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Written by Elise
The last two years have brought challenges many businesses have not seen before, and from one day to the next everything can change. There have been a whole host of changes and developments in the digital marketing space, from advances in artificial intelligence to more conversational marketing than ever. It’s fair to say 2021 has been a rollercoaster of a year.
In this blog post, the team at Flaunt Digital share their 2021 round-up of the marketing industry and Flaunt Digital.
At Flaunt Digital we are still in the very early stages of our own marketing journey. We have gone from little marketing activity to a lot of everything all at once. From webinars and an expansion of blog pieces to face-to-face events (we never thought we’d see the day!), this is just the very beginning.
2021 became the year that we truly began to focus on ourselves as an agency, improving social content, attending events, expanding our blog and creating our very own tone of voice as a brand. Tone of voice is an important aspect of any brand to ensure you are providing consistent and quality content. It’s also no secret that Google prioritises expert, authoritative and trustworthy content. Determining your brand’s tone of voice is all about knowing your brand, taking into account your brand values and audience. Take a look at our tone of voice below.
In 2021 we’ve had some fantastic wins as an agency. Audio-Technica, a brand that we already loved as an existing SEO and Paid Media client also came onboard with the Development team for ongoing support. The dev team also welcomed the restaurant group Gusto as a brand new client alongside home accessory company furn. who joined for Development and Paid Media.
2021 also saw DUSK partake in further work with the SEO team with enhanced content (watch this space!), an increase in design work with Audio-Technica and an exciting new PR project with World Travel Holdings.
With the addition of new client wins we have seen the team grow with an incredible 10 new faces over 2021. With additions to each team, from graduates to heads of departments, each area of the business has grown.
After over a year of working from home, August 2nd 2021 was finally the day we all said goodbye to the video calls and met each other face-to-face with the official “Welcome Back Day”. With a day of beer-pong, table tennis and a few drinks at the local, it was a great day all-round.
At the end of September, our Paid Media, SEO and Development team came together to partake in Leeds Digital Festival. With the addition of a few beers at Northern Monk Refectory, the team explored the future of search marketing and how AI can be effectively used within the industry with ‘The Future of Search Marketing: AI in Automation and Optimisation’.
September was a busy month as we also held our webinar “Say ‘Pluck Off’ To Feathery Content” exploring our bespoke tool, Goose. With SEO insights and a demo of the fabulous (even if we do say so ourselves) content marketing tool, the webinar went down a treat.
Our Director of Natural Search, Thom Watson, shared his thoughts on the webinar;
“It was really great to see such a good turn out for the webinar. So many people are starting to think more about the performance and impact of content.”
If you missed out, you can watch the full webinar here.
One of the biggest challenges the agency faced when the pandemic hit was the change in the way we worked. No longer being able to head into the office five days a week meant video calls became the new norm and we were working with colleagues we had never actually met in person. It’s fair to say that the agency effortlessly transitioned to the new way of working.
Since the steady return to the office, exciting new ways of working have been put into place. With three days now spent in the office having face-to-face meetings – which gives everyone time to learn from the wider team – and two days working at home, where some of our team sometimes feel more productive, it has created a new but improved way of working within the agency.
The digital marketing industry has seen some huge changes over the last twelve months and it will be interesting to see how these changes will develop over 2022. From more focus put on user experience and customer relationships becoming ever more important, digital marketing has only continued to accelerate and become more prevalent.
LinkedIn networking has become even more important. People are sitting at home on their computers more often which means this social platform is growing even more — we’d say it’s definitely more acceptable to browse LinkedIn during the working day than TikTok. LinkedIn themselves have created a guide to becoming a Thought Leader and to build your “personal brand” which has become extremely prevalent over the last year.
Our Client Development Manager, Dan Wall, explains his first-hand experience of LinkedIn over the last year:
“LinkedIn will continue to get a bad rap in some corners of the business world, but I’ve seen first-hand how powerful the platform is. Gone are the old days of LinkedIn being a job site for your CV; LinkedIn is now a crucial environment for building genuine, accessible and mutual relationships with people inside and outside of your industry. There is a real appetite to learn and help, meaning there is plenty of opportunity to build a network. The rise and importance of ‘personal branding’ has accelerated over the past 12 months and I’ve experienced myself that LinkedIn is the number one social platform to facilitate this.”
Timing is everything, and 2021 marketing has become more reactive than ever before. It’s no wonder this is the case with social media continuing to grow in popularity and users being able to express their thoughts instantly. Responding to real time events helps to make a brand more relevant and relatable, increasing impressions and engagements. Month after month we’ve seen brands competing for the top spot with the new reactive viral trends.
Our Head of PR, Lora Thornton reflects on her favourite reactive PR campaigns of 2021:
“My favourite reactive campaign that we ran in 2021 was to celebrate National Pet Month. We launched a campaign to find five sleep-loving pets and their owners to become official DUSK luxury pet bedding testers. We had hundreds of entries for the coveted positions from house bunnies to sleep-loving pooches. The campaign proved popular with pet owners and press alike with both national and international coverage, as well as radio coverage and reached over 44K people on social media.
Aldi’s #FreeCuthbert campaign was one of my favourite industry campaigns this year. M&S launched a legal dispute over Cuthbert the Caterpillar (and its similarities to Colin the Caterpillar) so Aldi began their #FreeCuthbert social media campaign – ‘This is not just any court case, this is…#freecuthbert’, which resulted in a 15% engagement rate on social and protests outside M&S. Aldi went on to launch a limited edition Cuthbert cake with all profits going to Teenage Cancer Trust, encouraging other supermarkets to join its #CaterpillarsForCancer campaign. Cutherbert even made a cameo appearance in this year’s Aldi Christmas ad (being carried away by sour lemons)!”
We are seeing more and more live events as restrictions have begun to lift, but people have become used to the convenience of video conferencing such as Teams or Zoom. Virtual events aren’t going anywhere any time soon and even physical events are expected to include a virtual/video version in the future as well.
Now that you no longer have to travel, or even leave your bed, to attend events, many brands are using this as an opportunity to engage with audiences everywhere. Although there are aspects of in-person events that just cannot be replicated virtually, there are many benefits other than just the convenience. With an extended lifespan, your content can continue to give value to users past the date of the event.
More than ever before, people are basing business and shopping decisions on who they are spending their money with. Sustainability, values and employees are now key to many large business marketing campaigns. Having these brand values instantly makes your brand more memorable to consumers and customers, allowing brands to build deeper relationships. A great example is the ’Shell energy’ TV ads which use real employees, talking about their EV hubs. Literally ticks all the boxes.
In our interview With Flaunt Digital’s CEO, Lee Fuller, Lee explains the importance of putting genuine care for employees high up on the agenda for the agency:
“It’s important to not have a list of benefits for benefits’ sake. It’s thinking about the team, it’s thinking about what’s actually going to provide some value. Looking after our team is something that we put very high up on our agenda and it’s something we look at on a regular basis. It’s not crafted out of any motive other than wanting to provide value for the people that work here.”
This is quite a biggie at the moment. Brands are relaxing the rules around social communications and using platforms for funny, relatable content – a bit more like you’d expect in a WhatsApp group. TikTok is definitely becoming the ‘behind the scenes’ channel for brands and if you haven’t seen Duolingo on TikTok it is definitely worth checking out.
Having a personality that is relatable helps customers build a relationship with a brand, allowing them to identify with the personality of the brand rather than just the products they are selling. This helps to not only capture new customers but also increases the likelihood of brand loyalty.
Nostalgia helps to transport people back to a simpler and often more positive place, and more brands are using these emotional connections to help sell their products. Following the last two years of masks, lockdowns and uncertain times, it has become increasingly important for people to find comfort in familiar and sentimental content.
Over the last year, a lot of ‘vintage’ design styles have been popping up. Burger King reverted back to their own logo, Stranger Things’ branding encapsulates the 80s and Airbnb recreated a 90s sleepover collaborating with Blockbuster. In August 2021 Google Trends celebrated its 15th birthday and as a team we took this as an opportunity to remember the good old days of Myspace, Tamagotchis and low rise jeans.
With Google’s Page Experience update rocking the digital marketing boat in June 2021, there has been more emphasis put on usability and page speed. Our Senior Technical Lead, explains more about how user experience has become more prevalent in 2021:
“In 2021, offering a good user experience goes hand-in-hand with SEO success. Google has been slowly moving towards “Search UX” for years, starting with the Panda update in 2011 which focussed on quality of content. This was followed by Penguin in 2012, punishing link manipulation and black-hat SEO techniques; Hummingbird and Rankbrain, helping Google to understand user search intent better; and the Page Experience update in June 2021, which punishes sites with poor loading speeds or with a bad ad experience. Despite its claims, Google is also known to use “user signals” as a ranking factor, such as clicks and other user experience data — as highlighted in leaked documents from US Congress in June 2020.”
Conversational marketing is becoming increasingly popular and effective. It is a dialogue-driven marketing approach used to increase customer engagement which in turn helps to improve the customer’s experience. Live chats are forever popping up, offering two-way communication and giving customers instant answers to their queries.
Engaging with audiences on social media is as important as ever. Conversations on social media allow you to nurture your relationships with your followers, giving them a positive experience with your brand, which can often help to generate business through word of mouth.