This is your go-to guide for digital marketing in 2021. And we want to be clear:
This is not the average “2021 digital marketing trends” post and article.
Yes, we’ll cover the important trends that can benefit your business. But you’ll also see some new strategies that we believe are the future of digital marketing… like video and digital experiences.
Plus, we give you actionable tips and steps to retool and reboot your business digital marketing for 2021… and beyond.
We believe this: the push for every business to go digital IS the future. The digital economy will only grow larger. Businesses that embrace the need to be online and increase their digital presence and marketing will be many steps ahead of those that don’t.
So if you’re looking to improve your digital marketing success in the coming year, you’ll love this updated guide.
Let’s dive in and start your digital marketing reboot so your business is ready for the rebound.
Here are tips and actions that you can use to retool your business and bring it to the next level.
We’ve broken them into six chapters below.
Let's get started.
Marketing Website Design
What is it?
Your marketing-focused website can be a single page with an order button to a multi-page site with rich content. No matter the length or complexity, the goal of your website is to attract customers, help them learn about and build trust in your products and services, and ultimately make their first purchase… and then the next.
How does a marketing-focused website benefit my business?
When your business is easy to find online, you make it easy for potential customers to find you and do business with you. But just having a pretty website doesn’t mean it will attract customers by coming up in online searches. When it has content developed with Search Engine Optimization in mind, plus integration with social media, local search tools (like Google My Business), and references from your email newsletter, then your website becomes a powerful marketing tool.
Your (Marketing-Focused) Website
Tip #1-1: Secure your website
🔐 If your site isn’t https:// it’s time.
Tip #1-2: Check for broken links and images
Here are a few options to check your site for broken links:
- Check links manually. Depending on the size of your site and depth of content, this can take a while. So grab your favorite beverage and enjoy the process.
- If you use Google Search Console, you can check for broken links using these basic steps:
- Log in to your Google Search Console account.
- Click the site you want to monitor. The Search Console page appears.
- Click Crawl, and then click Fetch as Google. Here, you can request Google to crawl any specific pages on your website. This takes a little time (even up to a week).
- To access the results after Google crawls the site, click Crawl, and then click Crawl Errors. This appears under URL Errors, and here you can see broken links that were discovered.
- Use a link checker website like WC3
Also, be sure to have your 404 page assigned for your website in case anyone gets lost. By the way, you can have a little fun with your 404 page. Here is ours!
Tip #1-3: Gather and post testimonials.
Include your reviews from Google My Business and Facebook.
Tip #1-4: Review your blog content
- Review your stats to find your best content. Use it to springboard more content ideas or products.
- In each blog article, be sure to ask for newsletter signups or point them to other internal or external authority content.
- Write a few new evergreen pieces that fit your services and are tapped into your niche keywords.
& Local Marketing
What is it?
Social media marketing uses different channels (life Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.) to share your brand’s message and content with people interested in your company or in the category of products or services you offer. One size does not fit all, though — each platform has its own “flavor” and key audience, so for the best results, posts should be tailored to the platform.
How does social media marketing benefit my business?
By tapping the unique traits of each channel, using data-driven, relevant, and engaging content can reach your customers on the platforms they prefer. There are two ways your message is found: organic and paid. When customers find your content on their own, or because one of their friends shared you post, that’s organic traffic, and it’s free. The other option is paid traffic through buying ads on the platform that are targeted to reach a certain demographic or interest.
Social Media: Facebook
Tip #2-1: Update your main header image
Take a fresh look at the first impression of your Facebook page. Does the image reflect what you offer — and the benefits you provide your customer? If your main image is a photo of your building (unless you’re an architecture firm and you designed the building), make this your first retool project!
Tip #2-2: Update your "About" and "Our Story" sections
These sections are frequently overlooked, but they can be helpful business tools. Your About is limited to 255 characters, but you can still share a colorful description focused on benefits to your customers. The Our Story section can be much longer. Use this space to share the heart of your business:
- why you started it…
- how you want your business to benefit your customers…
- what’s special and unique about your business.
Don’t be afraid to add personality here.
Tip #2-3: Create a pinned post with new business information
📍 A pinned post stays at the top of your feed and allows your customers to see the latest important news about your business without scrolling. Share updates about your business’s reopening plans, new ways to order or pick up, etc.
And when you’re fully open, share that great news!
Tip #2-4: Add new posts
Create a series of posts with updates about your business status, staff, and more.
Tip #2-5: Review and respond to reviews
When your customers take time to leave a review, respond with appreciation and thanks that your business is helpful to them.
Social Media: Instagram
Tip #2-6: Update your Profile
Instagram gives you only a few words to describe your business, so make them count! Descriptive, customer-centric, and fun. You can use emojis to help explain visually what you do.
Tip #2-7: Update your Bio Link
You get one link on your Instagram profile. The default most businesses use is linking to their business website. The problem? Your customer then has to figure out where to go on your website to find your special offer, event registration, etc. Instead, use an Instagram landing page tool (sometimes called a link tree) that allows you to create a page with lots of different links (make it easy for your fans to find your content and offers).
Tip #2-8: Weave in video
Explore using video to share your message and the personality of your business. Instagram Stories are 15 seconds long. Do you need more than 15 seconds? Just keep talking — Instagram will automatically cut it into 15-second segments. And don’t worry about perfect: Stories disappear in 24 hours.
Tip #2-9: Create "Stories" categories
While Instagram Stories are meant to be temporary, you can save the best ones in static categories that fit your business.
Google My Business (GMB)
Tip #2-10: Update your GMB listing
Keep the information in sync with your website details: (N.A.P.) Name, Address, Phone.
Tip #2-11: Add new photos
Show your business and products.
There is a monthly report that shows you the number of photos compared to similar competitors. Also, put out the photos you want to represent your brand and business.
Adding new photos for your products, services, team, and events will freshen your profile(s) and give people a new view of your business (worth 1,000 words!)
Tip #2-12: Review and respond to GMB reviews
Remember, these show up in Google search and Google Map search results. This is a great opportunity to build engagement and interact with your customers (and provide social proof of how much your customers appreciate your business).
Tip #2-13: Add new posts
Did you know you can add posts to GMB?
These are great to increase visibility, plus you can add both photo and video posts about your brand, services, or upcoming events.
These give extra traction and views to your Google Map views as well as provide trust within Google search (SEO pixie dust goodness).
Email & Content Marketing
What is it?
Done well, content and email marketing can be some of the most powerful forms of digital marketing. Why? Because you own the platform and you own the traffic it can generate to your business. On the other hand, you’re essentially renting space on social media channels, and you’re at the mercy of changes to their terms and algorithms that distribute content. If they implement a big change, you can lose thousands of followers overnight. With your content and email list, you own it and you control where your message is sent.
Content marketing is providing your customers with helpful, engaging information about your business that they find valuable. It can be a free downloadable guide on complex topic or a online course. Even better is a well-written email newsletter.
How does an email newsletter benefit my business?
Email marketing through sending newsletters is the old/new marketing method to reach customers who choose to receive your newsletters. With an engaging newsletter, your customers purposefully opt-in and look forward to receiving it, building long-term trust and loyalty in your brand.
Tip #3-1: Update your email sign-up form
Use new verbs for your call to action (CTA). Make your form pop. Make it prominent, provide a promise, and give proof.
Tip #3-2: Tune up your pop-ups for the newsletter sign-up
Review trigger timing, message, where it leads after subscribing. You want to avoid causing friction for your reader.
- Review and improve your “thank you” message or page. It’s the reader’s first impression of the information they’ll be getting, so make it personable, focused on the benefits for them, and engaging.
- Add newsletter sign-ups as a Google Analytics goal.
Here’s a good example of an effective newsletter sign-up form:
Tip #3-3: Update your auto-responders
Refresh (or create your first) auto response email and short series. Start with your Welcome and sign-up confirmation email, then create a short series of relevant and helpful emails.
Tip #3-4: Create a new (or your first) lead magnet
Email Marketing / Newsletters
Tip #3-5: Refresh your newsletter
- template (simple, short, attractive)
- adjust content with your brand, message, and services: provide valuable information to your reader; don’t just always sell, sell, sell
- reconsider your frequency and type of content
- review your open rates: if some newsletters performed better, try to see if there’s a pattern
- be sure to add UTM codes when sending traffic to your website so you can get better data on where people are coming from to your content
What is a UTM code?
A UTM code is a simple code that you can attach to a custom URL in order to track a source, medium, and campaign name. This enables Google Analytics to tell you where searchers came from as well as what campaign directed them to you.
Tip #3-6: Clean up your email list
If subscribers haven’t opened an email in a year, send them an email asking them if they still want to receive the newsletter. If you don’t hear back, omit them from your active list.
Wherefore art thou, Content?
Content and how to use it effectively in different platforms is crucial — and too big a topic for this article.
Here’s more in our article on content strategy.
What is it?
If you feel like video is everywhere, you’re right. From scrolling through the videos on your social media feeds to watching the retail giants’ Super Bowl ads, video is here. And it’s only going to get bigger.
One reason it’s becoming the go-to vehicle for information sharing is that it’s easy to consume. You can watch it anywhere. And let’s face it. It’s just easier to watch a video than it is to read content. Our brains also crave newness, so video — with its motion and sound — grabs our attention.
Another visual medium is Digital Experiences — webcasts, Lives on social media, streaming, webinars. Everything we used to do in person, from a huge trade show to a sales presentation, can now be done (and done well!) in the digital environment.
How does using video and digital experiences benefit my business?
If you use video and your competitors don’t, you’re ahead of the pack.
With video, you can share a lot about your product and brand in a short amount of time. Plus, engaging videos can attract new customers and further engage current fans.
You can use it to educate, inspire, inform, and reward your customers.
If you have a complex product or service, educate your customers with quick how-to videos. If you have a visually beautiful business — think flower shop — show how your customer will feel buying fresh flowers. And if your business isn’t obviously video-ready (say, insurance), create short videos that explain common questions clearly and let customers get to know you and trust you as a person.
The sky’s the limit when it comes to creative ways to share your business story and brand through video.
Tip #4-1: Grab your cell phone
No need for fancy video equipment. Your smart phone will take perfectly good videos to start with.
To get a more pro look buy a cell phone holder so you can be hands-free instead of holding it selfie-style (much more professional).
Tip #4-2: Get a pro look for less.
Buy a cell phone holder so you can be hands-free instead of holding it selfie-style (much more professional).
Tip #4-3: Practice, practice
Shy? New to being on camera? No worries! Start taking videos of yourself doing everyday things and talking about them. Just practice. The content doesn’t matter; the practice does.
Review your videos and see where you can improve.
Tip #4-4: Plan your content
When you’re more comfortable being in front of the camera, take a few videos of your actual subject matter. But first, take a little time to script or outline what you’ll be covering, with a beginning, middle, and end.
Good topics for your videos:
- address your customers’ pain points or solve your customers’ problems
- provide a how-to
- explain a complex topic
For length of your videos Facebook and YouTube don’t care how long your videos are, so you can post (nearly) as long a video as you want.
Instagram, however, only allows 59 seconds. So make it short and sweet. Instagram also has its IGTV area, which allows videos up to 10 minutes long (and longer videos as your grow your account).
Tip #4-5: Formatting tips
If you’ll be posting primarily on Facebook, take your video in landscape (horizontal) mode.
If on Instagram, use portrait (vertical) mode for stories or square for normal posts.
While either mode can be used for either platform, they will look better for the user when done in the format that matches.
See what you like (and gets engagement)!
Tip #4-6: Use free phone editing apps
Download free phone video editing apps, like Splice and Quik.
After you’ve shot your video on your phone, use these simple apps to edit your video before posting. Some of them even post directly to social media accounts.
Tip #4-7: Tell a Story
Try adding video to your Story section of Facebook or Instagram. Stories are available only for 24 hours before they expire. It’s a great way to test the video waters.
Also, you can save these to your Instagram highlights section for collections of your favorite content.
Tip #4-8: Jump in LIVE!
As you get more comfortable with video, go for it – your first LIVE on social media!
It doesn’t have to be perfect, just have fun! Followers are forgiving. The social media platforms give you a lot of credit (views) for just doing it, and you’ll gain more of their trust as they see your authentic message.
Tip #4-9: Expand your video use
Think beyond social media and video platforms for your video.
Do you send an email newsletter?Embed your video in your next issue.
Is the content rich and in-depth? Have the audio transcribed and create a blog post, web article, or downloadable opt-in from the content. Parse the content and use in your newsletters or direct mail pieces.
Data & Analytics
What is it?
By using pieces of code on your website, social media pages, and links from your newsletter, you can gain some insights into your customer base at a general level.
How does social media marketing benefit my business?
Thoughtful and respectful use of data can help your products or services be found by people who are interested in your business category. Analyzing the data can help you tailor your messages to your audience’s interests or create new content to respond to related searches.
Tip #5-1: Confirm everything is in Google Tag Manager
Google Tag Manager is a tool that gives you have a centralized place to store all your marketing and code tags without having to know code.
We use this also for the most basic tag/connection of setting up our Google Analytics connection as well as setting up additional ways to provide analytics with better data.
Tip #5-2: Review Your Google Analytics Setup
Is it set up AND getting the data you need? Here are the top questions, at a high level, you want your data to help you with:
- What are your top performing pages or blogs?
- What are people searching for on your site (and is this search set up in analytics)?
- Is your navigation working (or NOT working)?
- What pages are frustrating your customers?
- Which social media sites are your customers linking out to?
- Are your goals set up (e.g., newsletter or sales funnels)? Top importance for the website is that we are getting people to take action.
- Knowing how many people are coming through and % conversion is super important and helps fix any issues or drive more traffic if there is a good conversion rate. (Hint: don’t run ads against a badly converting page.)
& how it all works together
What is it?
The best digital marketing program takes a holistic and cohesive approach. By connecting the individual pieces of the marketing puzzle — social media, website, content & email marketing, local search — the full picture and potential of digital marketing comes clear.
Not only does the messaging need to be integrated across each marketing component, but each tool needs to be connected (integrated) through correct technology. Like kids in a sand box, sometimes the different tools don’t always play well with others. Knowing how to integrate different software and tools can help them get along.
How does integration benefit my business?
When technology is integrated, the tools work together. The end result is much stronger than each tool on its own.
Tip #6-1: Search (Google) your brand
What shows up? Do you show up for your exact business name?
This is a great way to see how you are represented when people are searching for you online.
Also good to also do a search for your the top keywords in your industry and see where you show up in the results (“If you ain’t first (page), you’re last – Ricky Bobby“).
Tip #6-2: Audit your technical services and SAAS
How much do you spend monthly on software tools? Do you need all of these? Can you simplify?
Do your tools and forms connect together? For example, do your webinar sign-ups capture the attendee’s email and add it to your email list?
Tip #6-3: Update your sales pages and thank you pages
Are they still relevant? For your thank you pages, what is the message or feeling you want to leave your customers with? Are you missing any opportunities?
Tip #6-4: Review your basic funnel
Draw out your content on platforms: where you want to lead them, and then lead theminto your sales pages.
Seeing the forest at a higher level helps you look for opportunities and identify holes in the customer journey. Where does the journey lead them to? (And is this where you intended to lead them?)
Also look for places where you can automate. This can be through automated responses, chat bots, better landing pages. Be creative and see what else is working for other businesses in your industry. Even better, look outside your industry and tweak successful ideas to use in your business.
The (Digital) Sun Will Rise Tomorrow
No matter the challenges and changes going on, one thing’s for sure: taking your business online is a smart move. The digital world of commerce will only continue to grow, and the shift to virtual meetings, presentations, learning — and of course, e-commerce — are here to stay.
Developing your online presence, or retooling your existing platforms, will help you be ready to act on the opportunities to find new customers, nurture current customers, and do business in a way that makes sense for our world today.
Yesterday was the best time to get your business online. Today is the next best time.
Are you in? We’re here to help.
We're here for you.
We believe in the power of small business and the vision of entrepreneurs like you. And we’re passionate about how a strong digital presence can ramp up your business — no matter what industry you’re in.
Let’s talk and create a plan to reboot your business for the future.