive a handy list of local restaurants, including opening hours, ratings, reviews and contact details – that’s Google My Business. Most mobile DJs operate on a local level – and most local people will discover you via your business listing on Google. Make sure your details are up to date, your business hours are listed (you can also list yourself as ‘temporarily closed’ if you need to) and your images are recent, high-quality and on brand.
You can also define your ‘service area’ (for instance, you may operate within 25 miles of your home) and this will help your business show up in ‘near me’ searches. According to DaBrian Marketing, search engines like Google prioritise relevance in their algorithms, so while it may seem “counterintuitive to limit your business service radius” you’ll actually fare better in the search results at a local level. If you’re yet to create a Google My Business account, I recommend doing this straight away. It’s a must have for 2021.
6. Virtual and augmented reality
An area I covered in the 2020 forecast was virtual reality. It sounds sci-fi, but the fact is that virtual and augmented reality are very much part of the digital landscape right now. Technology is developing quickly, providing us with immersive online experiences that point to a virtual future. Recent examples of AR in action include the Pokémon GO game, and Ikea, whose app allows you to view their products inside your own home, simply using the camera on your smartphone. For the full experience, a VR headset puts you inside another world or reality, and has been used as a marketing tool by various companies, including Volvo’s virtual test drives. Should you ever want to allow your client to experience one of your events before they commit, the VR technology is there to deliver it. Think big!
7. Social commerce continues to grow
In my 2020 forecast, we looked at the importance of providing good customer service via social media. This still stands. People are spending more and more time on social media, and they expect to be able to interact with businesses in the same way they might on a website or in-store. Platforms like Instagram now offer in-app product purchases, meaning users don’t need to leave the app to make a purchase. I’m not suggesting that booking a DJ is equivalent to buying, say, a new pair of shoes, but the concept of users browsing and buying from the same platform is
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 105, Pages 32-36.