Brand marketing best practices in the digital space are all about adaptability. Brands must be able to pivot their strategies in the event campaigns are not performing as well as they should. This strategy requires the ability to break down campaigns into smaller segments—the information technology industry calls this concept agile innovation. By establishing the components of a marketing plan and treating them as separate, distinct steps, brands will be better prepared to change course as needed.
The best practices of marketing are similar across many industries, from CPG challenger brands to multinational QSR locations. These practices cover demographic targeting, message timing, platform selection, and audience engagement. These steps will help a brand build affinity in the right markets while allowing them to pivot as necessary to target new audiences.
Brand Marketing Best Practices: Using Data to Determine Demographics
Often, the success of a new product will be dependent on a small portion of the population. In one study, only about 1.5% of the consumers surveyed accounted for 80% of the purchases of a new product. These results indicate getting consumers to switch brands can be extremely difficult and doing so requires precise demographic targeting.
One issue which can make demographic targeting tricky is when the purchase decision maker and the end user aren’t the same. Consider the case of a breakfast cereal aimed at children. While the intended user of the product is a child, the purchaser of the product will likely be a parent. In this case, the brand needs to decide whose opinion will weigh the heaviest when it comes time to purchase. While the brand may want to primarily market to children, they must also find a way to reach out to the adults who make the purchase.
An excellent example of this strategy is viewed through General Mills cereal brand Lucky Charms. When refreshing the brand, they focused on gaining insight from existing customers on social media to come up with ideas. They sought out recommendations from adults and children alike on the addition of a new marshmallow and decided on a unicorn style. The leaders of the campaign decided to weight the opinions of children more heavily, as they were the target market. However, parents were not left out, it was found that receiving information about the nutritional value of the cereal would make them more comfortable with purchasing the product for children.
The brand targeted two demographics. They focused on children as the primary consumers of the cereal and parents as the decision makers. As such, children enjoyed gamified content while adults received critical information on nutrition. Understanding the diverse demographics for a particular product can also assist in determining the best platforms to reach those demographics.
Brand Marketing Best Practices: Choosing a Platform to Connect With Consumers
Often, brands use a multi-platform strategy to ensure they’re able to reach as many consumers as possible regarding products. Utilizing these platforms together is also an excellent choice for brands with multiple target demographics. Here are a few of the platform options available to brands—aside from their proprietary websites and apps.
Video advertising offers many advantages for gaining consumer engagement and brand awareness. Video receives 1200% more shares than text- or image-based content, making it an ideal multi-purpose platform. Brands can upload video to platforms themselves and then share those videos across social media or via shopping apps to significantly expand engagement.
A great example of a category of third-party apps that brands choose to work with is shopping apps. These apps allow consumers to gain rewards and other incentives in the store, which drives them to purchase products. This incentivized interaction is a strategy Shopkick uses as it allows brands to reach shoppers when they’re at the store, increasing the likelihood of purchase.
Social media is an obvious avenue which many brands use to increase their reach. The demographics of these platforms can be incredibly diverse as well, making them ideal for targeting multiple groups of consumers. Also, many social media sites add unique features which advertisers can use to engage with consumers. An excellent example of this comes from Snapchat, where advertisers use custom-built lenses to build brand awareness.
Search Engine Marketing
In this strategy, brands will provide content on their websites which helps them rank higher on search engines like Bing and Google. SEM is particularly useful when consumers are seeking out a specific solution to a problem. For example, a brand that makes castor oil may target search phrases where castor oil acts as a good solution, like “growing longer eyelashes” or “healing dry skin.” Organic marketing through content allows brands to present their products as solutions, ensuring they are perceived as an authority on that problem by consumers.
These are just a few of the avenues brands should consider when rolling out a new campaign. One of the best ways to determine success is to test smaller scale marketing campaigns on various platforms before rolling out a full-scale campaign. Testing allows brands to find the right audiences which also increases marketing ROI.
Brand Marketing Best Practices: Timing a Campaign to Maximize Sales Conversion
Brands need to consider the two best times to reach consumers; when consumers will buy the products and when they will use the products. After all, consumers rarely go “impulse” grocery shopping. Before their trip to the store, they will probably make a list of the items they need or want. When they get to the store, they will make their final decision on those purchases.
Brands must reach consumers when they’re making their lists as well as when they’re at the store. Using a multi-platform approach is imperative for brands who want to reach consumers during both these critical periods. Standard websites, commercials, and social media can help support marketing efforts as the consumer is planning their shopping trip. Brands can leverage mobile apps which travel with the consumers to connect with them before they make purchase decisions.
Mobile engagement is also supportive for brands that wish to connect with consumers doing their shopping online. Even for CPG products, this is becoming more common, meaning brands must be prepared to support online shopping. When marketing towards digital shoppers, brands do not have to significantly change their strategies, as they can treat the digital shopping space the same way they would a retail space. The main component here is making it very easy for consumers to make purchases online through providing direct links to a brand’s or retailer’s sales pages for these products.
Brand Marketing Best Practices: Leveraging Ways to Engage Consumers in the Digital Space
Even if a brand finds the perfect demographic, creates the campaign at the right time, and releases it on the most effective platforms, these efforts will offer little return if the brand is unable to engage consumers. Engagement can come from a simple share of a piece of branded content to a consumer becoming an active buyer and advocate for the brand. Any positive interaction that occurs will improve the potential of a sale. Here are just a few ways many brands are improving interaction.
Gamification is a strategy seen across industries, where marketers take a common task and turn it into a gamified experience. Shopkick provides an excellent example of gamification in action. Using their smartphone, consumers can go on a digital scavenger hunt to find products in the store and scan UPCs. Making a rewards program fun encourages consumers to continue to participate and plan shopping trips around the app. When partnering with apps that offer this, brands can direct the consumers to their product in the store.
There are many ways brands can get consumers to engage with content, whether it’s merely embedding a poll in a website or video or allowing consumers to drive the story by selecting different marketing options. A campaign by Mended Little Hearts, which is a nonprofit designed to help children with congenital heart defects, shows how interactive components impact sales. The Give a Fuller Life campaign features a video where consumers watch a patient as he goes about his day. As the viewer makes donations, the footage improves and becomes more joyful, offering a heightened emotional return on the content.
Influencers can help drive engagement for a brand by getting consumers excited about products. Bacardi Australia leveraged this when targeting several Australian communities with its #MojitoMoments campaign. The brand partnered with 60 area influencers who attended events at pubs, clubs, and bars in Australia. The influencers provided content through photos of specific drinks marked with the hashtag and as a result, gained 50,000 engagements at participating locations.
Retargeting for Online Sales
Taking advantage of a consumer’s location when near products works well for improving sales in brick-and-mortar locations. For example, through mobile advertising, a brand can pinpoint a consumer’s location and let them know of deals relating to their products which may be in the consumer’s immediate area. This strategy is one many brands are leveraging through the use of beacons and other location technologies.
Rewards provide a better alternative for brands that don’t wish to use discounts. By offering rewards points (or in Shopkick’s case, kicks) brands provide a return on shopping without the need to give a discount. Rewards programs frequently have a higher perceived value than just their dollar amount, as they create an emotional connection between a brand and a consumer.
These are just a few ways to drive consumer engagement with a brand. By encouraging a consumer to interact with content, brands can build affinity, sales, and—in the long term—increase market share. Engagement is a critical component of any marketing initiative, so brands must be prepared to foster this.
Brand marketing best practices in the digital space should be broken down into demographics, platforms, timing, and engagement to ensure a brand is easily able to pivot should the strategy not prove successful initially. Using multiple strategies can help to boost audience awareness and improve engagement. These strategies can be adapted to improve sales in stores as well as online. The best brand marketing practices ensure consistent visibility and enhance sales potential for the life of a campaign.