Melissa Blanken is the vice president of marketing at Kajeet. She has over 25 years of marketing experience in telecom, energy and SaaS.
The marketing landscape has transformed drastically throughout the years, shifting from in-person trade shows, branded swag and printed handouts to digital-first strategies. The pandemic is further accelerating this shift and will likely have a lasting impact on the industry.
A recent Gartner survey of chief marketing officers highlights the deep investments made in digital strategies, revealing that almost 80% of 2020 marketing budgets went to digital channels. Looking ahead, the survey found that 74% of CMOs expect to spend more on digital advertising and 66% expect to spend more on paid search in 2021.
As a marketing executive, I’ve spent the last 20 years helping fast-growing, disruptive companies drive engagement and boost profitability. I’ve witnessed the rise of digital marketing and the evolution of the profession from creative brand-builders to more technical, data-driven leaders.
Beyond simply generating qualified leads, marketers today are viewed as key drivers of business strategy and are often responsible for everything from identifying new revenue streams to developing strategic market positioning across all channels.
As we settle into 2021, below are six priorities I believe marketers should keep in mind to optimize their efforts and drive growth:
• Get your house in order: 2020 brought many unexpected changes, and the roles and responsibilities that worked pre-Covid-19 may need to be tweaked to drive greater efficiency this year. Perhaps now there is a greater focus on demand generation than lead generation, or maybe your teams are siloed and you want to become more integrated. Whatever your goals are, make sure your teams are aligned accordingly to maximize efficiency.
• Ramp up SEO efforts: Keywords change all the time and require constant monitoring to drive maximum traffic. Further, competitors often change their key terms and buy yours. Marketers will need to plan for this and prioritize SEO efforts to remain ahead of the competition. If you’re not constantly looking at SEO and examining competitors now, then you’re already behind.
• Enhance content with data: Content remains king in 2021, but only if it provides value to the reader and addresses specific pain points. This means marketers will need to become even more tech-savvy and metrics-driven to increase engagement and guide leads through the funnel. Consider leveraging proprietary surveys and platform data to enhance content. Pro tip: Align your efforts with your SEO strategy to ensure the right keywords are always utilized to maximize content.
• Develop a hybrid event strategy: Many people have officially hit webinar and virtual event fatigue, but these are likely here to stay. Post-pandemic, I expect that in-person events will still have a virtual element, which will require developing a distinct strategy to engage customers and prospects both on- and offline.
• Embrace collaboration tools: The pandemic has taught us that work can get done from anywhere, which will likely impact future hiring trends. Therefore, it’s more important than ever to adopt collaboration tools that enable teamwork and productivity regardless of our physical location.
• Amplify the mission: Remember when I said work can get done from anywhere? As organizations compete for top talent this year, they’re no longer restricted to a certain geographical location. This means everything from your website to social media pages will serve as your company’s digital “front door” and should be optimized to attract the best candidates. And corporate culture and values appear to be top priorities; recent research published in MIT Sloan Management Review found that 80% of companies studied published an official set of corporate values on their website. Therefore, I believe communicating your company’s mission across all channels is crucial to attracting the top talent that will drive further growth.
While no one could have expected the challenges we encountered over the last year, they opened the door to massive innovation. As organizations seek to build resiliency this year, having a strong digital marketing strategy is key.