2021 Guide to Digital Marketing: Channel Overview

2021 Guide to Digital Marketing: Channel Overview

Now that 2021 is upon us, marketing professionals across all industries are looking towards the future.

Marketing professionals already understood that digital marketing was vital to the success of any business. However, the COVID-19 pandemic upended many digital marketing trends predicted for 2020.

The complete upheaval caused by the pandemic has only further emphasized just how crucial digital marketing is in our current age of technology.

While 18% of marketing teams had to halt their 2020 digital marketing transformation plans, 22% stated that they not only continued with their plans, but they also accelerated them to meet the changing needs of the world around them.

If marketers have learned anything from the pandemic, it is that marketing teams need to be flexible and able to move on a moment’s notice – but to do that, it is crucial to take a moment and understand the basics.

Digital Marketing Overview: Understanding the Basics

Digital marketing, in a nutshell, is the use of various internet resources, such as search engines, mobile/web-enabled devices, and social media, to reach consumers. With over 4.66 billion people actively using the internet, accounting for 59% of the global population, it’s never been more important to take full advantage of the many marketing avenues that the internet offers.

How Does Digital Marketing Work?

Digital marketing is a vital piece of any modern business’s success strategy. It helps you spread the word about your business, consistently draw in new customers, and build and maintain relationships with your audience.

Consumers consider traditional marketing methods, such as direct mail advertisements, irrelevant today. They also think some of the more primitive digital marketing methods, such as irrelevant email marketing messages and cold social media messaging, are outdated and untrustworthy.

Today’s digital marketing revolves around the consumer and their needs – not the needs of the business. Research shows that 81% of consumers conduct online research before making a purchase of any kind. This usually begins on search engines, such as Google, and then leads to either your website or social media profiles, or other business listings.

Consumers today want to be educated, not sold to. They turn to the internet to find relevant information pertaining to their pain points, and if a brand starts to spam them with pop-ups and irrelevant content, they have no problem exiting the page and moving on.

Digital marketing, when done right, not only helps your brand get found by the right consumers through proper search engine optimization but also helps educate the consumer enough to pique their interests. From there, your brand must nurture the relationship with this new lead. This can be through interactions via social media or by email, should they decide to join your email list.

By providing the best experience to your leads, they’ll be more inclined to become consumers and even advocate for your brand later on down the line.

What are the Benefits of Digital Marketing?

There are countless benefits when it comes to digital marketing. Not only does it provide the highest returns on investment (ROI), depending on which channel you choose to use, but the convenience factor alone is also worth considering.

Conveniently Reach Leads

Now, convenience does not necessarily mean simple. A lot of time and resources go into the best digital marketing campaigns. Instead, digital marketing opens up endless opportunities for reaching an audience that goes well beyond your local audience.

Thanks to email and social media, your marketing team can easily connect with and build relationships with potential leads across the globe – something that can not be easily done with many traditional marketing methods.

Measure Marketing Campaigns

Another benefit to digital marketing is that it’s a measurable strategy, making it easier than ever to determine the success of a campaign. Thanks to various analytics sites, such as Google Analytics, individual social media platform analytics, and other analytic platforms, you can now measure how effective your marketing messages are, discover who is more likely to interact with your brand and when. This allows you to fine-tune your audience personas and helps you create more effective marketing campaigns.

Monitor and Adjust Campaigns Whenever Necessary

These analytics also allow you to make necessary changes to your campaigns as you go instead of waiting until the campaign comes to an end. By carefully monitoring your campaign analytics regularly, you can watch for any negative responses and make necessary changes as problems arise.

For instance, if you notice that your social media campaign is seeing a high click-through rate to your website but low conversions, you know something isn’t quite right with either the landing page’s content or your final call to action. Instead of waiting and risking an unsatisfactory end to your campaign, you can make immediate adjustments and monitor them for any changes.

Another method of monitoring and adjusting available through digital marketing is A/B testing. In this method, you send out two variations of your campaign to two small test groups – not to your entire audience. From there, you measure each variation’s success, and the one that performs to your liking is the one you send out to the rest of your audience.

Cost-Effective

Many digital marketing channels are completely free to use, such as online business listings, including Google My Business, and social media profiles. These free channels give you a platform to begin building upon.

From there, you can always decide to invest in paid advertisements to help you further your reach; however, studies have shown over half of all website traffic comes from organic search results. Organic search results are those that have followed search engine optimization (SEO) best practices to help them rank naturally on the internet. Sponsored or paid results are easy to spot because they are labeled with the word “AD” or “Sponsor.”

While ads are helpful for exposure, optimized high-quality content for organic ranking is often more likely to be clicked because consumers find them more trustworthy than paid posts, with approximately 80% of consumers stating that they ignore paid ads.

This shows that when investing in digital marketing, it is important to invest in the right places. Instead of focusing a large portion of your marketing budget into paid posts, you should be investing in SEO tools to help you better optimize your content.

Increase Overall Conversion Rates

Digital marketing can substantially increase your overall conversion rates – as long as you provide a highly personalized experience to your customers.

Research shows that approximately 80% of consumers now expect a personalized experience when dealing with any brand – no matter the industry. Personalized marketing efforts used to be as simple as inserting a consumer’s name in an email or on a piece of direct mail. However, in today’s age of technology, consumers have unlimited options to choose from. If a brand doesn’t take the time to address them as the individual they are, they have no problem ending the relationship and moving on.

When brands take the time to create and send highly personalized, relevant material to their leads and take the time to interact with them one-on-one via email, social media, or SMS, then consumers feel as if their needs are being met. They no longer feel as if they are just another sale to you and that you value their time, input, and support. This builds real relationships, resulting in increased conversions and brand loyalty.

Digital Marketing: Outcomes of 2020

2020 was a doozy of a year for marketing teams across the globe. Those lacking an online presence were forced to halt most – if not all – their marketing efforts to conform to the “new normal,” to survive the stay-at-home orders and store shutdowns. For larger companies who already had an established online presence, they were forced to change direction to meet their customers’ new demands.

Research shows that U.S. e-commerce sales grew more than 30% between Q1 and Q2, and these increases in sales were seen across all industries. In fact, surveys also show that approximately 45.6 million shoppers placed at least one online order for groceries, something most people would typically head to the store to do, in June, with approximately 38.7 million having placed at least one order for delivery or pickup in the last 30 days.

This increase in e-commerce demand wasn’t the only trend that spiked in 2020 due to the pandemic. According to recent research by Forrester, B2B buyers now “demand an entirely different kind of relationship” with the organizations they do business with.

They expect:

  • Brand openness
  • Access to more information
  • To feel connected with the brand
  • Brands to be present and proactive at every point in their journey
  • Immediacy/Real-time experiences

To meet these customer demands, 78% of digital marketers say they are working hard to improve their digital marketing strategies to close the gaps in their digital selling capabilities exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Digital Marketing Trends for 2021

To improve their digital marketing strategies to help close the identified gaps in their digital selling capabilities, such as a lack of organized customer data and in prioritizing the customer experience, marketing teams are looking toward the future.

If you have not started developing your digital marketing strategy for the year to come, you will want to note these digital marketing trends for 2021.

Inclusivity

With so much separation in current-day media, your customers are more eager than ever before to see more inclusivity involved in the marketing materials they receive from their favorite brands. The media and subject matter that you choose to include in your digital marketing is going to have a profound effect on how your audience sees you.

If you are expecting to stay in their favor, then you’ll want to prioritize inclusivity and represent a wide variety of individuals by including people of varying races, religions, sexualities, and disabilities in your media.

Influencer Marketing

Some of the gaps that marketing teams have identified include an inability to reach larger audiences outside their specific niche. Influencer marketing is a marketing strategy that allows you to work directly with industry influencers and share your products/services with their (oftentimes much larger) audience. This allows you to begin exploring audiences still within your industry, but that may be just ever so slightly outside your niche. With more people headed online searching for new products and services, it is important to start extending your reach where you can and where it makes sense, and influencer marketing provides you with those opportunities when you partner up with the right people.

Image and Video SEO

In the last few years, marketers have been utilizing images and videos more frequently throughout their content to meet the consumer demand for easier to digest information. While that is a good starting point, in 2021, you will want to make sure you are properly optimizing this content for the search engines.

Image and video search engine optimization (SEO) works similarly to SEO for written content. Obviously, you cannot sprinkle in the use of keywords throughout an image or video to optimize it. Instead, you will need to focus on optimizing the image/video title, description, alt tags, etc. Doing this allows your ideal audience to easily find your videos and images.

Interactive Content

If you’re looking to further build relationships and keep your audience interacting with your brand regularly, then you’ll want to invest in interactive content. This content encourages your audience to actively engage with whatever you’ve sent them instead of passively consuming it.

Examples of interactive content include:

  • Quizzes
  • Interactive infographics
  • Surveys/Polls
  • Assessments
  • Webinars
  • Calculators
  • Interactive emails
  • Chatbots
  • Interactive eBooks, etc.

can benefit your brand in more ways than engagement. In fact, it can help with brand awareness, lead generation, and customer retention.

Automation

Automation is another trend that has been rising in popularity over the last several years. However, following the pandemic and the massive budget cuts that took place, brands had to find ways to optimize their daily processes without sacrificing the quality of work. You can use automation throughout your digital marketing strategy, including email campaigns, social media posting, and even customer interactions.

The key to automation is to not make it a robotic experience. Your consumers want to be treated as individuals, and that means interacting with them as such. So, even if you utilize automation in your customer contacts, make sure the included responses are not robotic and always offer an opportunity to connect with a live individual.

5 Top Digital Marketing Channels You Will Want to Explore for 2021

Digital marketers have learned quite a bit in the past year, and while some of the digital marketing trends for 2021 may seem rather familiar, they have never been more important than they are now. If you are looking to invest in a new digital marketing channel or two, then you’ll want to consider these top 5 digital marketing channels:

1. Content Marketing

This marketing channel involves the creation and sharing of various pieces of online content. These typically come in the form of web pages and blogs; however, they can also include:

  • Case studies
  • eBooks
  • Infographics
  • White Papers
  • Templates
  • Checklists

The goal of content marketing within digital marketing is not necessarily to promote your brand and or products/services (although there is a time and place for that, such as dedicated product landing pages); it is to educate your target audience. Remember, your audience is heading online to consume educational content to help them make an informed decision or help them solve a pain point.

So, it is important to remember not to talk to your audience. Instead, talk with them and educate them.

2. Video Marketing

Another form of content you will want to consider investing in is video content. Video marketing is gaining more popularity as consumers start searching for educational materials that can hold their interest. In fact, 54% of consumers state that they want to see more educational video content from the brands and businesses that they support.

While long-form (and even short-form) content can be extremely valuable to your audience, they do not always want to sit and read through an entire piece of content to get a simple answer. Video marketing allows you to create a more interactive piece of content that can help get your audience’s questions answered in a timelier manner.

3. Social Media Marketing

As we prepare for 2021, digital marketing experts predict the resurgence of social media, not necessarily for the reasons you may think. Traditionally, consumers have turned to social media to get quicker, more personalized interactions with the brands. However, according to Hootsuite, those who succeed with social media marketing in 2020 were those brands that sat back and listened to their audience, not necessarily those who jumped online and tried to control the conversation.

2020 was scary for consumers and marketers alike. Those marketing teams that let their audience speak their piece and voice their concerns could address issues more head-on because they were not blindly making claims and trying to control an uncontrollable situation.

In 2021, social media marketing will continue to play a massive role in giving consumers the voice they want. So, your brand must take advantage of the consumer’s concerns and use that data to make vital marketing decisions in the year to come.

4. Email Marketing

Like good, high-quality content, email is a digital marketing channel that will not go anywhere anytime soon. Not only is it one of the top preferred methods of contact between the consumer and their favorite brands, but it is also one of the top digital marketing channels when it comes to the best average ROI.

Currently, digital marketers can expect an average ROI of 3,800% from email marketing. That breaks down to $38 for every $1 spent. However, it is important to note that email marketing is no longer the practice of collecting as many consumer emails as possible and simply sending out digital ads.

Email marketing is now expected to be a highly personalized form of communication between brands and their consumers. So, make sure you are practicing proper email marketing best practices. Otherwise, you could find yourself in the dreaded spam folder.

5. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Search engine marketing (SEM) is a tactic used to optimize and advertise a business’s website to rank higher and increase its chances of appearing in search engine results pages (SERPs).

SEM is often confused with search engine optimization (SEO). While the two practices are different, SEO does play a part in SEM. That is because SEO is the optimization of the content on your site to help it rank organically, while SEM combines both organic and paid strategies to help your website rank.

While consumers trust organic results the most, paid and sponsored content does have its time and place. Again, take a product landing page, for example. While you should be applying SEO best practices to these pages, sometimes it’s well worth paying to boost that particular page’s visibility to get it in front of a wider audience.

Digital Marketing Done Right with CadenceSEO Consulting

Trying to make sense of the current status of the digital marketing industry can be quite overwhelming. Here at CadenceSEO Consulting, we understand just how frustrating it can be, which is why we offer several services to help you make sense of it all. From our SEO and content marketing consulting to our director of digital marketing as a service – we have a team of experts ready to get your digital marketing strategy figured out and help you start seeing real results.

Wondering how CadenceSEO Consulting can help you? Then contact us today!

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