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2021 Digital Marketing Strategic Planning

December 22, 2020

Now that 2021 is upon us, here are a few ideas to help with your Digital Marketing strategic planning to meet your business goals for the year. Business strategy, marketing strategy, and then your digital marketing strategy all have to be in place to make sure your digital work for 2021 will really be effective.

The THREE areas we recommend you particularly incorporate into your business and marketing strategies are answers to these questions:

  • Is your strategy based on an economic recovery speed that matches your “prediction” all through the marketing plans? If you predict the economy is going to rapidly recover and be strong early in 2021, maybe more investment early is warranted. If not, maybe it’s time to invest in longer-term improvements while they cost less now. 

    A direct example of how this might affect your digital investment is that short term surges in business might call for an aggressive Pay per Click program to get visitors on your website early in 2021. If you want to make more long-term investments, SEO and the improved organic rankings might be a better play.
  • What’s the impact of COVID recovery going to have on both your individual company and its impact on question 1 about the economy? There is little doubt that the economy can’t fully recover until we put a stop to COVID through vaccinations, and the same has to be true for the rest of the world. COVID may have a more direct impact on your business if you are shut down or in a reduced service mode.

For digital marketing, COVID will have a huge impact on the continuing move to eCommerce both B2C and B2B. If you have not invested in eCommerce yet, then the dragging out of a COVID recovery might incentivize you to make that investment early in 2021 before you fall further behind.

  • Where are you, relative to your competition, on the development curve towards advanced digital marketing? If you have been investing in digital for years with good results, you may have a clear path, and the data to back up where you need to invest. On the other hand, if your competition outranks you on Google consistently, you are not advertising on Google, Facebook, or LinkedIn, and you don’t have a solid CRM/Marketing Automation platform in place, you need to invest in some of the basics of digital marketing before you get left further behind.

For answering this question, we recommend a quick but comprehensive AUDIT of where you are. This can be a solid team of internal people if you have them, or any decent digital marketing firm can perform this audit for you. We have a standard product that is a $2,500 one-time fee for a 40-to-50-page report. Other firms may charge $10K or more with more data and a deeper dive. The key point is to not just drift into 2021 investing a little here and a little there until the year is mostly over. That will NOT get you good results.

Once you’ve answered those basic questions in addition to your standard strategic marketing development, consider these TOP TRENDS that will impact your 2021 digital marketing performance.

Trend 1 – Mobile. This is not a new trend but it’s still growing strong for all digital marketers, particularly our B2B clients. We are now seeing 50 to 60% of client traffic from mobile in even the most industrial of markets. We have to keep thinking about mobile and try to make the tough shift to “mobile-first” thinking.

Trend 2 – Integrated Multi-Channel Digital Marketing. Advertising sophistication has grown from digital marketing in basic Google Ads (independent of most of the rest of marketing) to sophisticated 4 or 5 channel integrated systems across a range of channels. Even for our B2B clients, we are integrating PPC, SEO, Email Marketing, YouTube, LinkedIn, with traditional things like trade shows (if they ever come back), magazines, and more. It all gets more sophisticated each year, and some investment in the integration and expanded digital effort is essential for long-term growth.

Trend 3 – Marketing automation and personalized follow-up. The automated ads and emails following us around are a fact of life. Every company should be employing the basics of this, a robust CRM system, and now a marketing automation system. Customers expect you to follow up with them promptly and with a personalized message based on what they were looking for. Using automation to do this is essential to compete on any efficient scale.

Trend 4 – Security.  Every day there is a new security breach, a website hack, or a systems shutdown. We just had a multi-day hosting outage for our major websites because of a ransomware attack on a major USA website hosting provider. The government is in the middle of a major hacking attack as this blog is being written. Companies must invest more in security systems for digital marketing properties, not just internal IT systems. Backup processes have to be robust. Security audits from true professionals are essential.

Trend 5 – Voice Search and Local SEO. Particularly for local companies, figuring out how to be found when a potential customer does a voice search or searches for a “…. near me” is essential to staying in business. The traditional way websites are built and content is written for SEO just won’t cut it for voice search and may not be optimum for local SEO. If people search for your business online, you can bet that the amount of voice searches is increasing.

The last area to be discussed is BUDGETING for 2021. As you can guess, the percentage into digital keep growing, and 2020 was a banner year. With trade shows shutdown and face-to-face meetings restricted well into 2021, more investment into digital marketing seems wise.

Here are some overall suggestions for small and medium B2B companies from CMO Surveys, Forrester, and eMarketer:

  • About 10% of the average firm’s budget should be “marketing”
  • Most companies are spending over 50% of their marketing budget on digital marketing (this is even higher in 2020 and 2021)
  • Overall investment in paid search, display ads, social media, online video ads, and email marketing will account for 46% of all advertising in 2021
  • Email marketing is still rated the #1 ROI digital marketing area for most companies

This is a broad brush at a few areas to consider as you finish up your 2021 Strategic Planning and flow that down to your digital marketing strategy for the year. If you have questions or need a Digital Marketing Strategic Blueprint, give us a call. We want to help.

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