One powerful lesson 2020 taught us has been the importance of technology in business no matter the size of the company. Due to recent extraordinary circumstances, companies had to shift commercial efforts and focus on connecting to customers online.    

However, structural change isn’t something that happens overnight and many businesses remain in the process of working through their digital strategy. 

As a continuation of your ongoing digital transformation, we’ve created a list of digital marketing trends that are practical for small to midsize enterprises to implement in 2021.  

1. Better Branding with Built-in Values

With multiple businesses offering the same services, customers are choosing who to do business with based on who they identify with. 

According to the 5W Public Relations 2020 Consumer Culture Report, 71% of customers prefer to buy from a brand that shares their values. 

Consider this: What mission, apart from profit and job generation, does your company strive to accomplish to give back to your community? 

Whether it’s environmental sustainability, goodwill, or inclusivity—You should make your values and greater-good goals easily visible to your customers in your marketing efforts.    

Of course, we understand your business doesn’t give back to your community just to increase your marketing efforts. And you may feel that using goodwill in your marketing efforts cheapens the sincerity of it.

But how else can your customers identify with your mission, and support you on your mission if the information is not readily available? Sharing your values in your marketing is not only about creating brand-loyal fans, it’s also about transparency
For more on making adjustments to your brand strategy, check out Entrepreneur.com’s, The Basics of Branding, or consider utilizing the expertise of a digital agency or a non-profit small-business advisory group

2. Social Messaging Apps

Social messaging apps are a way for your customers to communicate with your sales team via live chat. This form of communication is also referred to as texting, messaging, instant messaging, or direct messaging (dm’ing).

As people become more accustomed to communicating with each other via text, they appreciate the same convenience from the places they do business with.

Interesting stats are emerging demonstrating that a business that provides customer service through a messaging app has a competitive advantage over a business that doesn’t.

Messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, Instagram Direct, Twitter Direct, and Skype are now 20% more popular with users than social networks!

When communicating with a company, 55% of customers prefer instant messaging over other channels, such as phone and email.

Before spreading your sales team thin across multiple messaging apps, do the appropriate research and survey your customers to figure out the top one or two apps they’re using.

You can also talk to a web development team about building a direct messaging service into your web app or mobile app.

3. Leveraging Social Media by Scaling Back

In 2020, 80% of the U.S. population had a profile on at least one social media platform. That’s approximately 223 million people in the U.S. alone. 

Social media is a powerful tool to have in your arsenal because of its reach. However, one common mistake that small to midsize enterprises make is to try to establish a presence across too many platforms. 

Social Media Tip #1

A more productive social media strategy begins with research, figuring out where your audience spends their time, and then developing a strong social media strategy on one or two platforms instead of trying to be on all of them. 

By dedicating more time to fewer platforms, you can maximize your efforts. 

Social Media Tip #2

You must provide useful material. 

Not every post should be about trying to make a sale. Your posts should also add value to your customers’ feed via entertainment or helpful information. 

When you provide useful content, you’re doing your business a favor by positioning yourself as an expert in your industry. 

Don’t forget to stay consistent with your brand and consistent with your values as mentioned above. 

The social media tools to take advantage of in 2021 include:  

  1. Video and live streams 
  2. Interactive posts like quizzes, polls, surveys, contests, giveaways, and games 
  3. Stories  
  4. Paid social media 
  5. User-generated content 
  6. Influencers 

Valuable and varied information that you strategically deliver on a regular schedule yields more results than poorly planned material scattered across multiple platforms.

 

4. Digital Transformation 

A digital transformation is the process of strategically adopting technology to improve any part of your business, from management to customer experience, to internal processes and productivity.

Although a digital transformation refers to any technological advancement in your company, we’ll focus on websites, web apps, mobile apps and how these tie into your marketing efforts.

Create a Mobile App

Mobile apps are excellent for customer engagement and communication.

You can design your company’s mobile app to include numerous features that support and benefit your digital marketing strategy.

Marketing tools that your mobile app can include are:
Push notifications to deliver instant updates for special offers and announcements
Direct messaging for customer support or online consultations
Easy-to-access prices, information, and a store catalog
Rewards programs

Mobile apps, like websites and web apps, also help to strengthen your brand and build customer loyalty.

Improve Your Website/Web App 

If marketing is the process of generating interest in your company’s service or product, then having a website or web app (like an online store) is indispensable, no matter how small the business.

Mistakenly, multiple businesses labor under the impression that a social media presence is enough. Therefore, over one-third of small businesses don’t have a website, while countless others are in dire need of a facelift. 

Yet your business’s online presence has a massive impact on your success. 93% of customers that research a business use a search engine before turning to social media and 56% of people surveyed said they don’t trust a business that doesn’t have a website. 

Your website, when well done, offers your business credibility. It showcases your brand, increases your leads, and answers your customers’ FAQs. 

But beware when it comes to your image, no website at all is almost better than one that’s poorly done. 

Nowadays, it’s easy to build your own site or online store, but it’s advisable to have your website professionally done to ensure your customers’ data will remain private and secure. 

Fortunately, affordable, expert web development services are available to help. To tackle a digital transformation on a budget, you can work with a development service provider. 
Nativo is a remote development team that helps small to midsize businesses carry out quality tech projects like websites, web apps, and mobile apps development without the premium price tag.

5. Long-Form Content

Although there are many different types of content, this post focuses on the latest tendency toward long-form blog posts.

There is no specific word count that deems a post as long-form but the consensus is that long-form is anything over 1200 words.
Why Should You Bother with a Blog?
A blog allows you to:
Share helpful articles on your social media. You should share original material that will lead people back to your site where they can learn more about your business. Because if you’re sharing another company’s articles, you’re leading your followers straight to the competition.
Use search engine optimization (SEO) keywords, internal links, and external links to build authority for your website and rank better in Google to improve your visibility.
Demonstrate your expertise. Your blog is an excellent place to share knowledge with your customers. Imagine your sales team responding to a client question with a helpful, step-by-step article written by your team.
Share more about your company. Offer a behind-the-scenes look at operations, product launches, staff accomplishments, announcements, events, etc.

But we haven’t answered why the marketing tendency has changed from short and sweet posts to long-form blog posts.

Why Long-Form? 

In the past, Google algorithms recognized experts in their industry as those who posted the most often, stuffing their posts with the most relevant keywords.  

But now, as Google gets smarter, blogs are ranking higher for their quality rather than their quantity. 

Now, the better-performing blog posts are those that not only focus on a keyword but also cover the topic in-depth, answering all the questions that a person might have about a topic. 

They are also the posts that are comprehensive, meaning that they touch a variety of related topics. 

So, technically, the word count doesn’t matter. But logically, deep and comprehensive blog posts will turn out longer because they provide more information. 

Neil Patel, New York Times bestselling author and web strategist says that long-form posts get: 

  • more backlinks
  • more social shares
  • more organic traffic
  • more social engagement 

So, if you already have a blog, your time will be better spent writing a few in-depth posts per month rather than writing multiple short posts per week. 

 

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6. Varied Search Engine Optimization 

SEO has been a content marketing buzzword for a long time now. But SEO, like everything else in marketing, is constantly in a state of change. 

Yes, SEO keywords remain important for the text in your articles. However, you should also be using image and video SEO in your posts as well as a Google listing for local SEO. 

Image and Video SEO 

You can optimize images and video for search to stay one step ahead of your competition. 

All images and videos that you use in a post should be relevant to your content. 

Place your image near the relevant text and be sure to add a caption as an image description. When you add a caption, you’re not only telling the reader what your image or video is about, but you’re also telling Google. 

You can change the file name of the image to a keyword before you upload it, and you should also change the alt text and title text to include keywords. 

In regards to video, if your company is creating original videos and uploading them to a platform like YouTube, be sure to add a transcript, as well as strong titles, meta descriptions, and customized thumbnails. The video below discusses ranking for video. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0fJuFdl6nM (embed) 

For more on making images and videos SEO-ready, check out this post by Singlegrain.com.  

Google Listing for Local SEO

Local SEO is the process of making your business visible to the audience in your area. For example, if you’re looking to replace your windshield, you may Google ‘windshield replacement near me’, or ‘windshield replacement in _____ (your city)’. 

Wouldn’t it be great if your business would pop up when users search locally? 

Before you can rank locally, you need to have a ‘Google My Business’ listing. 

When you create your listing, you will want to take your time and fill it out with detailed information like photos, an exciting business description, a Q&A section, and also incentivize your loyal customers to leave raving reviews. 

For a more detailed description of how to rank locally, read here or watch the video by Ahrefs below. 


Conclusion 

These are our 6 practical digital marketing trends that your small or midsize enterprises can implement in 2021 as part of your ongoing digital transformation: 

  1. Communicate your values better. 
  2. Provide a way for your customers to talk to you via chat. If the volume is too high, consider implementing chatbots for initial FAQs. 
  3. Reduce your social media platforms to improve your strategy on each. 
  4. Create an online presence outside of social media—a website, web app, or mobile app
  5. When it comes to content, quality is better than quantity. 
  6. SEO is no longer just for text. Optimize your videos, images, and your local Google listing.