As the frenetic energy of 2020 comes to a close, business owners and marketers are taking a moment to breathe before diving headfirst into 2021 digital marketing strategy. To help, we’ve pulled together our list of lessons learned to prepare for success in the coming year.

1. To remain competitive, your business MUST have a digital marketing plan.

Having a digital marketing plan is no longer optional. As consumers continue to follow stay-at-home guidance, your potential customers have increasingly moved online to make purchases. A new global digital marketing study, by digital experience company Acquia, found that 40% of consumers reported buying more online in 2020, and 24% reported buying from more brands than they had in the past. A strong marketing plan ensures that potential customers see your brand where they shop. Right now and for the foreseeable future, that means online.

This shift toward online purchasing isn’t expected to change anytime soon, either. A key finding of research company McKinsey & Company is that digital shopping is here to stay. Several consumers report an intent to continue shopping online even after COVID-19 subsides. In a survey of over 2,000 individuals, respondents claimed they would do more purchasing online post-COVID than they had before the pandemic. This was true in every category measured, which included groceries, furnishings and appliances, apparel, and more. For many businesses, these findings represent huge potential for new customers. All this emphasizes how critical it is for your brand to be online right now and in the future.

2. Your digital marketing should be able to adapt quickly to changing circumstances.

Digital marketing is having “a moment” as companies across the globe go through a digital transformation to include (if not wholly rely on) online marketing and e-commerce websites. Moving your business online comes with a lot of perks. These include easy access to large groups of potential audiences, strategic targeting to save money in your budget, and reports that accurately gauge the return on your digital marketing efforts. The challenge then becomes adapting quickly to changing circumstances in an ever-changing and ever-tumultuous online community. Put another way, digital marketing doesn’t end with a sleek website and scroll-stopping ads; it’s a continually evolving marketing effort that requires ongoing engagement from you and your digital marketing team.

No one could’ve predicted COVID-19 or the ramifications it would have on the world economy. However, those businesses that reacted quickly to adapt to the pandemic have fared best this year. As the virus began to hit the U.S. in the spring, several companies sprang into action. We saw mass emails to client bases and new messages on websites to help reassure customers. We also saw companies adapting their online advertising to better serve the changing needs of consumers. Companies that reacted quickly were able to successfully pivot their business models and avoid bankruptcy. Speed is everything in the digital world. If your company lacks the personnel or resources to make swift changes across multiple online channels, it may be time to consider bringing on a digital agency to manage your online presence.

3. Your business should be communicating across all channels.

You know your customers are online, but do you know where online? Customers look for their favorite businesses across several online spaces. This may include social media, search engines, business websites, affiliate websites, online maps, online review sites, and even in their email inbox. Updating information in one area but not others leaves gaps in communication that can cause your customers confusion and frustration. Consider, for example, how many companies adjusted to the pandemic this year by changing their business hours on their website but not their Google Maps locations. Or consider the restaurants who updated their menus on social media sites, but failed to do so on their Google My Business listings. Having disparate information on different online channels really puts a damper on the customer experience.

In this increasingly digital landscape, your business must be able to communicate with customers quickly and accurately across every channel. So if you haven’t yet, it’s time to ask yourself some tough questions: Is my business optimized for digital communication and transactions? Am I providing regular, relevant information on my social media channels? Have I claimed my Google My Business listing, and is all of that information up-to-date? Do I have email lists and/or an accurate database of my customers? Your answers to these questions may seem overwhelming, but that’s where a digital marketing agency can provide support. Having a team of marketers to update your information across all channels takes that responsibility off your back so you can focus on your business.

4. If you don’t already have one, it may be time to consider developing an e-commerce website.

In the past, e-commerce websites were nice to have, although not essential to running an effective business. But in the wake of 2020, e-commerce websites are in some cases the only thing keeping businesses afloat. If your company doesn’t currently have the capability to conduct sales online, then it’s time to rectify that. An August 2020 publication by McKinsey & Company claims the economic recovery will be digital, citing e-commerce as the way of the future for businesses to survive. The number of online shoppers worldwide continues to grow, with 2.14 billion people expected to buy goods and services online by the year 2021, according to statista.com. The internet is a growing marketplace, and your business should be part of it.

In addition to providing a new platform from which to conduct transactions, e-commerce websites also collect an enormous amount of valuable information. That information helps you better understand their needs, their customer journey, and how best to grow your relationship with them. Using digital insights, you can see, for example, where a potential customer dropped out of the sales funnel. (Perhaps they loaded their cart but did not make a purchase.) Using this information, you may develop an email campaign through which to follow up with them, prompting them to complete the sale.

You can also use insights to discover which products sell best and develop marketing campaigns around your most popular products. Or you can set up subscription purchases. That way your most loyal customers can sign up to receive recurring orders automatically each month. An e-commerce website could also provide you with email and phone number lists. These in turn can be used to build strategic retargeting and/or look-alike audience campaigns. This allows you to grow your business from the foundation of your existing client base.

Your 2021 Digital Marketing Plan

Digital is not just the way of the future; the transformation is happening right now. For companies to thrive in the coming year, business owners and marketing teams will need to ensure they have the following built into their strategy:

  • A digital marketing plan (if none exists)
  • Ability to adapt online business quickly to changing circumstances
  • Up-to-date communication across all digital channels
  • An e-commerce website to conduct online transactions

2020 was a chaotic year for business owners and digital marketers alike, but it provided us with a surplus of ideas to build long-term, crisis-proven adaptations into our marketing strategy. If and when another crisis hits, having a digital marketing agency in your corner can be a game-changer for your business. If interested in learning more about how Vuepoint Agency can help your company take its digital marketing to the next level, contact us here, or call (210) 858-7295.