Online businesses are booming, with an estimated 1.92 billion people worldwide transacting online in 2019, either buying a product or paying for a service. And that number is predicted to rise in the coming years, in part due to rapid increases in internet access and adoption around the world. The anticipated increase in online transactions is also due to the amount of unprecedented use of mobile devices globally, like smartphones and tablets.
This robust outlook is all the more reason why business owners should look forward to and, more importantly, plan ahead for a future full of exciting opportunities. And online business owners can start in 2021 by spotting the key trends that are set to shape e-commerce next year, which will, hopefully, be pandemic-free. Here are three of them:
Branding and messaging will be more vital than ever
Years ago, branding meant having a unique, easy-to-recall name and a distinct logo. But branding has since evolved and is now about winning over and maintaining credibility, connecting emotionally with prospective clients, motivating them to buy from you, and establishing loyalty. All of these can be achieved by delivering a clear message that resonates with customers.
Dustin York, director of Maryville University’s online communications programs, gives a perfect example of the power of branding. In an article on The Seattle Times, he talks about the successful branding strategy of the Seattle Kraken, an NHL expansion team that saw their season-ticket waitlist increase from 13,300 to 51,700 in the days after announcing the Kraken moniker.
York explains that the team did two things particularly well: First, they chose a name that resonates culturally with Seattle’s locals. Second, they gave out positive messaging in all available marketing channels, from public relations to local news and social media. This constant positivity was met enthusiastically by fans, as evidenced by rising interest in the team and their merchandise. This success story illustrates the increasing importance of branding and messaging, which will continue to be vital next year and beyond.
Cybersecurity will continue to be a concern
Online business will always be a potential target for cyber attacks, like the infamous eBay data breach of 2014 when hackers stole 145 million passwords or the recent Amazon data leak. These attacks can damage an online business’s credibility and undo whatever loyalty and goodwill it has already built. Cybercrime, in particular, can be extremely detrimental to smaller online businesses, which may not have the same cache as, say, eBay or Amazon to weather the fallout of a cyber attack.
Therefore, it’s imperative that online business owners invest in cybersecurity to minimize the risks of being victimized by cybercrime. At the very least, an online business needs multi-layered firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and multifactor authentication. And if possible, online business owners should consider hiring dedicated IT staff to oversee cybersecurity. These layers of protection will grow to be even more important year-on-year, especially considering how rapidly digital transformation is happening across industries.
In fact, Tech Republic notes how cybersecurity experts are among the most in-demand tech specialists in the age of cloud architecture and digital transformation. While this rapid onset of emerging technologies has resulted in a massive shortage in cybersecurity talent, today’s virtual IT training grounds are thankfully well poised to respond to the resulting demand. Fortunately, many courses can now be taken remotely at prestigious higher education institutions with the same depth as a traditional course. At Maryville University’s online cybersecurity degree program, students undergo intensive training in cloud security, digital forensics, malware analysis, and even ethical hacking. Trained under Maryville’s Virtual Lab, which has been distinguished by Apple for mobile and eLearning innovation, these future IT experts are able to complete these training courses on virtually any mobile device. Not only are they ready to aid organizations in securely navigating digital transformation, they’re also ready to adapt to remote working settings. Thanks to these and other online IT security training programs, business owners can at least expect to be able to hire competent and well-rounded cybersecurity professionals in the coming decade.
The coronavirus will still shape online content
Speaking of messaging, expect it to still reflect the so-called 4Cs of coronavirus content: community, cleanliness, compassion, and contactless. Arie Kruglanski, professor of psychology at the University of Maryland, explains why it is relevant, noting how the pandemic has fundamentally changed people’s values, needs, and sense of security.
So, where people valued the individualistic values of prestige, popularity, and power pre-pandemic, they are likely to emphasize the more communal values of cooperation, consideration, and caring. And where there used to be a manic fascination with fame and wealth prior to the coronavirus pandemic, there will be “more admiration for simple acts of kindness” post-coronavirus. Consequently, online business owners will have to reframe their messages and factor in these changing sensibilities (like Coca-Cola’s constant reminders to stay at home, or IKEA’s #I’mStayingHome movement).
But while the messages need recalibrating, the creative process as outlined in ‘Attracting Clients with Your Marketing Message in Three Steps’ remains applicable. That means online business owners must think of a clear message first, taking into account the target audience of the business. Once these messages are created, they can then be disseminated through the business’ various media and channels.
A lot goes into being a business owner, online or otherwise. And as this article shows, it is crucial to stay on top of trends shaping the industry and market. In doing so, online business owners will be able to craft the right marketing strategies and plan how they aim to move their business forward.
Article specially written for monicawrites.com
By Jennifer Violet
Jennifer is a freelancer specializing in finance and entrepreneurship. She is passionate about bringing emerging trends in the industry closer to leaders and business owners who need to learn about them.