Surviving in the wildly competitive market of today’s global commerce is always particularly hard for small businesses and depends to a great extent on proper marketing strategies. Digital marketing, in particular.

As the markets grow and online environments expand, it is vital for small businesses to keep up with the latest marketing trends. Otherwise, they run a serious risk of being left behind in the dust. We realize this can be quite overwhelming, as small business owners are already trying to keep so many balls in the air. Sorting out your product stock and inventory, finding appropriate sales channels, setting up payment, taking care of local and international tax regulations…it’s a handful. And then there’s the question of how to reach the customers. How to expand the base and create a solid brand reputation.

To help you with this particular part of running a successful small business, today we’re going to share some of the most efficient marketing tips for 2021, so make sure to take notes!


Step Up Your Video Marketing

According to Cisco, video traffic is going to make up more than 80% of all Internet traffic in the United States, and, on the global scale, it is going to increase four times by 2022. Video content has been one of the hottest trends and a staple of successful content marketing for years now and obviously this trend is going to stick around for a while. It is definitely time to jump on the video bandwagon, if you haven’t already.

The best way to start is with simple, engaging and informative video content with decent but lightweight production. The required investment isn’t that big, and the ROI can be significant.

Find the form that fits your brand the best. Consider company videos, or even better – explainer videos or how-tos, since those are traditionally very popular. Start by addressing a problem and then offer a solution. Make it simple and clear. Explain how it works and finish off with a call to action.

Remember that video content addresses your audience’s emotions. Make sure to keep them engaged and entertained while offering a definitive and easy solution to their problem.

While we’re on the subject of the video, why not give video ads a shot? These can be short, inexpensive and easy to make. Test your videos to find out which version works the best and then run a video ad campaign.

For best results, make it a “snack ad,” meaning an ad that is 10 seconds long, or shorter. Long video ads can be incredibly annoying and do more harm than good for your cause.


Invest in a High-Quality Mobile Experience

Hopefully everyone by now understands the importance of a good mobile website. Mobile has been the absolute imperative for years now. However, a surprisingly high number of websites still do not offer an adequate mobile experience for their users.

While this may be true for small businesses, who, in many cases, only set up a basic website and then get sidetracked with other chores, forgetting to make the site responsive.

Creating a responsive site doesn’t even have to be expensive and time-consuming, especially if you’re using a CMS that supports responsive themes, like WordPress.


Introduce a Personalized Approach

This one is especially important for your email campaigns. Today, we have so many excellent tools for email automation and audience segmentation, there’s really no excuse not to put them to good use.

Your messages can’t be universal – they need to be targeted and as personalized as possible. Remember that people coming to your website don’t necessarily all come for the same reason. You need to figure that out first. To pinpoint their intent, ask yourself these questions:

  • What are some of the things they come here for?
  • Who is my audience?
  • What is the best time to reach out?
  • What is their response?

Another thing that can be of help here are behavior-triggered emails. These are basically your reactions to how your customers are interacting with your site or your product and are known for an extremely high open rate.

If a customer or a regular visitor hasn’t stopped by in a while, one idea may be to send an email reminding them that they are missed. This combination of a personalized and emotional approach is a great customer retention method and also helps with conversions.


Give Live Streaming and Podcasts a Shot

Traditional forms of content, like text, images and video, are great. They’re not considered classics for no reason and they still remain the biggest motor of successful content marketing.

However, in 2021, people are attracted to new things, new formats and new ways of receiving a message. Live streaming is an excellent way to spice things up a bit. The best part is – you can do it for free. Think Facebook live streaming or, even better, Instagram’s IGTV feature.

You can start with short “behind the curtains” live videos, new product/service showcases or casual, fun content on current hot topics.

After you’ve analyzed the number of views, average view duration and drop rates, try building hype by picking a day of the week for your live streaming sessions. Then announce it, perhaps with a countdown, a couple of days before.

Podcasts traditionally have limited but faithful audiences. Tapping into that potential could prove useful for your marketing efforts. When choosing topics, think similarly as for live streaming, but more in-depth, of course.


Start Using Chatbots

Chatbots are hardly going to be a new thing in 2021. More and more businesses incorporate automated popups that greet people and ask how they can be of assistance.

With the way AI keeps getting better, their efficiency as natural, helpful conversationalists is becoming more useful for digital marketers. What’s also important is that chatbots are unobtrusive and generally lightweight.

As for how to incorporate chatbots in your strategy, it’s really not that hard. You can start with the Facebook chatbot for interacting with your social network visitors or use one of the many excellent and customizable chatbot solutions available for an affordable sum.


Offer Free Webinars

Online seminars, courses and other freebies are always an excellent way to engage with your customers and have them coming back to your business for more. The key concept here is expertise. In 2021, it’s going to be all about expert, authoritative content. One way to establish your business as such is to offer online courses, ebooks and other sources of precious knowledge on your niche matter.

Make your own courses and seminars and host them on your YouTube channel (hopefully by now you understand you absolutely need one) or over at Teachable and Udemy.

As for the topics, listen to your customers. Make a list of the most common questions they’re directing your way and expand on them. This provides valuable and actionable knowledge.


Develop Engaging Brand Storytelling

There has been a lot of talk over the past years about storytelling as a marketing technique. Still, it’s clear that this technique hasn’t yet been explored and used to its full potential. Although those brands that have mastered it have reaped tremendous benefits. If you’re only going to have one takeaway for where to aim in 2021 marketing, let it be this one.

Traditional marketing is great for when you want to engage and inform your users, as well as for establishing authority. However, small businesses can particularly benefit from telling their story – how the business came to be, what inspired it and what’s it all about. And it’s one of the pillars of content marketing, which we already established is THE marketing direction to take in the new decade.

Storytelling, when done right, triggers an emotional response and immediately brings you one step closer to your end goals. An emotionally invested audience is more likely to buy whatever you’re selling. Meaning that storytelling is an incredibly valuable conversion tool.

As to how to get it done, you can film a short video, write a compelling article or create a beautiful photo gallery. Tell the audience how your company started, your inspiration, show them around a bit, let them meet your team, show them how something’s made or done, and so on.


Claim Your Google My Business Listing

In case you’re still not using Google My Business (GMB), here’s what it’s all about: it is a tool that allows you to set up a business profile on Google which then turns up in search results when someone looks up your business or similar businesses online. The results appear as part of Google Maps or in a Local Pack.

It’s very important to get a listing with Google My Business. These days, most users don’t look past the results that show up thanks to GMB: ratings, address, description and so on. It is an instant solution for search queries. Since we live in a time when instant solutions rule over everything, it’s clear why this is vital.

It’s important here that your GMB allows you to control the information that serves the users. It’s also important to monitor the feedback too.


Don’t Forget These Evergreen Marketing Essentials

High-quality, relevant content

In 2021, content marketing remains the pillar of successful digital strategies. In addition to constantly and regularly producing quality content, you also need to pay attention to what makes top performing content and then act accordingly.

“High-quality content” in 2021 still means long-form, authoritative, well-researched and exceptionally well-written content. You can’t afford to cut any corners here so don’t even try. Keep it relevant to your niche and make sure to promote it throughout your channels.

Focus on top channels

While it’s important to give all channels a shot, and to make sure each and every member of your audience receives your message, try to keep your top efforts focused. Identify which channels work the best conversion- and traffic-wise, and work on them.

Also, your choice of primary channels may depend on your niche. Small businesses in the B2B or SaaS industry should focus on professional networks like LinkedIn. Then direct the traffic from there to the website. On the other hand, if you’re running an artisanal yogurt place or something of that kind, Instagram will probably be your strongest channel. You will also have to pay more attention to local SEO.

Marketing automation

The whole purpose of marketing automation software is to make it easier for a business to run repeated actions (emails, social media interactions, etc.). Save time and avoid human error. Marketing automation tools are growing more and more sophisticated and efficient, and the benefits of automation have been time-tested and proven.

One important thing to bear in mind here is that you can’t rely solely on automation. Small businesses often get so excited with these tools, expecting wonders, they forget they still need to generate fresh leads.

Still, when it comes to email marketing, automation is something you really can’t do without. And strong email strategy remains one of the most powerful digital marketing techniques.

Strong social media presence

In addition to having profiles on all major social networks (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) you also need to make sure you’re actually doing it right.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are our followers interacting and sharing out content?
  • Are interactions rising or declining?
  • What kind of content sparks the most interactions?
  • Are our posts inspiring enough?

Are we replying to every comment?


Final Thoughts

In this article, we offered some fail-safe tips for strong small business marketing in 2021. However, don’t you think for a second that’s all it takes.

Small businesses need to constantly stay on their toes, carefully analyze the results of their efforts and look at what the competition is doing. Craft and follow a detailed marketing strategy and always measure what you’re doing. It’s the only way to find out if (and what) you’re doing right.

Mix up your marketing techniques, see what works and what doesn’t and remember – always stay unique, authentic and consistent!


Ana Hercigonja is a content creator and copywriter at Qode Interactive. With 10+ years of experience of writing in various tech and marketing fields, Ana’s interests today lie in researching the dynamic interconnection between design and code, and everything this union can bring to the web as a whole.