The year 2020 was a tough one, no matter which way you look at it. With global health concerns, a volatile stock market, and consumers minimizing their spending, keeping a company afloat was extremely difficult.
There are plenty of statistics to support the claim. Yelp’s Local Economic Impact Report from September 2020 showed that more than 97,000 businesses closed permanently between March and September 2020. And that’s not all. Gartner’s annual CMO Spend Survey showed that 44% of respondents stated their marketing budgets had been cut due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
With this in mind, it’s not a bad idea to research 2021 marketing strategies that offer a more budget-friendly approach. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of low-cost, high-impact web marketing tactics.
The following are the ones you should consider adding to your repertoire.
Employ Social Commerce
If your business has got a social media presence, then this is an opportunity you definitely won’t want to miss. By definition, social commerce is a set of activities that use networking websites to support and promote ecommerce sales. The point of social commerce isn’t just to reach new people. Yes, widening your audience is a great outcome. But, you want to engage them as well.
Essentially, the way to do that is to place the reins in the consumers’ hands. Your job is to create attractive prompts, then let your followers interact with them in ways that will boost your sales. A great example of a low-cost strategy in action comes from Coca Cola. Their #ShareACoke campaign grew from a hashtag and UGC invitation to a fully interactive marketing strategy. The way to achieve this was to allow consumers to tell stories, making a product an essential part of it.
But the great thing about social commerce is that you don’t have to be one of the world’s biggest companies to make it work. You can achieve just as impressive results by organizing a giveaway. Or, do so by adding interactive features to your regular social media posts, such as the invitation for followers to vote on the product design they’d like to see in the future.
Use Predictive Recommendations
Personalization is one of the key contributors to customer experience. According to Segment’s 2017 report, 71% of consumers felt frustrated when a website experience is impersonal, and almost 50% stated that personalized recommendations drove them to purchase products they didn’t intend to.
With this data in mind, it becomes clear that offering as personal of an experience as possible is the way to go forward. But how can you achieve a highly personal experience if you work over multiple channels? Well, one option would be to invest in a predictive recommendation engine solution, such as the one offered by Salesforce.
These systems work by collecting browsing data. Each website interaction is stored in a digital customer profile, and then omnichannel marketing messages are tailored to fit previous behavior. Automatized abandoned cart emails are a great example of such marketing, but so are personalized email and social media product recommendations.
Take a look at this example by Nu-In. Based on previous interactions on their website, the brand promotes relevant products on the user’s Facebook feed. Of course, the ad won’t be shown when the person adds an ad blocker to their browser, but the brand still gets valuable data about what products generate the most interest, which can help their future development.
image source: facebook.com
As for e-commerce applications, one of the best examples of predictive recommendations comes from eBay. After a user views a particular smartphone by Sony, the sales platform automatically starts recommending alternative products by the same manufacturer, helping the user find something they’d be willing to purchase.
image source: ebay.com
One thing to keep in mind when adopting this strategy, however, is that you’ll need to ensure you’re in compliance with relevant privacy laws. As more legislation is being passed to protect user data, you’ll want to have a basic knowledge of what information you can collect and what you need to dispose of.
Host Virtual Events
One of the main consequences of Covid-19, which will definitely continue to be felt in 2021, is that consumers have safety concerns that will prevent them from attending live events. With this in mind, brands must find alternative ways of establishing connections, other than through social media and email. One possible solution could be the organizing of virtual events, live streams, or webinars.
For example, in January, Broadway creators came together on TikTok to stage a fully online production of “Ratatouille: the TikTok Musical.” Tickets were sold and all proceeds donated to the Actors fund, but most importantly, a community of over 80,000 people came together thanks to a concept they were all passionate about.
This is an excellent lesson for marketers because it proves that physical distance doesn’t have to be an obstacle to connecting and engaging with the right audience. A conference or educational event can be moved online, and it can be just as engaging as the communication you’d get in-store. Moreover, the costs are much lower than if it was held in-person, while the value offered doesn’t diminish (nor does the ROI).
For example, Transparent Labs issued their TL Kickstart challenge, inviting people from all over to transform their lives by participating in an online habit-shaping program. The program is based on a weekly challenge and heavily relies on online interactions. It encourages participants to share their journeys with the brand, fellow participants, and their social media followers, thus ensuring a wide reach and a positive bonding experience for everyone involved. In return, their customers receive professional guidance and the chance to win valuable gifts.
image source: transparentlabs.com
Share Customer Stories
Some of the low-cost tactics mentioned in this article already incorporate user-generated content. However, it’s without a doubt that customer success stories deserve a special mention.
One of the biggest struggles for small businesses is presenting social proof in a personal, credible way – especially when just starting out. Yes, early adopters want to try out new products, but most people will invest their time and money only into something tried and tested. In fact, according to Trustpilot, 9 out of 10 consumers read reviews before purchasing.
Still, the great majority of user reviews come as text. And although this kind of feedback makes an excellent asset, there’s an even better format you can explore in 2021: video.
One of the best ways to use video to boost your conversions is to utilize it to share customer stories. You can collect content that’s already been posted by your customers and share it with your audience. Or, you can do what SkillCrush does.
image source: skillcrush.com
This company decided to reach out to its alumni and ask for feedback. In addition to the standard text recommendation, they also asked people to film themselves sharing their personal experience with the platform. The results turned out to be short, convincing videos that came from a place anyone could relate to. They’re not only a social proof tactic but also a genuinely valuable piece of content that’s motivational for anyone looking to start a career in tech. Plus, they’re relatively cheap to produce, with a huge potential for driving business.
Ensure a Great User Experience
One of the most impactful elements of your online presence is your website’s UX. Simply put, a beautiful design won’t increase conversions unless it’s paired with an excellent user experience. When they land on a website, people want it to be fast, responsive, have great navigation, and offer features that’ll make their shopping experience more pleasant.
So, even if you don’t have the budget to develop a brand new website, you can start thinking about features that would make the entire purchasing process more intuitive.
One easy thing to do is to add more versatile payment options. Include popular options like PayPal and Apple Pay, and consider trying our solutions like SplitIt. Another thing you can do is offer more than a single shipping option. This way, users will have greater control over when they receive their package. Try to also think about how you can meet consumer needs without them having to go through multiple steps.
SomniFix did a great thing with their product page, seeing that they found a way to make the ordering process more intuitive. Knowing that customers were likely to make repeat purchases every four weeks or so, they created a subscription-based model that offers two main perks: a 15% discount and convenience.
image source: somnifix.com
Experiment with Short-Form
Shorter content formats are not only cheaper to produce, but they may actually provide a higher ROI as well. The reason behind this lies in the way people consume content.
For more than two decades now, we’ve known that very few people read full articles on the internet. In fact, according to Nielsen’s research, only 16% of people read word-by-word. The rest skim and scan. With this in mind, marketers started creating more engaging pieces of content. Articles turned into infographics, which turned into images, and shortly after, we got videos that took over most websites.
But the thing is, people no longer have the same patience for a video that they did a decade ago. Research shows that engagement rates significantly drop after the second minute. And since video production is expensive, you want to get the absolute highest return on your investment.
You can experiment with short formats that range anywhere between 15 and 60 seconds. By packing your message into a bite-sized video, you can deliver a punch while your followers are still fresh and eager to hear it. This way, you get to call users to action, present the next step they can take, and move them through the sales funnel on a more interactive landing or product page.
A great example of a campaign done in no more than 45 seconds comes from BrewDog, who announced their Kickstart campaign through Instagram Stories. The video combined text and simple graphics, going straight to the point of describing the benefits participants would get by signing up. It turned out to be an effective B2B strategy that attracted many businesses hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. Plus, it allowed the brand to achieve its goals without wasting time and resources on an elaborate explainer video or paid advertising campaigns.
image source: instagram.com
Start Implementing Conversational Marketing
The last marketing tactic you should start using in 2021 is to have a more life-like presence on your social media channels. Sure, sharing content for your followers to consume is a great strategy, and it can result in high returns. However, that’s not all you can do on these platforms.
Conversational marketing is a form of promotional activity that relies on directly engaging and building relationships with your customers. And, when done right, it can drive your entire business.
For example, We Rate Dogs is a business born out of an entertaining Twitter account. Their entire marketing strategy was built around sharing fun content, then engaging in conversations around their posts. With a humorous approach and a genuine love for animals, they have built a network of over 8 million followers and multiple partnerships. And they continue to grow, mainly because they take the time to reply to the majority of their mentions and user-generated content sent their way.
As you can see, excellent web marketing strategies don’t have to be expensive. Yes, success takes time, but with dedication, it’s entirely achievable.
With a multitude of low-cost tactics, you can take your pick and focus on the ones that work best for you. Don’t forget about paying close attention to your site’s SEO, and keep in mind that paid marketing can offer just as high of a return as free advertising.
In the end, a fully-rounded marketing strategy requires more than just a single action, so don’t be afraid to experiment, and always listen to your instincts. No one knows your business and its needs as well as you do.