Businesses often struggle with figuring out how to reach their target market and motivate them to action. Effective marketing communication means reaching the right market, with the right message, through the right channels, at the right times. Here we share ten popular forms of marketing communication and provide tips on using them to effectively reach your target market.
Effective marketing communication
The first step in effective marketing communication involves finding the right consumers to communicate with. Finding the perfect market for your products builds on a deep understanding of consumers, what they want, how they live their lives, and the factors impinging on their consumption decisions. Above, you see an image that represents the process of dividing the market into segments. Generally, marketers segment the overall consumer market into small, more homogeneous groups based on:
- demographic differences such as age and income
- geographic differences like state, region, or country
- psychographic differences such as lifestyles and family groupings
- behaviors differences influenced by usage occasions, holidays, and the infamous heavy half contention that 20% of your market consumers 80% of your product (such as big dogs eat much more dog food than small ones)
- You can also segment consumer markets based on which information sources they use frequently and hot buttons
Information necessary to create these market segments comes through traditional surveys, secondary data regarding your customers and website visitors, or a qualitative assessment of engaged followers on social media. Once you effectively segmented the market into groups, you choose which groups (or segments) offer the best opportunity for a sale, those most likely to make repeat purchases, and/or those representing higher customer lifetime value. Choosing the right segments means choosing those groups that represent the greatest value for your brand based on the size or spending power of the segment. Only choose as many segments as you can comfortably handle with your limited resources; ensuring you don’t choose two segments with oppositing values as this makes your brand look insincere.
In a digital world where rich information is available, brands often create personas representing those making up their target market as a guide in creating effective marketing communication with them. Below, you see an example of a persona. You must create a similar persona for each of your target markets. Obviously, consumer personas likely contain different criteria for grouping than this example, which represents a B2B persona.
Goals and USP
Armed with your personas, the next task is to develop messaging that motivates them to behave in ways that support your brand, such as joining a mailing list, making a purchase, recommending your brand. We call these goals and, as a well-planned business, you should have several goals that encompass the entire customer journey from awareness through loyalty and advocacy. A unique selling proposition (USP) reflects an individual’s belief in what makes your brand better than those produced by competitors. Once identified, using this proposition in marketing communication drives a consumer toward goal actions.
Match needs across the customer journey
Next, you develop effective communication aimed at the position currently occupied by a consumer in their journey. For instance, after the first visit to your website, a consumer is more likely motivated toward making a purchase with more detailed information about the products they explored during their visit or a discount on a purchase.
Consumers often don’t respond the first time they see your brand message. In fact, they may need to see your message multiple times before taking action. We call this frequency. You can reduce the requisite frequency by posting entertaining, creative content and by integrating your communication across channels so each exposure reinforces prior exposures.
Include a CTA
Effective marketing communication lets consumers know what type of action you expect from them. That’s why including a highly visible call to action (CTA) that clearly articulates what’s expected as part of your content. Only include a single CTA in each piece of content to avoid confusion. Understanding the principles of persuasion, developed by Robert Cialdini, helps you construct CTAs that perform better, as does using emotionally charges words. Cialdini’s principles include:
- Reciprocity or tit for tat, that someone is more likely to support you if you did something for them
- Scarcity motivates immediate action for FOMO (fear of missing out)
- Authority, which establishes you as an industry leader
- Consistency with the consumer’s image. For instance, living the values important to consumers (especially younger consumers) goes a long way toward motivating action
- Social proof comes from endorsements of your brand such as sharing your content, posting positive reviews, or recommending your product
- Liking involves being a real person, not just a bland corporation. Consumers want to develop a relationship with their favorite brands, so being likable motivates purchase
9 channels for effective marketing communication
1. Traditional advertising
Traditional advertising methods include print ads, television commercials, and radio advertisements. While these methods are effective, they are expensive, especially when compared with other channels of marketing communication. Increasingly, brands are transitioning their spending from traditional forms of advertising to digital marketing as a way to both cut costs and spend their money more effectively by selectively reaching their target market(s). Traditional advertising isn’t great for providing selective reach.
Therefore, if you are thinking about using traditional advertising to reach your target audience, you must do your research and make sure that you choose your traditional channels wisely to optimize your advertising spend.
2. Social media marketing
Social media platforms are a great way to reach your target market. Not only are they affordable, but they also offer many different ways to communicate with consumers. Since a majority of consumers in wealthy countries use at least one social platform, the potential to reach your market is vast.
In social media marketing, we divide efforts into owned, earned, and paid marketing, as you can see to the right. One of the best aspects of social media is developing an engaged community to support your marketing efforts and to learn about their needs in a way that helps you build better products for them. Sending messaging on an optimal schedule means sending at the time when your market is likely checking social media and posting consistently based on norms in the particular social platform to help build your community. For instance, posting once a day on Instagram works great but you need to post much more frequently (up to 5 times a day) on Twitter.
Social media advertising also offers tools allowing you to selectively reach consumers based on a variety of variables, including psychographic variables that correlate with interest in your brand.
Social media advertising, as well as most of the digital channels we discuss below, offer advantages in terms of metrics that help you optimize your marketing programs; something difficult or impossible to do with traditional advertising.
3. Email marketing
Email marketing is a great way to reach your target audience at a very reasonable price. Email marketing is actually a two-pronged strategy involving first acquiring subscribers then sending targeted messages designed to motivate segments of your list to take action. Offering a lead magnet, such as an ebook or trial of your SaaS, encourages subscribers.
Whether due to the low cost of running email marketing or the inherent productivity of email messaging, email marketing offers the highest ROI (return on investment) of any marketing strategy. Email marketing is also used for lead generation as it works subscribers toward becoming loyal customers when the right messaging sequences are used.
4. Direct mail
Direct mail is a great way to reach your target audience. Similar to email marketing, you can use direct mail to send customers updates about your business, promotional offers, and newsletters. The advantage with direct mail is it doesn’t get captured in spam filters or get relegated to email folders that users rarely, if ever, check. Government regulations are also stricter when it comes to email than snail mail marketing efforts.
Your website is a key channel for marketing information as well as a storefront for your business. Creating a website that works equally well with desktops (and laptops) and mobile devices is important since consumers often used their mobile devices to search for products or find nearby businesses. Your website must invite customers to explore your product offerings and an outstanding user experience that makes it easy for them to do whatever they want on your website.
SEO (search engine optimization) on your website ensures as many users as possible find your content. SEO determines your rank in related users’ search and showing up in the top positions for a given search means you gain more traffic than if content ranks lower. Search engines seek to provide the best content to address a user’s query, so producing valuable content on a consistent basis is the key to SEO. You can help your content rank higher by:
- Carefully choosing appropriate keywords related to your content and featuring the keywords in your title, meta description, and alt tags for your images, among other ways to use your keywords
- Producing content with 1200 words, although longer posts score even higher in the rankings. Long-form content suggests you provide value, as does including data and citations (backlinks) to authoritative sources
- Gaining social proof through reviews and recommendations
- Showing the value of your content through engagement on social media and backlinks for other sites. We call these social signals
- Showing site factors such as security, age of the site, and well-coded websites
6. Paid advertising
Paid search is a great way to reach your target audience. Most common is PPC (pay per click) advertising offered by search engines. PPC ads appear in search results and are identified as such. Each click costs you anywhere from a few pennies to many dollars, depending on the competition for the keywords used in the ad. Shopping ads, a particular type of PPC ad, show product images, pricing, ratings, and other information for products sold online. Each shopping ad links to the landing page for that product to make the purchase painless.
This type of advertising takes advantage of user intent to purchase reflected in the keywords used in the query. You can also advertise on most social platforms, although TikTok advertising is currently in Beta and not freely available. You can also advertise through display ads hosted by other websites for a reasonable cost, which is shared with the website through Google Ads or a similar platform.
Affiliate marketing is related to paid advertising. Established by the brand, ads are placed on websites in exchange for a profit share when a sale results from the ad. Usually, because a sale triggers payment, these ads are more costly to the brand.
Podcasting is a great way to reach your target market, although most folks listen to podcasts while doing something else, like driving or doing chores so attention is diminished. You can use podcasting to create audio or video podcasts. However, if you are new to podcasts then we recommend you use podcast production services to set you on the right path and educate you on the podcast do’s and don’ts.
8. Public relations
Public relations is also a great way to reach your target market. Public relations is similar to advertising except it doesn’t involve paying a distribution fee. Because you’re not paying for ad placement, you need snappy content that’s non-promotional and adds value to a publication if you want them to carry your content. Traditional public relations involves sending pitches to reporters or submitting press releases to media outlets. Competition for these spots is very high so you need something splashy to warrant publication.
You might also consider offering guest posts on other websites, offering interviews to podcasters, or piggybacking on newsletters distributed in an email from non-competing firms who serve the same target market.
9. Event marketing
Hosting events such as launch parties, buying a table at a convention, or setting up a group on Meetup are great ways to really engage your target market. They provide opportunities for potential buyers to sample or test-drive your product before making a purchase.
There are many different ways of effective marketing communication. If you’re unsure which channel is right for your business, it is important to do your research and experiment with different methods until you find the ones that work best for you. Remember, the most important thing is to be consistent and provide valuable content to your customers.
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Hausman and Associates, the publisher of MKT Maven, is a full-service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media. Check out our full range of services.