5 essential elements for a stand-out marketing strategy

As we slide into another new year (honestly, we’re still reeling over the speed at which 2021 was done and dusted), the inevitable marketing strategy review rears its head again.

If you’re yet to firm up a concrete plan for your marketing strategy – or are looking for ways to inject new life into your existing activities – here are some key things to consider for maximising engagement.

1. Online events

Online events (including pre-recorded webinars, live streams and seminars) have become a great way to engage prospects and existing customers with your brand.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses were forced to turn to virtual events in place of in-person shows and exhibitions. And it’s a trend that’s likely to continue.

Aside from being a fairly effortless way for customers and prospects to engage with you, online events also bring opportunities for brands, such as being able to gather insightful behaviour data on the audience.

Assuming you’ve developed some stellar customer profiles and buying journey maps, you can use the data from online events to feed into those and provide even greater depth of understanding.

They also present a great opportunity to continue to market to your audience, through follow-up emails and engagement on social media.

You may not see an immediate return on investment from online events, but in the long run, they can help to build your brand and nurture stronger relationships with customers.

2. Owning your audience

Social media plays a huge part in B2B and B2C marketing strategies these days. And it’s easy for brands – especially smaller ones – to slip into the trap of relying on social media too much for engagement.

But if you put all your digital marketing eggs into the social media basket, you’re taking a risk.

You see, any presence you build on social media is really owned by the social media companies, not you. It might be your content, but it’s on their platform.

It means that any community you build on social media could disappear – literally – overnight.

So sense check how much of your marketing strategy is built on and reliant on social media. And ensure that the weighting is biased towards the channels you own – for example, your website and your email subscriber list.

Those are things you can control. You can use those channels to make sure your messages get through, every time.

And with the coming demise of third-party cookies, making the most of your own, first-party data will be key to understanding how customers prefer to interact with your business. This will help you know whether applying more budget to your email marketing campaigns, for example, is really a good idea.

3. Education and thought-leadership

The days of pushy sales tactics are over. With the advent of inbound marketing, brands that take an educate-and-engage-first approach to marketing will perform best in 2022.

A fantastic example of this is the start-up brands now making waves in the automotive industry.

In a bid to shake up the industry, start-up auto brands – such as Tesla and Polestar – are leading the charge with an educate-first approach to car sales.

Polestar, for example, encourages prospective customers to visit a ‘retail space’, where you are given an entirely factual demonstration of the car, with the chance to go on a test drive. Customers are encouraged to ask questions and find out as much about the car as possible. Then, once you’re back home, you place your order via the Polestar website.

There’s no sales pitch. Instead, the in-person part of the process is focused on educating the customer as much as possible, so they can go away and make their own, properly informed decision.

It’s a refreshing approach – and it works.

In the digital arena, the same approach can be applied. Pushy sales emails can be replaced with educational blog content. Sales-focused calls to action on your website can be broken up with links to more informative content, such as case studies, e-books and video demos.

This whole approach is based on building relationships and engendering trust with customers. And the more you can do that with today’s savvy and brand-agnostic consumers, the more you’ll see your marketing efforts delivering a positive return.

4. Storytelling

Look to move away from pushing your brand at every opportunity. Instead, flip it back to your customers – and tell their stories instead.

Yes, I know storytelling is a term that’s been thrown around in marketing circles for a long time. But for many brands, it’s still something to work on.

Ultimately, it’s very simple. You just need to get good at telling your customers’ stories.

You see, when you rave about your products or services, few people listen. But when your customers rave about them, people take notice.

Think about it. If you were looking for a care home for an elderly relative, would you be most swayed by the care home manager saying they offer the best care, or one of the residents themselves? Which would be most compelling?

On the B2B front, a great example of this is GE. The American energy and technology giant has been storytelling for more than 100 years, giving the world a behind-the-scenes look at its technology developments, and showing how its customers are pushing their own boundaries forward.

Granted, GE has a lot to talk about. And it’s intrinsically exciting stuff.

But any brand can do it. You’ve just got to find the stories that resonate most with your audience.

5. Analytics

Now, more than ever, it’s imperative to track, monitor and analyse your marketing efforts in as close detail as possible.

Everything hinges on ROI these days. And if your efforts aren’t generating any, you need to know so you can change things up.

Key to your marketing strategy will be having the best possible grasp on the performance of everything from your website and paid ads to your social media activity and offline marketing.

That last one is a biggie. But it’s easily forgotten. Even if you don’t run any specific offline marketing campaigns – print ads or billboards, for example – you’ll still have customers picking up the phone to call you and make enquiries.

And if you aren’t tracking where those calls have come from, how will you know where to attribute them?

Many brands let phone leads fall by the wayside in their analytics reports. But in our multichannel, omnichannel world, customers are interacting with your brand in a multitude of ways. Every interaction counts, and if you aren’t reporting on every interaction, you won’t know the true value of your marketing effort.

So, make this the year you build holistic analytics and performance tracking into your marketing activity. The board will thank you for it.

About the author - Natalia Selby

Marketing Executive at Mediahawk, with 20 years experience in analytics and content management.

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