Gear Up Your Business for Growth

by Nervana Naiem

Contents help you to build your business for growth strategy

  • Introduction
  • Start with an Agile Strategy
  • Build a Strong Brand
  • Complete Your Digital Transformation
  • Boost Your Online Content
  • Reach More Customers 59 Recap

Introduction

The business world was in talks of reform long before 2020 — and for years, ideas rarely turned into actions. But then COVID-19 hit the scene. Suddenly, the world at large had both the opportunity and the urgent need to find a new way forward. In the wake of many business struggles and economic shutdowns, new possibilities are rising up. That means now is the time to start the new year strong and get your business geared up for a successful 2021. Start by getting in touch with your goals for the future. Perhaps you want to transition to a more sustainable sales channel to tide you over during another unexpected crisis. Or maybe you want to introduce products and services to address new pain points that emerged during 2020

You may even want to simply establish aggressive business goals to get you back in the groove after a challenging year — who wouldn’t? Whatever you plan to achieve in 2021, you’ll need a strong and early start. And if you’re not sure just how to get started, we’ve got you covered. We’ve compiled a list of five actionable steps to bring your business to the next level in 2021: 

• Step 1: Start with an Agile Strategy 

• Step 2: Build a Strong Brand 

• Step 3: Complete Your Digital Transformation 

• Step 4: Boost Your Online Content 

• Step 5: Reach More Customers Using this plan, you can attack every goal on your list with confidence and achieve your best results yet.

Step 1: Start with an Agile Strategy

Every new year is an irresistible opportunity to put a new targeted strategy into action. Having a clear plan outlined gives you a better sense of direction, so you never lose sight of what’s important. And it gives you extra incentive to track your progress along the way and maintain smart priorities. In other words, your plan should help you focus on your overall goals, budget, and initiatives for the year. Build a robust and practical 2021 action plan based on these goals to help you zero in on the decisions that will benefit your business the most.

 And remember: In a post-COVID world, businesses need to take adaptability into account more than ever to ensure that their strategy can remain agile and be navigated best even through unpredictable circumstances

Here’s how you can build a robust and agile strategy for 2021:

 Understand Your Market

A good plan starts with a solid understanding of your market. You can’t have a plan without knowing who and what you’re planning for.

Since the pandemic, your existing markets may have gone through major changes. People may have changed their shopping habits or developed new pain points, for instance.

Or perhaps your 2021 plan involves extending your business to new markets. Either way, you’ll need to find out what you’re diving into before you, well, dive in

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Set Your Business Objectives

Do you want to build a new product? Reach a new audience?

Make a full digital transition to increase your online traffic and sales?

Regardless of how big or small your business goals are, it’s important to keep them clear and on track.

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Develop Your Marketing Strategy

Once you’ve laid a strong foundation with meticulous market research and a clear sense of your business objectives, it’s time to devise a smart marketing plan. Come up with a strategy to send the most compelling message to the right audience through the best channel — and all with expert timing 

 Strengthen Your Business Operations 

In a post-COVID world, the practicality of maintaining core business members in house while seeking external expertise for certain operations has become more obvious than ever to making seamless transitions without major setbacks.

 Outsourcing can be especially helpful if your business is still in the growth stage and lacks the workforce needed to keep it running smoothly. 

A virtual assistant, for instance, can help make the process of running a business much more manageable. You might even need data entry specialists to lighten the load and help save time.

 One thing’s certain: The outsourcing talent pool is on the rise, and it’s your shortcut to staying ahead and beating the competition — so don’t miss out on all its potential.

Develop Your Marketing Strategy

Once you’ve laid a strong foundation with meticulous market research and a clear sense of your business objectives, it’s time to devise a smart marketing plan. Come up with a strategy to send the most compelling message to the right audience through the best channel — and all with expert timing

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When crafting your agile strategy for 2021, there are a few industry trends you should consider:

Digital Product Portfolio

Digital products and services can make way for agile business models while enhancing customer relationships. In fact, 30% of Global 2000 companies will likely have a significant digital product portfolio by the end of 2021.

Omnichannel Experiences

The pandemic has redefined the role of physical stores, making it crucial for businesses to be accessible through multiple channels. Businesses have adapted their strategy to accommodate omnichannel experiences through contactless curbside pickup, virtual appointments, virtual wait line systems, and more. 

Anywhere Operations

An “anywhere” operations model will help businesses adapt more seamlessly to the current landscape. This allows teams, employers, and customers to operate in physically remote environments with minimal hiccups. 

Step 2: Build a Strong Brand

Brand consistency is critical for every business, regardless of size, customer, or location. The power and professionalism of your social media presence, website, and design elements are essential in building a loyal customer base.

Consistency communicates to your customers that your brand is dependable. The more recognizable your brand is, the more trustworthy it is. Every time you utilize the same branding elements, you’re delivering on your brand promise. 

However, having a strong brand isn’t just about protecting your bottom line. Regardless of your branding strategy, every blog post, every tweet, and every interaction serves as a form of publicity for your business. In short, branding is marketing. 

With consistent and catchy brand colors, fonts, and messaging, your customer will get to know you better both online and off, and you’ll kick off 2021 with a bang. Start with the perfect logo that reflects your brand identity. Then create a brand style guide to use throughout your brand presence online.

Logo Design

 Your target customer probably sees hundreds of logos every day. You need a logo that cuts through the noise, grabs their attention, and steers them to your business. A great logo achieves all of this with a simple, memorable, and timeless design. 

Brand Style Guides

A brand style guide is your key to consistency. It has all of the elements that give your company a distinct look, feel, and personality. These elements include your logo, fonts, colors, tone, and design guidelines. 

Your brand style guide also establishes standards and rules for your marketing efforts. It makes your content more recognizable, it increases your brand value, and it makes it easier to communicate your values to external partners.

 Once you define your brand style guide, apply it to social media accounts, website, and mobile designs.

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Social Media Design

Don’t settle for just a few likes on social media — create a profile that demands attention. On most social media platforms, you can customize your profile to reflect who you are and, most importantly, ensure it’s consistent with the rest of your branding assets. 

Web & Mobile Design 

With more business taking place online due to COVID-19, your digital storefront is more important than ever in 2021. Your website is your display window. It’s ground zero for purchases, and it’s the place your customers will visit to learn more about what you do or sell. Make it appealing, beautiful, and, of course, consistent with your brand’s style and character.

As you start the process of building a strong brand, make sure you give your freelancers guidelines that incorporate this year’s hottest trends:

Muted Colors    

Color trends have taken a sharp turn from bright and bold to soft and muted. Brands are opting for light, pastel colors that give off a safe and soothing vibe

Accessible Designs 

In an effort to maintain Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance, brands are also keeping accessibility in mind when designing brand assets. Font size and weight, color combinations, accessible controls, and content structure all play a critical role in making websites and designs more accessible. 

Adaptable Logos  

With a digital shift and an omnichannel approach, brands are prioritizing adaptability in their logo designs. It’s become a necessity to have different variations of the same logo (with changes in size, color, or complexity) depending on where it’ll be used.

Minimalism

Minimalism continues to rule in the branding and design industry. Brands are making a steady shift toward simple and classic aesthetics, removing clutter and ensuring timelessness.

Step 3: Complete Your Digital Transformation

We’re deep into the digital era. Customers prefer to buy anything they can online, and they have a very high standard of service. Every part of their experience is important, from how long it takes a page to load to how quickly their items can be shipped. On top of that, COVID-19 and social distancing mandates have impacted how business is done on a massive scale — with changes continuing into 2021 and beyond. Businesses have had to adapt, and having a strong e-commerce platform or website is now more important than ever. Still not convinced? Take a look at these figures:

By mid-April 2020, U.S. retailers already saw a 68% year-over-year increase in online revenue.  

• Online retail orders had increased by 146% around the same time.

 • U.S. consumers spent $21.7 billion online during the first 10 days of the holiday shopping season — a 21% increase year-over-year.

• 51% of consumers are buying more online and visiting stores less.

• The pandemic has accelerated the shift to e-commerce by five years.

The beginning of the year is a great time to optimize your online shopping experience or launch a digital storefront.

 In addition to meeting customer expectations, there are plenty of benefits for you, too. A well-designed online store can boost your sales and turn one-time customers into repeat shoppers. A strong presence in the most popular marketplaces can expose your brand to millions of potential new customers. 

To get started, you have two options to consider for selling your products and services online — you can sell on your own website (and there are several platforms to help you), or you can sell on the major marketplaces. Choose your favorite option or enjoy the best of both worlds.

 Once you’ve made your decision, there are a few necessary steps to ensure you’re getting the most out of your e-commerce strategy:

Create your Website

If your business primarily operated offline, making a digital transition can be a little daunting. The good news is: If you don’t have a website yet, now has a one stop-shop to help you find the right web developer for you in minutes. Just answer a few questions, and get matched with the right web developer in minutes

Develop your E-commerce

If you decide to sell your products on your own website, you need to choose the e-commerce platform that works best for your business. There are several options available, but three stand out from the pack:

Shopify: A Shopify storefront is easy to set up, and there are several visually appealing templates. Shopify integrates with other applications, like Facebook Shop, Google Shopping, and Instagram. Also, based on your plan, Shopify storefronts come stacked with SEO features and marketing tools.

Magento: Magento is also an open-source e-commerce platform. It’s mobile and SEO-friendly, has fast load times, and includes lots of customization options. Magento also provides currency and language support.

WooCommerce: WooCommerce is an open-source e-commerce plugin for WordPress. It’s popular because it’s easy to install, and many of the themes are free. There are several customizations to create a professional store that’s consistent with your brand style guide.

Create Product Content 

Whether you are launching an e-commerce store or listing on a marketplace, you need exceptional, eye-catching photos of your products, and you need enticing descriptions that communicate your products’ value.

 • 44% of shoppers consider relevant search results as the most important factor when they browse through products. Product descriptions optimized with accurate keywords can make this happen.

 • For 67% of consumers, the quality of a product photo is highly important to help them decide on a purchase. 

 • 25% of shoppers want to be able to zoom in on product photos. 

 • 17% of shoppers want to view the product from alternate angles. 

Product Descriptions 

These descriptions are your chance to guide your buyers toward making a purchase. Tell them everything they need to know about the product, including what it is, what it does, and who it’s for. And remember to keep keywords in mind, so people looking for your products can actually find them. 

As you start building your digital storefront, be sure to keep these 2021 trends in mind: 

Voice Shopping Improvements in voice search technology have made it easier for people to shop online using just their voice. Online businesses are now optimizing their websites and listings to accommodate voice shopping to stay ahead of the digital curve.

Visual Commerce Since many shoppers are avoiding the stores, they need an online experience that feels just like shopping in a physical store. Visuals continue to be a hot trend as they provide shoppers with an accurate idea of what your product looks like or what kind of experience they can get from it. Visual commerce tools like 360-degree images, augmented reality, visual search, and user generated content will continue to take center stage this year.

Free Listings on Google Shopping In April 2020, Google made it free to get listed on Google Shopping. (13) While paid listings still show up prominently under this section, businesses can now sell on Google without any additional fees. So 2021 will see more businesses taking adv.

Step 4: Boost Your Online Content

With face-to-face meetings and in-store visits close to impossible these days, online content has become the number one channel to communicate and connect with your audience. So give every aspect of your online content a boost — from website copy and product descriptions to blog posts and videos.

Written Content 

Written content helps you communicate with your audience and with search engines and can even determine how high you show up in the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) for relevant searches. 

Blog posts, website copy, landing page copy, guest posts, and email copy are all types of written content, and they’re all important:

•Businesses with blogs see 2X more email traffic compared to businesses without a blog.

• 74% of web users pay attention to the spelling and grammar on company websites. And 59% would avoid buying from a company that made obvious mistakes in spelling and grammar.

• 47% of buyers see 3-5 different pieces of content before they engage with a sales rep.

Articles & Blog Posts

Writing articles and blog posts allow you to communicate ideas with your customers in depth — whether it’s to share what your product does or guide your customers through their purchase decisions. Your 2021 strategy should involve publishing blog posts and articles regularly to keep your audience engaged and informed and bring valuable traffic to your site.

Website Content

All of the written words on your website should inform your customers (and the search engines) about your website’s purpose. Who are you, and what do you do? Every word on your website is a powerful opportunity to win over customers. And don’t forget to research and use the right keywords when crafting your copy. This ensures you’re sending the right signals to the search engines, too.

UX Writing

Written content also plays a critical role in the user experience. Can your users interact seamlessly with your digital products? Do they know what happens when they tap on a certain button or how to change their requirements within the software/app? Good UX writing makes all of this possible. Connect with UX Writing experts to create clear and accessible microcopy for your website or app.

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Videos & Video Ads

Video is king across all online platforms. With shrinking attention spans, video has become a highly effective content format to engage your audience. No wonder it’s overtaking blogs and infographics as the most commonly used content marketing formats.

Video marketing works because today’s social media networks are primarily video-focused. Users are naturally drawn to movement, and video capitalizes on this. It’s important to ensure your videos are professional and consistent with your brand’s style and voice.

Whiteboard & Animated Explainers 

A whiteboard video or animated explainer is perfect for complex products. Like cartoons do for kids, animated explainer videos bring complicated concepts down to earth with easy-to-understand visuals and narration

Live Action Explainer Videos

Live action explainers work well when you can demonstrate how your product works, when your product is tangible, or when it’s best to explain your product by action rather than by illustration.

Short Video Ads

A short video ad is a great addition to your online marketing campaigns. Video marketing is proving to be a powerful and effective part of any marketing strategy — now more than ever.

Keep your business buzzing by following these online content trends for 2021:

Interactive Content With brand-consumer interactions mostly happening online these days, interactive content will take center stage in 2021. Businesses will open up more engagement opportunities through interactive infographics and videos as well as polls and surveys. Did you know interactive content generates 4X more engagement than non-interactive content?

Voice Search Optimization The use of voice search is increasing, with 58% of people reporting having used it to find local business information. (22) Businesses should consider optimizing their content to anticipate voice queries and conversational language.

Content Personalization Personalizing your content helps strengthen customer relationships and boost engagement . As data technologies continue to improve, 2021 will see businesses making great strides in delivering personalized content to improve content relevance and customer experience.

Shoppable Videos Businesses will leverage the popularity of videos by making them shoppable to enhance and shorten the shopping experience. This year, we will see marketers adding links to videos that will open up relevant landing pages or product pages when viewers click on them.

Step 5: Reach More Customers

Taking your business online is the first step to sustaining your business in 2021. To expand your reach and continue growing your business, it’s important that customers can find your business online. There are several ways to promote your business, but the following five are the most effective at pumping up your online presence: social media marketing; search engine marketing (SEM); search engine optimization (SEO); remarketing, and email marketing. But before you tackle these, start with a smart marketing strategy.

Marketing Strategy

The events of 2020 emphasized the need for businesses to go online. So it makes sense that your digital marketing strategy should be the backbone of your overall marketing strategy. And with a professional marketing strategy in place, you can increase traffic to your website and boost your sales.

Aside from bringing in more revenue, a strong marketing strategy helps you define your target demographic. It helps you invest your time and money in places where you’ll see the best ROI (Return On Investment).

 A marketing strategy also ensures every step you make is timely, and it gives you a chance to shape your brand voice and image.

 To get started on your plan, hire one of Marketing Strategy professionals to help you understand the best channels to market your business and the most impactful ways to use them.

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Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is no longer an option for small businesses — it’s a must. The number of users on each platform, and the amount of time they spend there offers unprecedented access to your customer base.

 • Almost 50% of the world’s population now uses social media.

• 43% of global social media users research products online through social networks.

 • 24% of global social media users discover brands and products through recommendations on social. 

 • 90% of people say that they buy from companies they follow on social media.

• 75% increase their spending with a brand they follow on social media. 

Additionally, you can build trust by solving customer service issues directly and in a personalized manner. And, you can engage with your audience consistently, keeping your brand top of mind and ensuring your company stays relevant. Executing great social media marketing requires a few things:

Create a Content Calendar and Cover All Your Bases

Plan your posts ahead of time to ensure you never scramble for content. Additionally, find the right platform for your business. While Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube are still the most used social networks, it really depends on the audience you’re trying to reach. Other platforms, like LinkedIn, Snapchat, Pinterest, and TikTok could be beneficial to your strategy depending on your audience.

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Use Professional Influencers 

When it comes to influencing, businesses tend to focus on celebrities or influencers with large reaches. However, your objective is not to reach as many people as possible but to build trust within your specific niche. This means finding professional micro or nano-influencers who exist within your niche and leveraging their power to engage with others in a specific community. influencer marketing freelancers can help you build a new fanbase.

Social Media Advertising

To take your social presence to a whole new level, combine your organic social media marketing efforts with paid advertising. Social media advertising gives you a much needed boost to stand apart from the competition and get noticed by the right audience.

 • Social media advertising accounts for 28.6% of all internet advertising revenue.

 • Also , social media campaigns help boost exposure, traffic, lead generation, and customer loyalty. 

 • Content is the most noticed type of brand communication, with 77% of consumers noticing it sometimes, frequently, or always.

 The need to run creative and relevant ads on social media is vital to stand out in 2021. Through social media advertising, you can accurately target your audience. For example, platforms like Facebook employ state-of-the-art analytical tools to help you see who’s visiting your site and who’s interacting with your posts. You can use this data to refine your audience and ensure your ads end up in the right feeds.

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SEM (Search Engine Marketing) 

SEM involves buying ads on search engines to increase your company’s visibility for specific keywords and phrases. With SEM, you pay only for the most effective traffic. You decide the price, location, and time that will yield the highest amount of traffic with intent to purchase. In turn, this will boost your company’s revenue.

 If you include it in your business’ marketing plan, SEM can generate significant exposure for your products or services: • Paid search traffic generates 32% of total e-commerce sessions. 

 • 33% of marketers use paid advertising to boost brand awareness. 

 • Google Display Network manages to reach 90% of global internet users. 

 SEM helps you work smarter, not harder. Instead of chasing after customers, you’re gaining access to what they’re looking for and ensuring you’re in the right place. You can target a wide audience, tailor your ads to specific search terms and keywords (instead of vague demographic criteria), and you can even make your ads appear in searches for your competitors.

 Creating a great SEM plan requires you to be strategic:

 Choose the Right Keywords 

These keywords should be relevant to your business, localized when possible, and in line with popular searches. Also, be sure to use words that drive high commercial intent (i.e., buy, discount, deal, etc.) 

Track Your Results

 Measure your click-through rates, and your ad spend and tweak your strategy. You never want to bid high only to receive weak traffic. SEM experts can help you get it right the first time.

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SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Search Engine Optimization is just as important as SEM. However, there’s a big difference between the two. With SEO, you use a series of strategies and best practices to increase your website’s organic visibility in search engines instead of buying ads. And most importantly, clicks from organic results are free! Crafting and executing an SEO plan requires some budget and some time. But with smart planning and ongoing effort, you can increase your chances of earning more prominent search rankings.

Relevant results, which are the outcome of a good SEO strategy, will be shown at the top of the SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Paid results (ads that are purchased as part of a business’ SEM strategy) will show at the top of the page as well (above the organic results).

 Not only that, they show up prominently as paid ads in multiple locations throughout the searcher’s journey — sometimes at the bottom of the page or in the middle when a mobile user clicks on “more results.” This makes your listing more likely to get noticed and clicked on. 

Thus, SEO provides two major benefits:

 • Your content will rank high in search results without paying for traffic.

 • Some users consider organic results more reliable because search algorithms try to give them the most accurate results based on their search terms. 

One of the most important aspects of SEO is creating highly relevant content for your current and potential customers. Google’s algorithm prioritizes relevance and quality when ranking pages, among many other factors. So when you create relevant and quality content, it improves your chances of ranking higher in search results. But your efforts can’t stop there. You also must promote your content and encourage your audience to share and link to it, which sends positive search ranking signals to Google.

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Remarketing & Email Marketing 

To grow your business online in the long-run, you should combine brand awareness and customer acquisition strategies with effective customer retention tactics. This involves re-engaging people who’ve interacted with your business in the past and enticing them to continue doing business with you.

 When done right, focusing on customer retention can be much more effective than attracting new ones: • An increase in customer retention of just 5% can increase profits by 25%.

• 60% of loyal customers will make more frequent purchases from their preferred companies. 

 • Compared to new customers, loyal ones spend 67% more money with a business.

The two most effective ways to retain your customers are using remarketing and email marketing strategies. Email marketing, in particular, opens up a direct line of communication between your brand and your customers. This makes it a critical tool for establishing and nurturing customer relationships.

Remarketing

With remarketing, you target people who’ve interacted with your business before — whether they clicked on one of your ads or visited your website in the past. They may have shown an interest but didn’t make a purchase. This makes sense because only 2% of website visitors convert on their first visit. (32) Instead, you can use remarketing methods to remind them about your brand and entice them to (finally) make that purchase they were considering.

Retargeting can boost your conversion rates by up to 150%.

 • Retargeted visitors have a 70% higher chance of converting compared to visitors who aren’t retargeted. 

 • Remarketing to shoppers who abandon their carts can increase conversion rates from 8% to 26%.  

Email Marketing 

Email marketing is another way to engage and retain your existing customers while recapturing lost sales. For instance, you can send out email newsletters every week or month to engage your existing customers with updates. And you can also send out retargeting emails to people who abandon their shopping carts. Being one of the only direct communication channels with your customers, it also serves as a tool to build and strengthen your brand’s customer relationships.

 • For 80% of business professionals, email marketing increases customer retention. 

 • Successful retargeting emails are responsible for driving 28.3% of all e-commerce revenue. 

 • Abandoned cart emails have a 4.64% conversion rate. 

 Keep in mind that your emails need to be attractive, relevant, and personalized. This means you need to focus on email segmentation, personalization, and design to capture the right audience with the right message at the right time.

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These emerging trends will influence the 2021 online marketing landscape: 

Paid Advertising Revival 

With more businesses taking to online marketing, the competition is going to get tougher. And it’ll be extremely difficult to rank in organic searches, especially for new businesses. Paid advertising will become more important than ever to make sure your business stands out. 2020 was already seeing a 6% increase in digital ad spend and this is likely to grow in 2021.

Going Local

 In light of the pandemic, people are more enthusiastic than ever to support local businesses. In fact, 75% of consumers say they plan to buy from local merchants as much as possible after COVIDrelated restrictions are lifted in their areas. (35) So “local” will be at the heart of digital marketing strategies. (36) To keep up with the competition, businesses will work on improving their local SEO rankings with a renewed focus on key local ranking factors, including reviews and Google My Business listings.

Programmatic Advertising 

To support the growth of paid advertising, we will see brands relying more and more on programmatic advertising. This involves using an automated bidding system to automate the process of buying and selling ad inventory. So businesses can quickly and easily purchase ad impressions on publisher websites and apps to save time and get ahead of the competition.

Recap

To ensure success in 2021, your business needs to focus on five key areas: 

Agile Strategy

 Develop an agile strategy backed by market research and strong business objectives, so you can quickly adapt to the unexpected.

 Brand Consistency

 Ensure your brand’s logo and other design elements are used consistently across your social media channels, your website, and mobile app.

 Go Online 

Take your business online by building an outstanding website, setting up and managing your e-commerce store, and creating irresistible marketplace listings.

Online Content 

Attract and engage the right target audience through relevant and captivating online content in the form of blog posts and articles, animated explainer videos, and UX copy.

 Digital Marketing 

Take your online business to the next level with an effective digital marketing strategy that spans across multiple channels, including search, social media, and email

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