Updated for 2020.
The best marketing campaigns of the past year all have one thing in common - they all did much more than just promote their brand.
The campaigns we love and that make the biggest impact make us think about the industry, the world at large, and our place in it. Global and national companies can do this easily, but it's important for smaller businesses to also think outside the box.
Getting creative with your marketing campaigns can help your business attract new customers.
Here are four of our favorite creative marketing ideas that you should consider implementing in your campaigns this year and next.
1. Find Giveaway Opportunities That Align With Your Brand
Contests and giveaways are a great way to get attention online. Everyone loves winning something and by consistently running fun, low cost giveaways, we've been able to quadruple the following for one of our clients over the last two years.
You'll get engagement, but it takes more than that to convert that engagement into sales.
Focus less on what it is you're giving away and more on how you're getting people to participate. For example, offer an entry in exchange for new customers liking your Facebook page or for existing customers to refer a friend.
Creating engagement that will last beyond the run of the contest makes a free giveaway well worth it.
PRO TIP: Contests fail, typically, for one of two reasons - 1. you require your followers to do too much in order to qualify or 2. the prize that they win does not align with your target persona. You don't have to give away a car in order to garner interest and create excitement around your giveaway, but the prize and the amount of effort required to qualify should be in alignment and should line up with your target personas.
2. Let Your Graphic Design Inspire Your Creative Marketing
On a well-designed website, the user experience from start to finish will be seamless and easy.
But what if that user's experience with your website actually begins before they click to your homepage?
In order for mobile and online marketing to actually inspire users to click-through to your site, you need to prioritize the graphic design of your ads.
If you want to be creative with your digital marketing projects, you can't be afraid to use striking visuals that will grab the user's attention.
Your audience should be able to tell from one glance at a digital ad what your company is all about. Only creative graphics can tell a story in that way.
3. Pull Back the Curtain With Social Media
For several years, "authenticity" has been growing as a marketing buzzword, and businesses are paying attention. Everyone is trying to find new ways to show their customers who they really are.
Social media is the best platform for authenticity because it removes the marketing middleman. Posting photos and sharing stories makes customers feel like they're getting a real sense of what goes on behind the scenes.
It also gives you a chance to respond to customer comments in real time.
This way, you'll engage with your customers without ever making them feel like they're being marketed to.
People don't buy from businesses, they buy from people and pulling back the curtain on your business and showing your human side can help you develop trust.
4. Create Content People Want To Read
No one goes online to feel like they're reading a textbook or a string of keywords stuck together. If you're still stuffing keywords into your content, please, for all of our sakes, stop now.
Today's online audience responds to content that is engaging, creative, and valuable.
This is especially true when it comes to your company blog.
The blog is the first place customers look when they have questions about what you do or how you can help them. The posts they find should have an authentic voice that respects the reader.
5. SnapChat GeoFilters
While SnapChat has kind of taken it on the chin since their blundered redesign a while back, the fact is, people are still using the platform and SnapChat GeoFilters are vastly underpriced.
If you are hosting an event, attending a conference, or even just want to get seen in a specific geographic area, you can likely get a lot of good visibility by creating a branded and fun GeoFilter.
Let's give you an example:
We went to Digital Summit Denver in July and created a GeoFilter for it. There were thousands of businesses and agencies that attended DSD and it was in the middle of Downtown Denver. Lots of people, lots of tech-savvy people. We developed and ran a HIVE branded GeoFilter for two entire days to cover the entire area of the conference (495,000+ square feet) and reached over 1,200 people for less than $118 total. Can't beat that kind of exposure for the price! Oh, and check out what it looked like:
6. Repurpose Content
One big opportunity any business has is to evaluate all the content that they own and start to find new and fun ways to use it. Have you written a blog post that got a lot of traction? Make it into a video! Break it up and share it in chunks through social media! Update it for the next year (like we're doing for this post)!
You likely have a gold mine of content that is just begging you to repurpose into new formats! You don't have to spend a ton of time recreating the wheel, just take some time to find new ways to get your current content into the hands of your target personas!
PRO TIP: Google LOVES fresh content and updating well performing posts fairly regularly is viewed very positively!
7. 1:1 Video
We are so excited about the evolution of one to one video. There are a lot of very cool things coming from companies like HubSpot and VidYard around using video to attract target accounts and prospects to you through the use of personalized videos. We have started using them at HIVE for some account based marketing and it's taking off like wildfire! We're getting responses almost immediately and our prospects are loving them!
Video dominates our attention today anyway, but why stop there? By using personalization in your video, you can gain more attention to your videos and ensure that your prospects watch the whole video!
UPDATED CREATIVE MARKETING IDEAS:
The way that we as consumers use websites has changed dramatically. We no longer like to search around a website to find what we want. It takes too long and gets frustrating. That's why we have turned to chat and chatbots. More and more consumers are turning to chat right away when visiting a website to find the answers that they're looking for.
While live chat is really only realistic during business hours, a chatbot is available 24/7/365. By developing a strong chatbot that gathers any information or input that you need while providing information, education, or direction to help the user find what they're looking for can be extremely effective.
PRO TIP: Don't require a user to give up their contact information in your chatbot unless absolutely necessary. You can ask for an email address to respond to them later, but asking for their personal information creates a barrier. Your chatbot should be a helper, not a gatekeeper.
PRO TIP 2: You can start building your first chatbot for free using HubSpot! Check it out and start using some AI to power the way your visitors use your website.
Consumers don't care about you. One more time for the people in the back: 🗣️ CONSUMERS DON'T CARE ABOUT YOU!
They care about themselves and the problems that they're trying to solve. They don't care about what you do for others, they care about what you can do for them, their company, or their industry. That's why personalization is more important than ever.
Most businesses have started implementing personalization into things like email marketing, but what if you could take that further? Start personalizing the full experience for your prospects and customers. By fully embracing personalization, you can create the experience that each prospect wants to see.
This can (and should) go further than just adding their first name.
Create smart content through your website
Give your website visitors a custom experience by delivering content that is specific to their industry, goals, or interests based on their previous interaction with your company or by making assumptions about their role, company, or industry. Even just a little reference to their industry or problems can go a long way.
By determining which pages someone visits on your website, you should start to gain insight into what that person cares about. By using that data, you can serve display advertising to get them to come back to your website based on their actual interests. If you personalize your advertising outreach, you can increase interest in a return visit.
Of course, even though I said that it's probably the most common place to use personalization, that doesn't mean that it should be forgotten moving forward. Continue to personalize your email with things like company name, first name, and industry. But you can also take it further! Pay attention to the content your contacts are consuming and deliver content to them that aligns with their interests. Personalization isn't just about delivering something that says, "Hey Sarah", it's also about serving relevant content to the right people at the right time.
10. Guest Blogging
Guest blogging is definitely not new, but a lot of businesses fail to see the potential here. There are two sides to guest blogging that can be beneficial for your business - accepting guest posts and submitting guest posts.
Accepting Guest Posts
First, we all know that content is driving so much of the marketing that we do online today. People are looking for answers, education, tips, tricks, and ways to solve their problems. They're turning to Google and their own research to find what they're looking for. This creates a huge opportunity to be the source for that information. It also creates the need to pump out a lot of content. By opening your blog up to guest posts, you are essentially getting free (they may even pay you) help in developing that content. Remember - you also have the ability to review the content before it goes live.
PRO TIP: Ensure that all content stays educational. A lot of people that are looking to submit guest blog posts are writing sales pitches. That's not what this should be used for. Allow no more than one backlink to that person's website and require that the content stay educational/helpful, not salesy.
PRO TIP 2: Require that all content is original and not posted anywhere else online. The last thing you want is to get dinged for duplicate content because you posted someone else's content that already lives on their website.
Submitting Guest Posts
While it can be a full-time job just to create the content to come from your own website, it can be a huge benefit to your company and your website to start creating content on other websites as well. Reach out to well respected websites in your industry or even adjacent to your industry and ask if you can submit a blog post. Share potential titles with them and ensure them that it will be educational in nature. Many websites will welcome this contribution as it takes some stress of creating content off of their plates.
PRO TIP: Make sure that you research the website first. Run it through a domain authority checker and even website traffic estimator to ensure that you're putting out the effort for a website that is going to benefit you. We recommend looking for websites with a domain authority (DA) of at least 20 (the higher the better) and with solid monthly search volume. The higher the domain authority and website traffic, the more valuable that post will be for your business.
PRO TIP 2: Make sure that you include a backlink to your website using good anchor text. The word or phrase that links back to your website should be inline with your overall SEO strategy in order to get the biggest bang for that link.
There are very few things more powerful than knowing how your website visitors are using your website. By adding a heatmapping software such as Hotjar, you can start to get aggregate insights into how far your visitors are scrolling down on each page (across device types), where they're clicking, and also get a clearer picture of their journey on your website.
PRO TIP: Data is only useful if you act on it. Just by seeing that only 30% of visitors are seeing your form doesn't do you any good. But, acting on that and adjusting your website to move that form up on the page to where now 80% of visitors are seeing it can make a huge difference. Look at your data and make adjustments based on it. You'll find patterns and themes of how people are using your website (or how they want to use your website). By changing your site to match your user's preferred workflow, you can convert more leads, help them find what they're looking for, and create a much better overall user experience.
Want To Improve Your Digital Strategy?
Depending on the nature of your company, creativity may not be in your wheelhouse, but there are always opportunities to improve your online presence. A creative digital strategy will result in more engagement from your target audience.