In the past ten years, digital marketing has gone from a relatively new discipline to a complex and many faceted topic. Whereas once upon a time all you needed was good social media content and a strong blog, nowadays just producing quality things isn’t quite enough.
Even in recent times, most marketeers will preach that ‘content is king’ and that if you continuously post well-made things, you can’t go wrong.
Unfortunately, I truly don’t believe that’s the case anymore, and I’ve seen plenty of businesses who are spending time, effort and creativity on their posts but getting very little in return.
The truth is that the digital marketing world is becoming increasingly saturated. Nearly every business knows it must be active on social media. You’re competing against the world, it’s dog, and even AI bots.
So where does that leave you if you don’t have a megabucks budget? What should you be investing your time in, and what should you be avoiding?
Let’s talk about a few tips I’ve learned from a lot of trial and error!
Digital Marketing in 2021 – The DOs
Hear me out!
TikTok, contrary to popular belief, it not just tweens doing embarrassing dances.
Ok, so a large proportion of it is. BUT, the rest is one of the most under-utilised, fast-growing social media platforms out there. There’s a whole small business community on there and bigger businesses need only be creative, relatable and not too salesy to do well.
My advice? Spend some time on TikTok as a genuine user. Make yourself an account and use it for long enough for TikTok to learn your likes and dislikes. You’ll discover trends, learn what content does well and get a good vibe for the general community on there. When you do, make your business account and follow these tips:
- Use trending sounds and hashtags to get on people’s feeds.
- Hop on video trends and challenges.
- Don’t make your content formal, it’s all about the personality of your marketing team.
- Post regularly, if you’re posting more than once a day you’re giving yourself plenty of opportunity to go viral.
- Be prepared to blow up, if you do things right a small business can instantly gain overwhelming success overnight.
Why not consider giving us a follow while you’re at it? We love interacting with other businesses content!
Google Ads for a small business you say? Preposterous!
I certainly would have made a similar remark a few years ago. Even when you initially set up Google Ads it can be intimidating, after all, the minimum budget to even run the ad is around £200 a month. Not only that, but you don’t get to set an end date for your ad, so if you’re not monitoring it regularly, there’s a risk of your budget quickly creeping up.
That said, in terms of paid advertising we’ve tried it all – Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and more. For businesses with a smaller budget, we’ve found Google offers the best return.
Undoubtedly there will be a few comments in response to this that we simply need to master Facebook ads. That another business has had an incredible return from Instagram. However, I make this recommendation to you on one simple premise; that if you’re a complete beginner to paid ads, Google is the easiest to pick up and get results from, in my humble opinion.
A few things to remember with Google Ads:
- Create a killer landing page – that’s the page your visitors will see first when they click on your ad.
- Check ‘Search Terms’ every day if you can to tidy up your keywords. Place anything irrelevant in your ‘negative keywords’. This will ensure you don’t waste your budget.
- Complete the free Google certification for Ads.
- If you have a small budget, don’t be afraid to identify days and times where your ad performs best and only run the ad then.
- Check your spend regularly on the Google Ads app, and pause your campaign if it’s getting too high.
- Ensure everything on your landing page works (especially forms) and that your website looks great on mobile devices.
There are hundreds of advice videos on Youtube regarding Google Ads, so it’s a great skill to have under your belt.
Instagram Stories and Reels
Instagram saw the rise of TikTok and loudly proclaimed ‘not in my back yard‘. Hence why right now, at this very moment in time, Instagram is pushing Reels and Stories, i.e., their video content.
If you have been using Instagram regularly as a business, now is the moment that you need to start making a shift towards some of your posts being videos. Think along similar lines to your TikTok content, and get in there while the going’s good.
Over the past few months, we’ve noticed that we get significantly more engagement when we post an Instagram story. This is due to a number of factors, but notably many businesses aren’t utilising this feature, so the competition is low.
At the time of writing this article, there are also rumours that Instagram will shortly allow all accounts, not just those with over 1000 followers, to post links in their stories. This could be a significant development for small businesses who are looking to drive traffic using the platform.
Digital Marketing in 2021 – The DON’Ts
Facebook boost, we’ve all been tempted by that little blue button. Boost your post for just £3 it says, reach 1000s more it promises. Rarely does it deliver.
Even Facebook Ad aficionados avoid the boost button. With claims that it even destroys your reach for future posts.
In experiments with boost in the past, we’ve had some minor successes. However, we find businesses in 2021 will find much more success learning how to properly use Facebook Ads manager.
That said, Facebook Ads also come with numerous complaints:
- The tool is not beginner friendly and is difficult to understand.
- Even established Facebook ad users have seen their ROI fall significantly over the past few years.
- It’s far too easy to get your Facebook Ad account banned or penalised for ‘Policy Violations’, even if you haven’t broken any of Facebook’s rules. Facebook relies on bots to monitor for policy violations, and sometimes they get it wrong. However, when users appeal these decisions, if they don’t have a Facebook account manager they can be left waiting months before their account is reactivated.
Perhaps there are ways to conquer Facebook ads, but for small businesses, I’m sceptical that your budget couldn’t be better invested elsewhere.
Generic Paid Social Media Services
Oh boy, here’s a doozy. Not all social media agencies are created equal.
We know some awesome social media agencies that have taken on digital marketing apprentices, and they knock it out of the park. So this section is by no means meant to diminish their work.
What we’re telling you instead, is to do your research heavily and avoid any social media agency that simply posts on your behalf, without spending time on interaction and post quality.
I’ve seen numerous agencies simply post a photo from your blog, a link, and a short post. This isn’t good enough in 2021 to get you anything. If your agency is not focusing on interaction and Instagram growth techniques alongside their posts, you may as well be paying someone to shout announcements to an empty room.
Paying for Likes, Bots and Comments
Ten years ago, nearly every brand paid for fake followers. Then the social media companies and Google quickly got wise and punished anyone who was manipulating the system.
Now, brands are more sneaky. They pay for real people and AI to make comments and to interact with their posts. It may offer results in the short term, but remember these two points:
- The service you are using will catch on. They don’t want people to manipulate results, so the success will be short lived.
2. Users aren’t stupid. It’s blatantly obvious when a Facebook ad has hundreds of negative comments, and then within 24 hours has thousands of positive ones.
Take time to be a better brand. Address the common issues and complaints from customers and soon your natural reviews and testimonials will speak for themselves. There really is no quick pay to win strategy – digital marketing takes time.
So what do you think? What’s your favourite digital marketing technique in 2021? Let us know in the comments below!