Marketing strategies are so varied and customized in modern business that every company has its own unique playbook built up. From scheduling and automation to content creation and distribution, there are infinitely many ways to expand reach and grow a brand.
Since all great entrepreneurs have a natural knack for marketing, we thought we’d ask a few business founders about their top strategies in 2021 – here’s what they shared.
Without content to drive traffic to your website, you might as well not have a marketing department at all. Focus on generating quality content as the first order of business in 2021.
“Almost all marketing is content-driven in some way at this point, so you need to make that a priority if you haven’t yet,” said Michael Scott Cohen, CEO of Harper and Scott. “Set up a calendar, bring on creatives, do whatever you need to do, because content is the engine pushing your campaigns forward on every front.”
Your content doesn’t need to be brilliant or groundbreaking – it just needs to be real, relatable, and consistent.
Sure, you’ve got a specialty and work within a broader industry, but do you truly have a niche? Learn the difference between these terms and really narrow things down.
“Always do research on your competitors to find the best market niche for your brand,” said Michael Waxman, CEO of Sundays for Dogs. “When Sundays for Dogs entered the highly saturated dog food market, we analyzed every brand of pet food we could get our hands on. What sets us apart from every single one of our competitors, is the fact that we filled a gap in our market; we made healthy dog food that is easily accessible without a lot of upkeep needed. We found our niche and created our entire business model off of that.”
Not all niches are viable, but you’d be surprised just how many opportunities there are online.
If your company isn’t ranking highly on Google, that’s a problem that needs fixing, fast. There are countless ways to amplify your SEO, but just waiting for it to happen is not the answer.
“SEO can be a high-performing marketing channel,” said Brent Sanders, CEO of Wicksly. “Link building is necessary for strong SEO, however, the quality of links absolutely reigns over the quantity. Links can basically be rendered meaningless if the links come from irrelevant websites or spam. Of course, dealing with rankings, you are playing a numbers game but quality does pull the majority of the weight. The higher the number of links you get from irrelevant or low-ranking sites, the lower your ranking will be regardless of the quantity. Prioritizing acquiring quality, relevant links for your site will boost your backlink profile and skyrocket your visibility.”
Considering that voice search, local search and mobile search are all on the rise, it’s time to take SEO more seriously than ever.
How long is the average piece of written content on the internet? Experts say – not long enough. People want more in-depth information, so put in some more effort on your blog or guest posts.
“Long-form content is an ideal way to boost your ranking on search engines thus increasing your visibility,” said Nik Sharma, CEO of Sharma Brands. “Studies show the average length of top rate content for websites ranked in the top 10 of search queries is around 1,800 to 2,000 words. This method of content production will also increase your digital footprint making you a stronghold in your industry. Producing blog posts, guides, ebooks etc. are great creative avenues to take your content in; additionally these forms of content will likely increase your engagement rate and social shares.”
Don’t just write to fill the page – these articles need to be useful and provide value, as well.
Who is visiting your website, what are they looking for, and how can you convince them to make a purchase more quickly? These are just a few of the questions you can answer with analytics and programs that track traffic.
“With the constant obsession with closing our conversion rates, retargeted advertisements have assisted with just that,” said Lo Bosworth, CEO of Love Wellness. “We are able to track online traffic through our social media platforms to almost immediately set up retargeted ads to given consumers. This will help keep our brand fresh in their mind for a time that better suits them for purchase.”
You can learn so much with just a few simple programs, so don’t let these opportunities pass by.
Today’s social media marketplaces are driven heavily by influencers, people with highly engaged audiences who hang on their every word.
“Influencer dedicated discount codes are great tools for grabbing in new customers and fostering a healthy relationship with particular audiences,” said Benjamin Smith, Founder of Disco. “Influencers connect with their audiences in ways most brands cannot, so generating a discount code they can give to their supporters is a sure-fire way to reel in more customers. These supporters feel a sense of loyalty to their favorite Instagram model or their choice Youtuber, so they are fairly willing to buy anything they promote out of sheer support for the influencer making this style of marketing a solid growth hack for your brand.”
No need to spend millions on influencer partnerships. Smart and strategic connections are much preferred.
Maybe you’ve got thousands of satisfied customers, but are they really connected to your brand and eager for repeat business? That’s how you take your company to new heights.
“At Nori, our top marketing strategy has been genuinely engaging with and forming bonds with our customers,” said Annabel Love, Co-Founder and COO of Nori. “Usually via our social media platforms where we can share information, tips, and demonstrations about our products so that customers can familiarize themselves with it, conceptualize the role it will play in their homes and lives, and easily share information about our products with others!”
Map out ways to improve connections with customers and watch your business skyrocket.
Today’s top businesses not only create products that people want, but they also reach customers on the right channels, at the right time, with the perfect messaging based on their research.
“Try to understand your consumer’s buying habits,” said Jo Parenteau, Co-Founder and CEO of Fable Home. “When my company, Fable Home, entered the market we were one of the first e-commerce-based dining ware companies. By conducting habitual research, we were able to figure out that we would need to generate most of our sales through marketing because we weren’t planning on entering major stores like Macy’s.”
To compete with big players, your marketing needs to be perfectly tuned and optimized on all the key channels.
Expect your marketing team to do some heavy lifting in the months and years to come, but also try to recruit your most loyal customers to put in some work as well.
“At Thrilling we’ve found that one of our best marketing strategies has been working with our customers who create content with their purchases that we can share and repost on social media,” said Shilla Kim-Parker, CEO and Co-Founder of Thrilling. “That way, potential customers or customers who may be on the fence about becoming repeat customers can see our clothing in action and on customers who are not only enthusiastic about shopping with us, but working with us too!”
User-generated content is the next big trend in digital marketing so get ahead of the curve now.
Remember a time when marketers and advertisers launched a campaign and had to wait months before they got any feedback from the market? Those days are over, and feedback is constant thanks to analytics.
“Marketing is largely a creative pursuit, but there are technical elements to it that you can’t ignore,” said Sean O’Brien, CMO of Modloft. “Load up on analytics software and tools that show how your campaigns are performing as they progress. That’s the only way you’ll know what direction to go next.”
Be ready to make quick pivots with the information you receive daily, and adjust on the fly if things aren’t going your way.
They say that an email list is one of the most valuable treasures in all of digital marketing, and there’s certainly some truth to that. Get as many quality addresses as possible and be ready to put them to good use.
“Start with a very secure email list,” said Tirzah Shirai, Founder and CEO of BlinkBar. “The best way to build up your email list is to spread brand awareness and secure emails through market research. Try to get your clientele in early with specific deals and newsletters. Be a presence in their inbox. You have to cater to your consumers’ interests; do your research and provide substantial content from those results.”
Email newsletters are just the beginning. Use a wide range of tactics to drive traffic and boost conversions every week.
With so many ways to spend money on marketing, there never seems to be enough in the budget to go around. That’s why you should leverage free marketing opportunities at every corner, even if they cost a bit of time and effort.
“This is the best time in history to be a marketer, that’s beyond question,” said Artie Baxter, CEO of Paperclip. “You’ve got so many tools and techniques in your repertoire, and a shocking number of them are totally free to use. When it comes to budgeting, see how far you can get without buying apps or subscription services – you can do more than you think.”
Nothing is truly free, of course, so always weigh the benefits and costs from every angle.
Not sure what customers want next from your company? Tune into social media, read reviews, and do whatever you can to gather feedback to inform your next best move.
“Conduct consumer research,” said Tyler Boyd, Co-Founder and CEO of Squeeze. “The startup industry can be tricky to enter if your company doesn’t have a solid plan. When you conduct research based on potential consumers and what they are looking for, you are able to frame your business around the market need.”
Today’s customers are quite vocal about their demands, so listen up and see what they’re saying.
These days, you don’t need million-dollar production to create eye-catching content like videos, demos, and in-depth educational resources. Whatever it takes to keep audiences engaged, that’s what must be done to compete.
“R3SET uses branded content across its social media channels to promote its botanical stress supplements,” said Harris Rabin, Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer at R3SET. “We’ve found that our audiences engage with our lifestyle content and video messaging the most. Media interviews and promotional videos with our brand partner help us generate more engagement through the greater audience reach that comes from brand hashtags and tagging the media outlet’s social profile.”
Every brand has different metrics for engagement, so set your priorities clearly and get to work on the goals that matter most.
Whether you’re posting a quick joke on Twitter or launching an expensive video ad campaign on Instagram, your marketing assets always tell a story. What is the message, and what is the intended impact for your audience?
“Nothing sticks in your head better than a story,” said Sam Balter, Sr. Marketing Manager of Podcasts at HubSpot. “Stories can express the most complicated ideas in the most digestible ways.”
For every story you tell, an impression will be left on the internet and in the minds of the audience. Be deliberate with your messages and imagery, because every detail counts.
For every online marketing course or list of best practices, there are bold marketers doing real-life experiments and leaning into trial and error. Be ready to take chances, because that’s how progress is made.
“There’s no perfect playbook for marketing these days, since a lot of the old-school methods are now basically obsolete,” said Darren Litt, Co-Founder of MarketerHire. “We all need to write our own best practices now, and constantly revise and reevaluate them with each new iteration of technology and trends in our industry.”
Playing it safe is sometimes smart, but to really level up your business, you’ve got to take some risks now and then.
Nothing is more valuable to a modern business than a bustling online community. When people are constantly buzzing about your brand and products, that’s always a key indicator of success.
“Supergreat is a community of passionate beauty fans discovering products, sharing routines, and shopping exclusive drops from today’s best brands,” said Tyler Faux, CEO and Co-Founder of Supergreat. “We launched in 2018 for beauty enthusiasts to share reviews and conversations about products on a video service platform. In early 2021 we incorporated shoppable live sales to connect brands and community members. We’ve seen products sell out in seconds and more and more companies want to be a part of our features and exclusives.”
Expand networks, build communities, and engage audiences daily – that’s the perfect recipe.
Philanthropy is a worthy pursuit in itself, but there’s also a marketing element to giving back. Put your money in the right place, and you can spark the interest of many potential customers.
“One of our main focuses with our brand and marketing is the message of giving back to our community. In one of our largest campaigns, we donated $150,000 in backpacks to the homeless in NYC to help empower those in poverty,” said Dylan Kim, Co-Founder and Marketing Head at Brevite. “We also donated $35,000 to Direct Relief for the fight against COVID-19. By starting these projects and keeping our customers updated on our latest endeavors with social change, we’ve built a brand around being fun, encouraging of others, and leading by example.”
You don’t want to be the only company that doesn’t make a contribution, so find a noble cause and stick with it.
Even if your brand is in a very unusual niche, there are bound to be some influencers that have a lot of sway over audiences. Find out who they are and partner up.
“We put a lot of effort into cultivating genuine relationships with influencers,” said Divya Gugnani, Co-Founder and CEO of Wander Beauty. “We choose to work with partners who authentically use and love our multitasking beauty essentials because we always believe in transparency. It really makes a difference when influencers mention your product and truly are a fan.”
The internet is a vast network of small communities, so be a big fish in a small pond if possible.
Every piece of content has the potential to amplify emotions and open viewers up to a world of possibilities. Paint a picture of fun, exciting, and fulfilling experiences, and audiences will get on board.
“To continue winning the internet marketing game, your content has to be more than just brilliant – it has to give the people consuming that content the ability to become a better version of themselves,” said Michelle Stinson Ross, Managing Director of Marketing Operations at Apogee Results.
Your brand might not offer the most thrilling products in the world, but great messaging can change this perspective in an instant.
How can you expect your business to stand out from the crowd if you’re playing it safe with marketing, messaging, and other key objectives like customer service? Originality will take you far in marketing, so lean into your creativity and try a range of new methods.
“There is no perfect marketing playbook these days, and you really need to embrace the trial-and-error approach to boost awareness and outreach,” said Aidan Cole, Co-Founder of Nailboo. “Don’t repeat the same things expecting different results, and keep switching up your strategy to see what works best.”
No need to abandon best practices – just keep an open mind and be willing to take some risks in the current marketing climate.
Creating that family vibe with customers and clients is becoming increasingly difficult in an online world, but it can still be done if you master social media marketing and use other channels to full effect.
“At Porto’s Bakery and Cafe our top marketing strategy has been genuinely engaging with and forming bonds with our customers and their families,” said Raul Porto, Owner and President of Porto’s Bakery. “Usually through our social media platforms (mainly Instagram) where we can share photos and information about our food and cafe locations so that customers can become aware of us and all we have to offer!”
Marketing is as important as ever – miss the mark and your business will suffer. Thankfully, this collection of tips and suggestions from some entrepreneurs will point you on the right path and lead your company to a brighter future.