When we do any marketing training, we’ll often distinguish between strategy and tactics from an operational point of view. Indeed, in our PATIO framework, planning & strategy is really the first step, followed by setting the approach, then come tools & tactics in third.
So how do you distinguish strategy from tactics when it comes to marketing? Operational strategy, in our mind, boils down to four core areas:
- Establishing the End Goal: What’s the overall end goal of my efforts (overall and for each channel?) Also, what are the main KPIs that will help me measure my success?
- Setting the Budgeting: What’s the budget and/or resources am I going to dedicate to marketing overall and for each channel?
- Audience Targeting: What audiences am I targeting and based on what research?
- Which Marketing Channels: What marketing channels will I employ based on the resourcing and importance?
Tactics, on the other hand (by definition), are more granular and involve those techniques that marketers use to essentially move audiences either into the marketing funnel (become aware of the organization) or help them move further down the funnel toward a purchase/conversion. Each marketing channel has its own set of tactics – so email marketing will be different from social media which will be different from, say, search advertising. But all have the same goal in mind: Getting the customer one step closer to purchase. In all, there are hundreds if not thousands of different techniques that you can employ across all channels. But which ones are the most useful? We’ve compiled a list of 15 that we love. We’re going to split them into top-of-the-funnel, middle-of-the-funnel, and lower-funnel.
Our Favorite Top-of-the-Funnel Tactics
Top-of-the-funnel tactics should focus on making potential customers aware of you, but also staying top of mind who may have heard of you before but never interacted or engaged thus far.
- Cross-link the pages of your website (SEO). This is something that is really easy for most small business owners to do, but few take the extra few minutes to cross-link their pages. As a general rule, Google recommends at 5 links point to any page of your website if you really want to get it to rank. Ranking is a way to gain visibility. Think of it this way, if you don’t think the content is important to link to yourself, why should Google rank your page?
- Create “original” content and distribute it to social media (Content & Social Media). Creating content is free and so is distributing it to social media. All it takes is effort. Sadly, a lot of small businesses we know may start these efforts but then give up on it. Why? It’s a chore to do all the time. Yet it has so many benefits, including keeping your business top of mind among potential customers or those who can refer you within your network. It can also help you establish your authority and trust in the industry you’re in. Also, if you have original photos, videos, or other graphic assets, that can be a huge plus in terms of getting the engagement you want. One thing to keep in mind: What you do on social isn’t meant to drive direct conversions in most cases, but rather boost your awareness and increase the number of customers who search for you.
- Post multiple times per day on social. (Social media). The companies that are the most successful in social will use resources to post multiple times per day. Why? Because the algorithms of the various social platforms will generally reward the businesses that supply them content on a regular basis in having a greater impression share in the follower feed. And, you can also stay in front of your network at different times those audiences might check in.
- Target new potential customers based on behavior rather than traditional titles or demographics (Advertising/Remarketing). One of the hardest things to do in marketing involves making new customers both aware of your business and getting them to eventually convert. Many small businesses we know try to target advertising and their paid media based on demographics or professional titles and roles and run into problems. One tactic we like: Targeting based on behavior, especially when it comes to searches in Google, for example. This technique is known as remarketing. We love targeting customers who do a search on a particular topic with remarketing ads in YouTube (owned by Google). You can do this even if individuals don’t visit your website.
- Try video rather than static ads for your campaign (Advertising). As of last year, 82 percent of all content consumed on the Internet was video. Video is what draws the eye and keeps individuals engaged. Yet, due to the cost and perhaps the complexity, many small businesses don’t use videos for advertising but instead, opt for static creatives. Static ads can certainly work in some cases, but we’ve found, for most of our campaigns, that video can boost the click-thru rate by more than double. Why not try it? Especially if you can produce video these days at a lower cost than in the past.
Our Favorite Middle-of-the-Funnel Tactics
In the middle of the funnel, your focus as a business should be on engaging your potential customers, getting them to your website, reading your content, and acquiring their email addresses, among other activities. For those who know you, it’s also a good opportunity to stay in front of them on a regular basis.
- Give audiences a coupon or a reward for getting on your email list. You might see retailers engage in this practice quite a bit. You go to a website for the first time and you get a popup. “Stay up to date with deals by giving us your email. And you get 10 percent off your first purchase!” That’s just great marketing. The point, in other words, isn’t to sell you anything right away. The point is to get the customers’ emails so the company stays in front of them via email.
- Create a downloadable asset (graphic or a whitepaper/ebook) or put on a webinar that individuals register for. Not all businesses use content as a middle-of-the-funnel acquisition tool, but many B2B and B2C companies certainly do. The content you develop in this stage of the funnel does two things: a.) It helps to better establish your authority and expertise, and; b.) It helps you to acquire individuals to your list who you know are interested in a specific topic.
- Create a welcome/automated email nurture series for any registration. If you do no. 2 on the list above, you’ll be remiss if you also don’t do this one. First, for any form of registration on your website or on social, it’s critical to sync that data with your email marketing automation platform. That will do two things: a.) Ensure your data is accurate and consistent (much better than hand-entering data into your email platform), and; b.) Allow you to further segment messages based on the way you acquired individuals to your list. The welcome/nurture series allows you to write a consistent message or set of messages once and send it to anyone who registers for a newsletter, downloads a content asset, or signs up for an event or webinar.
- Use native forms on social if you’re promoting content-based registrations on those platforms. If you’re promoting a registration of some kind (newsletter, webinar/event, content download), we’ve found it helpful to use the native social forms (and connect those forms automatically via Zapier to a company’s email marketing automation platform). The reason to use this tactic is that we’ve found audiences can get lost in transitioning from a social platform (where they see a promotion) to the actual website where they may need to register. If you’re using advertising, most of the major social platforms allow you to embed a native form as part of your ad so that the customer has the fewest steps to gain access to an asset. It can help increase the volume of leads that you can acquire.
- Pay attention to the sender name on any of your marketing emails. If you find your open rate lagging, try sending it from a real person. Did you know 42 percent of people look at the sender name first to determine whether to open an email? Along with the subject line/preview text, it’s the main reason people open an email. The more people that open, the more who will then click through and engage on your website or even purchase from you/convert. We’ve found success in using female names in particular as research has long shown that female sender names get opened at greater rates than male names.
- Personalize the subject line of your emails. It seems like such a small thing to put a recipient’s name in the subject line. But it works. Research shows that open rates increase on average by 29 percent when a subject line is personalized.
The goal of your marketing tactics in this funnel stage is to entice individuals to consider and make a purchase. It’s also to engage customers who have already bought something from you to advocate on your behalf.
- Develop case studies and content that showcases reviews/testimonials. When you think about why people take the plunge and make a purchase, one big reason is that others before them have done so and been successful. That’s what’s known as social proof. Showcasing content such as case studies, reviews, and testimonials can often provide that last bit of evidence needed to convince individuals that you have a valuable product or service worth buying.
- Focus your advertising on in-market keywords (especially in Google search). One of the unique things about advertising in Google search – and the reason marketers average about 46 to 60 percent of the budget here – is that this marketing channel helps to reveal those who are in-market for a service right now. To give an example, if I search for the term “basketball shoes,” I’m probably starting out my research. It’s helpful to have an ad here for sure and many companies do, but I’m probably not buying right away. Let’s say my next search is “Nike Lebron men’s basketball shoes.” I’m probably a bit closer to being in-market. But then, let’s say I search “Nike Lebron bray Witness basketball shoes 10m,” I probably know more about what I want and am pretty ready to buy now. Understanding those terms for in-market buyers is critical and getting ads in front of them when they are “looking to buy now” can always boost your immediate-term ROI.
- Set up an abandoned cart email. Actually, make it several emails. For those with e-commerce stores, (or even other businesses that have a longer registration process), it is actually critical to set up an “abandoned cart” email that goes out if someone puts something in a cart or starts to register for something but doesn’t finish the process. How often does that happen? On average, about 70 to 80 percent of the time. All you’re doing here is to encourage your audiences to finish what they started. These emails get opened at a high rate and often can help boost conversions by 30 percent or more. Also, why stop at just one? You can program most email marketing platforms and systems to do several reminders if someone hasn’t bought the item or completed a process.
- Set up and send an automated email to a customer a set time after purchase asking for reviews or to buy something again. There’s an old saying that the best customers are your existing customers. Why not, then, set up an automated email or two that a.) Follows up with them and asks for reviews of the product or service they just bought, or; b.) If applicable, ask them to purchase it again. These emails are both relevant and can help to both boost sales and increase the social proof for others.
Obviously, there are thousands of other tactics that you can certainly try across all your digital marketing channels. These are just some of our favorites. If you need additional marketing help, don’t hesitate to contact us for a free consultation at: https://marketingniceguys.com/contact-us/. We’ll be happy to discuss your marketing needs and craft a solution that is customized to you.