While 2020 wasn’t great from most perspectives, it was a banner year for digital marketing. As consumers settled at home, they spent more time and money online.
Don’t expect digital marketing to lose its value in 2021. Buying habits are sticky. Even if consumers venture further as the pandemic recedes, they will continue to log in.
Your marketing investments should reflect the realities of the market. Make sure your digital marketing game is where it needs to be to compete in 2021:
1. Outsource what’s outside your specialty
Most business leaders are not born digital marketers. You may know domains like web design, but that’s not the same as being an expert on them. Outsource anything you can’t do professionally.
Small and large digital marketing needs are easy to contract. A freelancer can write your ad copy. An agency can manage its social networks. An outsourced CMO can develop your entire digital marketing strategy.
Outsourcing also helps you identify mistakes that your own attachments could blind you to. If Dove had hired a digital marketing consultant, they might have known better than to run ads that featured black women turning into light-skinned redheads. “This does not represent the diversity of real beauty, which is something Dove is passionate about and fundamental to our beliefs,” Dove wrote in a statement.
The point is, digital marketing is not the type of space you want to stumble upon. The credibility of your brand is at stake.
2. Revisit your search strategy
You know that old real estate saying that the three most important things are location, location, and location? In digital marketing, it is SEO, SEO, SEO.
Real estate professionals will advise you to skip the sale by owner route and get an agent to sell your property. Because SEO is complex and site penalties are stiff, so is search. “SEO is not simply about fooling Google’s algorithm. It’s also not about cramming your website with keywords in the hopes that it will rank number one, ”writes SEO agency Hennessey Digital.
Of course, SEO touches much more than your own site. Just as important as your blog content are the backlinks your company site receives.
In 2021, invest in off-page SEO. Connect with contributors on popular digital publications. Show them link-worthy content on your site. Offer to create guest content and share it frequently on your company’s social media platforms.
Although you can do some of this yourself, don’t be afraid to ask for help. One area that you will surely need is technical SEO. Make sure your site’s security certificate is still valid. Perform a broken link audit. Clean up your site’s architecture and make sure Google indexes it.
3. Invest in interactive content
In digital marketing, interactive content is as good as gold. The longer you can get someone to stay on your site, the more likely they are to convert, and the more Google will see your site as an authority.
Interactive content can take many forms: calculators, polls and surveys, interactive videos and infographics, contests, games, product recommendations, and more.
Buzzfeed quizzes are a famous example. Clinique Foundation Finder asks questions and recommends a foundation based on user feedback. Allbird’s story “The View from Above” in The New York Times includes moving illustrations, both in the sense that they move like the user’s cursor does and in terms of their emotional impact.
In addition, interactive content, such as quizzes, can do more than engage users; in fact, it can generate new insights about the audience. “Being able to see how the user answers each question gives you incredible insight into the customer,” explains Penny Wilson, CMO of Hootsuite. “Other types of interactive content can reveal your interests, likes, pain points and patterns.”
What should you do with those ideas? Incorporate them back into your content. If your fishing brand finds that its users like to hunt too, don’t ignore that detail just because it doesn’t sell firearms. Point out the public lands that offer both recreation opportunities. Tell your product team that they should consider adding a camo print to their fishing vests.
Developing interactive content requires more work, but does not require technical expertise. Tools like SurveyMonkey allow anyone to put together a survey in minutes. Hosting a contest can be as simple as displaying the details and deadlines on your email list.
Digital marketing is now the default. Don’t cut and paste your 2020 strategies into next year’s calendar. Although they may work, they will not win.
If you want to do that, you have to take your digital marketing game up a notch. Get started collecting data, recruiting partners, and creating content now. Make 2021 the year you master the art of gaining attention online.