2020 was a difficult year for many. But it was also a year that accelerated the digital world. It was a year of huge growth for many online businesses. And for those that are not present online or present in a limited way? Well, a lot of work to catch up because this digital acceleration is likely here to stay (even after we are back to “normal”). Below are a few digital marketing ideas that can hopefully inspire your marketing activities in 2021.
1. Go online
If you or your brand is not present online yet, now it is the time to go online. As they say, the best time to go online was yesterday and the second-best time to go online is today. Start small if you don’t have an online presence at all or increase your presence if you are already there. 2021 is the time to be present online for you, your brand and your product.
2. Go no-code
No-code isn’t new but we can definitely see no-code tools growing in popularity and this is for a reason. No-code tools enable everybody to create things online, like websites, apps, emails and other projects, that only developers could do in the past. You know, these highly paid developers that spend ages working on things and almost never deliver on time (joke!). With no-code tools like webflow.com, you can create many standard websites without programming knowledge by using drag and drop interface. And there are many online tools like this not only to create a website but to do many other things. No-code tools are really on the rise and while they won’t replace developers and other experts entirely they should lower a barrier to entry and lower the cost of going online for startups, artists and many other professions.
Marketing automation is not a new thing. But apart from automating your marketing activities with enterprise marketing automation products like Marketo, Eloqua or Pardot, you can automate a lot of marketing activities on a much lower scale. You can automatically send emails to your new subscribers, use tools like Hootsuite to automate publishing and monitoring of your social media accounts. You can use Chatbots to engage with customers. Look for tasks you or your business performs on a regular basis and think if you can automate them. Are you preparing a report about the performance of your website every week by manually pulling the data from Google Analytics? Automate it instead! There are many online tools that specialize in different tasks like, email, analytics, sales. Most of them have APIs that enable you to integrate them together to exchange information automatically without any manual work. Automate boring and repetitive tasks so you and your team can do some meaningful and creative work instead.
4. Implement Artificial Intelligence
I’ve spent quite a bit of time in 2020 working with Data Science and AI and I can honestly say that AI is real. I’ve used neural networks to recognize images of handwritten digits. I’ve recognized faces on the image using Python and face_recognition library. I’ve used supervised machine learning model to recognize cats and dogs on images. I’ve analyzed tweets to find out if they are positive, negative and neutral (using NLP) or even predicted Titanic survivors using Data Science and Machine Learning. These are all examples of AI algorithms that can be used by anybody at any project, now, in 2021.
So I think we can honestly say now that AI is real. Whether you start from NLP (Natural Language Processing) and Chatbots, Voice Technology or marketing automation that is using Machine Learning, starting using AI & ML will most likely improve your marketing results in 2021 and make your digital marketing future-proof.
5. Track and analyze
Google Analytics is a great way to measure the performance of your marketing efforts. What works, what doesn’t, what needs improvement, etc. Google Analytics can help you with all of that and more. You can see if you are getting a return on investment (ROI) from your marketing efforts using Google Analytics.
But it is not only about Google Analytics. Pretty much every online marketing tool has the analytics section and whether it is analyzing the effectiveness of your email campaign or your pay per click campaign it contains very useful information that is there for you to learn from and improve.
There is no point of having Google Analytics and KPIs if you don’t regularly review them and make business and marketing decisions based on them. Track, review, act and repeat should be your everyday mantra.
The web is getting more and more complicated and that is why you must simplify, especially if you are just getting started online. You don’t have to be on every single social media platform or have a website with hundreds of pages. Choose what is most important for you and focus on this. If you are already online and feel overwhelmed simplify and eliminate what is not working or automate certain activities. The online world is evolving all the time and you must too.
7. Create a content machine
The winning strategy online is quite simple; create quality content at scale and regularly. Producing brand new content every single time takes time and costs a lot of money. That’s why you need to be clever and use the same piece of content produced once multiple times. For example, when you create a blog article record it also as a video and a podcast, then create a nice graphic summarizing the learnings from the article. You can also split the same article in several shorter posts that you can use on social media. This is how you create a content machine that will help your marketing activities and increase your online presence.
8. Make videos
YouTube is still the most used social media platform and the second most popular search engine after Google. People love watching videos and they prefer this form of content over reading. You don’t need an expensive mirrorless camera to get started. Start recording videos with your mobile phone and later you can invest in it more if you decide that you like it and it works for your business. Make sure that you create interesting content that is useful for your audience and success is almost guaranteed.
9. Create a voice app / Alexa Skill / Google Home Action
Thanks to Amazon Alexa, Siri and Google Home, voice technology has been growing in importance over the last few years and this trend is probably not going to change so if you have not embraced this technology yet, 2021 is the time to think about a product or a service that you can deliver using voice technology. Whether this is an addition of Voice User Interface (VUI) to your existing app or creating a voice app or Alexa Skill from scratch, it is a good time to start entering this space if you haven’t already.
We all heard that “by 2020 half of all online searches will be voice searches” (ComScore and other sources). Well, we are in 2021 and although the growth is not as fast as predicted (Google reports that 27% of the global online population is using voice search on mobile) voice technology is growing and this trend is likely to continue.
People love voice technology because it is fast, convenient and it is a natural way that people communicate. It doesn’t require technical skills to use it like a computer or a mobile phone.
10. Create a chatbot on your website
Chatbots are a great way to automate interactions with your customers. They are not meant to completely replace customer service, at least for now, but they can be great assistants. Chatbots are great to initiate a conversation that can be taken over, if necessary, by a human. Chatbots can be placed on a website or be part of your social media profile (e.g. Facebook). To achieve satisfactory results, chatbots require quite a bit of effort to build in the first place, and then maintain and optimize, but the results are worth the effort because it will save you money in the long run and it will bring you more potential customers. If you’re thinking about creating a chatbot read this article about 3 tips to create a good Chatbot.
11. Create a mailing list
Collecting emails from your customers and prospects and sending out emails is still an effective way to engage with customers and bringing them back to your website and to your business. Therefore having an email capture functionality on your website is still a good idea in 2021. Clearly stating the purpose of your newsletter (industry news, product updates etc.) will increase the quality of the list and users will be more likely to engage with the content you send out. You can even consider a paid newsletter. If you are expert in a specific area people will pay you a small amount each month to receive a quality newsletter a few times a month. A paid or free mailing list is a great way to stay in touch with your customers on a regular basis.
91% of shoppers want to hear from companies they do business with via email. (Sleeknote, 2019) — HubSpot
12. Start a podcast
Many people listen to podcasts these days doing other activities around the house or outside. It is a great way to engage and provide value to your audience while increasing brand awareness of yourself, your company and your products. Creating and publishing a podcast is super easy in 2021. To find out more read my article about how I created and published my podcast in less than 1 hour for free.
54% of podcast consumers say they think about buying advertised products. — searchenginejournal.com
There is no one size fits all when it comes to digital and content marketing. You need to make sure that you personalize your marketing message depends on the location, gender, age, interests and other factors. While this is easy to do with your PPC campaigns it is not that easy with random customers visiting your website or use your app that you don’t know yet. Despite that, try to personalize your message whenever you have an opportunity to do so. You can use Google Optimize to not only personalize your website but also optimize and improve conversion on your website.
Mapping the customer experience and use of personalized content are deemed the most effective tactics for optimizing marketing automation. (Ascend2, 2018) — HubSpot
14. Optimise conversion
Driving more traffic to a website is a great idea, but one of the best ways to increase the conversion rate on your website is optimization. Look at Google Analytics and KPIs and think about what you can improve. Use A/B testing with Google Optimize and Google Search Console to optimize the content on your website. Invest in driving more traffic only to a website that is well optimized and user friendly that actually converts. Otherwise, you are just wasting money.
Only about 22% of businesses are satisfied with their conversion rates. (Econsultancy, 2016) — HubSpot
15. Organize a webinar or live online event
We can honestly say that 2020 was a year of webinars and online meetings. They are relatively inexpensive to organize and are a great way to engage with your audience and customers. They are also a great way to sell your products and services. Make sure, however, that you also provide free and valuable content to your audience during webinars and it is not just your sales pitch because if you do this nobody will attend, come back or buy anything from you. Do it the right way and it will be a valuable online channel for your brand and your business.
16. Write an eBook
If you consider yourself an expert in your industry and if you have something interesting and valuable to say and you are willing to share your knowledge with others consider writing an eBook. Writing an eBook will not only benefit your audience but it will also enable to consolidate your knowledge and learn new things through research so it is a win-win situation. Whether you decide to sell your eBook or give it away for free it will be a great way to show your expertise, help others learn from your experience and also attract clients to your business.
17. Create a community
People with similar interests like to discuss things and share knowledge. Creating a group of people with similar interests is a great way to discuss ideas with others. Whether it is a free or paid membership group you can organize groups like this using Facebook, LinkedIn or other platforms.
Make sure the group is moderated and only valuable members have access. Otherwise, your group will attract spammers and trolls that will quickly make valuable members leave your community.
18. Create an online course
2020 has seen growth in online courses production. It is a great way to share your knowledge online and get paid for it. You can use online learning and teaching marketplaces like Udemy or create it on your own website. There are many platforms and solutions that can also help you with the process of creating and selling your online course for a small fee.
We are back to the question of how to create quality content at scale regularly and documenting is one of the best ways to generate content. If you are struggling with new content ideas basically document what you do. Are you working on a new product or a startup? Share your journey online in a form of blog articles, social media posts and videos. Have you hired a new employee? Have you had an interesting meeting with an interesting person? Document it and share it on your website and your social media channels. Show what is happening behind the scenes of your brand and business. People love reading and following interesting stories like this and doing it may easily bring customers or investors to your business. Show what is good and what is bad. Show successes and struggles. Don’t sugarcoat; be authentic and show it as it is. Since it is called documenting :)
20. Engage with your audience through social media
You will reach a much bigger audience, gain more loyal followers if you engage with your followers on social media and not only post content about yourself. Find out who follows you on social media, engage with their content, reach out for feedback and create meaningful relationships. This is how most major business relationships start. Don’t look at the number of followers you have, look at the quality of them. You don’t need millions of followers to be successful; you only need 1000 true fans.
21. Be patient and consistent
No marketing activity is perfect from the start and works right away. Whether this is your website, an app, marketing campaign or a podcast it will require work and refinement along the way to make it better and better over time. Remember, you don’t have to be perfect to start but you have to start to become perfect over time. Be patient, consistent and open-minded; look for feedback.
22. Review, improve, repeat
Look at how the web is changing and review your online activities regularly. Think about what you can improve, change, simplify, eliminate or focus more on things that actually work. Repeat this process regularly to gain a competitive advantage or at least make sure you stay in the business. The web is evolving all the time and what worked yesterday may not necessarily work today or tomorrow. With this attitude, I have no doubt that you will be successful in whatever you’re doing.
23. Enjoy the process
Whatever your goals are make sure that you enjoy the process of getting towards them. Work hard but also make time to relax, exercise, sleep, quality time with friends and family. Reward yourself for small wins and in general design it in a way that you enjoy the whole process.
I hope these ideas can inspire some of your digital marketing activities in 2021. If you have any other ideas or comments please add them in the comment section below.
I wish you an amazing 2021!
Article originally published to Medium
Written by Przemyslaw Jarzynski (PJ)