2020 was a challenging and chaotic year for everyone. Business owners in particular were hit hard by the pandemic. Many brick-and-mortar businesses shut down, either temporarily or permanently, due to lockdown restrictions. Countless others had to regroup and move their businesses online. For both new and existing digital marketers, this has meant much more competition in areas such as SEO, content marketing and social media. What can online businesses and digital marketers expect in 2021?
10 Major Challenges for Digital Marketers in 2021
1. Learning About Your Customers
Targeting your audience will be more important than ever in 2021 and beyond. As SEO and paid advertising get more competitive, you can’t afford to waste time or money on content or keywords that are too broad or poorly targeted. One of the best tools for targeting the right audience is a buyer persona, which lets you visualize and better understand your typical customer. HubSpot has a useful tool called Make My Persona that simplifies the process of creating buyer personas. In addition, you can learn more about your customers by polling and asking them questions on your blog and social media pages.
2. Generating Qualified Leads
Every business thrives on leads. In 2021, you can expect a competitive market as lots of service-based businesses attempt to gain more targeted leads. Paid ads such as Facebook Ads and Google Ads are likely to rise in cost. Savvy marketers will learn to leverage less costly lead generation strategies like networking on LinkedIn, using video marketing and developing interactive channels such as webinars and virtual conferences. As lead generation gets more competitive, it becomes necessary to deliver solid value to prospects before you can expect to close a sale.
3. Managing Cash Flow
During economically challenging times, businesses may suffer cash flow problems. For example, if the 2020 holiday season turns out to be profitable, a long dry spell might follow as consumers pull back on spending. Business owners and marketers will have to be extra careful about managing their cash flow. Getting lean and cutting back on unnecessary expenses can help. Fortunately, moving part or all of your business online often saves you money on expenses such as renting office or retail space. Businesses with regular, steady customers, may want to consider creative financing options like invoice factoring.
4. Creating Engaging Content
Content marketing will continue to evolve and will remain as crucial as ever for digital marketers. Customers and prospects are always hungry for fresh content that educates them and points them in the direction of a solution. Content that will be especially popular in 2021 includes short-form videos, live-streaming content, podcasts and Instagram and Facebook stories. Audiences are embracing content that’s interactive as it gives people a chance to express their opinions.
5. Complying With Privacy and Data-Sharing Regulations
Rules such as GDPR aren’t going away. If anything, we can expect more such legislation around the world. Because a website can potentially attract visitors from any country, you need to be compliant with any laws that cover a population in your target audience. Make sure your website is transparent about its policies on cookies, data sharing and privacy. Be mindful about staying compliant in areas such as storing data. GDPR, for example, limits how long you can hold onto visitors’ data.
6. Making Websites Accessible
Accessibility is another fast-growing issue that all website owners need to understand. An accessible website is one that can be used by people with visual, hearing or other impairments. There are a number of steps you can take to make a site accessible. For example, when you post an image, be sure to also have alt text so visually impaired users can understand it. This is also good for SEO. Additionally, you should make sure users can navigate your site with only a keyboard as not everyone can use a mouse. The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) provides comprehensive information on web accessibility.
7. Strategizing Mobile-First
People are browsing and shopping from smartphones and tablets more than ever. Several years ago, marketing experts were advocating a mobile-friendly approach. This is rapidly turning into a mobile-first strategy. If you want to capture your share of the ever-expanding mobile market, make sure your website is set up for mobile users. Test all features on multiple devices. Be especially vigilant that customers can easily place items in their online shopping cart, check out and pay using mobile devices. Be mindful that large images and videos may take longer to load for mobile users as well.
8. Establishing an Omnichannel Marketing Strategy
Customers are increasingly active on multiple devices and platforms. It’s no longer enough to focus all your efforts on a single strategy such as email or Facebook. You want to make it easy for your followers, subscribers and customers to connect with you wherever they go. This doesn’t mean you need to maintain a presence everywhere. Focus on the platforms where your audience is active. The key is to provide a seamless experience so people can easily get from one channel to another. For example, link to your social pages and website in your emails.
You want your customers to see you as an authoritative voice in your industry. You also want to establish a unique brand presence that helps to create loyal customers. In a competitive environment, you need to go beyond offering quality products and services. Follow the lead of brand building experts like Apple and Nike, whose customers seek them out and don’t even compare them to other products. Identify and emphasize your unique selling proposition (USP). Be consistent in your voice and style across channels and platforms.
10. Staying Current With Google’s Algorithms
One thing that’s unlikely to change in 2021 is Google’s dominance as the largest search engine. If anything, Google is continuing to expand its digital empire. In order to compete, you need to pay close attention to the latest features, rules and algorithms released by the search engine giant. Businesses with a local presence need to make sure their Google My Business listing is accurate and current. Another crucial area to watch is ranking for Google Snippets, also known as Position Zero among Google’s search results. The best types of content for this coveted area are numbered lists and FAQs that answer your customers’ most pressing questions.
10 Crucial Statistics for Digital Marketing in 2021
The following statistics provide valuable clues about what you should watch for in the coming year.
- Statista estimates that there will be over 295 million mobile internet users by 2023. Mobile shoppers are driving more and more sales when it comes to e-commerce and purchasing all types of goods and services online.
- AdWhite reports that 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business. This speaks to the need to develop trust and optimize customer service as your potential customers have plenty of other options.
- The 2020 Omnichannel Statistics Report reveals that marketers using at least three channels for campaigns enjoyed 287% more sales than those companies only targeting a single channel. Omnichannel marketing is essential for reaching today’s consumers.
- DemandMetric points out that content marketing is 62% less expensive than traditional marketing while generating three times as many leads. As paid advertising costs soar, focusing on quality organic content is a cost-effective way to promote your business.
- One study found that 71% of users with disabilities will leave a website that’s not accessible. Web accessibility is an increasingly important issue that affects your SEO and bottom line.
- According to Varonis, quoting an IAAP study, businesses have already spent an average of $1.3 million on GDPR compliance and are expected to spend $1.8 million more. While this may be mainly larger businesses, the effects of GDPR and similar legislation impact everyone.
- WordStream reveals that 51% of marketing professionals consider video as the type of content with the best ROI. Video is getting bigger every year, and every business needs to incorporate it to reach their audience.
- Close to 90% of businesses report that social media marketing has increased visibility for their business, and 75% say it has helped them increase traffic. Social media will remain a key resource for engaging with customers in the coming years.
- According to SocialPilot, LinkedIn posts with images received 200% more engagement than posts only containing text. This principle applies everywhere as the internet is driven more and more by visuals.
- Search Engine Journal says that SEO leads have a close rate of 14.6% while leads acquired via outbound methods such as direct mail or print ads only have a 1.7% close rate. This points to the value of inbound marketing tactics like SEO and content marketing.
Be Ready for the Latest Digital Marketing Trends
While 2020 brought about many unanticipated changes, don’t expect everything to return to normal in 2021. Many of the disruptions of the previous year will continue well into the future. For example, e-commerce and virtual events are likely to expand even in the post-pandemic world. If you want to succeed in 2021 and beyond, you need to be extra mindful of targeting the right customers, building your brand and staying current with the latest happenings with Google and social media.