As the end of the year sneaks up, it’s time for businesses around the U.S. to plan their 2021 marketing initiatives. Whether you’re ahead of the game or just getting started, here is a quick checklist to make sure your business is ready to take the new year by storm.

1.   Look Back to Get Ahead

Before you can begin to look forward, it is essential to take a step back and review your progress throughout the current year. 2020 has been difficult and required every company to be agile with their marketing at each twist and turn.

It is always essential to look back at the data to determine whether you have met your goals for the year. It will also be necessary to review your efforts during the challenges we faced. Moving into 2021, it is likely that we will still be dealing with some level of uncertainty when it comes to the pandemic.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • What steps did our company take to adjust to the effects of the pandemic?
  • What did we do well? Where did we miss the mark?
  • What are the short and long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our industry?
  • What needs to be done differently or adjusted moving forward?

Reflecting on the good and bad of the previous year can give you great insight into what should be repeated or crossed out in your 2021 digital marketing strategy.

2.   Center Your Plan on Key Areas of Growth

While you want to see improvement in all areas of your business, spreading your marketing efforts too thin will dilute campaigns’ effectiveness and reduce your potential R.O.I. Instead, try selecting two to three parts and hone in on them. This helps ensure you focus on areas with the most potential for a return on your investment, while also using your time and resources wisely.

Not sure what areas to choose?
Here are a few questions to help you decide where to start:

  • What areas of our business or campaigns generated the highest monthly reoccurring revenue (M.R.R.) or margins?
  • What needs do our customers have that we haven’t met?
  • What changes in the marketplace do we need to adapt to?
  • Have we conducted SEO, social media, and content audits to know where we stand in those areas?

There are multiple ways to track your initiatives’ success, such as Google Analytics, native social platform insights, and Vivial’s free GMB Audit, Business Listing Report, or Digital Analysis. All of this can help you answer the above questions and determine where to concentrate your efforts.

3.   Set S.M.A.R.T Goals

After defining your areas of focus, it’s time to set goals to help measure your successes. Using the S.M.A.R.T. method of goal setting is an excellent guide for creating clear, reachable goals.

What are S.M.A.R.T. Goals?

S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely, which are the five attributes your goals should have. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Specific. If your goals are too broad, it will be challenging to focus your efforts. Utilize the five “W” questions to help you narrow them down.
    • What do I want to accomplish?
    • Why is this goal important?
    • Who is involved?
    • Where is it located?
    • Which resources are needed?
  • Measurable. It is crucial to have something to measure against to monitor your progress toward achieving your set goals.
  • Attainable. Is your goal realistic? While you should set the bar high to help drive growth, if your goal isn’t possible in the first place, then you are setting yourself up for failure from the start. Things to consider are whether you have enough or the right resources, and do you have the budget necessary to achieve those results you want?
  • Relevant. Does this goal support and assist in achieving other business goals?
  • Timely. Timing is everything, and deadlines are critical. Make sure you are holding yourself to a schedule but are realistic and flexible so you can adjust along the way as needed.

4.   Strategize A Game Plan

You’ve looked back, identified focus areas, and set your S.M.A.R.T. goals. Now it’s time to strategize a game plan for achieving those goals! There are several marketing tactics you can use to help do this. Here are our top six that we recommend incorporating in 2021:

  1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  2. Online Directories (Ex. Google My Business)
  3. Social Media
  4. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
  5. Content Marketing
  6. Email Marketing

5.   Analyze and Track Progress

In step two, we already touched on a few tools that can use to get insights into your company’s past performance. The final step in creating your digital marketing strategy is to set up a way to quantify and track your progress going forward.

Whether you use a third-party platform like Vivial’s Marketing Platform or take advantage of each channel’s reporting features, having good data will keep you accountable and give you a way to check in on your progress along the way.


By marking off each section on this list, you will be well on your way to implementing a robust digital marketing strategy. Still unsure of how to start your 2021 digital marketing planning? We can help! Reach out for a free digital marketing consultation today!