What Will Digital Marketing Look Like in 2021?


When will we return to business as usual?

As 2020 winds down in the next couple months there are still a lot of questions that we can’t answer.

How soon until there’s a vaccine to Covid-19?  

When will the pandemic end?

When will we return to business as usual?

For small business owners, that last question looms large. With COVID cases spiking across the country and the probability that we’ll be back to only essential businesses opening their doors to the public, it’s crucial to take a long view of the marketing landscape.

Because there are so many unanswered questions, the marketing trends for 2021 have a slightly different focus than might be the case in a typical  year. Here’s what’s on the horizon.

Focus on Customer Retention

I’ve talked a lot before about how much less it costs to retain customers than to win new customers. In 2021, it’s going to make a lot of sense to put your marketing budget into customer retention. Holding steady in a global crisis qualifies as a win.

Social media and email are the best tools you have available to drive customer retention. By encouraging existing customers to follow you on Facebook or subscribe to your list, you’re gaining the ability to stay in touch with them. You can offer special deals, keep them informed, and remind them of why they chose your product or service in the first place.

Product and Service Availability as a Priority

We’ve all experienced issues with product availability as well as with delayed deliveries due to the pandemic. The key to customer retention is ensuring that your customers have access to your products and services. And, if they don’t, letting them know why.

If you have the financial wherewithal, then it may make sense to increase your inventory and beef up your fulfilment to make sure that you can ship products out quickly. For companies providing services, you may need to think about alternative or extended hours, curbside pickup, and other adaptations to meet your customers existing needs. At the same time, you’ll need to communicate clearly about delays and shortages to minimize the risk that customers will abandon you for a competitor.

Marketing Automation 

Marketing automation has been a trend in digital marketing for years now and that’s not going to change. 51% of companies were already using marketing automation as of the end of 2019 with a slight edge to B2C companies. However, 58% of all B2B companies said they planned to add automation.

Automation can include everything from simple fixes such as email autoresponders to complex solutions such as chatbots and digital assistants. Chatbot technology is within reach thanks to free chatbot builder tools like Chatfuel and MobileMonkey. You don’t need to pay a programmer to build an effective bot.

Interactive Content

There’s no doubt that there’s still room for static content, meaning content that your followers read, watch, or listen to on their own. That said, one of the biggest content trends for 2021 is the rise of interactive content as a way of engaging customers and providing value at the same time.

Interactive content can take many formats, including:

  • Calculators
  • Quizzes
  • Questionnaires
  • Games
  • Polls
  • Interactive Videos

The reason for the rise is two-fold. First, interactive content is fun for your followers and can make them feel more engaged with your company and brand. Second, the data you collect – whether it’s in the form of quiz responses or information entered in a calculator – will help you learn about your audience. You can use the information you collect to fine-tune your marketing and increase new customer acquisition and customer retention.

List Segmentation 

Another key element of customer retention is list segmentation. With marketing budgets shrinking, it is far more cost effective to segment your list than it is to send the same emails to everyone expecting to get a high conversion rate.

Segmentation can be done using any factors you choose, including:

  • Previous purchases
  • Product preferences
  • Location
  • Industry

You have the option of segmenting your list based on the data you’ve collected from your subscribers or asking them to self-segment by sending out a survey or email where they can opt into and out of your content. Either way, the result is better targeting and a higher return on your investment.

Automated Bidding for Google Ads

In-house automation isn’t the only way to streamline your marketing in 2021. While automated bidding for Google Ads isn’t new – it was first introduced four years ago – it has been greatly improved in the past year.

The benefits of automated bidding are clear. By taking advantage of automation and letting it handle bidding adjustments, you can dedicate your valuable time to improving your PPC ads and increasing your marketing ROI.

Optimizing for Voice Search

Voice search optimization isn’t an option anymore – it’s a must. 40% of all internet users in the United States have used voice search and those numbers are only going up. If you’re ignoring voice search in your optimization efforts, you’re making a mistake.

You can optimize for voice search by making the content on your website conversational and accessible. Keep in mind that conversational still needs to apply to your audience. If you own a B2B tech company, your audience’s conversation may include jargon.

Instead of focusing on short keywords, try building your content around common questions and responses. Using questions in your blog headings and other content – and having a robust FAQ on your website – will make it easy for potential customers to find you using voice search.

Non-Linear Buying Journeys

The rise of digital has undoubtedly shaken up traditional marketing. When you consider the many ways that a potential customer can learn about a company or product, it’s hardly surprising that you can’t count on a linear buying journey to be the result.

How to respond? The trend is toward an omni-channel marketing strategy that includes:

  • Website content
  • Social media
  • Advertising
  • Mobile apps
  • Chatbots

Your goal should be to provide any customer or potential customer with a seamless experience across channels. Customers should get the same tone and information on Facebook that they do from a chatbot on your website, your mobile app, or your landing page.

Overall, agility is going to be the name of the game in digital marketing in 2021. We can’t know yet what the new year will hold, but businesses that remain flexible and adaptable have the best chance of continued growth and success.



What are your plans for 2021?

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Getting Back to Basics: Facebook Marketing 101

Facebook Engagement

You’re probably already marketing your business on Facebook. If you’re not, you should be – but it’s not just a question of having a Facebook page and using it. You’ve got to use it wisely if you want to get great results.

It’s not uncommon for small business owners to dive into Facebook marketing without really knowing what they’re doing at first.  I mean come on, at some point you just have to dive in, right?  You may even have some decent results but I’m willing to bet they’re not as good as they could be.

So… let’s get back to basics. What do you need to know to earn a big return on your Facebook investment? Let me break it down for you.

Create Your Page.

If you don’t already have a Facebook page for your business, the first step is creating one. To do it, click the plus sign at the top right-hand side of your page once you’re logged in. (Note: this used to be on the Pages sidebar, which has been removed with the latest Facebook update.)

You’ll be prompted to enter information about your business including what type of business it is (eCommerce, local, B2B).

Use Consistent Branding  

When you create your Facebook business page, make sure to keep your branding consistent. That means using the same photo across all social media sites. I suggest using your company logo as your profile picture.

You should also keep your language consistent with your brand’s tone and personality. It’s a must to create a seamless cross-channel experience for customers when they interact with your company on social media or your website.

Optimize Your Listing

When you add your profile picture, you should also be optimizing your listing. You’ll need to include:

  • A link to your website
  • Your business hours
  • Your physical address if you have one
  • Your contact information

You may also want to add a call to action button that will appear on your page. Some of the options include:

  • Learn More
  • Sign Up
  • Shop Now
  • Send Message

Decide what action you want visitors to your page to take and use that as your call to action to get the best results.

Use Facebook Groups

One thing that a lot of business owners forget on social media is that the social part is just as important as anything else. People follow their favorite brands on Facebook because they want a give and take.

You can start by joining Facebook groups and starting a Facebook group of your own. Research shows that approximately 1.4 billion people use Facebook groups. More importantly, consumers welcome brands’ participation in groups provided they offer real value and aren’t just trying to make sales.

Interact with Your Customers

The name of the game in Facebook marketing is engagement. If your followers aren’t liking and sharing your posts, commenting on them, or asking questions, your marketing strategy isn’t working.

In other words, if someone comments, write back! If they ask a question, answer it. If they share a post featuring your product or brand, reshare it with their permission. The more you do to let your followers know that you see and hear them, the more loyal they will be.

Integrate Customer Service with Facebook

Speaking of interacting with your customers, you should also be integrating your customer service with Facebook. It doesn’t matter if you prefer to field customer questions or complaints on your website or by phone. Customers expect the brands they follow to be responsive to their requests across all channels.

Your best bet? Assign an employee to monitor your Facebook messages and respond to service requests as they arise. In addition to expecting to get service wherever they request it, Facebook users also expect speedy responses.

Run Facebook Ads

Facebook advertising is quite affordable and if you do it right, it can be a great way to attract more followers, build your list, or increase your sales.

Let’s talk about what doing it right means. You’ll need to:

  • Identify the best target audience for your ads
  • Create a compelling ad with a hero image or a video
  • Decide on a goal for your ad
  • Test alternatives for headlines, calls to action, etc.
  • Monitor your results and tweak your ad content accordingly

While you’re testing content, you may want to start with a small budget until you’ve optimized your ad. Then, you can increase your spending to get the results you want.

Post Useful Content

The key to engaging your followers on Facebook is posting useful content. Here are some suggestions:

  • Provide answers to common questions and concerns.
  • Give options on how to use and/or make the most of your product or service.
  • Use Facebook Live to do a Q & A, introduce your staff, or offer a behind-the-scenes tour of your business.
  • Run Facebook contests and giveaways.

Keep in mind that you should share a mix of original and curated content. With curated content, make sure to offer your own take on it – and only share content that is relevant to your brand and followers.

Use Messenger/Chatbot Marketing –

It can take up your valuable time if you need to monitor Facebook messages around the clock. The best way to take the stress out of the situation is to use a chatbot to send automated responses to people who message you.

Building a chatbot for Facebook Messenger is easy and affordable. If all you’re looking for is a series of automated responses, you can use a tool such as Chatfuel or MobileMonkey to quickly create a chatbot that meets your needs and provides customers with the immediate responses they expect.

Take Advantage of Retargeting 

It would be great if every potential customer who visited your website filled out your lead form the first time they interacted with your brand. Unfortunately, that’s not the way it works!

The solution is to use Facebook’s retargeting option to reconnect with people who stopped short of completing your opt-in form, downloading your lead magnet, or making a purchase. Retargeting can help you to reconnect with those people, educate them about your brand, and get them to take the next step. All you need to do is install a Facebook pixel on your site.

The bottom line is that Facebook marketing is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to meet your marketing and growth goals. Use the information here to optimize your page, engage with your target audience, and take your business to the next level.



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11 Marketing Ideas to Get You Through the Pandemic

Have you cut back on marketing due to the COVID-19 pandemic? You are not alone. A lot of business owners are trying to save money by reducing their spending.

Cutting back is understandable and may be necessary, but marketing isn’t a luxury for your business. It’s a necessity. And it’s possible to keep things going even if you need to reduce your spending. Here are 11 ideas to help you stay in the marketing flow.

 #1: Focus on Social Media

 According to Statista, people are spending more time on social media now than they did before the pandemic. That translates to an opportunity for businesses who need low-cost ways to engage their target customers.

It’s a good time to share the ways your business is coping with the COVID-19 pandemic and highlight the ways your business can help people cope with social distancing and stay-at-home orders. You may also want to consider boosting your ads or running a page promotion to get your business in front of potential new customers.

 #2: Take Advantage of Cheap Advertising 

Speaking of running ads, one of the biggest potential upsides to the pandemic is that advertising costs are lower than usual. 

If you’re wondering how low prices are, the answer might surprise you. There’s no hard data, but anecdotally, marketing agencies are reporting costs that are between 50% and 75% lower than they were before the pandemic. That includes pay per click advertising and social media advertising, where you’ll mostly pay based on impressions. 

You may want to investigate the costs for your target market and rethink your budget to take advantage of the savings while they last. 

#3: Don’t Lose Sight of SEO  

Search engine optimization is easy to neglect when money is tight. There’s a tendency among small business owners to invest in SEO only when it becomes a problem. 

The issue with that mindset is that SEO is the longest game in digital marketing. If you don’t stay on top of it now, you could find yourself facing an uphill battle to regain your coveted page one rank on Google. You don’t need to spend a lot of money, but you should stay on top of keyword research and maintain your local SEO to ensure you don’t slip.

 #4: Create and Promote Special Offers 

It comes as no surprise that consumer spending has taken a hit since the beginning of the pandemic. A significant number of people have lost their jobs and as a result, they’re being more careful with their money than they were before. 

However, consumers are still spending money. People are looking for convenience and entertainment – anything that can make staying at home more palatable. That means this is a great time to create special offer s that are tailored to your audience. Think about what your audience wants and needs and give it to them – and then promote it.

 #5: Take Care of Internal Housekeeping

 One thing that every business has in common is a lack of time to handle the kind of tasks that can easily be put off.  I’m talking about things like solidifying and documenting internal processes, working through your email backlog, or taking inventory.

 If things are slow, this is a good time to tackle your backlog. Set aside some time each day to handle the things that have been put on the back burner. That way, you’ll be in good shape to capitalize on the return to normalcy – whenever it happens.

 #6: Take a Proactive Approach to Marketing

In times of crisis, some of us panic. It’s understandable – but it’s not a great idea, either. Just when we think we’ve discovered a new normal, things shift under our feet. It can be stressful at best.

The important thing during this time is not to panic. Don’t make any sudden changes to your marketing strategy. Instead, take a deep breath and look at your analytics and metrics. See what’s working and what isn’t – and adjust based on what you find. A fact-based approach will always serve you better than reacting in fear.

 #7: Tackle Your Digital To-Do List

There are a lot of little online tasks that can get delayed when you’re in the daily grind with your business. In addition to the internal housekeeping we already mentioned, this is an excellent time to check some things off your digital to-do lost. 

For example, you might use this time to claim your review pages and update your information there. You might respond to existing reviews. You could revamp your social media pages with updated photos and descriptions, standardize your NAP listings, or create a regular blogging schedule.

 #8: Solidify Your Message

Another type of housekeeping you can do now is brand building. You already know that people are spending more time on social media than usual. That means they’re also paying more attention to their favorite companies and brands. 

Due to the pandemic-related uncertainty and stress, it’s a good idea to focus on showing the compassionate, human side of your company. People want to support brands that care about them. By showing that you want to help people, you’ll increase their desire to buy from you. That’s a win-win. 

#9: Seek Connection 

We’re all craving connection. Being mostly stuck at home for months on end has highlighted our need for social interaction. And while in-person gatherings are still not safe, that doesn’t mean you can’t find alternatives.

You may want to organize a Zoom event or sale for your loyal customers. You could host an online fundraiser for a local charity. Your regular customers want to hear from you, and you may even attract some new followers and customers by making your company part of the solution to pandemic-related loneliness and isolation.

 #10: Make Customer Retention a Priority

This is a tough time to attract new customers. And, as you know, it always costs more to acquire a new customer than it takes to retain an existing customer. If your marketing budget is reduced, then it simply makes sense to focus on customer retention. 

Make sure to email the customers on your list regularly with updates about your business and special offers. You may also want to offer exclusive coupons or discount codes to entice people to buy from you again. Think about what your loyal customers want and give it to them – and they’ll thank you with their business. 

#11: Spread Some Joy and Kindness Heart 

Finally, think about what you can do to lift people’s spirits. All of us are in the same boat as we cope with a seemingly endless string of bad news. People are sick and the economy is suffering – but that doesn’t mean your marketing game needs to be all gloom and doom.

Get creative! Share some humorous videos and memes and don’t be afraid to get personal by telling your customers or clients what you’re doing to stay entertained and healthy. You could even host a social media contest where you ask your followers to share clever ways to beat boredom or connect with distant loved ones.

 The bottom line is that this is undeniably a stressful time, but marketing should still be a priority for all small businesses. A thoughtful, data-based approach can help you get the maximum bang for your buck – and be in good shape to rebound when the pandemic is over.



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7 Content Marketing Tactics Every Small Business Should Steal

Content is King

Ad campaigns are still effective, but the truth is they’re not as effective as content marketing. Bill Gates proclaimed “Content is king” back in 1996 and his words have proven to be remarkably prescient. Web users expect top-notch content from the companies they follow.

Easier said than done, right? Well… maybe. There are lots of great tactics you can use to create the kind of content that your followers want. If you handle it properly, the content you post on your website and social media can turn casual visitors into leads and leads into customers.

Here are 7 content marketing tactics that you should steal.

#1: Content Diversification

What kind of content are you creating? If you’re only creating blog posts or Instagram stories, then you may be missing out on marketing opportunities by not diversifying your content.

The bottom line is that there are three types of content: written, audio, and video. Using all three will help you reach the widest possible audience.

 #2: Specialized Topics

Blogging is a marketing basic for many small businesses. However, if you’re posting only broad topic content that’s available elsewhere, you might be losing visitors who are in search of something unique and compelling.

Keep in mind that a highly specialized topic may be more universal than you think. Likewise, a focused post can help bring people to your website who are in search of a solution for a problem they’re experiencing.

#3: Authorship  

Writing books can help you to build authority. Some small business owners write short books and guides that they use as lead magnets. Others sell their books on their websites or list them on Amazon. Either way, a well-written book can help you connect with a new audience or deepen your connection with your existing customers.

Keep in mind that the book you write does not need to be long, nor do you need to write it yourself. You have the option of hiring a freelancer if writing isn’t your strong suit.

#4: Podcasting 

You may have noticed that podcasting is everywhere. As of October 2020, there are over 1.5 million active podcasts1 and more than 34 million episodes. It seems like everybody is doing it – so why aren’t you? You don’t need to be a giant company with millions of followers to have a successful podcast.  

The benefit of having a podcast is that listening to people talk feels more personal than reading what they have to say. People can listen to podcasts while they drive or work out and they provide an opportunity to go in-depth about topics that matter to your audience.

#5: Humanizing Your Content

The days of impersonal content are gone. The rise of social media has allowed consumers to have direct content with the brands they follow. Every small business should be getting on board with content humanization.

A big company that has done a superb job of personalizing content is Dove Beauty. While content humanization can mean introducing people to your employees, Dove has taken it in a different direction by putting its customers front and center.

By asking followers for their stories and turning them into compelling content, they’ve made their brand highly memorable and relatable. Whether you decide to emulate them or try something different, personalizing your brand can help you connect with your customers.

#6: Voice Optimization 

Voice optimization is one area where a lot of small businesses are falling behind. Despite the fact that half of all searches are now voice searches2, only a few local businesses are fully on board with the idea of embracing voice technology.

Let’s look at a big company for an example of what’s possible with voice search. Nestle has partnered with Amazon to create a tool that allows users to ask Alexa for recipes using Nestle products. Alexa will then walk users through the recipe step by step by linking to Nestle’s website.

#7: Storytelling 

People love stories. Storytelling is one of the best ways to connect people to your product or service, helping them to understand it on an emotional level.

The great thing about stories is that they lend themselves to any format. You can write a story, of course, but you can also tell a story in pictures. Footwear brand Minnetonka has dedicated an entire page3 on its website to their customers’ photographs. Each picture tells a story.

User-generated content can be a great way to make your social media followers feel important and included. While big brands such as Dove do it all the time, you don’t need to have millions of followers to make this strategy work for you.

You can use the 7 content marketing tactics here to take your marketing to the next level. It’s not enough to create content. You need compelling content that serves a purpose and drive engagement with your followers if you want your business to thrive.



1 https://www.podcastinsights.com/podcast-statistics/

2 https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2018/04/10/voice-search-statistics-2018  

3 https://www.minnetonkamoccasin.com/myminnetonka

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Digital Discourse is an invaluable resource for digital marketers Our goal is simple. We want to enable you to do big things online and it all starts by breaking down the complexities of marketing your business online.
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