Ronn Torossian
Ronn Torossian

“This is a new year. A new beginning. And things will change.” Taylor Swift said these words more than five years ago, but the songwriter couldn’t have described 2021 more accurately to marketers today if she wanted to.

Two dramatic marketing changes were the centerpiece of a recent Mastercard survey. The first was that 77 percent of consumers are choosing to shop locally. The second was 75 percent who said they preferred shopping this past holiday season at merchants who shared their same values and would prefer not receiving a gift at all over getting one that was purchased from a retailer whose values didn’t match up with theirs.

Indications from earlier surveys point to continued support for both trends in 2021. Regardless of how much one or both indicators maintain throughout 2021, marketers still have a lot to consider in their digital strategies. The conclusion of a 2020 analysis of 691 global companies in 25 industries by relationship marketing firm Sendinblue was that email would continue to maintain its popularity with consumers. It reported that the average ROI for email marketing is four times higher than any other channel.

There were some interesting discoveries in Sendinblue’s analysis. It reported that the fashion and beauty industry had the highest volume of emails last year while insurance had the lowest. What may be more valuable to marketers is that it found the best times to send B2B emails early on Mondays and Tuesdays. For B2C, they reported the best were weekends or afternoons on weekdays. Sendinblue recommended these top five priorities for 2021 email marketing. Heading the list were general data protection regulation compliant registration forms, followed by transparency. Next were sender ID variations like [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected], personalization that covered subject lines, CTAs (calls to action), content and linguistic style, and finally, direct speech and strong verbs. The second major prediction by Mastercard is no surprise to most marketers. It was that content marketing would continue to be important. Only six percent of those surveys don’t rely on content marketing.

SEMrush’s more recent survey of more than 1,500 global marketers discovered a larger number who didn’t have a content strategy—more than 16 percent. And only 11 percent of those who had a strategy thought theirs was excellent. Lead generation, website traffic and improving the brand’s reputation were cited as the top reasons for employing content marketing. The top five tactics used in 2020 and expected to be employed this year were SEO, repurposing content, how-to guides and educational content, optimizing the customer journey and video and visual content. Articles with 1,501 to 2,000 words and those with 5,001 to 7,000+ words generated the highest shareability, according to SEMrush. On the other hand, articles with 3,000 to 7,000+ words had the most unique page views, so it would appear that articles exceeding 5,000 words are generally the best.

Finally, headlines that performed the best for shares, page views and backlinks were in the following four formats: lists, guides, how-to and questions. The best performing H1 tags or headings were 10 to 13 words, while content with six or seven images worked best in securing unique pageviews and shares. Inserting one to three videos into articles helped increase shares, unique page views and backlinks.

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Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR firm.