Top 10 ways to market your business in 2021

This list includes a lot of common marketing strategies like SEO, Customer retention, eCommerce and influencer marketing but also includes new strategies. These new strategies also bear in mind this new era of cookie-less, privacy focussed browsers which limit what marketers can do in terms of attribution. We will also take a look at how consumer behaviour has changed with the impact of Coronavirus. That said all the ideas below will help your business excel in 2021.

  1. Prepare for the end of third-party cookies
  2. Direct customer relationships
  3. Start selling on social
  4. Grow communities
  5. Optimise for voice search
  6. Lean into local SEO
  7. Use micro-influencers
  8. Establish brand partnerships
  9. Get into augmented reality
  10. Automate what you can

1. Prepare for the end of third-party cookies

2021 is the year marketers prepare for two big changes to come in 2022: the end of third-party cookies and a heap of new privacy regulations.

“We have to get comfortable with privacy focussed data collection practices. That means focusing on list-building and developing one-to-one relationships with customers,” said Harry Maugans, CEO of consumer privacy service Privacy Bee. “Make sure that your campaigns in 2021 help you build your first-party data, so you rely less on Other People's Data.”

The end of third-party cookies will change how digital ads are targeted, tracked and how we attribute results to marketing activity.

This year will require marketers around the world to educate themselves on how a cookie-less future will impact them and how to prepare for it. This cookie-less future will bring a big change to how companies will need to collect and use first-party data.

In addition to getting comfortable with privacy-first data collection practices, brands will also have to build their data collection infrastructure to comply with coming regulations and changes.

2. Direct customer relationships

In 2021, having direct relationships with customers will be even more important as the online landscape becomes increasingly cluttered with companies. But it will also be important because one-to-one relationships mean brands improve customer experiences by improving how marketing can be personalised to customers.

Improving these customer relationships will also help your company with customer retention. For brands struggling to recover from 2020, focusing on existing customers may be wise.

“In an uncertain economy, most brands—especially niche retailers— should focus on existing customers,” said Jonathan Frey, CMO of electric bike retailer Urban Bikes Direct.

3. Start selling on social

Another growing trend with potentially far-reaching implications is social commerce.

In 2020 Facebook launched Shops for both Facebook and Instagram, allowing users to shop directly on the platforms.

This is a great opportunity for eCommerce companies as it drastically decreases the customer’s journey from search to conversion and reduces a lot of friction in the funnel.

Bruce Biegel, the senior managing partner of management consultancy Winterberry Group, expects to see more focus on social commerce in 2021, along with new marketplaces, to shorten the customer journey from search to conversion.

4. Grow communities

This idea follows from the customer relations section earlier.

Communities allow companies to develop loyal, engaging customers and gives them a place to engage with them to learn what they want to see from your company.

Olga Petrik, CMO of Gmail CRM firm NetHunt CRM, agreed brands should invest more in loyalty and retention for 2021.

“Their existing customer base has come this far with them through the pandemic—it’s stable to some extent,” she said. “By switching from customer support to more of a customer success strategy, a business can ensure that customers receive maximum value from a product.

5. Optimize for voice search

Voice search has grown rapidly over the last few years and 2021 may be the year it takes off as consumers used their voice-enabled devices more while they were at home during the pandemic.

“This, in turn, meant people were more willing to explore what their smart home devices could do and open a dialogue with them and begin to learn and rely on them,” said Polly Kay, senior marketing manager at window covering retailer English Blinds.

As a result, brands should optimize for voice search by focusing on longer-tail more conversational keywords that reflect how consumers ask questions or make requests verbally to stay ahead of the curve.

Shiv Gupta, CEO of digital media marketing agency Incrementors, said there’s a real opportunity for small businesses to capitalize on local search.

“About 22% of users use voice search by Google to get details of local businesses,” he said.

Read our recent article on optimising for voice search to find out how to take advantage of this opportunity.

6. Use local SEO

Local SEO something we spoke about in our recent article on optimising for voice search. Because it’s a great opportunity that a lot of people forget to take advantage of.

A great way to start working on your local SEO is by using Google MyBusiness which helps your company get listed on Google Maps.

“Since everyone wanted to stay close to home, but also support small local businesses, it’s important to make sure your Google My Business account is optimised and active,” Blocksidge says. “Having strong reviews is also a part of this, on sites like TripAdvisor because if a customer needs to hire someone for any type of service, they will want to read up on other people's positive or negative experiences.”

7. Tap into micro-influencers

2020 was a great year for micro-influencers like Nathan Apodaca, the viral cranberry-juice-drinking TikTok star, and Tony Piloseno, another TikTok star with wildly popular paint-mixing videos who was fired by Sherwin Williams—and then hired by Florida Paints.

With TikTok showing no signs of slowing down, the reach and influence of influencers is expected to continue in 2021.

“As budgets were being cut in 2020, social influencers and bloggers were seen as a cheaper alternative to TV and radio,” said Joe Sinkwitz, CEO of influencer network Intellifluence. “Now we’re seeing a doubling down effect of influencer budgets expand as the early testing brands from early 2020 are now recognizing the channel is one worthy of reinvestment.”

8. Establish brand partnerships

2020 brought us successful brand collaborations like McDonald’s and Travis Scott, Adidas and Allbirds and Adidas and Lego, which means more brand collaborations are likely to come.

Strange and unexpected partnerships between corporate brands capture media attention, generate social buzz and allow for cross-marketing to customer bases.

But for brands that don’t have the resources to collaborate with massive global companies can instead team up with brands that offer complementary products or services. That’s what thermal imaging brand ThermoGears did when it was looking to bring new visitors to its website.

9. Get into augmented reality

We’ve also seen growth in marketing using AR, especially big brands making their own filters in apps like Instagram. Ar will also allow brands to show potential customers what objects will look like in their homes, like Ikea’s AR catalogue, or makeup companies that use Instagram filters to show people what their makeup will look like on them.

“The pandemic encouraged marketers to think uniquely for ways to connect with consumers who stay inside their homes,” said Stephen Light, CMO of mattress retailer Nolah Mattress. “The solution was marketing through AR, which helped the target market get a feel of owning the product even without seeing it physically.”

He noted the biggest misconception about AR ads is they’re expensive, but they’re actually more budget-friendly than traditional channels.

“Besides being cheaper than print ads, AR ads can skyrocket engagement rates since they are more interactive and offer a newer experience than traditional marketing mediums,” Light added. “The best part about an AR ad is that marketers can reuse the content across various marketing channels, making it a cost-effective tactic for audience interaction.”

10. Automate what you can

A way to help decrease budget and increase efficiencies is through automation. Marketing automation helps free up employees from boring and routine business tasks.

This includes things like Automated Bidding in Google Ads.

“Google Ads marketers constantly tweak and adjust campaigns, keywords and bids to get the most for their advertising dollars,” said Thierry Tremblay, the CEO of online database software Kohezion. “The problem is all of the tweaking comes at a cost that is more in hours and higher management fees. Enter Automated bidding, which allows Google to automate prior moves to adjust your bid in real-time.”

David Kolodny, the co-founder of start-up studio Wilbur Labs, noted the value of automation and real-time data skyrocketed in 2020 because it was so important to understand what was happening at the moment and manual processes can’t keep up with such rapid change.

“Though trends are more consistent now than they were last year, we are still seeing rapid customer behaviour changes daily and real-time data loops have directly contributed to greater marketing efficiencies,” Kolodny said. “By utilizing automation wherever applicable and connecting it to real-time data we have been able to ensure that our clients are maximizing every opportunity available to them. Real-time data and automation will be the difference between companies that excel in 2021 and those that are left behind.”

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