Business growth strategies for 2021

Strategic marketing is a key part of ensuring you achieve your business growth goals. Lead your team to accelerated growth through digital marketing

It has been a challenging year for marketers, with market uncertainty, reduced budgets, and huge shifts in the marketing mix. One common element for all businesses is a renewed focus in 2021 on digital marketing to accelerate business growth.

SME marketers familiar with the 5 stages of business growth, first coined in the Harvard Business Review in 1983, can cite the stages as:

  • Existence
  • Survival
  • Success
  • Take-off
  • Resource Maturity

Notably, success takes the form of both Success-Disengagement and Success-Growth. The strategies outlined below support owners/marketing managers during the Survival, Success-Growth and Take-off stages of their business lifecycle.

Large companies or corporations are typically more removed from the ‘survival’ mindset, although of course this year that has sadly not been the case for all. Rather than starting from scratch, growth for MNCs takes the form of strategic expansion:

  • Expansion through concentration
  • Expansion through integration
  • Expansion through diversification
  • Expansion through cooperation

Although growth means different things to different businesses, depending on their stage of maturity, when it comes to marketing, there are universal truths that ring true for all marketers looking for growth.

1. Apply a data-driven strategy to improve conversion

All things being well, a business that converts more traffic online will grow. Therefore, utilizing testing and analytics to improve customer journeys on your website can add a lot of value to your existing assets. Testing offers a reduced risk strategy which is particularly appealing to low-resource businesses where the need to innovate and grow is pressing, yet, big mistakes could prove costly, eg in the ‘survival’ stage of their growth.

Conversion Rate Optimization is a structured testing and optimization process aimed at improving key performance indicators for a website. These may include audience engagement, conversion rates to lead and sale or revenue and profitability.

Critically, setting up a CRO programme requires marketers to focus in on one or two critical customer journeys and the optimum outcome – this is not a place for ‘vanity metrics’ but rather laser-focus on what will actually help you grow your business.

The chart below demonstrates CRO in progress. It’s taken from our advanced module Conversion Optimization in our new Digital Experience Learning Path, available with Business Membership.

How does your e-commerce website compare with the benchmarks? See Dr. Dave Chaffey’s annual summary to keep up to date with the latest e-commerce stats.

2. Implement an omnichannel marketing strategy to nurture your customers

Your website’s conversion rate is, naturally, a crucial KPI for marketers looking for growth. With an improved CRO, your next step is to drive even more qualified traffic through your marketing funnel to get more conversions.

You need an omnichannel marketing framework, such as the RACE Framework, to optimize your marketing channels for growth at each stage of your marketing strategy, through reach, act, convert and engage.

Channel-based benchmarking, such as the free benchmarking tool in Google Analytics, will allow you to compare channels across all aspects of their behaviour from reach to engage.  Here at Smart Insights, we receive 80% of our traffic from organic search, it’s a crucial element of our reach, with some blogs assisting conversion generating a high page value too.

Understanding the value of each of your channels will ensure you plan for growth in each channel in your marketing strategy with data-driven insights. Which channel has the best ROI? What would happen if you increased spend in this channel? Which channel is in need of development? What would be the outcomes of development here?

Our 5 channel-based learning paths for Individual Members cover the essentials of channel-based growth for marketers across SEO, Content Marketing, Email Marketing and Automation, Social Media Marketing and Google Analytics.

Business Members can also access advanced growth tools from the Digital Experience, Campaign Planning and RACE Practical Digital Strategy Learning Paths.


3. Retain your customers

You are reaching and converting more customers. Congratulations. The next step is to make sure you maintain those customer relationships. After all, customer loyalty is key to accelerating your ROI, since it is so much cheaper than aquisition.

For large corporations looking for ‘expansion through diversification’, existing customers provide a perfect opportunity for diversification through up-sell or cross-sell options.

This automated email lifecycle diagram is taken from our Review email lifecycle automation options module in the Email Marketing and Automation Learning Path. It shows a baseline of automated emails every customer should be receiving based on their interaction with your business.

In the retain category, we have classified product review, post-purchase email and sale as 3 types of automatic email content that help generate loyalty. Email is a great channel for this kind of activity, as segmentation options are plentiful. Depending on your audience you may also consider, social media, display ads, text, post, telephone, website personalization and more.


Business growth is almost impossible without the right tools. In fact, one of the major steps of effective marketing is picking the right tools.

Of course, picking the right tool for your business will depend on your goals, budget, target audience, and other factors.

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