The line between success and failure in digital marketing is a very thin one.
It’s impossible to know which campaigns are going to catch fire and which ones are going to be a social media disaster. Even the most innocuous posts can leave high-profile corporate giants with bruised reputations.
Businesses constantly need to find ways to fine-tune their campaigns and improve their marketing efforts across all channels. There are so many different avenues to explore when it comes to digital marketing in 2021. You could:
- Build your social media audience through video
- Use content to improve your organic SEO reach
- Target loyal customers with personalized emails
- Invest in paid ads to snipe your competition
All methods have their upsides and downsides. In this article, we’ll offer five ways to improve your marketing efforts that every campaign manager, content creator and social media admin should keep in mind.
Invest in the right tools for the job
Each year, the digital marketing industry provides businesses with a litany of new toys to entertain themselves with.
It’s easy to get excited by a shiny new data segmentation tool or a way to streamline your order process, but investing in every new tool on the market can be very costly.
The COVID-19 pandemic and widespread remote working that spawned from it taught business all over the world the importance of digital tools. Offices were forced to modernise overnight, with video chat software and time tracking tools such as TimeCamp becoming essential parts of a productive business.
In 2021, tools make a business. While an operation can survive without spending big on digital tools, just about every niche in the marketing industry needs some kind of software investment to really thrive.
Making smart decisions on which tools to invest in is crucial though. Task management software that integrates with other essential coms and email programs such as GetBusy are great time and money savers. While a Social Sprout subscription will up your social media game overnight.
It’s not outlandish to consider looking into new tech innovations though. It makes sense to put your money into subscriptions for multi-channel marketing programs, but getting ahead on the latest VR innovations could help some companies corner the market quickly.
Realise social media is constantly changing
Social media has changed, likely without you even realising.
While the top platforms are digital playgrounds for the highest bidders, there’s more to making the most of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tik Tok than simply posting ads and responding to customer queries. At some point within the last decade, social media became less about pointing people to your site and more about bringing out the human side of your brand.
The language and user base of social media has evolved. People feel comfortable chatting casually with companies. They want to make jokes with (and at) them. They want to see them stand up for social causes. They want them to justify their prominence in their everyday lives.
Old Spice may have been one of the first brands to take the internet by storm with their humorous ads, but they continue to evolve with the times. Just take a look at their Instagram, which perfectly balances meme humour with action for social causes.
Improving your social media marketing efforts in 2021 means leaning into ‘weird’ Twitter trends, knowing the top streamers on Twitch and being bold in your statements to appeal to a savvy, socially conscious young audience.
If you try and do social media marketing the old way it won’t just be the algorithm that passes over you, but the user base.
Recognize non-linear customer journeys
Digital channels are more complex than they’ve ever been. Today, consumers are constantly being fed ads that fit not just exactly what they’re looking for at the moment, but what they wanted in the past and may want in the future.
This has disrupted the typical retail path and introduced many different customer journeys. They may be enticed to buy after reading a particularly good review. They might see the benefit of your product from an influencer’s Instagram story. They might hear mentions of your brand on YouTube and go searching for it themselves.
To make the most of this, you need to develop marketing strategies that play into these non-linear customer journeys and understand the difference in types of search intent (here’s a brilliant guide on this topic from Semrush).
Make your voice heard on as many relevant platforms as possible, from social media to voice devices to blogging brand advocates. There are so many different ways for a customer to pick up on you and what you’re doing that you can’t afford to not make your mark on all customer paths.
Don’t let metrics stifle creativity
Before the data experts reach for their pitchforks, I should clarify I’m not saying modern marketing data is useless. Far from it. Data is a cornerstone of digital marketing in 2021, informing campaign ideas and defining customer databases.
However, an overreliance on data and positioning it as the defacto final decision maker in your company can cause you to miss out on brilliant campaign ideas.
At its heart, marketing is about creativity. It’s about taking the information you have and building something inspiring, charming, funny, insightful and gripping. If you’re letting metrics from your chosen platforms stop ideas that could grab new audiences or help define a new face for your business, you might as well not be creative at all.
Be willing to follow what your customers are telling you with their words, rather than their browsing habits. Data can be a great way to cut through the chaff of bad ideas, but the best campaigns require that human touch.
Always remember: You’re marketing to real people
Perhaps more than anything, it’s important to remember who you’re marketing to.
Not robots, not customer profiles, but real people with real opinions, experiences and responses.
Data can inform targets and customer profiles can help you make important content decisions, but it’s easy to get swept up in their own self-importance and forget there are genuine people at the end of your campaigns.
Brands that forget to do this in 2021 will find their content feeling stilted, their social media interaction dwindling and their campaign success rate falling.
How do you avoid this? By always referring back to genuine customer interactions and keeping them front of mind.
Data might tell you a lot about your audience at large, but leaning into the thoughts of a vocal minority on social media can give you an idea of the potential conversation around future campaigns. Write content that appeals to genuine people, not just Google. Don’t overindulge in video for the sake of improved social engagement. Make marketing emails more organic and less frequent, so as not to ruin positive feelings towards your brand.
Marketing to real people means being conscious of frequency, tone and timing. Marketing in 2021 (particularly when you consider the pandemic) is about reading the room and striking the right notes. You can’t do that if you forget who’s on the other side of the screen.
Improving your marketing efforts takes time, research and (occasionally) risk-taking. There’s no guarantee your audience will respond positively to your latest social campaign or appreciate a change in tone. But there is so much to gain from innovative thinking in digital marketing that it might just pay off.