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Top 3 Marketing Challenges in 2021

Posted 8th July 2021
By David Langdown

As HubSpot partners, Focus7 has access to a fantastic, integrated CRM, Sales Process and Marketing Automation tool. But more than that, we are part of a peer community and benefit from an enormous amount of learning via the HubSpot Academy and from the trends and insights that we receive on a daily basis.

Here, I am pleased to share with you some highlights from a recent blog that highlights the biggest marketing challenges faced today, and offers solutions to how you might address them.

The survey that identified the challenges was conducted amongst 120 marketing professionals during the first half of 2021.

“Generating traffic and leads” was by far the number one issue, marked by nearly half as the biggest challenge marketers are facing this year. 

This was followed by 21% who said “providing ROI for your marketing activities” was their biggest challenge. 

“Delivering an account-based marketing strategy” (8%), “securing enough budget” (6%), and “managing your website” (5%) were the other three notable challenges that made up the top 5. 

1. Generating Traffic and Leads

John Lee, Head of Evangelism at Microsoft Advertising, believes that generating leads will be a particularly big challenge for marketers in 2021. He says, “Getting quality traffic isn’t a challenge today, and likely won’t be tomorrow. There has been growth in search and content marketing in 2021. New channels continue to surface and show promise, too (TikTok or audio chat rooms anyone?).”

“Through the 2nd half of 2021 and beyond, the challenges will lie elsewhere – maintaining and growing leads or sales, tracking and scaling, etc.”

Lee adds, “Sea change is the phrase that comes to mind for the state of digital marketing today. Change in the realm of privacy, identity, and changes to cookies. Change in the form of lost data clarity (will cookie-based conversion tracking continue to work, GA4, access to search queries, etc.). And all of this sits within the context of change to how and where we work and economies in flux as the world continues to move through the pandemic.”

Fortunately, privacy changes don’t mean the end of generating leads — they simply mean learning how to re-think strategy. 

“To weather this storm of change, marketers need to be vigilant in monitoring and understanding industry-wide acceptance of privacy protocols and updates to search, social, and display/native platforms (consumer-side and marketing/advertising-side). And last, but not least — lean into the power of peer support and networking for sharing best practices and learning.”

Additionally, marketers are struggling with producing enough demand for their content. And as the years progress and competition stiffens, this will only become truer. 

What can you do?

When asked how they’d most like to learn about a product or service in 2021, 69% said they’d prefer to watch a short video over a text-based article, infographic, or ebook. This means, if most of your product-related content is in ebook format, you could be missing out on the majority of consumers who prefer video.

Additionally, the length of videos produced by businesses is increasing. In fact, the number of videos in the 30-60 minute category grew 140% in 2021, compared to 2019 — suggesting that long-form video content is becoming a more popular option for companies. 

Use effective tools to properly track the types of content that performs best with your audience to generate more leads in 2021. 

Additionally, once you know you’re creating the type of content your audience wants, the focus shifts to promoting it in a way that makes your audience take notice.

More than ever before, people are being flooded with content. Consumers don’t have to use a search engine to find answers. Instead, articles fill their news feed or buzz in their pocket via mobile notifications. To keep up, consider exploring alternate distribution methods — like social media or podcasting — to increase brand awareness. 

2. Providing the ROI of Your Marketing Activities

Measuring the ROI (return on investment) of your marketing activities has remained a top marketing challenge globally year-over-year.

In fact, when asked how confident marketers are when making budgeting decisions to invest in programs that influence revenue, roughly half (48%) said they were only somewhat confident.

It continues to be a vital way for marketers to understand the effectiveness of each particular marketing campaign or piece of content.

Plus, proving ROI often goes hand-in-hand with making an argument to increase budget: No ROI tracking, no demonstrable ROI. No ROI, no budget.

Why it’s a challenge

Although return on investment is a crucial stat that shows your campaigns success or progress, tracking the ROI of every single marketing activity isn’t always easy, especially if you don’t have two-way communication between your marketing activities and sales reports.

What can you do?

Providing ROI often comes down to using effective analytics measurement tools. For instance, Beautiful.ai Director of Marketing Kim Giroux says, “Marketers are constantly challenged to illustrate the ROI of their efforts and 2021 is no exception. Proving ROI doesn’t always have to mean extra work or effort though. In fact, certain technologies bake ROI into existing work processes.”

Christina Mautz, CMO of Moz, believes measuring ROI comes down to redefining the marketing process as a whole. She says, “My biggest challenge, and one all marketers face in providing ROI, is the prospect of meeting traditional KPIs in the modern workspace.”

Mautz says, “Instead of leads and trade show success, marketing wins are now largely digital: engaging prospects and generating more clicks, downloads, and page visits. To better measure marketing progress, we have to redefine the marketing process, encouraging collaboration with sales and reaching KPIs together.”

“For example, statistics such as page visits per sale or rising higher in the search engine results page (SERP) give marketers and SEOs tangible evidence as to how their work is meeting their ROI. New buying patterns and a customer-centric world require a divergence from the old, but measuring ROI will look far different than it did before and some leaders may not understand how or why.”

When it comes to providing ROI, there’s a strong case to be made for dedicating time and resources to establishing links between marketing activities and sales results. This means using both marketing software (like HubSpot) and a CRM solution (like HubSpot’s free CRM), and then tying them together to close the loop between your marketing and sales efforts with a service-level agreement (SLA). That way, you can directly see how many leads and customers are generated through your marketing activities.

3. Securing Enough Budget

How can you create a winning marketing campaign without a budget? The truth is, it’s pretty hard. But, even when you have a great revenue-generating idea, you still usually need to get your budget approved by someone higher-up.

Particularly in the aftermath of the global pandemic, some companies don’t have the means to increase marketing budgets in 2021. As a result, marketers are faced with the challenge of achieving high levels of growth with minimal financial support. 

Why it’s a challenge

Securing more budget is a pressing challenge for marketing globally. And often, getting more budget is easier said than done, especially for smaller organisations that aren’t working with sizable or flexible marketing spend.

But the key to securing more money for your team might not be that complex. Here’s what you can do to support your effort.

What can you do?

The key to unlocking a budget lies in being able to prove the ROI of your marketing efforts. According to the report, organisations that can calculate ROI are more likely to receive higher budgets.

Again, success with inbound marketing also plays a large role in driving higher budgets. Effective strategies obviously produce results and make a strong case for increasing the budget. But remember, inbound marketing is a long game. 

It takes time to start filling your prospect pipeline, and a slow start is ALWAYS POSSIBLE, however, be realistic and patient, resisting the temptation to back off. Inbound, brand-led marketing is proven to be effective and once your brand is established, a steady flow of leads will become the order of the day.

If you would like any help with lead generation, demonstrating an ROI for your marketing or building an inbound strategy to support a budget, or vice versa, please get in touch – we would be very happy to help.

CMO at Focus7

David Langdown is co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Focus7, a purpose-driven, brand-led growth agency. David has been a Fellow of the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing since 2003. He has an Advanced Professional Diploma in Psychotherapeutic Counselling and is a practising counsellor.

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