The digital marketing landscape is constantly changing and evolving. Every year, the industry gains new insight into the way consumer feedback and public policy reshapes digital media and our online social platforms. Continual development of search engine algorithms and platform policy changes make updating a company’s marketing strategy an absolute must.

But for most small to mid-sized businesses, attempting to keep up with the latest marketing trends can easily become overwhelming. Even well-established businesses may still have trouble navigating the ins and outs of digital marketing. That’s why we’ve developed this handy checklist to help direct your marketing tactics in 2021.

This article will take you step-by-step, helping your company develop a marketing approach that will be efficient, effective and convert searches into sales.  We break the checklist down into three sections, approaching each as a foundation for the next.

Taken together as a whole, this digital marketing checklist will direct your search, develop your brand, and deploy your digital marketing strategies for 2021.

Direct Your Search

The Perfect Buyer

One of the most important and widely overlooked techniques for developing a strong digital marketing campaign is to develop and mentally build a “Perfect Buyer” for the company’s product or service. This is the hypothetical person who would purchase from the company every time.

Who uses the product? What demographics do they fit into? Why do they want this service?

By recognizing the perspective and specific view of that one Perfect Buyer, it becomes easier to design and develop circumstances that will take their search results from browsing to buying.

Market Research

Taking the time to look at similar companies that either directly or indirectly offers the products or services your company presents can yield mountains of useful information. Benchmarking their methods, identifying their Perfect Buyers, and recognizing undeveloped niches inside the market can help turn market threats into marketing opportunities.

In most situations, a new company will have barriers to entry in a specific market. Consider how the company will approach these barriers. Turn barriers into inroads, and weaknesses into strengths.

Know the competition. Adapt and overcome.

Develop Your Brand

Determine Identity

Once the marketing team defines that Perfect Buyer and they understand their perspective, it becomes easier to know how to present the company. For example

  • A yoga instructor who focuses on developing a clientele of middle aged, health minded women who work from home will want to create a brand that feels holistic and clean.
  • An air conditioning installation and repair company might target dual-income homes within a specific geographic location—and use phrases that convey efficiency, speed, and reference local identifiers.

Developing a company brand is more than just logos and fonts. It is the definition of how a company approaches the world. It includes a mission statement, an elevator pitch, and expresses how it fills in their market niche better than their competition. It is the “reason” and “why” for what a company offers their clients.

Logo Design and Digital Media Development

While there are many free options for creating logos and company materials, it often pays to reach out to a professional to help develop the digital resources necessary for a firm to look qualified online. There are service platforms such as Upwork and Fiver that help creative freelancers display and offer their services at very reasonable rates, and many sites where stock photographs and media is readily available.

Of course, any time that such work can be done within the company, that option should be fully explored. An in-house photographer, content writer, or graphic artist can save the company a great deal of time and money as the campaign moves through the development and deployment stages.

Care should be taken to weigh the monetary savings against the quality of specialized outsourced contractors. A clean, professional impression is imperative in a successful marketing strategy.

Keyword Research

Using the information identified during the Perfect Buyer and Determining Identity sections, a list of search engine keywords can then be developed and analyzed. The right combination of keywords that target the specific demographic and identity of the market a company is trying to reach will increase page visibility and search engine ranking.

The trick to finding the right keyword combination is how many other companies are using those same words. The more firms that are using “mattress sale New Hampshire” as their keywords in their marketing campaign, the lower the response rate for everyone who uses those same keywords will be. Line up what your Perfect Buyer wants with keywords that strengthen and call in your Brand Identity.

Plan a Social Media Strategy

While much of a company’s digital presence will be pushed from their own website, an important and increasingly vital aspect of digital marketing is done through social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram. Brand identity needs to flow from the home website, through every social media outlet and every external communique, to give the appearance of a cohesive single voice and tone.  

Make a plan on how and when each of these platforms will be updated. Unique and relevant content helps search engines rank a site or company better than its competitors—placing them higher in priority during keyword searches. But don’t simply stuff keywords into posts, or share a dozen low value posts a day. Once or twice a week with original, authoritative content is often enough to drive the analytics engine in a company’s favor.

Deploy the Digital Marketing Campaign

Building the Company Website

The first step in any company’s comprehensive digital marketing launch should be a professional looking website. There are many options for hosting and construction, depending on the budget and talent within the firm. For small and medium sized businesses, often the best way to create a great site is to use content management systems, such as WordPress.

Using a CMS lets a builder choose from several preset templates, and then customize them using the logo, digital media, and keywords researched and developed in the previous sections. This modification will create a unique and seamless identity for the company and prepare it for search engine optimization.

Each of the following points should be considered a must for a marketable website.

Search Engine Optimization

There are many factors involved in how a site ranks on any given search engine, and for much of the past decade keyword placement and content relevance have been vitally important. However, while they remain critical to site identification for keyword searches, other factors are developing that are beginning to take precedence in many situations.

Once upon a time, search engines weren’t very sophisticated. A site could increase its ranking simply by “stuffing” keywords into the metadata of each page. But those days are long gone. Modern search engines go far beyond simple keyword recognition. The algorithms that determine search rank are now capable of evaluating the content of a page, and determining if it is relevant and helpful to a person’s search. This makes original content creation and site development more essential than ever.

Track Your Traffic

Install plugins and utilize the backend dashboards of the site host to continually analyze site traffic. This includes more than just how many visitors a page sees. It shows where the visitor came from, which link they used to get there, what times and locations brought the most traffic, and other useful information for tracking the effectiveness of a company’s marketing campaign. Google Analytics is a free and powerful tool for tracking your website traffic.

Website Accessibility

Website or web accessibility is fairly self-explanatory. It means designing and developing websites, technologies, and digital tools so everyone can use them, disabled or not. Website accessibility allows anyone to understand, navigate, contribute, and interact with the internet. 

While being in compliance with your local requirements, being web accessible is also important to your business. Currently only 10% of the internet is accessible, an incredibly low amount, and that is unacceptable in today’s day and age. Having an accessible website ensures that all of your customers have access to your website and in turn your products and services.

Mobile Sites

One of the biggest little things a company can do to increase their rank in search engine results is to include an optimized mobile site for viewing on tablets and cellular phones. The prevalence of consumers using their cell phones to browse and shop online has made it important to the search engines that those sites are available in every possible format. It does no good to have a stunning site if more than half your customers cannot see it.

Blog Posts       

Having a regularly updated blog with new and interesting content is a great way to engage with your audience and keep the search engines ranking you effectively. As before, use keywords sparingly but in H1 headings and keep the content relevant.

Engaging Landing Pages

During the campaign, it can be a benefit to offer giveaways and service trials. One effective way to leverage these offers is to place them on a special webpage on your site that can only be accessed after a call to action from either your site or through one of the various social media feeds. Use the call to action to collect user information, in exchange for access to the giveaway or newsletter. You’ll also want to look at your website to ensure that you have an engaging homepage for your visitors.

This is a great way to increase your direct marketing base and can be used later for email offers and promotions.

Social Media Channel Links

On every page of the site, either in the header bar or at the footer, there should be a list of all social media and all product distributions channels. It should be readily available and visible on each page, but not distracting from the content.

Ideally, every channel and platform you manage will feed organic traffic, back and forth, creating a web of interconnected media and action points. This overall increases the visibility and perceived authority of the content, but also helps to convert visitors into customers by moving them from information to purchasing pages effortlessly.

Freelance Web Designers and Marketing Agencies

All of these ideas can either be handled in-house by members of a company’s own marketing / social media team, or they can be outsourced to a 3rd party designer. The costs of keeping a staff position for such work might not be in the budget for many small companies, so it might be more feasible to pay a one-time setup fee to a professional service and have someone versed in social media techniques make the weekly updates.

Each company will have to make its own decisions regarding its own best practices.

Social Media Channels

Creating an effective and efficient flow of information and customer foot traffic requires having multiple avenues built. Think of every social media and distribution channel as stops on a bus route, with the company website and e-commerce site being at the center. Using the research, branding, and social media strategies developed in the earlier sections, it is time to create the other stops along the line.

  • Facebook
  • Google Business
  • Yelp
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube

Creating and launching these pages will give cross-platform feed of content, pulling followers from every stop—ultimately to your site, your landing pages, and converting into paying customers and clients.

Advertising on social media platforms is often very reasonably priced, considering the number of people that such advertisements are put in front of. Even a small investment can increase brand visibility and customer response rates by an incredible margin. Leveraging the work done by others to build their own site and gather customers is working smarter, not harder.

Another great way to use social media is for customer service. Often when an interested potential customer has questions, they will send feedback or inquiries to the various social media platforms. If a company makes it a priority to answer and address these messages quickly and professionally, it does two things:

First, it shows the customer that the company is interested in their needs and opinions. Secondly, many of these platforms track response rates, and a quicker response to these interactions looks very good to customers and search algorithms.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with photo and video content on these platforms. People respond to visual stimulus. They enjoy new clips and content that engages their interests. Keep it relevant and in keeping with the theme and feel of your brand, but let photos, infographics, and videos help to draw in your customers and keep them interested.

Other Marketing Channels

Finally, round out your marketing campaign with these proven strategies:

  • Use email addresses to create a direct marketing push
    • Easily collected with calls to action
    • Useful for offering coupons or rebates
    • Mailing list and Newsletters are effective marketing tools.
  • Utilize YouTube and video streaming to offer Webinars and Classes
    • Most effective if there are some small free courses or pre-recorded webinars
    • Pay access to better content and more detailed classes
  • Pay-Per-Click Advertising can be pricy, but offers immediate sales when the customer converts.
    • Key point should be a direct and engaging landing page
    • Make sure the targeted market is correct, otherwise it will be pulling in people with no chance to convert into customers—and that is simply throwing money away.
  • Work with another provider to bundle your products and services together—co-marketing.
    • Pulls potential customers from both businesses
    • Increases sales opportunities and potential repeat clients.

When all the heavy lifting of building the campaign is finished, you may notice that you have more work than hands. At that point, when there is positive flow from your existing strategies, consider hiring a freelance content provider to scale your company’s content. This will immediately free up resources within the company and increase the reach of your offerings.

Finally, while you should always have a go-to-market strategy in place for both in-house and freelance contractors to follow, don’t be afraid to try out new marketing ideas and methods. This is a comprehensive list, but it is by no means exhaustive. Finding yourself at the front of a wave of new marketing platforms can bring rich rewards and lead you well ahead of the competition.

If you need help with your digital marketing, please contact us for a consultation. We’ll be happy to discuss your business goals and ensure that you find success.