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Boost Your Skills: Our 6 Digital Marketing Predictions For 2021

Last updated on January 26, 2021
13 minute read
Key Takeaways

  • Put the customer at the center of everything you do.
  • Go beyond Google Ads to connect with your core audience.
  • Free up more time with automation tools.

Skill Level

All Skill Levels

The underlying goal for every operator in the tour, activity, and attractions industry is simple: transform enjoyable experiences into positive memories. Our industry is equal parts adventurous and personal, so why should our digital marketing strategies be based on any other principles? 

If 2020 was the year to be nimble and flexible, 2021 will be the year to reinvent and reconnect. As travel restrictions lift with the help of vaccines and other technological advancements, we must rethink old methods and keep our customers at the center of every decision.

To help you kick start your digital marketing strategy revamp, we’ve identified six digital marketing predictions and trends to keep an eye on in 2021 — and how you can take advantage of them. 

1. It’s Time to Shake Up Your PPC Ad Platforms 

Incorporating new platforms into your pay-per-click (PPC) marketing strategy will keep you ahead of the curve in 2021. Google Ads – the most widely used PPC platform – showed an increased reliance on machine learning in 2020 with no signs of slowing down. Machine learning helps marketers and business owners to quickly analyze and label large data sets which can be beneficial for smaller businesses or those who are just getting started with PPC. On the flip side, less data transparency that comes alongside machine learning may hinder more sophisticated advertisers’ ability to make data-driven decisions, resulting in a decrease in ad reach. 

Are you currently running Google PPC campaigns?

shapeTest out ads on different PPC platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and even TikTok, depending on where your target audience spends the most time. Start by testing just one or two new platforms to see what works, and measure your performance to determine where you should be allocating your resources. Learn more about where to spend your PPC dollars to have the most impact

Are you totally new to PPC advertising?

There’s no time like the present to get started! Ease in with one platform at a time – we recommend starting with a Google campaign (our checklist will help you work your way through the process step by step). Then select one other platform to measure against and diversify your campaign portfolio. Again, consider your ideal audience and target demographics to narrow the field and find the right fit for you. Learn more about how to choose the right PPC channels for your business.

Pro tip: Whether you’re a beginner or a pro step up your ad game and go beyond text-based ads and play with visual elements like images and videos! 

2. Digital Communications Will Forge Genuine Connections

Connecting, and reconnecting, with your customers happens long before they arrive at your business, and keeping a pulse on your online presence is one of the most effective ways to keep them coming back (who doesn’t love repeat guests?). Creating a social media game plan is important, but understanding how to appeal to the changing needs of your customers is the most important strategy of all. 

shapeSocial media works best when your strategy comes from a place of authenticity, focusing on the real humans behind the screen rather than keywords. Approach your social media management the way you would an in-person conversation. Listen to your customers, colleagues, and neighbors and engage in an authentic conversation based on what you hear. Be empathetic in your response, and be prepared to adapt your game plan at any time.

If you want to dive deeper into social listening, try a free trial of a tool like Sprout Social or Sprinklr to see if it’s right for your business.

3. Automations Will Be Your New Best Friend

When our normal routines are disrupted, the simplest tasks can easily slip through the cracks – automation saves time and provides peace of mind that important tasks will be completed on time. From scheduling welcome messages for new subscribers who join your email list to automating important safety and operational updates for your existing subscribers, automation tools can help ensure you never again have to worry about checking certain tasks off your to-do list. 

shapeIf you’re new to automation, you can start by checking out Zapier, which you can connect to your FareHarbor Dashboard to enable the easy transfer of information from one place to another. Use Zapier to create and update contacts in your CRM, transfer your FareHarbor bookings to a Google Sheet for list segmentation, send new subscriber information to your email marketing platform, and more. Discover how FareHarbor’s integration with Zapier can streamline your day-to-day operations and communications!

4. Writing For Search Intent Will Drive It Home

In 2021, the quickest route to a winning search engine optimization (SEO) strategy will start by putting search intent in the driver’s seat – vroom vroom! The top-ranked sites on a search engine results page are the ones that understand what their audience wants to find. Because search behavior is likely to remain unpredictable as the year unfolds it’s essential to keep this 2021 trend top of mind to stay at the top of your game. 

shapeTo leverage search intent in your SEO strategy, start by analyzing what you find on the first page of Google when searching for the keywords and phrases you want to rank for.  By digging into the content that already ranks well for a particular query, you can see which topics and subtopics are worth expanding on in your own content, and you’ll also get an idea of adequate content length and page type.

Take this trend a step further by writing content to address users’ concerns, simplifying your site navigation, and adopting an approachable writing style aimed at attracting humans first, search engines second. 

Need more tips to tackle this trend head-on? Look no further!

  • Write for humans, not search engines – focus on content that addresses users’ concerns rather than content that is self-promotional. 
  • Don’t overload your website with pop-ups for things like advertisements and email newsletter registration.  
  • Make sure your website loads quickly – ideally under 2 seconds – especially on mobile.
  • Include high-quality imagery and break up your page with clear, concise headings. 

The bottom line – technical SEO fundamentals like using schema makeup and structured data and fine-tuning your meta descriptions have not completely gone out the window – they’re just enjoying life in the passenger seat on this year’s SEO journey.

5. It’s Time To Take Things Personally

Let’s face it, our inboxes are cluttered, and despite the best intentions of our New Year’s resolution to be better organized more emails remain still unopened than opened. Don’t let the emails you send fall into the unopened category!

Ask yourself – when you check your personal inbox, are you more likely to open an impersonal email with a generic subject line or one that is addressed specifically to you and (bonus!) has a subject line that answers a unique question or concern? The personalized one, of course! We promise, your audience wants the same.

Don’t just take our word for it, according to Verb Interactive by using a name in the email subject line you increase your email’s chances of being opened by 25%.

Today’s Your Day, Joe…

Good Morning, Best Sailing Tours Cape Cod…

[Email] Pro tip: Try mixing a few text-only emails into your regular email schedule. Eye-catching visuals will always be an important principle of email marketing, but text-only emails can give your audience the feeling of receiving a personal email, like one from a friend or family member!

What’s Hyper-Personalization?

Hyper-personalization takes the personalization trend to the next level. In order to make readers feel like an email was written exclusively for them, adjust your email marketing strategy to write slightly different versions of a single email to appeal to different segments of your email list.

Pro tip: Not sure how to segment your email list? Use data-based insights to create different content based on location, interests, age, and past tours/activities someone booked. Check out our guide to find more tips and tricks to build and segment your email list

6. Virtual Events Are Here to Stay

Whether you’re already offering fully or partially virtual experiences, or you’re still considering testing the waters, it’s safe to say the demand for virtual and hybrid experiences will remain strong well into 2021. With the safety concerns of the pandemic not quite behind us yet, virtual events like cooking classes and at-home crafting tutorials, and hybrid events self-guided beer tastings and walking tours can open your offerings to new audiences and new revenue streams.

shapeTo avoid digital fatigue the best way to stand out in this growing market is by rethinking traditional virtual engagement tactics. Consider which parts of your tours and activities best engage guests and how you can adapt them to a virtual or hybrid experience. From incorporating a live stream on your social media to leveraging the newest technology for self-guided tours, there is always a new method to test! For more inspiration, check out our Virtual Experience guides on FareHarbor Compass.

When considering how you can best position your business to take advantage of our digital marketing predictions for the upcoming year don’t lose sight of the guiding light behind it all – the importance of reinventing and reconnecting. Continue listening to the needs of your audience, catering content to your customer base, and testing strategies like automation and ad diversification for a strong and successful year. 

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