Heat Level: Mild: These tips are beginner-friendly.
Bottom Line: Goodbye and good riddance to 2020. This year will be permanently etched into our memories and our digital marketing efforts.
Do This: Let's cross our fingers and hope that 2021 will be a bit more stable. Here's a glimpse into the near future so you can get your digital marketing strategy ironed out.
When I started writing this draft, I had to look back at my predictions for 2020. All I can say is ... yikes. Not even close. Facebook didn't develop a real estate platform. TikTok didn't remain fringe. Zillow Flex didn't expand. Ok, so I didn't do so hot with my predictions for 2020. But in all fairness, who could have predicted anything about 2020?!
So let's start with a clean slate and a new question: what could 2021 look like?
Stroll with me through this hopeful daydream of a predictable, orderly, unsurprising new year!
If you feel beholden to Facebook and Google, it's because they're the undisputed kings of the Internet. But now, the US government is coming for their crowns.
Both companies are facing antitrust lawsuits for monopolizing the web, burying competitors, or buying out the competition. In December, a coalition of state attorneys general filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google over its ads business. Facebook also faces a lawsuit over its ownership of Instagram and WhatsApp.
But of course, neither Facebook nor Google will willingly give up their throne. In fact, the two organizations have agreed to support each other fight these lawsuits and "collaborate when necessary to maintain status quo."
With the arsenal of legal and monetary power behind both companies, we don't anticipate that these lawsuits will actually reach a resolution in 2021. We expect to see these lawsuits be drawn out for years to come. It will be a while before you see any major changes that impact your advertising experience.
Don't forget the third king in the Internet space: Big Mac, aka Apple!
You might have seen this notice the last time you logged into your Facebook Ads Manager:
In December, Facebook launched a campaign attacking Apple’s decision to prompt iPhone users to disable apps from tracking their data. Facebook claims Apple’s move will damage small businesses who rely on Facebook for targeted advertising, which relies on that data tracking.
Many consumer advocates see Facebook's campaign as tone-deaf and self-serving. Facebook can hardly call themselves a champion of small businesses (if you've ever tried to get in touch with their customer service, you'll probably agree). The reality behind this skirmish is that Facebook's business model relies on collecting and reselling consumer data. If Apple shuts off that tap, Facebook will have to go back to the drawing board.
My thoughts? Keep an eye on this fight, because your advertising strategy is in the line of fire. The two companies have the power to fundamentally alter each other's advertising products - products that YOU use every day.
People often associate artificial intelligence with a bloodthirsty desire to destroy humanity. But today's AI technologies (yes, they already exist) are really designed for something far less sinister: making predictions.
Machine learning—a core AI technology—is used everywhere in major ad platforms to answer one simple question: will your ad get clicked? These platforms look for patterns in search terms, geography, previous user behavior, time of day, and more to predict if your ad will be clicked. And if it's clicked, will the user be happy or bounce away to another site? The results of these predictions determine where your ad appears, how often, and what it will cost you.
AI is also being used in many other software and tools. Your CRM might have scoring rules to help determine how likely a lead is to convert. Chatbots are available to adequately field questions and save you time. You might even encounter ads and website content that were written entirely by AI.
AI is just a fancy way of saying the software is trained to look for opportunities to improve your outcomes. AI-based marketing is an objective way to test, learn, and enhance your marketing. Use AI technologies to make better choices and reduce costs. Just remember that there's always a human element to any transaction - bots can never replace that.
Raise your hand if you did something that you had never expected to do online. If you met with sellers online, did a virtual tour, converted physical paperwork to fillable PDFs, or even ordered groceries online... go ahead and raise your hand.
2020 opened the floodgates for digital innovation. The online world has seeped into so many new areas of our culture, even things we previously thought could only be done in-person. Expect buyers and sellers to continue seeking the ease and convenience of digital transactions.
If you haven't already adapted to the online world, there is absolutely no time to dilly-dally. And keep your mind open to new opportunities for innovation.
New year. Fresh start. High energy. Let's put the past behind us and look forward to an innovative, successful new year - you're ready for anything!