Now that 2020 has left the building, it’s fair to say it kept us on our toes. With a global pandemic, powerful social movements, elections, world climate change knocking at the door, and an occasional doomscroll, 2020 was the year a tornado met at volcano. If we’ve learned anything, it's to stay adaptable, put our best foot forward and do what makes sense now.
Marketing was all over the place in 2020.
First a look back. In both the B2B and B2C space, marketers said they altered their marketing strategies quickly to include the use of virtual meetings, video calls, search engine marketing, social media advertising/promoted posts and pay-per-click advertising. But with so many brands pivoting to PPC, the channel saw increased competition and thus increased costs, which then forced a return to content creation, website enhancements and social media.
By midyear, the amount of available, new social content caused companies to recognize social media fatigue was a real phenomenon. And by fall, customers were still at home, feeling anxious, doomscrolling on couches (consuming large amounts of negative online news at once) and filtering out only the content they thought was trustworthy.
In the meantime, Google upped the ante on its search quality guidelines, updated significant trust factors and made algorithm changes that lessen the importance of individual keywords in favor of search results based more so on intent, concept, context and conversation. Plus, we learned about a major page experience (mobile friendliness, safe, pop-ups) update coming in May 2021 that will change the way the quality of your site is evaluated and ranked. Beginning in May, along with the page experience signals Google currently uses to evaluate the quality of your site, Google will also consider your Core Web Vitals (content load times, etc.) during its crawls. This is all an effort to deliver more relevant results faster.
Where is marketing headed in 2021?
As presented during Trivera’s virtual seminar earlier this year, here are Trivera’s digital marketing recommendations you can implement to navigate 2021.
- Let go of what was normal. To avoid online burnout, lower your expectations for engagement. There is opportunity to make smaller touchpoints with your audience even if it makes your sales funnel feel longer. The best thing you can do is be active and helpful.
- Set up an agile reporting plan that allows you to react quickly to changing circumstances and data. Don’t be afraid to test your PPC and social campaigns and adjust them as needed; always tweak before you delete.
- Take advantage of Google Analytics and create a G4 account, which has machine learning at its core.
- Think about marketing as being always on compared to bursts of campaigns. People are online all the time, so look for meaningful metrics to help you make your marketing decisions. Instead of just numbers and views, include metrics such as how long people stay on your site and how many pages they visit.
- Try what didn’t work before. People’s habits are all over the place right now. Test a new social channel or a virtual event. You might even try incorporating augmented reality into your digital plan (or at least spend some time researching it).
- Build trust, invest in technical SEO, and focus on updated content creation strategies. Make sure your website is secure. Do what is needed to protect user privacy. And, on the technical side, make certain search engines can crawl your site effectively; optimize for image search, clean up toxic links, check your core web vitals. Remember, you can’t optimize a broken site. Even if your content is amazing, it won't matter if the audience can’t get to it. Understand modern SEO. Google is smart enough to understand content in a more human way. Create content based on topics and customers’ needs, and aim for topic clusters with folders, sorting and internal links. This will help Google recognize your overall expertise, authority and trustworthiness.
- Lastly, be ready for a crisis. People are on edge. Know your brand’s core values and use them as guardrails to ease the process of responding to world events. Don’t be afraid to engage in social messaging and community support that fits your brand. Brands that demonstrate a positive impact in people's lives grow 2.5 times more than brands with a low impact, have happier employees, and outperform the stock market by 134 percent. And don’t forget about the importance of your employees as communicators.
When it comes to digital marketing in 2021, there isn’t a trend to follow other than doing what makes sense for your business moving forward. Nobody is exactly sure what lies ahead, so don’t be afraid to experiment, test and measure results. Use the data and research available to you to anticipate changes and react accordingly. Finally, remember that trust still matters, to Google, your employees and to your customers.
(Sources: Brandwatch, McKinsey, Edelman, UMass-Dartmouth, Content Marketing Institute, SocialBakers)
Photo: Adobe Stock
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