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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistTue, Oct 27, 2020 18 min read

Digital Marketing Tactics: Tricks And Treats Going Into 2021

Top B2B Lead Generation Tactics for 2020 and 2021

Just Like The Wide Variety Of Candy Available On Halloween, You Have To Pick The Best Ones

Hundreds of marketing tactics are at your disposal. But not all marketing is created equally. Some tactics work better than others in certain companies, and there is no real way to know for sure which ones are going to work well for you.

However, at digital agencies, we have the benefit of running hundreds of programs for a wide variety of different businesses. While you have expertise in one or two companies, we have expertise with close to a thousand companies.

First, we’re going to show some more challenging tactics the ones that take longer to produce results, require deeper expertise and need a more sustained investment. Since Halloween is this weekend, we’ll consider those tricks. It’s not that they’re bad, but we think there are better options.

Next, we’ll show you some of the tactics that work faster, require less investment and take less work to produce even better results. Keeping in the spirit, we’ll call these treats.

Enjoy the sweets!

The Tricks

The tactics in this list typically take a little longer, produce less consistent results and require more investment over a longer period to produce results. I’ll restate that these are not bad or tactics that should be ignored. Rather, they’re tactics that tend to trip people up — tricks instead of treats.

Email Marketing – Back in 2003, when we started the agency, we ran almost all of our campaigns entirely with email. Today, it remains a backbone tactic, but with so many people sending emails, the open rate, click-through rate and rate at which emails turn prospects into leads is low and has been consistently low for years.

Worse, you can spend an entire day working to optimize an email campaign and only see a modest improvement. Going from a 20% open rate to a 22% open rate or moving from a 3% click-through rate to a 4% click-through rate is positive, but was it worth an entire day of work? What else could you have been doing that would have produced better results or a bigger lift?

That list is long, so because of these factors, we consider email to be a trick in 2020 and in 2021, too.

SEO – Again, you need to be ranked on Google for your keywords, phrases and questions, but do you know where the best place to hide a dead body is? On the second page of Google! Ha!

Seriously, SEO lands on the trick list simply because of how hard it is and how long it takes. Plus, Google changes its rules every couple of months. Google kind of tells everyone and then you have to figure out what the rules mean to continue optimizing website pages to rank.

Look, you need to rank, and organic rankings do drive visitors. But it’s a slow up and to the right at best. Again, I just think there are many more tactics that produce better results faster. So for us, it’s a trick tactic in 2020 and will remain one in 2021.

Paid Google Ads – Everyone thinks this is the end-all and be-all of marketing. Dump $10,000 into your Google Ads budget and let’s generate leads. It rarely works like that. Paid Ads on Google is another one of those tactics that still takes planning, testing and time.

If you want to do this right, you have to test keywords, ad copy, ad offers and budget. Remember, you are competing with your top competitors for those ranking slots. The more they spend, the more you’ll have to spend, and as soon as you stop spending, you’re invisible again.

Not to mention, we’ve had a number of clients that never made it out of the testing phase. Their prospects weren’t searching, and when they were, they weren’t clicking on paid ads.

It’s not an easy button, so for us, it’s a trick instead of a treat.

Paid Social – Similar story here, but it might be worse. Today, everyone wants a Facebook Ads campaign. Many agencies are promoting lead generation via Facebook, and some are even guaranteeing results. But read the fine print, because there are no guarantees in marketing.

The same story holds true here. What looks like an obvious tactic doesn’t always pan out, and you should never base your entire marketing strategy on a single tactic, like advertising on Facebook.

Facebook does offer some remarkably interesting campaign relate options, like formless conversions, lookalike audience targeting and an amazing segment targeting engine. But even with these technology tools, this isn’t always an option for every company, which is why it falls into our trick category for 2020 and 2021.

Social Media – Our last trick tactic is social media. Again, if all you want to do is publish your content to social and show an active social account, then this takes little thought and little work. But if you want to use social media to drive visitors to your site, turn those visitors into lead and then those leads into sales opportunities, social media might not be a top tactic for you.

Social media is about engagement with your audiences – your friends on Facebook, your followers on Twitter and your connections on LinkedIn.

To drive engagement, you have to create compelling conversation starters. This is different than simply posting your blog articles once or twice a week. You have to be active. Every day (and perhaps twice or even three times a day) you have to post something that generates a response.

It can be a question, an opinion or content worth sharing. You could run a poll, post a video and ask your audiences to comment, share their opinion or participate in some other way. This approach takes work. Is this going to double your audience in a week? Not likely.

Again, we love social media, and it has its place, but not as a tactic that will produce results in the short term with limited effort. That makes it a trick in 2020 and beyond.

Digital Marketing Trick or TreatThe Treats

The tactics in this list are the ones that generally make it into our quick wins plan. These are easier to plan, set up and optimize. They almost always produce results in days, not weeks or months. These tactics take advantage of assets that already exist and can be easily tweaked to produce even better results once we get some live prospect data.

As treats, these should be part of everyone’s marketing tactics plan through the end of this year and into 2021.

Chat And Conversational Marketing – One of the big reasons we love chat is because it optimizes the experience for the people already coming to your website. No matter how many visitors you get each month, some of them want to talk to you now and don’t want to fill out a form or call you.

We also like chat because it can be turned on almost instantly, especially if you’re using a marketing platform tool like HubSpot. Turn it on, place the app on the appropriate pages, design a short chat- and bot-enabled experience and assign someone to handle the live questions. Just like that, you’re generating leads.

One of the aspects of chat we like the best is that prospects who want to chat are usually further along in their buyer journey, meaning they’re ready to buy, they’re not opposed to talking to someone and they’re happy to provide information that helps you prioritize and score them. More on lead scoring later.

The simple fact that chat generates leads on day one makes it a major treat for us and our clients now and well into 2021.

Content Marketing – Yes, an old reliable tactic made it into the treats list. Content, specifically educational content, continues to be the lifeblood of lead generation campaigns. I’ll go so far as to say the more content you create, the more leads you’ll generate.

But you have to be smart. Content takes time. You need a process that allows you to create the right content in the right format that answers the right questions for the right prospect at the right time in their buyer journey. That is a big task. Without a process, we see companies missing the mark here very often.

Plus, content creation is expensive, so you want to do it efficiently. You want to create long-form content, then harvest short form-content from it and micro-content from that. You want to make sure you content is SEO optimized to keep that SEO engine humming. You’ll also need an entire website and conversion optimization effort to ensure that content gets deployed on your site in a visitor- and conversion-friendly way.

Despite the complexities, content marketing continues to be the Hershey’s bar of our list of treats always good, always sweet and always appreciated when we find it in the Halloween basket.

Podcasting – This might be new to a lot of you, but podcasting isn’t new across marketing. Did you know there are over 850,000 podcasts and over 30 million podcast episodes? But there is room for another podcast show, and your company should be working on producing one.

First, the reason many shows exist is people love listening to podcasts. Smartphones allow people to carry their podcasts with them on runs, in the car, when waiting for the train, while cutting the lawn and in any place they have time to listen and be educated.

Next, they have become easier and easier to produce. Today it’s simple to spin up a podcast, collect the audio, edit it, produce it and publish it. Almost anyone can do it.

Podcast content helps you in so many other areas. You can publish it on social. You can use it to rank pages on your website. You can send specific episodes to prospects. You can use the audio transcript to help with search. You can integrate podcasting into your account-based marketing (ABM) campaigns.

Since it contributes in so many areas, is easy to create and helps you make long-lasting connections, we’re calling podcasting one of the newest and most effective treats in 2021.

Video – Nothing new here, honestly. Video has been a red-hot tactic for the past few years. According to the Social Science Research Network, 65% of people are visual learners, and video outpaces reading in almost every area of marketing.

What makes this such a treat today and into next year is the wide variety of applications for video. Here’s just a partial list of where video can be added to your marketing strategy and where you should expect to see dramatic improvements in the results:

  • Video on your website pages, landing pages and confirmation pages directly related to the visitors and their objectives for visiting those pages.
  • Video in your email campaigns drives clicks by 2X or more.
  • Video in the sales process. Adding video from sales reps instead of long, wordy emails improves comprehension, makes prospects feel safer and differentiates your process from your competitors.
  • Video to replace references reduces the sales cycle by up to two weeks, according to our research.
  • Video in social campaigns can increase engagement, drive shares and improve the number of people moving from social platforms to your website. This improves overall visitor conversions and leads.
  • Video content, instead of or in addition to written content, increases conversion rates and increases leads generated from content.
  • Video has also been shown to rank quickly and highly. Google isn’t stupid; it bought YouTube, the second-most-used search engine, because people love videos. Create your video correctly and your content will rank better.

With so many benefits, it’s hard to not consider video as one of the major treats in 2020 and going into 2021, too.

Lead Nurturing – I left this for last because it is an underrated treat. Think about lead nurturing as the Milky Way of the candy bar world. It doesn’t get the airtime Hershey’s does. It’s not as sexy as Snickers and lacks the attitude of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

But lead nurturing campaigns are one of the best tools in the tool kit when it comes to lead generation. Remember, the people getting nurtured already expressed some type of interest. Now it’s on you to keep the conversation going. The better your campaigns, the faster they’ll move along and the more people will turn into sales opportunities.

The biggest missing element of lead nurturing is that understanding of the buyer journey and how to proactively move people along with content and offers. Then there’s a scoring element that is almost always missing. If someone reaches a certain lead score threshold, sales should be alerted to pick up the lead and continue nurturing with an in-person experience element.

All in all, with a map like the Cyclonic Buyer Journey, the right pieces of content and a solid lead scoring model, you should be able to turn marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) into sales opportunities without having to spend a single minute with a sales rep.

The sheer power of a solid lead nurturing effort makes this one of our top treats this year and next. If you’re not executing lead nurturing campaigns like this, then make this a top priority going into 2021.

Not all Halloween candy is created equally, and not all marketing and revenue generation tactics are created equally either. On Halloween, it’s easy to separate the Almond Joy from the Baby Ruth bars. It’s not as easy to know what to work on, which tactics to prioritize and where to focus your energy when lead generation is a top organizational priority.

This list of treats should help you push those tricks to the back of the line and allow the treats to be front and center in your plan for a strong finish to 2020 and a hot start in 2021.

Square 2 — Building The Agency You’ll LOVE!


Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.