2020 has upended how businesses operate, largely due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve seen more products and services move online and companies continue to operate with many employees in remote or hybrid settings. Months of customer responses to COVID-19 have provided us with insights into what is working for businesses and the 8 digital marketing trends to expect in the coming year.
The next step is for businesses to tap into those digital marketing trends to plan their budgets for 2021. Marketing teams need to decide how much to spend on digital, which channels to optimize, and where to make investments in key new technologies. Here is how businesses plan to allocate their marketing budgets to generate more traffic, leads, and revenue in 2021 — and a process for our readers to get their own houses in order.
COVID-19 has accelerated two major marketing shifts: the move to digital and a renewed focus on customer retention and growth. Perhaps the most notable trend which ties these two larger changes together is an explosion in social media marketing. And it’s not just B2C players - increasing social marketing is a key component of B2B efforts, especially via networking platforms such as LinkedIn. Gartner’s recent CMO Spend Survey highlights where marketers expect to funnel more resources in 2021:
2021 B2C Marketing Budget Changes By Channel
Source: Gartner 2020
Event and offline marketing spending will be throttled until at least Q3 as fewer Americans commute and conventions remain on indefinite hiatus. Top marketers are re-allocating those resources to where their customers are: namely, on their computers and phones. Website refreshes are expected to attract a lot of attention (as they did in 2020) with a special emphasis on creating warmer content for readers. Plus, mobile marketing will attract an increasingly significant slice of the paid advertising pie.
Digital Dominates The Channel Mix
Source: Gartner 2020
Marketers are using multiple methods to increase user engagement and improve customer retention, and this will continue into 2021. Websites must deliver content that informs or delights and that aids in the customer experience. These simpler, cleaner layouts also lend themselves to mobile devices. Moreover, social marketing presents new opportunities for savvy professionals to cross-sell and tap into creative referral programs to retain long-time clients and grow organically in 2021.
The trend toward building relationships with leads and clients dovetails perfectly with the inbound model championed by forward-thinking digital agencies such as DaBrian Marketing Group. The inbound methodology is focused on growing a company by building meaningful, lasting relationships with consumers, prospects, and customers. It’s about helping and empowering people to reach their goals at any stage in their customer journey. Because when they succeed, your company succeeds, and in so doing you’re able to increase the likelihood of retention and referrals.
Inbound Marketing Model
Source: Hubspot 2020
There are three inbound strategies that will help you market to your target audience through the inbound model:
Once you determine your 2021 goals, you then need to tailor your inbound strategies to your business needs by allocating resources into the appropriate areas. If you do not have enough prospects in the pipeline it may be best to allocate more of your marketing budget toward the tools that enable the attracting strategies outlined above. Social media has already been touched upon, but many of our “attraction-focused” clients are also planning to integrate more video into their 2021 content plans. Interactive, branded visual content can even bridge the elusive gap between educating and entertaining.
Source: Woorank.com 2020
Similarly, if 2021 (especially the first two quarters) will be more about engaging your client base to create loyalists and build brand reputation, then it may make more sense to allocate digital budget dollars toward implementing conversational bots on your website. Additionally, carve out a portion of the budget to ensure that your website and social media channels keep clients better updated on inventory and scheduling changes or other COVID-19-related issues. You might also focus on:
Finally, be sure to measure everything you do across channels to judge whether you need to course-correct mid-year. A proliferation of multiple devices accompanied by the evolution of customer behavior has created new challenges in tracking and understanding the customer journey. Ensure that you’re collecting and integrating all of this data in a central location and in a way that makes it helpful for determining both your 2021 successes and can inform you on how to budget even better for 2022.
While this budgeting process isn’t exhaustive, it’s a great place to start when planning your business’s 2021 digital marketing efforts. Taken in concert, most CMO’s could improve their chances next year simply by shifting more resources to social media, overhauling their websites, focusing on local search, while adding more personalized and interactive content.
The process outlined above can help a business efficiently increase its site traffic, generate more leads, and grow sales, all while retaining its hard-earned customer-base. It’s also imperative to understand trends in digital marketing spend to secure a grasp on the larger competitive landscape in your industry.
Want a more detailed and tailored approach to digital marketing budgeting for 2021?
Contact one of our digital marketing consultants today!