6 digital marketing examples to learn from in 2021
6 digital marketing examples to learn from in 2021
- Talk about your competition
- Simple calls-to-action make a big impact
- The offer of personalized value
- The art of direct comparisons
- Facebook ads that tell a relatable story
- Let your customers do the talking
Back in January 2020, I wrote an article on the best digital marketing examples to aspire to. Then, you know, the world turned upside down, and the world we do business in completely changed.
Last year’s list had some great examples including Dominos embracing AI, augmented reality, and shoppable content.
These are still marketing tools that even small businesses should explore, but, after all of the changes we’ve experienced in the last 12 months, I decided to take a step back and look at some simpler digital marketing examples that both embrace marketing fundamentals, while making a major impact on your bottom line.
These aren’t just examples you can leverage right now, they are assets and tactics that you can use to scale and maintain long-term success.
What makes good digital marketing?
It’s quite simple actually.
Good digital marketing focuses on the wants and needs of your buyers. Your customer is the hero, not you! Your buyer wants to know if your product or service can help solve their problems and if your marketing isn’t answering that question for them, immediately, you’ve got a problem.
Good digital marketing also takes risks. Marketers cannot be afraid to face tough questions, compare themselves to others, and talk openly about the positives and negatives of their products. When you do, you’re showing your customers you have nothing to hide and that they can trust you.
So, how do you achieve great digital marketing in 2021?
Well, here are some examples to get you started.
1. AQUILA: Talking about your competition
If you’re a regular follower of IMPACT, you’ve almost certainly heard of “The Big 5.” These are the five best business blog topics that will help you generate traffic, leads, and sales. They are:
- Cost and pricing
- Problems (theirs and yours)
- Comparisons and versus
- Best of lists (best in class, best practices)
These topics drive results because they make up the most commonly asked questions that your prospects are searching for when making a purchase. It seems straightforward, right? Simply answer the questions your customers are asking. Yet, so many businesses are still afraid to tackle these subjects.
AQUILA, a commercial real estate company in Austin, Texas, wasn’t afraid to answer a tough question with their blog article, “8 Best Commercial Real Estate Companies in Austin Texas.”
Now, you might be thinking “why would I write about my competition on my own website?”
I get it; It seems almost counterintuitive to talk about why your competition is so great, but this type of comparison is what your customers are searching for to make an informed buying decision.
🔎 Related: How to write about your competitors on your business blog or website
When you write this type of article, and your competition doesn’t, guess who shows up at the top of search results? Guess who gets to take control of the conversation? You do.
If you look at AQUILA’s article and you’ll notice that they haven’t put themselves on this list.
Was this a horrible oversight on their part? Why would you not want to name yourself one of the best in the business?
Well, what they did here is actually brilliant. Look at how they introduce the article:
“It can be overwhelming looking for the best commercial real estate firms in Austin. We at AQUILA hear this from potential clients every day. Between Google searches, word-of-mouth recommendations and cold calls from potential brokers, it can be difficult to know who to trust.
While AQUILA offers a full suite of commercial real estate services and are confident that we can help solve your real estate needs, from investment services and tenant representation to property leasing and management, we also understand that it is important to know your options.
For that reason, we have compiled a complete list of who we consider to be the best commercial real estate firms in Austin, Texas.”
Right here in the introduction, they’ve taken the opportunity to introduce themselves and what they can do for their customers. They’ve also made it clear that this article isn’t about them; it’s about you, as a reader. They want you to know that this article is about giving you the information you need to make an informed decision, even if that means not buying from them.
Notice as they go on to describe their competition, they give straightforward facts. It’s not opinion or an opportunity to bash anyone:
Again, they’re not ignoring the good or the bad. They’re simply giving their readers all of the information they need to make the best choice for themselves.
Would you trust a business that’s willing to give you this level of transparent and honest information about their own competition? I would bet, yes!
How can you create content like this?
Here are some good tips from my colleague Kevin Phillips on how to talk about your competition on your blog:
- Start a list of your biggest competitors and start locally. Not sure who they? This would be a good time to hit up Google and start checking out who, nearby, offers similar products or services to you.
- Find out how long they have been in business. This should be easy to find through their Google My Business listings (if they have one) or on their website with a little digging.
- It’s good to note if your competition has received any awards, certifications or whether or not they have the necessary compliances (if applicable to your industry). This information should also be on their website. These are also things you want to make sure are on your website, if you have them. During your research, make note of what their specialities are. Are they known for anything in particular? This will help you differentiate what they do vs. what you do.
- If you’re in retail, find out what brands your competitors carry. If a customer is looking for something specific and you show that your competition doesn’t carry it, you’re helping that customer save a lot of time and headaches!
- Think about your customers and what questions they most frequently ask you. Is there anything else you think they might want to know about your competitors? Write it down and make sure to note them in your article.
Remember: Talking about your competition in your digital marketing is NOT off-limits, but you do need to so from a place of unbias. Keep your reader in mind when writing this type of content.
Again, it’s not about you, it’s about them.
2. Netflix: Simple calls-to-action
You can have the best content in the world on your website, but, if you don’t have a solid call-to-action that gives your customers a reason to further engage with your brand, you’re missing the mark.
Whether it’s to sign-up for a newsletter or to make a purchase, a call-to-action button is designed to prompt immediate action from your customers; to do something specific on your website.
It is a crucial piece of your digital marketing — but it shouldn't be complicated.
Every business website needs to have clearly defined calls-to-action, and Netflix does this extremely well.
One red button, with a clear offer to try Netflix for 30 days, free. That’s it. Great digital marketing doesn’t have to be complex, folks!
This call-to-action does three things extremely well:
- It’s easy to find
- They’ve addressed any concerns the user may have right there above the button
- If that’s still not enough information, there is an option to learn even more should I want to.
It’s simple, direct, and doesn’t make users wonder what they should be doing next.
Simplicity is good. In fact, you should embrace it across all of your digital marketing. If you’re confusing or frustrating for a buyer to understand, they’ll likely ignore you and turn to a competitor who makes things easier.
How do you set-up a strong call-to-action on your homepage?
First of all, don’t overthink this! Again, simple is better.
- Focus on one main action. Do you want your customers to start a free trial, like Netflix? Or, do you want them to “Buy Now.” Whatever it is, use that as your one call-to-action on the page.
- Repeat your call-to-action. The Netflix example showcases a very short page, with only one button leading to the free trial. Yours could be a long page, with more copy. That’s ok. Make sure to repeat your call-to-action mid-page and at the bottom.
- Set expectations. Let your customer know what will happen when they click that CTA. Think about any fears they may have. Netflix let their customers know that the trial is risk-free, they are free to cancel at any time, and won’t be charged a dime.
3. WordStream: The offer of personalized value
Creating a compelling offer for your customers is a great way to generate leads and get interest from prospects who may be on the fence.
A marketing offer can include anything from a discount to a free consultation or even content like a download or exclusive video. Whatever your offer is, it needs to provide value for your customers. In exchange for that value, your customer will be willing to give you useful data like their email address or even their credit card.
Here is an example from WordStream, an online advertising company:
Why is this such a good offer? Because it offers unique value.
Unlike a static piece of content, this offer gives prospects the opportunity to receive valuable insights and advice specific to them. They get a taste of what WordStream can offer them personally first-hand.
Their promotion of this offer is also noteworthy.
For one, their copy hits hit on a problem that their average user is likely facing: wasting too much time. If I’m someone running Google Ads, and spending hours upon hours a week sifting through data, this hits home.
Second, the language they are using is empowering to the user. The headline “Know More, Waste Less” lets me know that they have a solution that will give me the information I need without spending countless hours on it.
“Take back your work week” is like a rallying cry. Who wouldn’t want to do that?
Last, below the call-to-action is one of the most powerful lines and links in the offer, albeit small. “No thanks, I’d rather work all day” By clicking this and not the call-to-action, the user has to say to themselves “actually I’d rather do more work” vs. taking Wordstream up on their offer to make life easier.
WordStream was also able to place this offer in front of prospects at multiple touch-points.
The first is a pop-up (seen above) that users are served on articles within the WordStream site. In this situation, you already have an interested user on your page, reading your content. This is a great way to now propose an offer they can’t refuse and can’t immediately ignore.
The second touch is their homepage.
Here, you can easily see the Grade My Google Ads Account offer is prominent and stands out immediately. The copy above tells me what they do and how they can help my business, while the offer lets me get a piece of that value for free.
After clicking the CTA on either of these offers, I’m brought here:
First, I’m being given the opportunity to understand how my ads are performing right now. Second, they are hitting on common pain points like too much time wasted during the week and wanting more leads for less money with my advertising. Third, WordStream makes it really easy for me to pop in my email address with the promise of important data, that could save me money, within minutes.
WordStream knows that your email address is valuable. In order to get it, they’ve got to offer something that’s of equal or greater value to you, the customer.
Within minutes, WordStream has gained the trust of their prospects, given them something of high value (for little to no risk), and they’ve now got one more prospect in their sales pipeline.
How can you leverage offers on your website?
Offers and lead magnets are nothing new in digital marketing, but, here’s how you can best leverage them in your digital marketing:
- Provide real value to your customers. WordStream is providing valuable insights into your Google Ads account for free. What’s the equivalent in your business?
- Keep form fields to a minimum. Don’t request more private information than you really need in exchange for your offer. . The WordStream example above only asks for an email address. The less you ask the customer to do, the more likely they are to take you up on the offer. Make sure you have a strong follow-up plan. Once you’ve delivered the value to your customer, you have built trust and started your relationship with them. Make sure you have a strong sales sequence to follow-up on what you’ve provided to nurture that prospect through their buying journey.
4. Floor Design Center in Connecticut: The art of direct comparisons
Think back to The Big 5 articles I mentioned above. I gave you one example of a comparison article, now here’s another. This one focuses on the concept of “versus” meaning a direct comparison between two or more things.
Let’s say you sell vinyl siding for houses and your competition down the street sells wood. Don’t you think that a potential customer in the market for new siding, just might be wondering which is better for their home?
When spending your hard-earned money on a major purchase, you want to know things like what the cost differences are, how the durability of each option will work with your lifestyle, etc.
Can you spend a ton of time on Google searching for information on each and then compare them yourself? Yes. But, wouldn’t you rather read a simple comparison, written by an expert, in one place? I’d think so.
Floor Design Center in Connecticut took this concept into their own blog, beautifully.
In this article, titled “Porcelain wood look tile vs luxury vinyl plan, an honest comparison,” they compare two common types of flooring options to help readers make an informed buying decision.
🔎Related: Keep these 5 best practices handy for writing your next comparison article!
Upfront, they clearly state the categories they’ll be comparing. They then flesh out each of these areas with detailed, honest, and transparent descriptions and information that a buyer would want to know.
In this case, Floor Design Center sells both options. Sure, they’d probably like if you bought the more expensive of the two, but are they pushing one over the other? Nope. They are leaving that choice up to the customer.
Even if they didn’t sell both options, it’s likely that a prospect has checked out multiple vendors, trying to determine which type of flooring is better for their home. Who do you think is more likely to hear from this customer? It’s the company that gave them a thoughtful, honest answer to one of their biggest questions.
How can you provide valuable direct comparisons to your buyers?
As Marcus Sheridan always says, it starts with the questions your customers are already asking you!
- Determine your topic. Talk with your sales and customer service teams and ask them to write down every question they hear from prospects. (Hint: This is how you start your list for The Big 5!) This will help you determine what comparisons you’ll want to tackle.
- Narrow down your comparison points. From here, you’ll probably start to hear themes like “how does porcelain wood look flooring compared to luxury vinyl?” Tap your best subject matter expert and break down all the main categories in which your two products or services compare. For example, price, durability, lifestyle, etc.
- Be unbiased. If you’re comparing a product you sell to that of a competitor, it’s not about boasting yourself. It’s about giving your prospects the most valuable information they can have to make an informed decision.
5. StoryBrand: Facebook ads that tell a relatable story
We’re big fans of StoryBrand here at IMPACT. If you’re not familiar, it is a methodology for messaging that is centered around the idea that your customer is the hero, and you are simply part of their story.
As you can guess by their name, one of the core concepts of StoryBrand is to tell a story with your messaging! A big piece of telling a successful story is being relatable. Why force your customers to burn mental calories trying to figure out your cutesy copy, overzealous sales tactics, or confusing jargon, when you can just give it to them straight in a relatable story?
That’s why I love what they do with their Facebook Ads.
Take a look at this example:
When I’m scrolling through Facebook, this ad grabs my attention for a few reasons.
- I’m a marketer and I would agree that a lot of marketing is a waste of money, but, I also want to know if the marketing I’m doing is a waste of money. So, off the bat the headline on the video gets me.
- I don’t have a ton of time. So, knowing right away that I can digest something in a few short videos is more likely to get a click from me.
- In exchange for 15 mins of my time, they are promising some pretty compelling takeaways. Even if it turned out to be garbage (which it’s not), I commit more than a few minutes to it.
You don’t need to write a novel to tell a story that clicks. StoryBrand accomplished all of this in what took me a matter of five seconds to absorb.
Here’s how the story continues, once I’ve clicked the ad.
Not only does it tie directly back to the ad I just saw, but it builds it by clearly defining what I can get from watching these three videos. Each video will give me tools to make tangible changes to increase revenue? Uh, sure I’ll sign up!
What are they asking for in return? Nothing more than my name and email address.
How do you create a compelling story with your Facebook ads?
Think about what StoryBrand did.
They took me through a relatable narrative in a matter of minutes, starting with a targeted ad for my specific job role. They hit on a common problem that I might be facing: wasted money. Then, they built on that story by offering me content that provided a quick and easy solution to my problem.
How can you recreate this experience with your ads?
- Find the problem/conflict you need to address. What is the single biggest problem that they face? Use this to find a message that resonates with them.
- Identify your solution. Now, think about how you can guide them to an easy-to-digest solution to that problem. Maybe it’s a downloadable guide or a series of videos. The problem + the promise of a solution = your ad.
- Now you have to deliver on that promise! Create a landing page that builds on the story you just told in your ad. Elaborate on how you can help and tell the customer exactly what they need to do to get to your solution. Make sure that the language you use is consistent and accurate.
6. Working Against Gravity: Letting customers do the talking
Word of mouth is still one of the strongest forms of marketing. I mean, think about it: ho are you more likely to trust, a brand talking about themselves or your trusted friends and family talking about them?
While word-of-mouth is organic, you can still help things along with your digital marketing.
Leveraging customers in your email marketing is a great place to start!
Working Against Gravity is a nutrition coaching business that pairs clients with coaches who provide them a personalized plan for fitness and nutrition.
As you can imagine, something like nutrition and fitness is highly personal. Choosing someone to help guide you through that journey requires a lot of trust.
My colleague Lindsay Schmidt recently showcased one of their email campaigns in an article she wrote on video email marketing examples.
To reach out to prospects who still hadn’t made a buying decision, Working Against Gravity reached out to clients (past and present) to share their own experiences.
This email and video do two things brilliantly.
- They are letting their existing customers do the talking. It’s like a friend, talking to a friend about their own journey. For a prospect who is on the fence, this shows them they can trust this company and they get to see results first hand.
- They are outlining the long-term success their program offers within the email copy. It’s not just about handing over your money for a short-term plan. It’s about investing in a lifetime of health and wellness.
Letting your success stories sell themselves is an incredibly powerful tool in your digital marketing.
How can you leverage your existing customers in your marketing?
Pick your very best, most active customers and simply ask them if they’d be open to participating in a video. It can be as simple as having them answer a question on a Zoom recording, or as complex as creating a professionally shot case study video. It’s entirely down to your budget and time.
You’d be surprised at how many of your customers will be excited and flattered that you asked!
Use these videos (or quotes if that’s all you can get) on your website, in your emails, and on social media. Again, your marketing isn't about you, it’s about your customer. So, what’s more powerful than your customers doing the talking?
Great digital marketing doesn’t have to be complicated
If you have one takeaway from these examples, I hope that it’s this: Digital marketing doesn’t have to be flashy or complicated to get results.
Sure, AR, VR, and AI are sleek and the technology behind them is impressive when you have that kind of budget to burn, but, after the year we all just had, getting down to the basics and focusing on what works is the best way to grab the attention of your buyers and drive real digital marketing success.
Want more inspiration to help you come up with a strategy? Check out these inbound marketing examples.
Wondering where to begin?