The internet has changed the world. Most would say for the better, especially those of us running an online business. When it comes to business, marketing has never been so easy as it is today - with access to a plethora of digital marketing channels.
But, with ease of access come more challenges.
Despite there being so many ways to get our message out there, the scale of options in marketing can cause headaches. Some of these are well publicised, others are more of the sort that are just annoying.
As a digital marketer, these are some of the common problems that you may encounter in 2021.
One of the big problems with a fast-changing digital environment is the fact that things change. And not everyone stays up to date or even takes those changes on board.
If you're working with a marketing manager who is a bit out of the loop, this can present problems in the form of outdated practices.
With things like search engine optimisation, the updates come thick and fast and, in all honesty, no-one really knows exactly what changes have even been presented.
As a content marketer, catching up with what Google have changed is part of what I do. But small businesses, freelancers and even bigger corporate marketing managers struggle to make sense of the changes and implement them, meaning that some marketing efforts aren't quite as successful as they'd hope.
Google put the details of their updates on the Search Central site. If you're doing any form of content marketing, it's worth checking in from time to time.
It's also a good idea to follow marketers on Twitter or Linkedin to stay up to date. Neil Patel is an essential follow for anyone in content marketing.
And sites like Search Engine Journal are also crucial for up-to-date info on current trends in the world of search marketing.
Keyword research? Competitor analysis? Task management and team communications?
Todays professional marketer has an insane array of tabs open on the top of their browser at any one time. From Trello, Zoom and Slack, to Google Sheets, Monday, Ahrefs and SpyFu.
On top of this, weighing up the benefits of a pro package versus the free option can be a headache too. Can I make do with the free version of Uber Suggest? Should I get SEM Rush or Ahrefs for keyword research?
Considering that many of our jobs didn't even exist 20 years ago, the problem of choosing effective tools is one that most marketers are ill equipped to deal with.
If you're a freelance marketer such as myself, it's often a case of choosing one or two big tools and making them count. Often the free packages are sufficient, and if you have a regular client you may get access to their premium tools.
In my job, tools like SEO Surfer, Keywords Everywhere and Ahrefs are invaluable and more than worth their money.
But of course, you'll need to identify which marketing tools you need to do your own job effectively.
Now, you wouldn't think that a world full of communication tools would make for a big problem with communication. But, in 2021, we're still in the grip of a pandemic and the actual act of communicating still means Zoom or Google Meet.
Another issue that I find is that communication is done through multiple channels. You'll have a weekly Zoom meeting, a barrage of emails, a few WhatsApp messages, a direct one to one phone call, maybe even a message on Linkedin and then, to top it off, a Facebook message.
Wait, where was that attachment again? Where is the message from Boss Man with the brief? Was there a brief? Or was it just sent on WhatsApp?
Marketing is often based on clear communication. We need to know our client's goals, project milestones, KPI's from week to week and more.
Zoom meetings are fine, to a point (he says through gritted teeth). But the truth is, sometimes you just need to chat to someone one to one to get a straight answer.
I try (and often fail) to keep track of stuff in task management software and keep notes after meetings. However, it takes a short lapse of concentration, or an email conversation that you're not actually following but are mentioned in and, Hey Presto! Where's that file again?
Being organised is a key part of being a digital marketer in 2021.
Fraud on digital marketing campaigns is something that has always been around, but has reached staggering levels. But is this one of the biggest problems in marketing in 2021?
Although click fraud is sometimes seen as a victimless crime, it actually cost the marketing industry at least $35 billion in 2020. That's more than credit card fraud and any other form of digital or cyber crime.
For digital marketers, this is probably the biggest fraud threat out there, and is actually one that affects 90% of all pay per click ad campaigns. And it doesn't just affect the marketing budget, it also affects KPIs, conversions and even your trust in an ad platform.
Keeping an eye on your PPC metrics is key to avoiding click fraud on your paid ads. Watch out for big surges in traffic, high bounce rates and clicks from unusual sources .
Better still, automate your click fraud prevention with one of the many fraud prevention vendors such as ClickCease or Cheq.
If you've ever weighed up a marketing budget and wondered where best to spend it, you'll have come up with the search vs social dilemma.
Getting your message out there, and showcasing your brand, usually leverages these two platforms. Some might also target print; and email remains an effective channel too.
But when it comes to finding a channel that isn't saturated with ads, and cutting through the noise, let's be honest... It's getting harder and harder.
Ads on platforms like Instagram are often seen as intrusive and not entirely effective. Paid search ads can be very expensive and have a relatively low ROI, and is it even worth paying for ads on Bing, Duck Duck Go, TikTok or Snapchat?
As marketers, our job is to find the most effective channel and make it work. That's what we do.
Yes, the noise is getting louder and it can be increasingly complex working out how to get our clients (or our businesses) the best value for money.
Understanding how to cut through the noise and make your marketing as effective as it can be is an ongoing challenge for all of us. The best way to stay on top is to stay abreast of new marketing channels (the growth of 'stories' on multiple platforms has changed the game for many) and understand how to improve your content game.
Own your niche, don't spread yourself too thin (hey, if you don't do video content, don't sweat it!) and be a maverick as often as you can be. Oh and never stop learning.
Marketing today needs a nearly never-ending conveyor belt of fresh content. The more the better, or so it seems.
And it's not just a case of banging out a blog every month either. Now you need to have a strategy of regular targeted content on your website and Linkedin; engaging social media posts with perfectly curated images and hashtags; and maybe some video guides on your YouTube too.
Hang on, do I need a podcast? Should I be providing guest posts too? Maybe I should just do an interpretive dance routine in the town square to bring customers in...?
The sheer volume of content that we need to create can be overwhelming. So how can a marketer in 2021 get over this challenge?
Again, it all comes down to strategy and targeting. Many marketers, even in 2021, still don't do their demographic research or build avatars to help them target their marketing.
This is isn't even groundbreaking stuff, and can be put together in a morning (assuming you already have some business to look back on).
With some solid research and avatars, you can tailor your content creation to what are (in theory) the most effective channels, and avoid wasting time and money catering to everyone everywhere.
There is no doubt that marketing is a growth industry and one that is evolving rapidly.
Today marketing is much easier and customisable than it was even five to ten years ago. And, if you can make sense of the tools and the channels available, it can be very rewarding for both business owners and professional digital marketers.
When it comes to avoiding the problems with digital marketing in 2021, it comes down to three simple factors.
Have I missed anything? Let me know in the comments...