Whether you’re running your own business, working in marketing, or simply trying to elevate your personal brand, using new digital strategies and learning new skills has never been more important.
As more of our economy and interactions trend toward the digital space, having a strong presence online and investing in marketing your brand are the keys to growth. Below are 20 marketing tips to help take you and your business forward through 2021 and beyond:
It’s not secret that social media is a huge opportunity for businesses and individuals. The world’s biggest brands, small businesses, and influencers working to grow their own digital footprint can all benefit from a social media strategy.
The key is finding the social channel that best fits your goals. For clothing and fitness brands, instagram has proven to be beneficial, as its image posting capabilities are great for a visual product like clothing, and video stories and posts help fitness brands post workout routines and gym content. For B2B companies that sell to other organizations, LinkedIn is a great tool for reaching corporate buyers and networking with sales leads.
There’s a reason platforms like YouTube and TikTok are so popular - video is one of the most engaging forms of content, and people love consuming it. If you can find a way to incorporate video into your marketing strategy, you will deliver value to your audience.
Whether you stick to short form video and post entertaining clips to TikTok and Instagram, or post longer form content like tutorial videos (educational content is always great), video is an excellent way to deliver value to your audience and customers, and to keep them coming back to you for more content.
There’s a difference between publishing social media posts (images, video, stories, etc.), and engaging with posts from other accounts and users. Liking and commenting on posts from other users that are relevant to your area of expertise is an excellent way to gain more exposure for your own brand. Commenting on another user’s post to ask insightful questions, share a compliment, or start a conversation has the added benefit of establishing you as a voice and thought leader in your space.
For example, for a marketing agency founder, commenting on LinkedIn posts related to marketing and offering your own perspective will lead people to find your own profile and agency page. Brands like Complex execute this strategy well on Instagram, with Complex social media managers frequently commenting on popular posts related to one of the topics their publications cover, like sports.
The best part about this strategy is that it’s limitless, and can be used over and over again to bring value to other people’s posts, and receive new followers and engagement on your own social posts in return. Start engaging in the comments on posts from other users, and watch your own content and follower count grow.
With so much business, commerce, and entertainment going digital in 2020, having digital real estate is invaluable. Whether your current website needs an update, or your’re making your first venture into the world of websites to try and take your business online, the good news is website creation platforms keep getting easier and easier Platforms like Wix, Squarespace, and Webflow make it easy to setup and publish a website in a matter of hours (even minutes) without any prior experience. These 'no-code' website builders feature tutorial videos, out-of-the box templates you can use to build your first webstie, and integrations with tools like ecommerce platforms (Shopify for example) and Google Analytics to power your business.
Marketing metrics can get overwhelming because of the mass quantity of different data you can measure across social media, websites, email marketing and digital ads, etc. The key is figuring out what metrics matter most based on your business goals, and focusing on those.
For example, if you run an online store, you might prioritize website traffic to bring new potential customers in the door, and measure the impact your inbound marketing strategy is having on web traffic. Another example would be focusing on increasing your Instagram following and post engagement if you are working on growing brand awareness for a clothing line or restaurant. Regularly tracking stats like these and determining what content strategies are most successful is key to maximizing the ROI on the time you are spending on marketing.
While there may be an overwhelming number of stats to track, the good news is there are plenty of great tools at your disposal to make measuring marketing data easier. Google Analytics is the gold standard when it comes to web traffic, while LinkedIn (LinkedIn Page Analytics Overview), Instagram (Instagram Insights Guide), Twitter (Twitter Analytics), Facebook (Facebook Audience Insights), and YouTube (YouTube Studio Analytics) all have great built-in analytics. You can also use tools like Sprout Social, Buffer, and Hootsuite undefinedto connect all of your social platforms and read data for followers, average post engagement, etc. all in one place.
With so many professionals in one place, LinkedIn has immense value no matter what industry you are in. For brands, LinkedIn can be a great source for finding both new customers, and new talent to help grow your business. Setting up a company page is the first step to discovering value on LinkedIn for a business.
For individuals, LinkedIn presents a massive networking opportunity to connect with brands and fellow professionals. Reaching out to like minded professionals to connect, commenting on trending posts related to your area of expertise and interests, and joining LinkedIn Groups related to topics of interest are all opportunities to make valuable connections to benefit your career and business.
When you think of influencers, the first thoughts that come to mind probably involve beautiful people wearing beautiful clothing to promote a brand on Instagram, or video personalities on YouTube and TikTok. Yes, these are all examples of the influencer economy at work where people with large followings exchange brand shout outs for some type of value in return, but they aren’t the only examples.
Business columnists, analysts, food critics, and how-to-gurus are all examples of influencers, too, and regardless of what industry you are in or what your product is, there is an influencer somewhere who can help you raise awareness for it. Here are a few examples of strategies for leveraging influencers, and a few in niches you might not expect:
The best way to think about how different social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, etc.), website, and other digital platforms relate is to consider them like a web. This web of digital real estate for your brand should be designed to catch customers and audience attention, and in order to do that, you need to connect them through cross promotion.
If you publish a video on YouTube, you should share the link to the video on your Twitter and LinkedIn to let your connections there know about it, or post a teaser clip of the video on your Instagram story encouraging people to visit your YouTube channel for the full video. For a new blog post, share the blog on your social media channels, share it via an email newsletter with your customers, or link to it in the bio of your Instagram channel and promote it via your story.
This type of cross promotion ensures maximum content exposure across channels, grows your social audiences (especially if one is larger than the others, you can leverage it to grow the other channels), and funnels people toward your website if you’re selling products and services there. The more opportunities you can find to link your social channels and websites, the bigger your brand will grow.
You are missing out on maximum social media post exposure if you aren’t taking advantage of the bookmarking features that social platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook offer. Social bookmarking means tagging your post in a way that allows it to be categorized with similar posts, and allows users searching for that type of post to discover it. Most social platforms offer 2 opportunities for bookmarking, Location and Hashtags:
Location: When you go to post on these sites, adding a location to your post helps users searching for things relevant to that location to discover it. This is huge for brick and mortar businesses like restaurants, salons, gyms, etc. that want to encourage foot traffic to their business.
When adding a location to your post, consider the tradeoffs between tagging a more specific location vs. a generic one. Ex. Posting a photo on Instagram of a new dish at your coffee shop in San Francisco and tagging the location as “San Francisco” offers more exposure for the post, but also more competition from posts across the city. Tagging a more specific location like a particular street gains less exposure, but potentially more targeted traffic from people nearby who are more likely to actually visit your business.
Hashtags: Hashtags function in a similar fashion to location tags, but instead of categorizing the post by physical location, they add your post to a category of posts ‘tagged’ with the same topic. An example would be adding the hashtag ‘fitness’ to a Facebook or Instagram post related to fitness. When users go to search the hashtag ‘fitness’ on that platform, there’s a chance they’ll find your post.
Different platforms have different hashtag etiquette and capabilities. On Twitter, you have a limited character count, so using 2-3 hashtags is best to ensure you have room for valuable content vs. overloading the Tweet with promotional tags. On Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn users tend to add more hashtags to posts, both within the copy of the post itself, as well as at the end after the link. Adding additional hashtags at the end of a post offers additional exposure for the post without impeding on the copy.
Adding location tags and hashtags to social posts are a key strategy for gaining additional exposure to your posts outside of your current followers, and in turn help to grow your follower count and future post exposure.
Advertising on social platforms like Instagram and LinkedIn, or using ad platforms like Google Ads are a great way to attract targeted customers to your products and services. The beauty of these ad platforms is that even though you are paying for traffic, you are able to target who sees your ads very specifically, which greatly increases the chances of having your ads delivered to people who are interested in your business.
These ad platforms also offer tracking for sales conversions, meaning you will be able to see exactly how many leads/purchases your ads are responsible, and determine the value of spending money on that platform. Testing digital advertising with a small starter budget is a good strategy for getting familiar with the platforms, and seeing whether or not they can benefit your business. Google Ads in particular offers plenty of great guides and resources for learning to use the platform, and excellent free phone support because they’re incentivized to have more advertisers on the platform and want people to find success using it.
If you’ve ever had turkey for Thanksgiving or another holiday meal, you know you’re in for leftovers. In the same way that leftover turkey turns into turkey sandwiches, turkey soup, turkey *insert other turkey dish here*, you can repurpose your marketing content to create several additional pieces of content.
Content marketing takes time, and as a marketer, you need to maximize it. An example of the turkey slice content marketing philosophy being applied to a blog post you’ve written includes:
When applying this strategy, be sure to keep in mind optimizing content for the native platforms you repurpose it on. For example, Twitter welcomes shorter, snappier copy, while LinkedIn posts afford more space for longer posts with new information and hashtags. Look for opportunities to bring added value within the native platforms where you repurpose a piece of content, whether it be an additional written insight, a graphic, etc.
The turkey slice strategy can be applied to almost any piece of content, and it is especially useful for visual content like graphics and video, so get slicing.
When we shifted our attention from our computers to our smartphones, we clearly took email with us, as at the beginning of 2019, there were an estimated 3.8 billion email accounts around the world, a 100 million increase from 2018. With such a large audience, email is a great platform to leverage in your marketing strategy. Follow these steps to incorporate email into your marketing mix:
Learn more about email marketing strategy in this blog post about tips for growing your email newsletter.
Text message or SMS marketing adds a personal touch to your strategy that can lead to great customer relationships. You can start small by developing relationships over text via standard imMessage/SMS text messages (I’ve seen this strategy work well for food delivery services), or leverage one of the many emerging platforms for text message marketing like Textedly, Twilio, and SimpleTexting. These platforms enable users to send bulk text updates to their list of contacts, and automate the signup process for customers to opt-in to receive text messages.
There are plenty of ways to get creative with using text messaging marketing, such as sending an update to alert your customers about a discount or new deal, leveraging it to improve your customer experience and customer service to resolve issues, or developing strong relationships with your VIP customers.
Podcasts have become immensely popular as the trend toward digital content streaming increases. These recorded radio show-style pieces of audio content can be used to offer perspective on your area of expertise and engage with your audience in a personalized way using your voice. Podcasts are emerging for almost every topic and niche imaginable (business, sports, fashion, travel, etc.), and anyone can start one. Platforms like Buzzsprout, Simplecast, and Captivate offer tools for streamlining the process of recording, uploading, and managing your podcasts. Once your podcast is established, it can be submitted to popular podcast sites like Apple Podcasts to maximize exposure.
You can also get creative with podcasts and post repurposed content, like the audio file from a video interview in order to scale content. Checkout Podcast Insights for more tips resources for starting your first podcast, or optimizing an existing one.
An alternative to starting your own podcast is reaching out to podcasters in your industry and asking if they would be willing to have you on the show. Podcasters make money from their content, so they are always looking for new topics to cover and the opportunity to co-market and cross promote their segments with other brands. This can become a nice strategy for adding brand credibility and gaining exposure to new audiences (see below for more details on co-marketing).
Co-marketing is a powerful strategy because it enables you to leverage another brand to promote your own, and the best part is it’s a two way street where both parties benefit. Examples of co-marketing include featuring another company on your blog and promoting the post together, engaging in social media conversations with other brands, selling bundled products together, or offering guest blogging opportunities on your website/ offering to guest blog on another company’s website.
Co-marketing can be as small as a single interaction, or as large as a full marketing campaign across social media and the web to promote each other. And this strategy is not just limited to digital marketing, as local businesses can partner with neighboring businesses to offer customers incentives to visit both locations - ex. A bar and a neighboring restaurant could offer a drink and meal combo, promote it together to bring in new customers, and split the profits.
The primary benefit of co-marketing is growing your audience, and bringing in new web or foot traffic to your business that you otherwise would not have received. Check out more tips for Co-Marketing from HubSpot.
Sharing your message yourself is one thing, but getting someone else to share it offers a credibility boost. Having your brand or business mentioned in the media helps to drive interest and leads, raise brand awareness, and give you credible examples of testimonials to share. Building relationships with bloggers and reporters in your industry or community can lead to ROI in the form of links back to your website/business and inbound customer leads.
To start, you can use a grassroots approach and search Google for top blogs in your industry, local newspapers and publications, and influencers to reach out to. A simple message introducing yourself and inviting them to learn more about your business and the opportunity to speak with you is all it takes. Here is a blog from Alexa Internet offering tips for writing the most effective media pitches. You can also automate media relations with tools like HARO, which aggregates lists of reporters who need sources for their articles, and shares these oppprtunities via auto email updates on a daily basis.
Marketing automation is a buzzword that may sound complicated, but it’s actually the contrary as marketing automation tools seek to simplify and augment your efforts. Here are a few examples of automation to consider:
Google My Business is a tool Google offers to help businesses establish their footprint online, and to be found more easily when people search for a product, service, or business on Google. With trends toward ecommerce and people finding so much of their information online, Google My Business is a critical tool that can serve as a digital billboard for your brand.
Google My Business allows you to display your business location, contact info, links to your business’ social profiles, photos, and information about your products and services. Filling in this information and building out your profile is an opportunity to drive traffic to both brick and mortar businesses and websites. When someone searches a query like “Italian restaurant in New York City” Google displays Google My Business Profiles for restaurants that best match the search terms. The same goes for digital businesses, as a search for “digital marketing agency” brings up a list of Google My Business Profiles for agencies.
Google My Business offers marketing tools that go beyond setting up your profile, such as insights for web traffic generated from the business listing, data about the most popular search terms people use to find your business, and even a free Google My Business website builder to host your website if you don’t have one.
Once you have social platforms setup and established for your brand, live streaming is a nice additional strategy to add to your content marketing mix. Platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and now even LinkedIn feature live streaming capabilities where you can host live video recordings using your smartphone or computer and share content with your followers. These platforms track engagement, allow you to accept questions and see messages from users who tune in, and enable you to repurpose your live stream as a recorded video as an additional piece of content.
Popular live stream content topics include hosting a Q&A where you answer popular questions in your industry (or from your actual followers), showing behind the scenes content from how your business operates, sharing updates your followers on news and new products, and inviting experts within your industry or business partners on your live stream as special guests. This strategy is beneficial both for increasing your following, as well as delivering engaging, current content to your existing followers. Epiphan has a helpful list of tips for making your live stream strategy successful.
20. Setup a Google My Business Profile for Your Brand
The strategies outlined in this post all have value for different reasons, but not all of them may suit your business goals. One of the best pieces of marketing advice that’s out there is to market well through a few channels, vs. marketing poorly on too many channels. If you spread your efforts too thin, you will see limited ROI and not build strong engagement with your audience due to the quality or quantity of the content you post being too low.
If you’re seeing success on Instagram, but struggling to gain traction with followers and engagement on Facebook, focus your energies on your Instagram and watch the ROI of your efforts snowball. You can then use your growing Instagram footprint to cross-promote other profiles and digital properties later once you’ve established brand awareness. If your blog is generating good readership, but your email marketing open rates and click-throughs are low, focus your writing time on creating quality blog content first that you can later entice email subscribers with later. You can then use your growing Instagram footprint to cross-promote other profiles and digital properties later once you’ve established brand awareness.
Marketing and business have been trending toward the web and digital for years, and this year has seen that trend escalate. Now is the time to start growing your brand online in order to take advantage of the growing popularity of digital content and communication to help your brand accelerate.
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