by Allison Wood

November 24, 2020

This is part two in a four-part series about planning your 2021 marketing communications initiatives. Click here to read more.

Be warned – I am about to utter the one sentence you may be most tired of hearing since early March 2020. This year has been unprecedented­. Yet somehow, someway, it is almost over and now you are expected to plan your marketing and advertising strategy for 2021.

2020 taught us a lot and one of those lessons was that “planning” is a myth; but we can still do our best to be as prepared as possible, for whatever the next year throws at us – particularly if this year was your organization’s first dip into the world of digital advertising and marketing.

While most of the country was homebound, our lives turned even more digital than we thought possible. Every event (personal and professional) turned into a video call and every shopping spree was being done online. This forced brands (maybe including yours) to amplify their digital efforts or maybe even start them.

Check my tips out below to find out how best to learn from your 2020 digital performance and improve your 2021 digital efforts.

Review 2020 performance with a year-in-review. Do your organization a favor and put together a year-in-review presentation. It does not have to be fancy, but it does need to be a succinct document showcasing this year’s successes and failures. Think of it as a quick guide to how your digital efforts performed in 2020. Be sure to include:

  • Channel performance breakdown
    • This is your results on each digital channel. It could include paid social, paid search, search engine optimization, email and more.
  • Overall performance
    • How did the channels you implemented work together? What were the overall performance metrics and results?
  • Outline next steps
    • Consider what channels and goals you should continue into 2021. Ask yourself:
      • Where did I see the best results or ROI?
      • Did I meet my 2020 goals? Can I exceed them in 2021?
      • Did I fail to meet my goals? How should I adjust 2021 campaigns to better suit them? Which brings us to my next point…

Revisit goals. Now that you have your year-in-review as a reliable guide to 2020 performance, consider what you would like to accomplish in 2021. Evaluate your current KPIs to make sure they align with your organization’s overall goals. If they do, how can you improve year-over-year? A good rule of thumb is to aim for 10% growth across digital initiatives each year.

Review audience behavior. With your goals in mind, check in on your target audience’s behavior. Quarantine changed many people’s behavior, but has it stayed that way or changed again? Checking in on your audience’s behavior is a great way to ensure you are advertising or optimizing the channels they are already using.

Determine budget. As the graph shows, digital advertising budget forecasts have changed drastically this year. While your organization’s budgets may have become tighter, overall ad spending is expected to continue to increase until 2024. Once you have reviewed 2020 performance and determined your goals, channels, and strategy from there, you can narrow in on your budget. Just remember to be flexible. 2020 showed us everything can change in nearly an instant.

Interested in talking through your 2021 digital advertising and marketing plan? Shoot me a note.