Going into 2021, online businesses are poised to dominate the market. With social distancing protocols still widely in place, especially in major cities, moving your business online is one of the smartest things you can do. 
While there are many aspects of business planning that stay the same regardless of whether your business is brick and mortar or digital, there are some special considerations to make with an online business in 2021. 

Making your presence known online is more important than ever, as well as finding new, innovative ways to make your product appealing to a remote audience. If you’re planning to start a business in the new year, below we’ll talk about some things to consider as well as the online marketing trends we expect to see in 2021. 

Are You Ready To Embrace Automated Systems? 

Businesses of all kinds will be looking to enhance the ecommerce experience in 2021 with more and more shoppers making purchases from their homes. If you haven’t taken a serious look at Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR), it’s time to do so. 

With online stores, virtual assistants are becoming more and more popular. These can be programmed to answer common questions shoppers may have, enhancing their experience by recreating real life shopping. AI systems can offer personalized guidance to online shoppers to help sell your products, making suggestions based on past purchases and browsing behavior. 

Augmented reality can also help better the online shopping experience. Shoppers are unable to try on items or physically interact with products. AR lets customers see how clothing might fit on them or what a couch might look like in their living room. In a world where more and more business is going remote, online business in 2021 needs to focus on recreating real life experiences in a digital space. 

While implementing AI and AR in an ecommerce store may come with some upfront cost, it’s likely worth it if it ends up increasing conversions overall. 

Are You Equipped For Mobile Ecommerce? 

With more and more consumers shopping online, people are starting to use mobile devices like tablets and smartphones to make purchases. Some statistics estimate over 73% of online ecommerce sales will be mobile going into 2021.  If your ecommerce platform isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re going to miss out on a lot of potential sales. 

If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, many shoppers will simply abandon their carts – potentially up to 30%. When creating your website, keep the mobile experience in mind. Tools like Google Mobile-Friendly Test can help you gauge how appealing your site will be to online shoppers. It’s also a good idea to invest in progressive web apps (PWAs) for online stores as they tend to load faster and save information – like previously viewed products – for customer convenience. 

You can also test your site manually from a mobile device and ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Is it easy to navigate? Does content load quickly and is it clear how to get to relevant pages? 
  • Can you clearly view your products through a mobile browser? Is a zoom button necessary? 
  • Can customers easily access their shopping cart to remove or add items? Does your checkout page load quickly? 

Is Your Content Strategy Ready For 2021? 

Search engine optimization (SEO) best practices change frequently. Going into 2021, the focus will be on search intent and semantics. If you want to drive organic traffic to your website, you need to provide researched, informative content that answers customer questions. 

Your content strategy needs to be people optimized. Try to put yourself into the shoes of your potential customers. What sort of questions might they have about your business? What kind of information do they need to make an informed decision when committing to buying a product? 

Search engines now reward companies for being accurate, authoritative, and well-structured. Before you even think about relevant keywords, focus on creating genuinely well-written material that’s easy to read and understand. Bullet points, shorter paragraphs, and infographics all make things like blog posts and landing pages more skimable and user-friendly. 

Search intent is also going to be vital going into 2021. Ask yourself what your customers are really looking to learn when searching topics related to your product. This year, having FAQ sections on your website is going to be vital for ranking high in search engines and getting into Google’s featured snippets, both of which drive traffic. 

In 2021, content marketing will be about establishing your site as an authority in your given field less so than explicitly marketing your products. However, this strategy will pay off as it’s likely to drive organic traffic, boost brand awareness, and ultimately increase sales. 

Does Your Digital Marketing Strategy Incorporate Social Media?

Digital marketing is nothing new and has always been an effective way to get your product to a relevant audience. However, in 2021, targeted ads are going to become more important than ever – especially for online businesses. 

Social media marketing is going to be especially important in 2021. With an increase in stay-at-home orders, more and more businesses are going remote completely. This means walk-in traffic and referrals are no longer tenable, making digital marketing vital for any business to thrive. Without the ability to connect with people in the physical world, you’ll need to build your presence where people gather online. 

Social media marketing blends targeting options like geotagging and behavioral tagging to create hyper-specific ads that appeal to a specific group of people. If you’re on any social media platform, you’ve likely encountered ads on outlets like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter relevant to your interests. 

If you’re planning on starting an online business in 2021, social media marketing can be an invaluable tool to increase brand awareness, visibility, and ultimately sales. It’s particularly important when you’re entering a market in which people will be spending more time online. While creating a digital marketing strategy, make sure social media marketing is a major component of your action plan. 

Have You Made An Email List? 

Going into 2021, email marketing is going to be important for any business, online or not. More and more people are communicating primarily through email, and setting up an email list is important while you’re setting up your business online. While you’re launching your business, an email list allows you to connect with potential customers right away and provide them with updates on how your business is growing and developing. 

In the past, appearing at trade shows and distributing business cards was a good way to get people to sign up for your email list, but now you’ll have to reach out through remote means. 

This means optimizing your website for opt-ins by including email registration on every main page. You can also encourage customers to click links via social media leading them to email sign-up pages. End any content – like blog posts – with a call to action to join your email list. 

Make sure to reply to emails quickly as well. Being prompt with online inquiries helps build customer trust, which is often hard to do remotely when messages feel automated and impersonal. Adding a human voice to your brand will make consumers feel more comfortable engaging in business with you and making purchases. 

The Bottom Line 

In many ways, 2021 is the optimal time to start an online business. With more consumers than ever taking their shopping needs online, being poised to capitalize on the new market is wise. However, when putting together a business model, you’ll need to take special factors into consideration if you’re going to be primarily conducting business online. 

The main takeaway when it comes to planning an online business in 2021 is to keep the consumer experience in mind in every step of the process – from your website design to the content you produce. Establishing a brand online means making your presence known in a variety of communities, and establishing yourself as a source of authority in your field.