What’s going to happen to the economy in 2021? That’s a critical, top-of-mind question for business leaders right now. Now that we’re in the fourth quarter of 2020, there are still many unknowns which hang like threatening storm clouds over growth plans for the coming year. A recent article in Forbes outlined three scenarios for the coming year that marketers and business leaders should consider: the “good”, the “bad” and the “ugly”.

The good case forecasts a “v-shaped” recovery, perhaps with the release of a COVID-19 vaccine in early 2021 and a stabilization of the political environment following the US election. The bad case portends long-term pandemic-induced recession with profound psychological changes that will shape our behavior as consumers for years to come. In the worst-case scenario all the breaks we assume in the good and bad cases break bad, and what could have been a merely bad year becomes ugly.

Fortunately, we know a few transformational marketing tips that should help you grow your business under any of these scenarios for the foreseeable future:

1. Invest in Video Content

Video is getting a lot of attention right now, and for good reason. But most companies still aren’t using it. The large social media companies discovered that users really love interacting with video, but that there aren’t many organizations creating it. So they changed their algorithms to favor video content over any other type. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are all giving extra visibility to video content right now. And of course, YouTube, SnapChat, and TikTok are all video-based platforms. A survey by video marketing agency Wyzowl found that 72% of businesses say video has improved their conversion rate. According to research at Google, 70% of B2B buyers are watching videos when deciding to make a purchase. So if video works so well, why aren’t more companies using it? Most marketing executives think that it will cost too much. Many video agencies charge a minimum of $10,000 per video, and the prices go up steeply from there. However, the proliferation of high quality phone cameras and low cost digital editing software make video production affordable for just about everyone. While TV-grade, high production value commercials still have high costs, effective marketing videos can be produced in-house on a shoe-string budget. The difficulty here isn’t so much the “how” as it is the “why”. Once you film your first few videos, you’ll see how easy it is. And the rewards are well worth the effort.

2. Scale Your SEO Marketing

Five to ten years ago, search engine optimization was a growth hack. Now, it’s a tried-and-true marketing tactic. Tech company Canva recently achieved a $6 billion valuation, and its largest marketing investment was in SEO. Many startups experienced explosive growth with SEO over the past 5 years, including LucidChart, NerdWallet, and Reddit. But how did they do it?

“The most successful companies leveraging SEO right now have repeatable systems in place for content creation and backlink acquisition.”

– Garit Boothe, SEO Expert

When I recently asked SEO expert Garit Boothe about companies that are successfully using SEO right now, he said: “to do well in SEO, you need to write keyword-centric content that answers the needs of the searcher. And you also need PR systems in place to get other websites in your niche linking to you and citing your website’s content. Google sees the link of one website to another as an ‘editorial vote’. The more that other websites link back to your website, the more traffic you’ll get from Google.”

3. Leverage Data to Get More Customers

Advances in technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning have given marketing organizations more insightful and actionable customer data. This data can help companies know more about their current and future customers, so that they can better meet their needs and sell more products. Customer analytics help you to not only know the “what”, “how” and “where” of their shopping patterns, but it also helps you predict future outcomes. How long are customers on your website? How many marketing touchpoints does it take before they buy? Do certain pages or marketing channels bring conversions more often than others? Analytics data can also tell you how your customers interact with your content. You want both qualitative and quantitative data on your content. Quantitative data uses measurable figures like how long they spend on a webpage or video and how many of them convert after consuming that content. Qualitative data relies on verbal or written feedback from your customers, which comes from methods like:

Customer surveys
User testing
On-site polls
Customer reviews
Customer service call recordings

Both types of data can be extremely useful. Once you have the data, you can notice patterns, and make decisions based on those patterns. It allows you to track the ROI of your marketing activities, so that you invest more in what’s working, and cut short what isn’t.

These transformational marketing tips should help point you in the right direction to weather the storms and grow your business in 2021 – or maybe the clouds will part and we’ll enjoy smooth sailing in the next year?

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