Writing predictions for best marketing practices is a thankless task at the best of times.
Whichever way you look at it, you’re bound to have a few misses. And these days, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and the uncertainty surrounding our future with the virus, this task becomes even harder.
Still, after observing what has worked so far in 2021 and factoring in the inevitable effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the global markets, here are a few marketing practices that should be sound for the rest of 2021 and beyond.
You will notice that the article will first cover the big-picture type of practices for marketing in 2021, and the specific tactics will follow afterward.
1. Acknowledge the situation
When discussing marketing in 2021, there is an elephant of epic proportions in the room. And it is not an elephant just making a brief appearance.
The Covid-19 pandemic may seem to be waning in some parts of the world, but even if it miraculously disappears tomorrow (which it won’t), it has already wreaked havoc on innumerable people, companies, and markets. Its effects will echo for years to come, and ignoring it is too foolish for any self-respecting marketer to afford.
Understand that many people have been hit more than you probably have. Understand that entire industries are on the brink of extinction.
Understand that people have become less trusting and patient. Understand that your budget probably needs to change. Understand that your strategy from January 2021 needs to be overhauled.
Acknowledge the situation. It is not a three-week blip.
2. Reconsider your strategy
You probably did your marketing strategy for 2021 late last year or at the very start of this one, based on whatever marketing objectives were appealing to you.
If you haven’t done it so far, spend some time with it and realize that it’s probably not going to work for you. Well, unless you’re psychic and you could see in advance that 2021 is going to be the weirdest, most unpredictable year in decades.
The reason why you need to rethink your strategy is that everything has changed. Budgets have changed. Markets have changed. Your target segments have changed. Your channels have changed. Your customers have changed.
The core factors that have guided you in creating your marketing strategy have changed, and you need to make sure your strategy makes sense for this year and the ones ahead.
Or at least until the next crazy thing happens in 2021.
3. The importance of the brand voice
Finding the right tone to share your brand message is never an easy task. In a world that has been turned on its head, this requires even more contemplation and fine-tuning. On the one hand, you cannot ignore what’s going on in the world around you.
On the other, you don’t want to be one of those brands that try too hard to “be there for the world” while selling flip-flops (just a random example).
Understand your place in the world. Think about who your customers are. Inform them if their interactions with you have or will change, but don’t overdo the whole “we’re here for you.”
You’re probably simply selling stuff, just as you did in January.
4. Rethink your pricing
Recently, marketers have lost sight of one of the more important aspects of their trade – pricing.
Whether it’s because there is a smaller percentage of professional marketers among those who do it or something else, but it sometimes feels that the all-too-important matter of pricing is being ignored or neglected.
At times like these, you need to be very active with your pricing.
Depending on what it is you’re selling, you might find yourself in the luxury segment all of a sudden, as non-essentials get equated with luxury and budgets get tighter.
You might have to think about lowering prices, offering more deals, or helping out your customers by giving out free subscriptions (great for SaaS companies, for example).
Sometimes modifying your pricing will be necessary to sell in this new world, and sometimes it can be a great way to show you really are a brand that wants to help out its customers.
Just don’t ignore it.
5. Diversify your channels
Back in the good old days, you might have had the luxury of sticking to just one channel to market and sell your products or service. Even for many eCommerce companies, a well-done website was all they needed to stay relevant and competitive.
Today, branching out is not just about survival for eCommerce businesses. It is a chance to find new customers that previously didn’t even practice shopping online.
Amazon, eBay, and others are seeing a huge uptick in sales for certain types of products – and if you happen to be in those particular segments, not expanding your sales channels would be madness.
Even if you’re not in the eCommerce market, this might be a good time to diversify your marketing channels if you have the budget. This is not the time to put all your eggs in one basket.
While we’re on the subject of channels, you might also want to reconsider how much money you are spending and where. For example, you might find that some channels now give you more exposure as people’s habits change (for example, they watch more videos on YouTube).
6. Getting personal
The personalization debate has been one of the more heated ones among marketers over the last couple of years. And while it may not make sense for some types of business, for most companies, 2021 will be much more successful with an increased level of personalization across channels.
Personalized emails and shopping experiences can go a long way to attract and retain customers, while a more personal touch on social media will help your brand resonate better with your existing and potential customers.
7. Do video (but be careful)
Video marketing is always part of articles like this one, but it is often not followed by a massive warning. Well, you do need to be careful. In case you missed it, back in 2019, Facebook settled for $40 million in the case where they were charged for inflating views and defrauding advertisers and companies.
And while a blind pivot to video is still a bad idea, there is no denying that it can also be a fantastic way to promote your business. Video can be a great way to show off the expertise of your people, to introduce new products and services, and to tell people more about your brand.
8. Work on your landing pages
In a world where people second-think their every purchasing decision and more and more businesses move online to sell their products, you cannot leave anything to chance when it comes to your landing pages.
You need to put yourself in the shoes of your potential customer and provide all the information they might need to make a purchase. This page from Amerisleep is a perfect example: it imagines an average shopper looking for a mattress and it guides them step-by-step into choosing the right one.
9. SEO of the future
SEO has always changed at a lightning pace, but in 2021, this is bound to become even more noticeable. Trends such as voice search, semantic entities, queryless predictive search, and alternative types of SERPs have already started to change SEO, and they’re bound to do the same in the years to come.
You might have noticed voice and image search have not been mentioned here, and that is only because they both deserve their own entry numbers.
10. Voice search
As smart speakers become more and more present in consumers’ homes, voice search becomes increasingly important. According to some predictions, voice shopping will jump twenty-fold by 2022.
As you would expect, optimizing your message for voice search is a whole science, and it might take a bit of trial and error to ensure that people start finding your brand via voice search. Still, it is definitely a trend that has found its footing and in the years to come, you simply cannot afford to ignore it.
11. Image search
If you happen to sell physical products, and especially if you sell in categories such as fashion, home decor, art, or beauty, you need to be very aware of image search and its rising importance. An ever-increasing number of people are using visual search engines and tools such as Google Lens, Pinterest Lens, Bing Visual Search, and CamFind.
Familiarize yourself with visual search and learn about optimizing your product images for it.
12. Interactive content
Interactive content has been around for a while, but not that many brands used it too well. For the most part, it had to do with them not being exactly sure what to do with this kind of content.
Well, the answer is quite simple – lead generation.
Interactive content is one of the best types of lead magnet content that will “inspire” people to leave their emails in exchange for being able to interact and get value from such content.
Of course, you will want to make it relevant to your niche and something that people will actually benefit from interacting with.
13. Check out HARO
In case you haven’t heard of it, HARO (Help A Reporter Out) is a service you can subscribe to and provide help to reporters and journalists when they write on a particular subject (you’ll choose something from your domain).
By writing quotable and relevant answers to the issues they’re covering, you can easily find your quotes in major publications that you could never get in otherwise. This is a great way to build a reputation as well as earn some amazing links.
14. Try out social commerce
We already mentioned diversifying your channels. Another way to add to this is to try out social commerce, which means selling directly on social networks such as Instagram and Pinterest (Facebook is entering the game as well).
This exposes more people to your brand, helps you run very focused marketing campaigns, and cuts out steps along which you might otherwise lose customers.
Of course, this is better suited for certain types of online businesses, so if you happen to run such a business, it is definitely something to try out.
15. Reconsider push notifications
You’ve probably considered using push notifications on your website at one point or another. Maybe you use them but aren’t seeing any results to write home about.
According to a, granted, biased source, visitors are not only more likely to subscribe to push notifications than email newsletters but push notification subscriptions also provide a better return on investment than email subscriptions. In case you’ve avoided using them so far, maybe you should reconsider your decisions.
If you have been using them and you’re not satisfied, maybe it is time to brush up on your best practices. Try a more strategic approach than just going through motions and shooting off a single set of messages to everyone who visits your website.
Businesses and marketers are in for a wild ride in the rest of 2021 and beyond. Perhaps the absolute best practice is to stay on your toes and respond to new circumstances quickly but without panicking.