Agency Roundup: Digital Marketing Trends to Leave Behind


We’re already a few months into 2020, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late for a fresh start. If your digital marketing strategy seems a bit stale, it might be time to take a closer look at which methods might be a bit too outdated to be effective. 

Our experts are weighing in on what their own firms are focusing on this year. But you know what they say: in with the new and out with the old. In order to figure out your next steps, you’ll need to identify what you want to leave behind. Here are just a few techniques you won’t want to keep as part of your strategy.

Sales-Driven Content

You’ve no doubt heard that content is king. Even with so many changes in digital marketing, that still rings true. But that’s not to say that all content is created equal. 

Consumers are inundated with ads on a near constant basis. No one really wants to read slick ad copy that underestimates their ability to discern they’re being sold something. 

If you’re still resorting to old sales tactics in order to produce content for your site, you need to get with the times. Stop pushing for sales and cease the endless self-promotion. Telling a web visitor how great you are or how your product is the best simply isn’t going to cut it.

Instead, your content needs to provide value. It needs to be informational, interesting, or even entertaining. It’s not about hitting someone over the head with the reasons they need your product or service; it’s about offering something helpful in the hopes that the reader will like your brand more as a result.

Overuse of Automation

Automation can actually be a great way to streamline your operations, save money, and even improve user experience. But using too much of it — or using it in the wrong ways — can hurt more than help.

You’ll want to be strategic with how you use automation to your advantage. While chatbots can help you improve your sales funnel and provide customer service at any hour of the day, those same benefits might not translate when utilizing social media automation, for example.

Since customers want to have a real conversation on social media, automating your posts isn’t really the best strategy. These platforms provide the opportunity for connection and community, so don’t miss out on the chance to provide those offerings to your customers in real time. 

While it’s not inherently wrong to turn to automation, you’ll need to be careful about having too much of a good thing. If you do use automated tools to streamline your digital marketing, make sure that your marketing still offers the personalization that customers want to see so as not to miss out.

Non-Purposeful Content

We’ve discussed the problem of sales-driven content, but we also want to talk about content that doesn’t serve a distinct purpose. 

In many cases, this content is created without a specific strategy in mind. It causes businesses to spend a lot of time and money on content that isn’t utilized properly or that simply isn’t effective. This can happen when businesses want to have a single piece of content created in order to evaluate whether the investment in marketing is worth it.

Unfortunately, this often sets agencies up for failure. Content marketing is strongest when it’s performed consistently. Having one solid piece of content on a website is a start, but it’s not going to move the needle a whole lot. Unless the content happens to go viral (and that shouldn’t be your only goal), it’s unlikely that one blog post or infographic will skyrocket a business to success.

Make sure that when developing a strategy, each piece of content has a defined purpose and can be implemented properly. If you’re coming up with ideas for content on the fly or you believe that one post will be plenty, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice.

Now that you know the main trends to leave behind — and how to avoid these mistakes altogether — you’ll be able to make informed decisions about your digital marketing that can translate to success.

Quality Communication

“No matter how good a CRM or email automation, it takes regular and clearly stated top-down communications to launch, transform, and stay on a path that delivers better customer experiences and make sales more efficient, predictable, and data-rich,” says Doug Kilarski of Douglas USA.

“A poorly managed PPC campaign can end up costing more than the revenue it brings in! Here are seven of the most often overlooked elements when optimizing PPC campaigns: Make your landing page the best it can possibly be Optimize negative keywords Use the right keyword match types Fill out all available ad content Use every relevant ad extension Adjust your bids for different geo locations Look for opportunities to optimize for different device types There is no silver bullet to a perfect PPC campaign, but there are many levers you can adjust to maximize your outcomes,” says Caitlin Holt of Hitch Agency.

Increase in Ad Spend

“2020 saw lots of organizations tightening their belts in the first half of the year in response to Covid-19 fears. This drove down impression costs and resulted in cheaper traffic for savvy organizations that held fast, followed by “panic spending” by more reactive companies in the latter half of the year,” says Ryan Hickey of Hickey Digital.

“Expect concerns about Covids impact to remain top of mind – I expect retailers to have learned their lessons and continue maintaining consistent spending throughout 2021, albeit possibly with cautious budgets. Also expect to see more virtual events, with live event marketing still in an uncertain place.”

Social Marketing

“Social marketing provides brands & professionals the unique opportunity to reach a larger audience than traditional, non-digital avenues,” says Shannon Lazoski of The Lazov Agency.

Live-Streams And Influencer Marketing

“I think there is an increase in Live-streams and influencer content.
Stay at home orders meant events were canceled, and consumers were unable to attend in-person events. They weren’t even able to socialize with their friends and family,” says Sammy Zhou of FlexClip.

“This led to an uptick in the number of people tuning into live-streams, whether it was a branded live-stream, a live video from their favorite celebrity, or an online workshop.”

“Digital marketing is your sure-fire road to success. Stop posting content that you think people should be interested in, analyze your audience, and become what your people are interested in,” says Stacey Chillemi of The Complete Herbal Guide.

Provide Value and Education

“In digital marketing and social media specifically, it’s all about providing value and education,” says Bo Turner of BoCo Collective Marketing Agency. “Not just value to my client, but how can my client provide value to their clients. No one wants to be sold, so providing content that’s balanced is key. Content should educate, inspire, entertain or promote. These four pillars are key to provide variety and keep your audiences engaged. Now let’s go a level deeper, and get creative with the formats in which these pillars are being portrayed. “We’ve found a mix of photography 60%, graphics 20%, videos 20%, and GIFs (photos or graphics) is great for creating an engaging yet balanced Instagram feed.” Through telling the founder’s and business story, we inspire customers to have a reason to feel good about their purchase. It’s awkward to talk about yourself, so let us humbly brag about you :)”

Creating A Community

“In 2021, consumers will care more about your company values, your commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and your ability to follow through on the promise of creating a community,” says Vix Reitano of Agency 6B. “Digital Marketing is MORE than the experience a prospect has with your brand online – it’s how you weave that experience across every touchpoint of your business.”

Most Powerful Marketing Strategy Is SEO

“The most powerful long term digital marketing strategy is SEO,” Joey Trends of Joey Trend. “SEO, not only builds your reputation with a number one listing, but it also gives you re-occurring traffic. Ditch paying over and over with ads and invest in good SEO.”

Reach People

“Digital marketing success in 2021 is about reaching people where they’re at,” says Nick Deck of Heroes of Marketing. “Right now many people/businesses are prioritizing solving their most pressing issues first and holding off on lower priority items.”

“Identify which of your prospect’s problems need to be solved first and tailor your marketing to those areas. The channels and technical stuff isn’t the problem, it’s where you focus your resources. Also, evaluate how the problem solving process has changed for them. How are they researching solutions now versus a year ago?”

“Finally, adapt your offerings to meet people where they are right now. If they need help with problem A but not problem B but typically you do both as a package offering, give them the option to get started solving problem A so they see the value of solving problem B.”

Mobile Advertising

“Geo conquesting, device detection at the address level, is the holy grail of mobile advertising,” says Bob Bentz of Purplegator. “We are going to see increased improvement in the technology and the ability to target consumers at the micro level.”

Conversion Rate Optimization

“At Athena Integrated Marketing, we take a unique and highly effective approach to conversion rate optimization,” says Diem Sepp. “We believe it is essential to let our client’s passion show through in our website builds and in their content marketing. Website visitors react positively to understanding our client’s why, which leads to higher conversion rates and more loyal customers.”


“Videos are hot, hot, hot! Live videos on Facebook, Instagram are key to stay relevant and to talk to your customer,” says Kaitlyn Study of South Street & Co. “With TikTok and Instagram Reels, there are more opportunities than ever for businesses to get out and to teach and educate their ideal audience.”

Influencer Market

“The influencer market is shifting and brands know it! Macro influencer have force fed products and brands to their audience for years, and it’s starting to catch up to them,” says Maggie Rummel of Real Faces Agency. “Consumers are craving authenticity and realness, meaning we are seeing a big drop in interest and trust from the typical influencer campaigns. Brands are noticing a spike in profit/engagement on digital campaigns when paired with micro influencers. 2021 will see a big growth in micro influencer marketing campaigns that will rattle the typical influencer ecosystem that’s been built up over the last decade. Consumers have been screaming for authenticity and that includes the talent you keep.”

Long-Tail Keywords

“Understand how to use your long-tail keywords in your blogs. Some blog posts are best written with an authentic tone from inside a company,” says Chad Little of Zelative. “We have made progress on stubborn keywords by working with our clients to create some internal posts that are optimized for targeted keyword phrases.”

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