2020 was a challenging year. We all had to adapt on the fly to stay in business. But if there’s any silver lining we can take away from the year, it’s how business innovation—out of necessity—evolved at a rapid rate, improving productivity and efficiency and acting as a springboard for future growth.
We all learned how to work remotely. We embraced cloud technologies. We discovered we could close a deal with a Zoom call rather than traveling to meet over a steakhouse dinner. We made changes to our supply chain, using U.S. vendors or perhaps embracing new technologies like 3D printing.
At Brainstorm, we saw our clients’ tradeshows and in-person events cancelled. This forced us to quickly pivot strategies and double down on our lead generation and inbound marketing programs to help clients promote and run virtual events.
Looking ahead, here are the top digital marketing trends for 2021 that we expect to see…all of them proven strategies and tactics that you can implement NOW to start increasing qualified leads and sales.
- Content Marketing – A recent study by HubSpot found 70% of B2B marketers are investing in content marketing. Ranking in search engines is more important than ever. With no industry events, your ideal prospects are searching for answers to their problems online. As marketers and as business owners, we need to create content, blogs, videos and technical papers to get traffic to our websites, acquire leads, build trust early in the sales cycle and nurture the contacts into customers.
- Marketing Automation – More than a trend, marketing automation has become a cornerstone of B2B marketing strategies. A survey by Social Media Today showed 75% of companies are using marketing automation. If you are not doing it, your competitors are. These days, software can do the work of multiple salespeople, help make leads more sales ready, and give sales teams the data they need to close deals faster.
- AI-Powered Technologies – At Brainstorm we are testing new technologies all the time, such as AI-powered A/B testing for landing pages and subject lines and AI-powered PPC management tools that auto-bid and even write ad copy for Google ads. A new technology we are testing is artificial intelligence for email marketing, using software that creates and analyzes recipient profiles in order to optimize send times, clean up email lists, and deliver a better customer journey.
- Personalization – It’s now time to stop mass-mailing and creating generic content. Instead, segment email lists by industry or products and services, and create specific content for these contacts. HubSpot offers smart content where website content and forms fields can change based on list membership or other contact properties. Say for example, a member of your Aerospace list comes back to your site. You can show them top Aerospace products right on your home page. If a medical prospect comes, they would see top medical products. This allows you to connect with customers like never before by customizing their digital experiences.
- Paid Social – LinkedIn made huge improvements to their advertising platform in 2020, and even more is coming in 2021. Checkout our blog on LinkedIn updates. Features include new ad formats and more granular targeting. For example, you can now target users by industry, company size, job role and certifications (perfect for engineers).
- Video – In 2019, video marketing overtook blogging as the most common content format, overtaking blogs and infographics. That’s why more of our clients have made it a key part of their upcoming marketing strategy. Video allows you to humanize your brand and can be used for a variety of purposes: it can be outward facing for clients and customers or used internally as a training tool. While is there is plenty of value in professional videos, the pandemic has made homemade videos more acceptable…that said, there still needs to be a strategy behind the messaging and delivery. Check out Brainstorm’s client video gallery.
- Account Based Marketing – ABM is a focused growth strategy that helps align your marketing and sales teams to create personalized and seamless buying experiences for your highest-value accounts. This is accomplished by defining your ideal customer profile (ICP) and identifying a group of targeted accounts, then attracting the attention of those accounts’ key stakeholders and tailoring your outreach to engage them. The outreach is typically comprised of a series of highly personalized emails and social ads that run over multiple months. HubSpot Account Based Marketing Software is a great, analytics-driven tool to help manage ABM campaigns.
The Road Ahead
There’s every reason to believe that 2021 will pick up where 2020 left off. More people will work from home and e-commerce shopping will be up. And while conferences and tradeshows should make a comeback later in the year, they will likely become hybrid, with online components so more visitors can attend. In all instances, internet usage will continue to soar. This will lead to new tactics to adjust to the changing habits of customers and employees, and more opportunities to strengthen relationships thanks to improved personal and personalized interactions.
Ready to upgrade your digital marketing efforts in 2021 with the latest tactics and technologies and the right team to put them to strategic use? Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you leverage the power of these new tools to meet your evolving business needs.