In March 2020, there was a spike in people Googling ‘business help’, ‘small business help Australia’, ‘business support’ and similar phrases. Even during the Global Financial Crisis of 2007/2008 these search phrases did not fluctuate. Australian businesses were in crisis mode.
However, like any panic-inducing situation, there was a very obvious fight or flight response, particularly in the business world. Many businesses allowed the stigma that effective marketing needs large teams and budgets, resulting in them being left behind. While the rest of the businesses took the support available to them to invest in communicating how they’re adapting to help the public.
One such business who turned to marketing to get them through 2020 was The Plumbing & Electrical Doctor. In the height of the global pandemic, they relied on Google Ads with Localsearch, which saw them receive a $347.36 return on investment on their leads.
However, now Australia is beginning to return to ‘normal’, the businesses who thrived face a new problem — a more competitive marketplace than ever before. Those who are still competing are those who also realised the value of marketing.
To help you stay ahead of the crowd, we asked Localsearch’s Director of Digital & Growth, Adam Boote, for his top Australian marketing trends for businesses in 2021 and how to use them effectively.
Top 5 Australian Marketing Trends for Businesses in 2021
1. Video appointments and quotes.
Due to the necessity of 2020, video and voice software became the new norm for meetings. However, many businesses began to adopt video conferencing via Zoom or Microsoft Teams for in-home consultations and to provide quotes.
Mr. Boote said one particular business he worked closely with was using video to provide in-house window furnishing measuring, which saw an increase in productivity in their team and increase in return on investment.
“At the start of the year, all businesses had a choice to either adapt or close up shop,” he said.
“I remember talking to Victory Blinds right at the beginning of everything going on, and they jumped on the video consult train really early on. They would arrange a time with the customer, send them a link to the video meeting and literally give them a consult, measure and quote. You can see from many other businesses what would have happened if they didn’t do that…”
How to use video and tele appointments and quotes in 2021:
- Utilise a booking form with an in-person, phone or video consult option.
- Expand your service areas and utilise video quotes and consults to facilitate the order process.
- Fit more consults into your day by offering video options for services like pre-booking hair assessments and quotes.
- Offer additional video services, like styling for a retail store, or online cooking classes for a restaurant closed on a particular day.
People want to connect with businesses on a real level. In 2019 and 2020, we saw the rise of user-experience lead and user-generated content, with marketing becoming more honest than ever before. Coming in 2020, we’re going to see the YouTube trend of vlogs become a new form of marketing for businesses via videos and social media live events — one that’s cheap, quick and easy.
A vlog is a video blog (also known as video log), typically documenting someone’s life or a more realistic behind-the-scenes video. The editing on vlogs is generally minimal and the person being videos (normally videoing themselves) speaks directly to the watcher like a conversation between friends.
Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn Live allow businesses to easily connect with people vlog-style, for free. The live feature also alerts your followers, so even businesses with smaller followings can build engagement fast. You’ll find the first few lives you do, you may not receive many attendees, but the more frequent you go live, the more people will join.
Why businesses should vlog.
People are becoming more conscious of who they buy from. They want to know if the products are sustainable. If the services they use help support Australians. How does the business give back to the community? They also don’t want to be marketed to.
By recording content organically — as in not staged and as it happens — it shows who you are as a business and what you stand for. It’s an authentic form of content people can relate to. Further to this, it also gives you content to use on all your other social media and blogging platforms, so you’re making the most of your time.
Tips for starting to vlog:
- Ease into vlogging by capturing behind-the-scenes footage on your Instagram story. This can include how your product is made, your team at work, sneak peeks of end results, reveals.
- As you become comfortable recording and speaking to the camera, start to document more of your day.
- Start uploading videos to YouTube.
- Experiment with using editing software (like iMovie) to clip footage and cut out unnecessary footage.
- If your vlogs start to receive an audience, consider hiring someone to edit and optimise your videos for you.
Mr. Boote has always been a fan of utilising content marketing, and says the transition of vlogging into the business world is something he can see becoming one of the biggest marketing trends of 2021.
“YouTubers have been vlogging for years, but in the last year, even the channels who used to be niche in cars, beauty and food have started to vlog instead,” he said.
“Social media has made us nosy and behind-the-scenes of businesses is often out of bounds, so people are curious. Think of how popular the Mega Factories-style shows are — people want to know, so those who give it to them are going to see some decent success from it.”
3. Community involvement and partnerships.
Cancel culture reached new levels in 2020. People are happier than ever to call out other people, even businesses, who are not being socially aware or culturally appropriate.
For a big business who is targeted for being socially irresponsible, they will have a public relations (PR) company or team behind them to help restore their reputation. For example, Localsearch works with Thrive PR & Communications to help spread the word of our good work in the media. A small business will most likely not have this. But, it’s something they need to be cautious of going into 2021.
In 2014, 50% of consumers said they’d pay more for sustainable products and service. Fast forward only a year and that number was up to 66%. The number is still climbing.
Mr. Boote said businesses not only need to be conscious of how their product or service impacts their community, but how they communicate this too.
“Businesses are only around because the community has allowed them to be,” he said.
“It’s so important for them, Localsearch included, to be showing their appreciation and supporting causes important to them and their consumers. This is something we’re super passionate about, and are lucky to have our team be passionate about too.”
Big businesses will often sponsor community interests, like sporting events. Sponsoring sporting events not only helps to keep clubs alive (of all sizes, from the NRL to local clubs), but also broadcasts your branding. Smaller, local clubs will have sponsorship starting from as little as a couple of hundred dollars a year or as much as you’d like to contribute. In return, you may be able to receive signage on club grounds, your logo on uniforms, a mention by the commentator during games and more.
For example, Localsearch has been involved with many sporting clubs and events in the past, including the North Queensland Cowboys, Gold Coast Titans, Newcastle Knights, Surfing Australia, Surf Life Saving and more. We also work with many more local clubs, like the Kingscliff Wolves Football Club. The club alone has more than 1,800 members, all of who work and network within the local community. This gives us connections in and outside the club, as well as helping support young people in sport.
How to be a socially responsible business:
- Support other local businesses. Where possible, utilise other local businesses to help you carry out your work. This can include anything from suppliers to marketing.
- Offer your knowledge. You run a business because you’re good at something. Provide free content, webinar or events to help others learn from you.
- Think sustainably. Does your business recycle? Are you using sustainable resources to make your products? Could your business rely partly or solely on solar? There is something every business can do.
- Have a social mission. Every business has a goal in how they plan to succeed. However, in 2021, have a public statement of how you will support your community. The more specific you are, the better.
- Get your staff involved. Hosting fundraisers for causes is also a great team-building activity. Some of your team may even be interested in forming a social responsibility team to help your business stay engaged.
- Get involved with local clubs. Sporting clubs, both local, school and corporate, are looking for sponsors. Doing so will not only help the club, but also have your branding displayed on the club’ uniforms, banners, websites, etc. too.
- Communicate with the public. Use your platforms and audiences to help support the causes you’re passionate about. By posting how you get involved, it not only spreads awareness, but shares some goodness in people’s days.
4. Live chat.
Believe it or not, but live chat has been around since the 1970s. Today, 41% of consumers say live chat is their preferred method of contact, with 79% saying it’s due to the instant response to their enquiry. This is for both social media messenger and chat responses and via a website.
But how can live cat be one of the biggest marketing trends for businesses in 2021?
One of the many goals of marketing is obviously conversions. To increase your chance of conversions, your business should be offering as many options of contact as possible, including, at a minimum:
- Website forms.
- Website live chat.
- Facebook Messenger.
- Instagram Messenger.
The average consumer expects a response from businesses within 13 to 60 minutes, so it’s important you’re not using these methods, but making them reliable contact options. Your social media team should be trained to answer basic questions and know how to collect information and who to pass it onto for fast responses.
As for live chat software, it’s super easy to install on almost any website, is affordable (even free) and can be automated to respond to users, even when you’re asleep. It makes it work hand-in-hand with your marketing and you really can’t afford to be without. Two free and reliable live chat options include the Facebook Live Chat Plugin and Tawk.to.
The Facebook Chat Plugin is free for users to install on their website. It does come in handy if you know basic code, but you can always get help from a developer.
Localsearch’s Director of Digital & Growth, Adam Boote, said the Facebook Chat Plugin is a good place for businesses to start with live chat.
“Not having live chat is like leaving your store unattended. How are you making sales,” Mr. Boote said.
“Businesses can often be worried about the expense of live chat software, which I totally get. Some of them are really expensive. But the Facebook Chat Plugin is literally free and most people can install it themselves.”
As the Facebook Chat Plugin integrates straight into your Messenger, you can actually automate your live chat when you can’t have someone answer immediately. For example, you can have a list of your most frequently asked questions or enquiries and have answers to them. It’s ideal for out of hours.
5. Automation technology AKA software.
Timely reports small business owners around the world spend at least 40% of their time on admin work. Of this time, it’s mainly spent on:
- Staff rostering and management.
- Client management.
When you invest in digital marketing wisely, your business is going to grow. For those who successfully scale their business, the owners report they spend most of their time managing staff, as well as planning and executing further ways to expand.
The way big businesses do this so well is by investing in technology to create seamless workflows, and then people to support the processes. With 86% of people saying they are willing to pay more for a good customer experience, you want to ensure your workflow is as smooth as possible.
Preparing your business for more customers is as crucial as actually getting new customers, Mr Boote said when asked about the impact success can have.
“Coming from someone who has managed teams and run businesses, the last thing you want is a sudden surge of new customers,” he said.
“You want to be investing in technology which can take some of the workload of expanding a business off of your hands, even if it’s as simple as a booking form on your website.”
Technology can help you ease into scaling your business, even as a sole trader, which also makes it obvious exactly where you need to hire new staff.
Booking Systems & Customer Relationship Management Systems (CRMS)
A customer relationship management (CRM) system stores customer information. You can use this to store notes about jobs, log invoices and even market to them. Many CRMS will also have a booking system you can integrate into your website.
Booking systems give you the freedom of taking jobs without taking up physical time, and also reaches your audience who prefer not to use the phone. Most booking systems will allow you to also automate taking deposits and sending reminder texts or emails. So, not only does a booking system increase your jobs, it helps prevent no-shows too.
Workflow Automation Systems
Once someone has booked a job, ordered a product or requested your services, your work begins. You need to send confirmation emails, transfer the job to operations, packaging or whoever looks after completing the job. You then need to invoice the person or have them pay for your products or services, if they haven’t already. There are a lot of steps and every single one required work.
Workflow automation systems can help a job move through the workflows without even a click of a button — even sending emails. Systems like Monday.com, Asana, Hubspot and Workflow Max allow a job to enter a system and be sent to each person responsible for a role.
ServiceM8 has also been created specifically for trades-orientated industries, while Salesforce, SAP, Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Adobe Marketing Cloud are some of the most popular CRMS and workflow systems for big businesses. They’re what’s called Enterprise CRMS, built specifically for complex processes and large workflows, so may not be relevant for a start-up (just yet).
Many workflow systems will integrate bookings and customer managers, so consider what you need and value the most for your budget. As you grow, your system can easily grow with you, in most cases.
Scaling your business is exciting, but it also comes with responsibilities. You’re going to have to process invoices and ensure you’re doing so legally (GST, etc.), manage payroll, follow more government obligations, reconcile large accounts and more. Programs like Xero not only make you simple, but can make and save you money.
Xero, in particular, can help you with:
- Payroll, including checking what government grants you may be available for.
- GST return.
- Claiming expenses.
- Sending invoices.
- Managing inventory.
- Tracking projects, including unpaid invoices.
- Accepting payments.
- Reconciling your bank.
- Connecting with your bank to monitor transactions.
- Paying bills.
- Purchasing orders.
There are many other programs out there doing similar things, however, Xero is one of the most popular in the market. Whichever you choose, you’ll be able to run your business knowing invoices are automatically going out, being followed up on, your staff are being paid and more.
In Summary About Marketing in 2021
Adam Boote summed up perfectly what marketing in 2021 is going to be:
“People no longer just want the cheapest option. They want connections with who they’re buying from and using and want to feel good about doing it. It’s up to businesses to make sure they’re making their experiences easy and connecting in a real way.”
If you need help entering 2021 on the right foot, Localsearch is here to help. Our digital marketing services start from $19 a week, with monthly subscriptions available to help make the decision even easier. Reach out today.