The most successful marketing strategies aren’t just lucky; they take careful planning and deliberate, data-driven action. Use key elements of marketing strategy success, like balance, flexibility, and consistency, to achieve maximum results with your time and budget.
Before you’ve found success, marketing can feel a little like a slot machine. There’s trial and error involved… You pull the lever, see if you’re close, make adjustments, and try again until it finally comes up triple 7s. But the truth is, you don’t need the planets to align to hit upon a strategy with the “it” factor — you just need the right priorities to weight the machine in your favor.
You could take inspiration from the most successful marketing strategy examples in your space, to start. But it’s not enough to imitate. You know the old adage, ‘Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.’ The best bet is to learn what makes those wildly successful campaigns tick. What’s the special sauce they’ve all got in common?
Without further ado, here are the 7 key elements of marketing strategy that are critical to your success. We’ll call them...
The Lucky 7:
It’s no secret that the buyer’s journey has radically changed since the rise of the internet. The customer now goes through the majority of the purchasing process on their own through online research. 81% of shoppers conduct online research before making a purchase, and more than two-thirds of the buyer’s journey is done digitally.
But this isn’t just Amazon searches for consumer products. In the B2B space, for instance, customers average 12 Google searches before engaging with a specific brand’s site. B2B buyers are also more than 70% of the way through their decision-making process before they even talk to a sales rep.
These trends will only continue to increase the power of the customer. So what’s a marketer to do? Well, Forrester has predicted that in 2020, organizations will shift toward audience-based structures. This is the age of the marketing flywheel — where the customer is not an afterthought, but at the very center of the marketing, sales, and service cycle.
Successful marketing strategies focus on helping customers access the information they desire, with a personalized, streamlined, service-oriented approach. Everything comes from a place of help.
Your campaign needs to care more about assisting the customer in achieving their goals than it does about converting leads or contributing to sales. Those will come from satisfied, appreciative recipients of your first-class customer service.
Part of being customer-centric is being where your customers are. Don’t force them to come and find you — make your brand available wherever they prefer to spend their time. Cast a wide net for the best results:
- Social Media — 73% of marketers say their social media marketing efforts have been effective. There are many platforms to choose from, each with advantages for specific industries.
- Mobile Marketing — As of 2019, U.S. consumers now spend more time on mobile devices than watching TV. This is where they are. Optimize ads and content to be consumed vertically, and on much smaller screens than TVs or desktop computers.
- Events — According to EventTrack, live experiences give 74% of attendees a more positive impression of your brand, and 87% of consumers eventually buy a brand’s product after attending an event.
- Email Marketing — It’s an old standby, and still the most cost-effective channel in the game. Email marketing generates $44 of ROI for every $1 spent (yeah...4,400%) and has a higher conversion rate than social and organic search combined.
- Website/Blog — The blog is king in the inbound universe. Between SEO benefits and the library of shareable content you can amass, a company blog can have a considerable impact. The more active, the better...16 blog posts per month will earn you 3.5 times more traffic than 0-4 blogs per month.
- Digital Ads — U.S. digital ad spending was estimated to surpass all traditional advertising combined in 2019. Search ads, social ads, banner ads, digital remarketing...lots of options here.
You’ll also want a varied mix of content within these channels, wherever possible. Marketing messages are more successful when they’re not limited to simple text.
- Videos — 72% of customers prefer to learn about a product or service through video. Think about using video for tutorials, webinars, vlogs, demos, and more.
- Images — Just look at the proof on social. Images make up 93% of the most engaging posts on Facebook, where they get 53% more likes, 104% more comments, and 84% more click-throughs on links than text-based posts. Make your marketing visual wherever possible.
- Infographics — These are a big up-and-comer. Forbes reports that the search volume for infographics on Google increased by more than 800% in just a few years.
- Testimonials & Case Studies — Customer testimonials and case studies are rated as the most effective content marketing strategy by 89% of B2B marketers. Package these hot commodities into gated content for lead capture behind a landing page.
3. Balanced (Paid & Organic)
Inbound marketing relies heavily on organic search traffic and the understanding that customers will conduct their own research and come find you. However, organic reach on social media continues to shrink as platforms update their algorithms to push down unpaid content that isn’t from the user’s family, friends, and professional connections. It can also take time to build enough domain authority to rank high on search engines.
Paid search and promoted content are the perfect complements to the cost-effective potential of organic reach. Use both to balance the short-term and long-term impact of your successful marketing strategy.
WHY TARGET ORGANIC SEARCH?
- Top-of-funnel content is still the best source of demand generation, according to 51% of respondents to a survey by the Content Marketing Institute.
- 8 in 10 decision-makers prefer to get company info by reading articles rather than seeing ads.
- 61% of consumers have made a purchase based on a blog recommendation.
WHY TARGET PAID SEARCH?
- Search ads can increase brand awareness by 80%.
- Internet traffic funneled through pay-per-click advertisements brings approximately 50% more lead conversions than organic web traffic.
- Organic search may be cheap (read: free), but 66% of all clicks made by “users who intend to buy” go to paid search ads. There’s real value in promoted content.
Consistency in your marketing messages is all about alignment between marketing and sales (sometimes called “smarketing”). The modern buyer’s journey has upended the traditional silos and created a heavy overlap between the responsibilities of these two teams. On top of that, frictionless, best-in-class service experiences will differentiate brands — and that takes a smooth handoff from marketing to sales.
Make sure both teams have access to a shared CRM with a full catalog of each customer’s interactions, from that first web click to a post-sale service call. 83% of B2B buyers only want to hear from you if you can be relevant and contextual. Excellent communication and shared resources between departments can give you that power.
Consistent language in marketing and sales messages requires collaboration. Salespeople talk to prospects all the time; their insights into customer struggles, feedback, and motives can be used to address customer pain points and create more successful marketing strategies.
5. Full Funnel
The most successful marketing strategies have a little something for everyone. After all, 87% of buyers choose vendors with relevant content for every stage of decision-making. Develop content that hones in on each stage of the sales funnel so that you can engage with inbound prospects no matter where they are in their purchase process. Content that’s well-aligned to the buyer’s decision-making process results in 73% higher conversion rates.
The Content Marketing Institute demonstrated that this sort of multi-level approach is the preferred strategy of most marketers in their 2019 B2C Content Marketing report:
- 79% of marketers created content for brand awareness (top-of-funnel)
- 57% of marketers created content for lead generation (middle-of-funnel)
- 81% of marketers created content to build loyalty with existing clients/customers (bottom-of-funnel)
Big Data has brought an element of “moneyball” to successful marketing strategies. Digital channels have made live metrics and complex analytics much easier to track and attribute with tools like Google Analytics, Databox, and Klipfolio. Why invest in analytics? The proof is in the results brands are seeing with data-driven strategies:
- 72% of organizations that calculate ROI say their marketing strategy is effective.
- 8 in 10 enterprise executives agree that companies must either embrace big data or lose their competitive position (and 83% of those execs have already pursued big data projects for a competitive edge).
- Almost 50% of C-level execs say analytics have ‘fundamentally changed business practices in their sales and marketing functions.’
- The majority of executives say analytics have had a significant impact on stepping up insights and engagement with customers.
- Data’s top advantages are that it ‘decreases expenses’ (49.2%) and ‘creates new avenues for innovation and disruption’ (44.3%).
Digital analytics can help you create a data-driven, successful marketing strategy with consistent, relevant, optimized customer experiences across all channels.
All six of the previous traits are common to the most successful marketing strategies of today, but one tops them all: flexibility. “Good marketing ideas” change. What works today will be different from what’s ideal in tomorrow’s market.
Just look at cannabis marketing on social media, for example.
- In April 2018, Facebook launched new “community standards” that prohibited “content that depicts the sale or attempt to purchase” cannabis.
- But in October 2018, verified cannabis businesses were suddenly allowed to appear in user search results.
- In May 2019, Facebook met to discuss changes that may allow for the sale of cannabis products in some capacity, but they ultimately decided against it.
The mixed messages and shifting landscape make marketing a real challenge in the burgeoning legal cannabis industry. The lesson is that the market’s always changing and evolving, just as it did when the internet went mainstream. Video marketing (especially on YouTube and Facebook), for instance, enjoyed a huge upswing in focus in 2019. Who knows what next year will bring.
The most successful marketing strategies will be flexible enough to call audibles and adjust to the market. Keep a close eye on analytics and trending campaigns of other successful companies. As long as you’re reading the tea leaves, you’ll be ready for whatever happens next.