Are you ready to leave 2020 behind you? I know I am.
There’s no better time than now to invest your energy and prepare to tackle your digital marketing issues heading into 2021 planning.
Rocket Clicks has been watching the digital space morph at an accelerated rate over the last 8 months, and we’ve seen some common threads surface. Let us look into our crystal ball and share what we see in the future of digital marketing in 2021.
1. 2021 will be the year of repositioning your brand.
A solid company brand is a huge part of the marketing puzzle that is often overlooked. This goes beyond your logo and visual style. One highly recommended approach to brand development is Donald Miller’s StoryBrand. This type of branding is not only incredibly effective in uniquely connecting with your customers, but also will significantly differentiate you from your competitors.
Flip the script on how you position your brand.
Customer Focused: Who Are They Really?
Throw traditional market research out the window and take a look at your customer in a new way.
Put yourself in their shoes. Beyond demographic data, who are they as people? What are their external and internal challenges that your product/service can help address? What are they up against in this world? How does their industry, employees, competitors influence and impact their point of view and feelings about solving these problems?
Once you know who they are as people, you can acknowledge them in a new way and speak to them more directly.
You Are Their Guide
Everyone wants to be a hero. Let your customer be the hero in their story. Acknowledge them in their journey, show empathy, and offer your partnership as a solution that will help them save the day.
We challenge you to go to your home page and search for all the instances of “we”, “us”, [your brand]. Read your homepage. Are you the hero in this story? Instead of selling YOU, how can you sell the relationship you want to create to help THEM save the day?
Keep it Consistent Across All Marketing
Admittedly, once we truly embraced the StoryBrand approach, we rolled it out haphazardly. We realized that there was a ton of marketing material both online and offline that were inconsistent.
Save yourself the grief. Once you’ve nailed down your StoryBrand, audit all your marketing material from your online to offline. Don’t forget to also update the internal team and onboarding training material as well!
We’ve found that once you start using this format of branding, you will start to notice those companies that are using more customer-focused language and those that have a more traditional way of marketing themselves as the hero of their customer story. Be on the right side of that humble pie and feel the difference it makes in your results!
2. 2021 will be the year for focusing on your buyer journey.
Marketers who take time to understand and embrace their buyer’s journey always win. They improve conversion rates, maximize every marketing dollar, and exponentially deepen their brand impact.
Your users are searching differently now. Be where they are.
The lines are blurring. Homes became offices overnight, and the use of a mobile phone, tablet, and desktop devices across many different platforms continue to evolve.
Resist the urge to say “my customer does not buy [insert product/service] from their cell phone.” You may be accurate to say that your customers are less likely to make the final purchase from their device, but their device is increasingly important in the buying decision-making process.
We often hear advertisers assume that targeting platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram would be a wasted investment. However, we have seen Facebook work in nearly every single test we have run, whether it be an e-commerce product, manufacturing, local services, and more.
Stop looking at these platforms or devices in isolation – looks at them as a part of your conversation with your buyer. You wouldn’t put someone on hold for 15 minutes on a sales call you were moments from closing. Don’t exit the online conversation based on personal assumptions.
Focus on intent.
What keywords are your customers searching for? But more importantly, what is the meaning behind the search?
Commercial keywords are a great place to start. These are mainly transactional based searches that relate to your business and sit at the bottom of the purchase funnel. Wordstream breaks down commercial keywords into two categories ‘buy now’ and ‘product’ keywords. “Buy now” keywords can include incentives that relate to your business from free shipping to delivery. ‘Product’ keywords include words like “affordable,” “quality,” and “review.”
Take it a step further. We often see advertisers stop at commercial intent or only focus on terms that they would search. This reduces your coverage to industry-specific jargon and limits available reach. Think about how they would be searching for their problem before they realize that you have a solution that can help them overcome it. What words are they using to describe their problem? Integrate these terms into some low-risk targeting testing to expand your reach and enter the conversation before they know they need you.
3. 2021 will be the year of SMART goal setting and execution.
Track Activity-Based Marketing Metrics
Our most successful partnerships look at the right data. Sure, they are prioritizing those primary macro conversions that signify the health of the business such as leads, ad spend, ROAS, cost per lead, and others; the difference is they also are reporting and optimizing their accounts to leading indicators, or micro conversions.
For example, if you have an e-commerce business, you may conclude that at the surface a certain channel like Facebook is unprofitable. If you take a step forward and review some of the micro-conversions, you may find that some poorer last-click performance channels are actually creating awareness in your brand that is not trackable in just the end goal metric.
Some of our favorite micro-conversions:
- Adding a product to cart
- “Send a cart” via email feature
- View of important pages (how it works)
- Download of a PDF or Marketing Material
- Email submission (in non-lead gen)
Sit down with your marketing team, or find a quiet space for yourself, and put all of the actions on your website once they arrive. Make your best guesses about how the actions would indicate what step of the buying journey your customer may be on. Start tracking them and learn more about how these numbers trend alongside each other.
Decide. Align. Go.
Clarity. That is the difference between successful, empowered, and less stressed marketing teams vs. the aimlessly wandering ones.
Once you’ve done the work and aligned on who you are in messaging, go back through and decide where the tone bends. Create a simple and clear approach to each marketing channel. Leave enough room for creativity, while setting guardrails.
Then, let your teamwork from there. Armed with strategy and clear goals, you can track metrics on your weekly scorecard to keep yourself out of the weeds while still ensuring long-term growth.
Warning… ‘Shiny Red Ball Syndrome’ is real and runs rampant. When you want to shift strategy or priorities, make sure you are deliberate and on the same page as your team. There is a fine line between innovative agility and disempowering your team by slowing the progress of your marketing.
4. 2021 will be the year of your comeback.
Some (or all) of your business may have disappeared this year. I know we are all yearning for “normal”, but let’s face it – there is a new normal now. Not only has your business changed, but more importantly, your customers have changed.
Our advice? Now is the time to reevaluate some or all of your marketing. Bury the sacred cow, and remove “that’s how we’ve always done it.” What worked last year isn’t guaranteed to work this year.
Hit a refresh button and think about creative ways you can reach your customers:
- Be deliberate in how you present your brand across different channels. Stop talking about yourself as the hero, and start positioning your brand as the support to your customer’s heroic journey.
- Re-imagine your budget allocation based on both upper and lower funnel needs to build back your base and message to them differently.
- Look at the right numbers. Not just those that focus on the bottom line, but also those that are leading indicators to building a healthy funnel for future growth.
Digital marketing is constantly changing. What was new and shiny just a year ago will be collecting dust in the attic by the end of the year. It’s more important now than ever to take some risks and reassess how you’ve always done things and, more importantly, how you think you should do them in the future. Don’t be afraid to make the necessary changes. You may be surprised at what your company can accomplish in 2021.