10 Real & Effective Ways to Improve Your Marketing in 2021

Staci Wallace Written by Staci Wallace
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14 minute read

Use these tips to jazz up your marketing and set yourself apart from the other guys!

The average person in 2021 is bombarded with 6-10 ads each day. Yikes.

When every available space is occupied by an ad of sorts, we’re desensitized to their messages. They lose their umph...

In fact, 45% of customers surveyed said that even though they don’t use ad blockers, they don’t even notice the ads. Marketers know this, and constantly compete with this burnout for our attention by hunting for that “wow” factor. When you resort to cheap tactics that don’t work, what are they actually costing you?

The truth is, competing for shock value just isn’t working for us anymore. It’s time to work smarter, not harder. The issue isn’t the marketing itself, it’s bad marketing! While your customers have blinders on to help them deal with ad overload, they still want to see ads for things that genuinely add value to their lives in one way or another. The trick is figuring out how to get past these blinders so you can connect your services with the people who want them most.

Let’s get smart! Use these 10 tips as marketing inspiration to make sure your consumers don’t tune you out and lose you in the ad noise.

1. Use Hard Data

Improve Your Marketing

Save your energy and brain power for creative activations, don’t waste it on guesswork! Even the brightest minds run the risk of falling flat when you rely on human intuition. From understanding how your base operates to adjusting weak marketing strategies, back up every decision with hard numbers so that you can not only inform the best tactics but track your progress against your objectives.

Who is your target audience? It’s important to do market research to get the full picture of who you’re trying to reach, and segment them according to demographics and behavior. Their behaviors, interests, and perceptions are all fluid within the context of our ever-changing cultures and environments. While we can’t always influence these cultures, it’s our job to understand them so that we know how our message will fit in and be received, and therefore impact consumer behaviors. Read the room!

You need to be tracking success of your current marketing tactics today in order to make a winning plan for tomorrow. Decide which key performance indicators are most highly correlated with success for your business objectives, so that you can concentrate your resources on things that will actually give you results.

Establish measurable objectives before you check to see how you’re stacking up. What are your current conversion rates compared to where you want to be? What is your monetary return per ad? Per email? Per SMS message? Know it, track it, rinse and repeat. Objectively identify weak spots and strengths so that you can capitalize on what’s working and nix what’s not.

2. Quit Trying to Win Over Everyone

You can be the juiciest peach in the world, and someone out there just won’t like peaches. And some people are straight up allergic!

You can’t please everyone. (No, not even you.) Know what you’re good at, and hone in on it. Use all that pizzazz and energy perfecting what makes you you instead of scattering your resources trying to appeal to the masses.

Know what your top customers like and really dazzle them! Analyze which content and activations have fared best according to your key performance indicators and create similar content. This is your launchboard.

The goal isn’t to merely satisfy every single person you encounter. The goal is to really WOW your top consumers to keep them coming back for more (with their friends in tow). What makes you special? Why are they choosing you over your competitor? Try to look at things from your consumer’s point of view. There is something you are doing that sets you apart from the next guy. What would make you do a double take?

Practice doing everything with intention and in accordance with your values. Think about the big picture and how what you are doing now fits into both your vision and the world around you.

3. Know What Not to Do

One of the main purposes for this article and the need for marketing innovation in general is the fact that people are just overwhelmed and have had it up to here with bad marketing. Marketing that feels intrusive, obnoxious, and flat out unnecessary leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths.

As with most things, less is more. You’ve heard it before: quality over quantity! Unnecessary marketing doesn’t just not work, it drives people away in droves… and good luck winning them back!

Everything that your brand does and puts out in the world shapes your relationship with your customers and their perception of who you are. You want to make their day, not stress them out. Put yourself in their shoes and use real ROI data to determine whether something you put out will be worth it and add value to your strategy.

Your interactions and relationships should be frictionless. In addition to knowing what your customers want and what is meaningful to them, understand what they don’t want.

  • Don’t over-do it. 
    People hate being frustrated and annoyed. So don’t do that. With the 6-10 thousand ads shoved in our faces each day, our thresholds for annoyance are pretty low. It’s important to be sending our messages to the people who actually want them and have the potential to benefit from them. This is how you make it past those filters and leave them wanting more (and even saying “THANK YOU!”)

  • Get on your customers’ level. 
    In order to curate meaningful relationships with your consumers, you need to understand your base, know how they operate, and how to reach them. Targeted marketing driven by hard data and research is a great way to go about this. Additionally, an opt-in service like SMS text message marketing is one of the best ways to ensure the right person is actually getting your message and gives consumers some of the power back in their marketing experience.

  • Put yourself in your customers’ shoes!

    When you put yourself in your consumers’ shoes, a lot of the “what not to do’s” seem like common sense. No one likes to be tricked or feel like they’re being forced into a corner.

    First impressions can make or break a lead - it’s important to look professional, polished, and not be too confusing. It takes 0.05 seconds to shape your potential lead’s perceptions of your whole brand with a first impression! Don’t ruin all of your hard work with a user experience that is too difficult to navigate and makes people give up, or looks sloppy and careless.

  • Gather feedback straight from the source!

Offer opportunities for customer feedback, and incentivize it if you want to increase your feedback engagement. While you can get a good picture of what’s not working based on ROI data and some common sense, chances are your customer will just tell you themselves if you let them!

The bottom line here is that any negative experience by the customer reflects poorly on your entire brand. There is a chance you can win back a few points with future interactions, but you can’t undo that negative experience.

4. Stay Hip

Knowing your consumer means staying on top of the latest trends. This includes trends in your industry, innovations in technology and marketing strategies, as well as cultural shifts and the latest hot topics. These trends provide the backdrop for your messaging and can be the deciding factor in whether they’re hot or they flop. What’s tasteful today could be tacky or straight up tone deaf tomorrow. (Hello, all messaging regarding “getting together” circa March 2020!)

Again, don’t waste time guessing! Use real data to inform your decisions. Analyze consumer purchasing behaviors and perceptions of relevant topics using audience listening tools, and peek at what your competitors are doing.

Cherry-pick what insights suit your business interests and develop tactics from there. Understand that the interrelations between these insights are all dynamic and fluid - stay hip! Know the lingo and speak their language!

7 out of 10 Gen Z’ers prefer to communicate digitally, mostly by text message. (StudyFinds)

Take inventory of what media your base is consuming. What sites do they get their news from? What social media do they use most regularly? Use relevant platforms as they evolve. Wherever your target audience is, be there!

You need to be continuously learning about your audience. Today’s prevalence of social media gives us an overflow of data and insights like never before - use it! Be a fly on the wall and follow relevant social media conversations to know what people are talking about and what gets them excited.

Make yourself aware of other relevant keywords and keep track of those conversations as well. What else does your base want to know more about? Expand in those areas!

5. Consistency, Consistency, Consistency, Con...

Improve Your Marketing

We get it - we all want results *checks watch* yesterday. But you can’t just expect things to happen overnight. Even a perfect strategy won’t give you the results you’re looking for right away.

It takes time, repetition, and good messaging in order to build solid brand recognition. While this might sound annoying, consistency can increase revenue by 33%!

  • Understand your brand!

What is your ideal brand image? What values do you embody and project beyond shortsighted financial motives? The answers to these questions come after a lot of brand soul searching, but 77% of consumers will buy from brands that share in their values.

Your brand is a living, breathing thing with its own personality that you have to consciously develop, lest you neglect it and it takes off running on its own for you to have to chase down. Once you’re ready, you need to consistently communicate messaging that reflects this personality.

  • Decide on key elements, and run with them.

A lot of this will also come from subconscious mental “clicks” such as your logo, coloring, and general vibe. Maintain the same tone and aesthetics throughout all communications so that you ingrain intentional, subconscious associations in your consumers’ minds and it becomes integral to who you are. This takes time, but even just a simple signature color can increase brand recognition by 80%!

  • The proof is in the pudding YOUR WEBSITE!

Know that while consistency will really drive your brand home, first impressions matter too. It takes someone about 0.05 seconds to form an opinion about you just from your website - update it, clean it up, and make sure the user experience is seamless. Confusion breeds frustration, and frustration turns people away.

  • Keep an active presence.

Along with successfully communicating who you are through consistent messaging quality, you need to maintain an active presence. You have a great service that people want, but they have to know about it! Don’t let them forget about how great you are and all that you have to offer. How are you going to maintain contact with your base? How often? Don’t be shy, but don’t harass them either.

  • Don’t forget – quality over quantity.

We’re really hammering in consistency here, but quality over quantity. You’re trying to set yourself apart from the other guys, not get written off as one. That dreaded ad burnout we talked about? Yea, you might become a part of it if you fail to lead with the right strategy.

  • Analyze what works and what doesn’t.

Don’t waste your time and resources on excessive (ahem, ineffective) marketing. Analyze your data to confirm what tactics work, and keep doing just that. Use your key performance indicators. What messaging cadence gets you the best click-through and conversion rates? What timing of messaging are people most receptive to?

6. TXT It!

Marketing in general succeeds when you get the right message to the right person. What looks like it should be simple math is actually pretty complicated, with the art laying in how you get that message across. When it comes to marketing tactics, SMS marketing helps simplify that equation.

If you’ve never heard of SMS marketing, check out our blog and learn all about it: What is SMS Marketing?

Nowadays, if you want to get a quick response from someone, unless you’re literally sitting right next to them, your knee jerk reaction is probably going to be to text them! While we probably never expected our local pizza place to pop up in our text inbox next to our mom, 2020 taught us to expect the unexpected and here we are!

96% of Americans own a cell phone of some kind, with 81% of them being smart phones. (Pew Research Center)

We love hard data, and the hard data checks out. Today, 96% of Americans own a cell phone of some kind, with 81% of them being smart phones. (We’re gonna take a wild guess and say this number’s just going to go up.)

Of those phone owners, 90% of them will read a text message within 3 minutes, and 95% will read a text message within 5 minutes. SMS messaging has an overall 98% open rate, and 82% of people say they open every text message they receive. (There’s just something about 0 text notifications on our homescreens.)

90% of cell-phone owners will read a text message within 3 minutes, and 95% will read a text message within 5 minutes. (EZ Texting 2019 Mobile Usage Report)

When it comes to results, SMS text marketing can get you conversion rates of up to 45%, and click-through rates of about 20%. 70% of polled customers say that SMS is a good way for businesses to stay in touch with them, but 60% of marketers are still not using SMS as of 2020!

70% of polled customers say that SMS is a good way for businesses to stay in touch with them. (OmniSend)

If you haven’t started using a SMS marketing platform as part of your marketing strategy yet, we challenge you to come up with a good reason why. That’s right, you can’t.

When you want to deliver a message that conveys urgency and a clear call to action, SMS is the most effective and cost-efficient solution. Again, quality over quantity. The second you start to annoy your customer, you start to lose them. Don’t become part of the noise!

Urgency and a clear call to action are key in SMS. Convey time-sensitive, exclusive information that’ll deliver good news to your customers and make them happy to check that notification, not say “Ugh, not again!” *Unsubscribe*

Another day without using text marketing software is another day of wasted opportunity. Get started today with VOXOX’s VoxDirect SMS for small business!

7. Don’t Fix What’s Not Broken

Your older successful content and activations were successful for a reason. Analyze the key performance indicators for your previous content and activations to see what was most successful, and look for common denominators as inspiration for future content and activations. What do these common denominators reveal about you and your base?

There is a lot to be gained from upcycling older successful content. While traffic on your original post died down, someone out there is posting a similar version that is just newer and shinier. Update it and pump out the refreshed version with all of the tweaks. This is one of the cheapest and most successful strategies of upping organic engagement and rankings, especially among your already loyal base.

Don’t reinvent the wheel! Go through your old post and refresh the links as relevant, keeping in mind the fluid environment within which it now exists. Evergreen content is especially easy for you to recycle and is something your base will actually want to see again after whatever trend that’s hot right now inevitably dies.

Update with the latest info, use current keywords as they relate to SEO, and update meta descriptions. Refresh the format - would this post translate well into an infographic that would be easier to understand and faster to consume? Infographics go over very well and are an easy way to revamp content without having to do much extra work.

Get creative with fresh formats. Would this content work well in a podcast? Could you make individual articles out of a numbered article? Link back to old relevant content to continue the engagement loop. Keep adding value and keep promoting!

8. Get ‘Em Talking

Even our grandmas are on social media these days. If you aren’t using this to your advantage, get with the times! Get people involved in user generated marketing campaigns to help drive engagement and build that brand personality. Any media and content that is generated by your target audience instead of your company falls into this category, from Instagram posts that use your hashtags to comments on your tweets.

Interactive customer-centric marketing campaigns get people engaged and excited about your brand. It is extremely cost effective when done well - the trick is to make sure that you remain visible within the conversation. Just get people talking and spreading your messages!

User-generated content helps reinforce brand authenticity since it’s spontaneously created by your base, without your funds, staging and production. People trust other consumers! Think about how much we rely on people’s reviews over a brand’s product description. Odds are, even if something doesn’t have any reviews yet, you’ll pass.

People want a brand they can trust, and one of the most effective ways to build this trust is by interacting with your base. A survey found that 81% of consumers say they need to be able to trust a brand before they buy from them, and this will come from sustaining long term relationships. It’s all in the long game!

Offer incentives for posts. Nothing gets people going like a little competition and feeling noticed! Develop hashtags and encourage people to use them in exchange for a prize.

The gears will start turning and voila - you just created a team of salespeople and have some quality content developed by loyal customers who love what you do. You’ll continue curating this loyalty and inspire desire in people who are still on the fence. Share these user generated posts (with permission and credit given where it’s due) to foster a sense of support and community!

9. Show Some Personality

Improve Your Marketing

Do some soul searching to identify the values that align with your brand. What does your customer-base value? Embody these values and walk that walk! You need to be consciously and consistently displaying these traits in order for it to become part of who you are and something your brand is known for.

Don’t let your brand take off running on its own while you retroactively decide what you stand for based on how the chips fall. Decide now, and do later.

This should go without saying, but true authenticity is the goal here, not the perception of authenticity. Don’t dupe people in the chase for that quick buck! You will not only turn that person away, but run the risk of souring your entire brand’s reputation and wasting all that effort it took to get there.

  • Remember that your brand wasn’t built by robots. 
    Although most consumer-business interactions these days are virtual and involve automation, we still crave that human element. Show that real people are behind your services to convey authenticity and build that invaluable trust. Your audience is drawn to you for a reason - stay true to that! Choose a voice that resonates with your base so that your messaging sticks, and be consistent with it. Use this opportunity to display the real human nature behind your brand.
  • There will be some trial and error!
    Use A/B testing to see what messaging works best with your audience. Encourage feedback, interact by responding to reviews with authentic (not generic) responses, and be open to suggestions! At the end of the day the purpose of this messaging is to connect your service to your audience, so you need to be matching what they want and speaking their language.
  • Generate authentic, human-to-human interaction.

    Continuously use tactics that reinforce brand recognition and connect to the human on the other end of that device. Your tactics and ROI don’t exist in a vacuum - there is a real person on the other end whose life is being affected in some way, big or small, by your brand. They want to know you, but they can’t get to know you (and definitely can’t trust you) if you keep showing a different face every time they see you.

    Showing authentic personality and building trust go hand in hand with transparency. Don’t be fake, and don’t be shady. Give your customers a sneak peek of what is going on behind closed doors! 66% of surveyed customers say that transparency is one of the most attractive qualities in a brand - take notes!

Again, it’s all in the long game. Truly care about creating and sustaining long term relationships with your consumers with shared values and transparency to build the most loyal base. This is how you stand the test of time and don’t crumble when the world inevitably changes and as we all know... ‘ish happens.

10. Get Personal

It’s easy to fall into tunnel vision and stay laser focused on numbers. We love data (in case you couldn’t tell), but this transfer of services is more than just a simple math equation. There are real people making up those returns, and they can feel how they’re being treated. The effects of your messaging, customer relations, and brand values travel far beyond that simple notification and PR news story.

Today’s consumer wants to feel special and understood. Speak to your consumer, human to human, to build that emotional connection. People are often driven by emotion rather than logic when it comes to customer relations. Think about how you would want to be spoken to and treated! Customer service can completely sour a great brand’s reputation, or promote a stellar reputation in a brand with an OK service. This is the face that people see when they interact directly with their brand - make sure it’s one they want to see again!

Use segmentation data to help do some of the work for you. Understand your consumers’ needs, habits, and beliefs, with real numbers to back it up. Use this segmentation data beyond sheer demographics to help customize their experience with your brand, doing more than just using their name in an email subject line. Personalization helps decrease new customer acquisition costs by up to 50% - your customer gets what they want, and you get what you want. Win-win!

72% of consumers only interact with brands that send personalized messages. (Smart Insights)

Customers feel frustrated by marketing that feels irrelevant and impersonal, and 90% of people are willing to provide personal behavioral information if it means a more frictionless experience with your brand. In fact, 72% of surveyed consumers say they only interact with brands that send personalized messages! With ad overload, everything impersonal runs the risk of being deemed unnecessary and contributes to friction. We just don’t have the bandwidth to take it all in.

Concluding Thoughts

Today’s marketing is all about filling the void with meaningful connections and purpose. Think beyond dollar signs and act with intention. Small everyday improvements are your best tactic in overall continuous quality improvement! The goal is to keep making efforts to learn about your customer and how what you offer fits into their current reality, and the big picture.

By committing to continuously learning and avoiding getting stuck in your ways, you avoid getting having to play “catch-up” in the future. It takes more effort upfront but keeps you ahead of the game!

When you understand what’s meaningful to your customer and connect the dots to meet them there, your brand serves a bigger purpose than the simple business transaction. Find your purpose and use the tactics that’ll make it happen.