We’re not going to lie: 2020 has been interesting to say the least. From global pandemics to the US election, the events of this year have left most of us feeling like this:
Global events aside, 2020 has also been a monumental year for marketing, and the pandemic has been rocket fuel for digital. For many businesses, online channels have become the main (or only) way to connect with customers and generate revenue, which in turn has forced them to get serious about digital marketing. We’ve seen brands adapt, pivot and experiment in unexpected and exciting ways — and investment in SEM, SEO social media, and other online tactics has accelerated at warp speed.
As we approach the tail end of the year, it’s the perfect opportunity to step back, reflect on the year that was, and plan ahead for the future. To round off the year, we’ve put together 5 of our top digital marketing takeaways from 2020 — and what brands need to keep in mind going into 2021.
1. Brand matters… a LOT
Turbulence, uncertainty and turmoil have more or less been the key words of this year. Amidst all the changes, customers have started re-evaluating their relationship with brands in a way they never have before.
Need proof? Here is a list of statistics that back this up in spades:
- A study by KPMG found that there’s growing support amongst Aussie consumers for brands with purpose.
- 62% of consumers now say they are more likely to purchase from companies they feel are doing good for society.
- 29% of consumers would pay a premium for brands that give back to the local community.
- 42% of consumers are willing to pay more for locally produced products.
Translation: in today’s world, who your brand is and what you stand for is equally, if not more important than the products you sell.
From sustainable business practices to a brand’s response to global events, consumers expect brands to be more responsible, transparent and authentic than ever. When it comes to digital marketing, your brand purpose needs to radiate through every piece of communication, from your website to your content, social media posts, and more.
What’s next? Great news: as an SMB, you have the advantage. Work on your creative branding now with these considerations in mind, and develop digital and social media content to support these messages. This will help you boost brand awareness, recall and loyalty in 2021 and beyond.
2. A seamlessly executed digital strategy starts with the website
Hands up if you know a brand who left their website in a little dark corner for years without revamping or redesigning it — only to be left scrambling to update their site this year?
eCommerce sales have skyrocketed this year. The same goes for the number of consumers conducting brand research and engaging with companies online. In other words, the consumer journey is well and truly digital in 2020 — and when we’re talking digital, everything begins and ends with your website.
If a customer conducts a Google search, they eventually end up on your website. If you’re running paid ads, they direct to your site. And your social media efforts? They should all direct back to your online home.
Get your website right and you’ll win more customers, outrank the competition, and increase conversions. Get it wrong, and you’ll be struggling to catch up for years to come (not to mention losing out on valuable leads and sales).
What’s next? Take a good hard look at your website — and we mean a really good look. Does it accurately showcase your business and products/services in the best light? Are you getting the conversions you want? If not, it might be time to invest in a new website.
3. Adaptability based on data-driven insights
Name one skill that’s been more important than adaptability in 2020.
The brands that pivoted their products and services in response to the events of this year had the greatest success: for example, our client Stitch, a social community helping over 50s enrich their lives through companionship, group events and more, launched new online features such as virtual group get-togethers and video calls.
Disclaimer: being adaptable doesn’t mean going in blindly. The brands that have done this best are the ones that looked at consumer needs, search trends, market context and more — then adapted their offerings accordingly.
As the digital marketing landscape continues to change, it’s important to use the swathes of data available to guide decision-making, so your team invests in the right channels and right initiatives to drive growth.
What’s next? Search trends are a great way to identify opportunities to adapt your brand. Use tools like Google Trends to find out what people are searching for, and keep an eye out for any trends that might be a match. At the same time, keep an eye on your own website and ad performance data: are there any shifts in user behaviour? Dig deeper into these to see if there are new advertising opportunities or chances to shift your products and services.
4. Digital marketing should be your foundation
Businesses can’t survive in today’s world without a strong digital presence. As the roll-on effects of the pandemic and economic recession continue, consumers will continue to spend more time and money online — which means you NEED to up your digital marketing game to stay relevant.
Beyond reaching your audience where they spend time, digital marketing offers a ton of benefits, from being targeted and measurable to increasing brand awareness. Search, social and your website should be the core of your marketing strategy going into 2021 and beyond.
What’s next? Test and see which digital marketing mix works best for your company: it might be paid advertising on Instagram, YouTube advertising, display, or all of the above. Once you’ve locked these in, invest more budget into these channels, then track and optimise your campaigns religiously.
5. Be consistent with search and SEO
Your search campaigns should be working hard for you at the moments when your audience is most likely to convert. Search traffic has surged during 2020, as more people go online to find information while working or staying at home. In the ‘new normal’, these consumer behaviours are going to stick.
Even if your search campaigns aren’t converting straight away, if 2020 has proved anything, it’s that these efforts will pay off in time if done well. One prime example of this is a dental client who we helped with Google Ads earlier this year. We maintained the same ad spend for them even during lockdown, which allowed us to improve their quality score and optimise their campaigns while competitors pulled back on spend. Once restrictions were lifted, they saw a boom in bookings and revenue, as well as a decrease in cost-per-click and an improvement on return on ad spend.
This is even more paramount for SEO. SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. When it comes to search engine optimisation, you need to stay on top of this at all times to remain on top. In times of fear and crises, businesses tend to pull back on their marketing efforts and decrease ad spend — and their loss is your gain. This is the perfect opportunity to pounce and get ahead in rankings, particularly for competitive keywords.
Investing in SEO now will help you rank for high search volume keywords in the future, while targeting new opportunities will give you a head start on the competition.
What’s next? If you’ve been investing modest amounts in paid search and SEO, it’s time to kick it up a gear. Talk to your search and SEO agency to see which opportunities you can capitalise on in 2021: for example, keywords that you’re ranking on page 2 of instead of page 1, or new search formats you can invest in (like display marketing or YouTube advertising).
Want to start 2021 off on the best foot possible?
You need the best players on your side. This year, we’ve worked closely with our clients to help them pivot, survive, and grow — and we’re ready to do the same for you in the New Year.
Get in touch with us today and speak to one of our digital marketing experts. Tell us what you want to achieve, and we’ll strategise a way to get you there.