When it comes to people that the masses would go to for marketing advice, one of the new generation’s experts on marketing is the influencer. Social media influencers have made their way to “the top” so to speak, in that they have made a name for themselves in this world of likes and retweets for them to have an effect on thousands, sometimes millions, of people. So in this blog, we interview 10 influencers that share their strategies for digital marketing in 2021:
What one piece of marketing advice would you offer to brands as we head into the new year?
Rand Fishkin, SparkToro
2021 will almost certainly be a big reset for human behavior across advanced economies. If the news is right, distribution of vaccines will start early in the year, and begin returning economic and interpersonal activity to 2019-like levels. Major elections and political cycles in the West are at a low point as well, and political/news media consumption will decline while other sources take their place. As such, the best advice I can give for marketers is to reinvest in getting to know your audiences. Their habits are going to change in 2021, probably substantially. The same messaging, content, and distribution channels you’re using now won’t work the same—so it’s time to re-learn who your audiences are, what they care about, and where/how they can be reached. Now.
Doug Kessler, co-founder, Velocity Partners
If you’re in B2B like me, you’re probably putting a lot of energy into your demand gen stack these days. That’s great—but here’s my plea for 2021: Don’t forget the importance of a clear, strong, smart brand! Too many B2B companies have let their brands atrophy as they ramp up the money machine. I get why, but it’s not either/or—you need both. It’s no accident that the best brands tend to have the most effective money machines too. Branding works in B2B just as much as in B2C.
Ian Cleary, founder, RazorAudit
3. My advice would be to start off the year with an independent audit of all your digital channels and make your plan for the year around this. Did you ever hear the expression you can’t see the wood for the trees? Our head is buried so deep into our own business it’s very hard for us to see even the obvious issues. Our temptation is to try something new, but we may be better investing our time in making the things we have already in place better! An independent audit will uncover many great opportunities and give you the impetus you need to create a plan for 2021.
David Meerman Scott, marketing strategist and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of “Fanocracy”
4. People should be especially sensitive to racial and other bias in their marketing and PR introduced by AI algorithms. Frequently, bias comes from social networking companies without marketers’ knowledge as the networks use AI to slice people into groups. I foresee a coming backlash to these programs that marketers need to be aware of now.
David Berkowitz, founder, Serial Marketers
5. Remember to align your values with your value, and use that as the guiding force for how you relate to consumers. If you’re here to make people smile, have fun and be funny. If you’re a helper brand, show empathy. With any luck, 2021 will be a rebound from what a mess of a year 2020 was for so many people and businesses; the best way to earn loyalty, acceptance, and forgiveness from your customers is to stay true to what your brand is all about.
Christopher Penn, co-founder and chief data scientist, Trust Insights
6. Get your analytics infrastructure in order. So many companies are in terrible condition, analytics-wise, and if you’re a mess, then you can’t make data-driven decisions. You want to be data-driven. You want to make decisions rapidly under changing circumstances, which defined 2020 and will continue to define 2021.
The toughest part of any disaster is surviving it long-term. When that initial wave comes through, be it hurricane or pandemic, a lot of damage is done, and that damage takes much longer to clean up. The effects of this pandemic will probably last at least half a decade, longer in some parts of the world. You’ve got to have a finger on the pulse of your business and your industry—and that requires good data.
Amanda Milligan, marketing director at Fractl
If you’re a company that’s been hit hard by COVID-19, you should be spending your time filling in any marketing gaps that you’ve been neglecting. For some people, that’s building stronger bottom-of-the-funnel content. For others it’s improving their backlink portfolios, or maybe getting a technical SEO audit. Whatever it is, strengthen your site’s foundation, so when people are spending money again, they’ll find your brand and trust what you have to say. In the short-term, to keep business rolling in, double down on what’s working, but then spend at least 10% of your effort experimenting to uncover new opportunities!
Andy Crestodina, co-founder and CMO, Orbit Media
Write an article that helps you sell, something you can send to prospects after a sales call, something you can send to cold leads and stalled opportunities, something your contact can share with other decision makers.
Too many content marketers focus on the top of the marketing funnel. But your most important audience left the sales funnel long ago. […] it’s not too late to use content to help close some business.
- It explains your approach in more detail than anything they expected.
- It answers an important question they didn’t ask.
- It includes examples.
Yes, it could be a case study, but that’s a bit obvious, isn’t it? They’re expecting that kind of story in that format. Try something more educational, more memorable.
We do web design and we have strong feelings about how that work should be done. We put a lot of our best advice into an article about B2B service pages. I couldn’t care less if it ranks or gets shared. Pageviews are irrelevant to me in this case.
Why? Because for bottom-of-funnel content, it’s about who, not how many. When the right person reads this article, they toss all of the other proposals and get out their signing pen.
My advice for 2021 is to shift your thinking from publish and promote to conversations and collaboration. Move past your direct teammates and schedule one-on-one conversations with new-to-you people in your industry to share ideas. Aerate ideas on LinkedIn by sharing your opinion and asking for feedback. Work on projects with other companies to bring in new ideas and help you extend the reach once something is published. I think this is needed now more than ever as so many of us are working independently from home—and your marketing will be stronger as a result.
Sabrina Browne, account director, corporate, BCW Global
10. Heading into 2021, all brands must begin to invest in their purpose to move the communities where they operate forward. The time has passed for brands to release statements that yield no follow up and produce no measurable impact. We saw several brands participate in racial and social justice movements this year, and consumers will continue to hold them accountable in 2021. Beyond posting a black square on Instagram to show solidarity, brands should be investing in minority talent, establishing scalable partnerships, and diversifying their stakeholder ecosystem. 2020 was the year many brands joined the conversation and investing in purpose will be required for them to survive in today’s landscape.