5 Digital Marketing Trends You Can’t Ignore in 2021 - Warm Thoughts Communications
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5 Digital Marketing Trends You Can’t Ignore in 2021

Posted on December 17, 2020 - By Cathy Pedrayes

No one could have predicted a year like 2020. For the fuel industry, the pandemic and stay-at-home orders accelerated the long-term prediction that the industry would increasingly need to rely on digital marketing.

At Warm Thoughts, we saw an overall increase in digital engagement among the 130+ fuel company websites we manage. In 2020, clickthrough rates on pay-per-click advertisements increased by 5%, Facebook’s total reach increased by 101% with total engagement increasing by 35% and during the first three months of the pandemic, website traffic increased by over 13%. . The numbers are encouraging and echoed the larger global trend—people are home and while they’re home, they’re spending more time online. It’s a trend that’s likely to stick around in 2021 and beyond, as we navigate this new normal.

Here’s a look at what to focus on as you plan your digital strategy for 2021:

1. Embrace the digital transformation—starting with your website.

Whether you’re building a fresh website or updating an already existing site, ensuring you have a site that’s working for you should be your top priority.

Build a custom website—no templates! Template-based websites may be cheaper to build but custom websites perform better on search engine rankings, allow for greater customization with branding and can grow with you as your business grows. In addition to how the website is built, it has to look good and evoke a feeling that’s consistent with your brand.

These days, your website IS your brand. To successfully communicate your message, your website must go beyond the products you offer to deliver your unique selling proposition. When a consumer lands on your homepage, they need to immediately understand why your business is the right choice for their family’s comfort and safety.

If you want to know how your website is performing, taking a look at your analytics is a good place to start. If that’s not something you’ve been monitoring, 2021 is time to make that change.

2. Drive traffic with SEO.

This is part of your website strategy but it’s more complicated than that. Your website needs to tell this story in a way that’s aesthetically pleasing but it also conveys the correct message to search engines, so you rank on results pages.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is key to your business’s success. You can have the best website, the best pricing and the best staff, but if a customer can’t find you in their service area, none of that matters. SEO is the way to ensure you’re found.

An SEO strategy involves developing educational content that informs customers while also driving traffic to your website. Once you have a content SEO strategy, then you add in all the back-end coding to help search engines understand the content. Of course, all of this is constantly evolving with algorithm updates and the evolution of technology.

SEO is the key to bringing organic traffic to your site. It’s the way to guarantee that when a homeowner in your service area types “boiler repair near me,” your business shows up on their first page of results. Without SEO, you’re likely missing out on those types of searches and the resulting business. What’s worse is that you wouldn’t know it unless you conducted an audit or had an SEO expert on staff.

3.  Remember that social media is still king and the features are expanding.

In March 2020, Facebook reported an increase of more than 50% in user activity across its products. With that trend in place, Warm Thoughts Communications optimized its clients’ Facebook pages to drive even more engagement, resulting in a 101% increase in total reach throughout 2020. If you’re not active on social media, you’re missing out on this opportunity.

It’s not enough to simply HAVE a Facebook page. You need to actively post engaging content three to four times a week in order to satisfy Facebook’s current algorithm. This involves a variety of content, meaning promotional posts but also fun engaging posts that encourage users to like, comment and share—or better yet—review you! In addition, Facebook ramped up the features available on their platforms throughout 2020. Keep an eye on these and apply the features that work best for your business in order to drive growth and engagement.

Furthermore, social media is another important medium for communicating with your customers. Whether it’s a last-minute service change or holiday office hours, social media is a fantastic way to keep customers informed.

4. Customer communication is essential.

For many businesses, one of the greatest lessons of 2020 was realizing the importance of customer communication. With the outbreak of COVID-19, fuel companies needed a way to quickly communicate health policies, appointment changes and more. Unless a business was already equipped with a comprehensive list of customer emails and cell numbers, they were left struggling to communicate efficiently and effectively with their customers.

Creating a customer communication strategy is no easy task. Here’s a look at just a few of the basics:

 

As you head into 2021, having a digital customer communication strategy will allow you to quickly adapt when those last-minute changes come up. Research has shown that a robust strategy on this front will also improve customer retention.

5. Focus on building your online reputation.

The business impact of customer reviews is undeniable. If your website doesn’t feature customer reviews and your Google listing doesn’t feature great reviews, you could be losing potential business. In fact, studies indicate that 97% of customers say reviews factor into their buying decisions.

It’s important to have a strategy for managing your online reputation, as online reviews are trusted just as much as referrals from friends. This is a complex process as it involves your ability to both solicit and aggregate reviews and, ultimately, show them off. When you do this well your ability to grow your business will greatly increase. When you ignore it, you could be driving potential customers away.

 

 

 

The Big Picture

At Warm Thoughts, we’re optimistic that focusing on a robust digital strategy will be the key to growing your business. Use this list is a starting point—your doorway into a robust digital marketing strategy for the new year.

Digital marketing is constantly evolving. As a fuel company, you might be comfortable with the notion that your business is essential, but essential isn’t enough to grow. Growth comes from staying ahead of the curve, adapting, competing. As we head into 2021, there’s no better time to push forward with a well-executed digital marketing strategy.


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