Staple marketing techniques such as advertising, PR, sponsorship and promotion continue to thrive, but digital marketing channels such as search engine and social media marketing has changed the way in which these disciplines work.

Today, brands online can market to potential customers in real-time, tweak live campaigns, and use data to target consumers with laser-like focus. But with the growing wealth of marketing techniques available, how do marketers know which ones to deploy and when? Here we shed light on some of the most popular techniques and how and when to use them.

Authentic Marketing

oday’s consumers are more empowered thanks largely to the ubiquity of smartphones, giving them access to a wealth of brand and product information at the touch of a button.

Today’s audiences are savvy and unforgiving, holding brands accountable and demanding transparency, honesty and truth. Lush Cosmetics is one example of a brand putting authentic marketing into practice. As Lawrie Jones, Managing Director of content marketing specialists, 42group, recently told The Drum: “The company’s stance against animal testing is supported through a long-term financial incentive for those to develop alternatives. It’s a brand that actively supports the ethical stance it takes.”

For authentic marketing to work, it needs to be rooted in a genuine understanding of the customer and their expectations and values, underpinning every aspect of a brand’s communications.

Media Planning

According to research by Forrester the typical marketer now juggles an average of five technologies and nearly four vendors to buy digital mediamaking it increasingly challenging to know where best to allocate budget.

Data holds the key to effective media planning, enabling marketers to better understand the consumer, brand and category, and identify exactly who they’re talking to, allowing them to create real-life personas.

Data also assists marketers in mapping the customer journey, identifying the pivotal touchpoints and shaping the right mix of media, while analytics enables brands to optimise campaigns in real-time and maximize ROI.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is about creating valuable, relevant content that attracts, educates and inspires your target audience while communicating a brand’s values and expertise.

Ultimately, content can be used to achieve numerous business objectives, from fostering brand loyalty and driving website traffic to increasing sales and growing your email database.

Content can take numerous forms, from episodic content like blog posts, ebooks, Twitter chats, and webinars to sponsored articles, and white papers. The most effective type of content and distribution strategy will depend on a brand’s audience and specific objectives for their online presence.

One example of a brand expertly using content to achieve its goals is outdoor clothing manufacturer, Patagonia. Continuously praised for its audience-centric, honest approach, it proves the value of using storytelling to shape a brand’s identity and increase sales, relying heavily on its catalog and website to act as an editorial outlet for stories from the outdoors. According to Vice President of Global Marketing, Joy Howard: “One constant that’s always been with the brand is that the catalog has always been the core marketing vehicle, with an editorial sensibility and journalistic approach to storytelling that’s ingrained in the company.”

Social Media Marketing

Social media now encompasses numerous major platforms including Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter and investing in these channels is becoming ever more important.

Depending on a brand’s image and objectives, social media marketing can range from fairly straightforward engagement with their audience on certain platforms, facilitating brand mentions, emphasizing positive or understanding negative feedback, to the creation of bespoke content and campaigns for individual platforms. Furniture brand, for example, is a big advocate of Instagram, incentivising customers to send in photos of their purchases and rewarding them with vouchers. Hannah Pilpel, social project manager told Econsultancy last year that this is an ideal way for them to “build confidence in the brand by showcasing our personality. Engage with them, inspire them and answer their questions quickly.” 

Social media pages are an increasingly important area for helping with customer service. Personal recommendations from user’s social media accounts via social mentions and online reviews shared socially are also important considerations. Figures show that people who visited the website through organic social – via the company’s unpaid distribution of content – had an average order value 4% higher than the site average in Q1 2016.

Digital Advertising

Banner advertising has evolved, with Pay Per Click (PPC) and Cost Per Mille (CPM) becoming the predominant models used by marketers. PPC sees brands pay the publisher only for people who click on their ad or visit their website via search results, an approach that’s predominantly used in search.

PPC is ideal for generating immediate exposure, and brands can set their daily budget depending on their traffic requirements.

Oil and gas giant, BP is one brand that benefited from the speed and targeting of PPC, following its oil spill in 2010. It used the technique as part of its marketing strategy that was based around a crisis management approach, bidding on over 1,000 search terms related to “oil spill” on Google search.

BP ranked in first position for many, allowing it to direct users to a dedicated website which detailed how it was addressing the incident- thus assisting with it’s brand reputation. Programmatic advertising is also hugely impacting digital advertising, allowing advertisers to place data-driven bids to deliver adverts to the most responsive target audience at the best rate, and approach that guarantees impressions. A price is pre-agreed by the buyer and seller before the impressions go live, and when the brand wants to amplify the message or reach a new one, it can also bid for real-time impressions.


Brands have long used sponsorship to raise awareness of their company among a specific audience and forge beneficial partnerships. It can take many forms and is often used to raise brand awareness with internet users and reinforce brand values. Digital can enable companies to amplify sponsorship deals and overall brand voice.

A good example of a brand using sponsorship in a powerful way is electronics company, Bose, who this year used a branded takeover of the Yahoo Formula One hub to maximize its sponsorship of the Mercedes-AMG Formula One team. Yahoo used data-led insights to identify what F1 fans were most interested in, and informing its content strategy. Bose received 154 million impressions as a result.

Cause Marketing

Cause marketing enables brands to align themselves with relevant causes to realize benefits for both parties, to help companies communicate their values and share brand equity. While nothing new, the move to the digital world has opened up a range of new possibilities for partnerships to help support online brand management initiatives.

A good example is Uber’s charitable arm, UberGIVING, which launched in 2015 in response to the European refugee crisis.

Uber partnered with Save the Children, offering to collect items donated to the charity for free for eight hours in one day. The service was available in 19 countries, including nine UK Cities, enabling Uber customers to use the service by swiping to the app’s ‘Giving’ tab. It generated 5.6 million online impressions.

The optimum marketing technique will depend on each brand and its specific objectives, but it’s clear that data is playing a growing role in helping companies to determine both where their spend is most effective, and how to best execute different approaches. Central to this is the ability to test and learn, with digital enabling brands to adapt campaigns and activity in real-time.

Whether to boost your online reputation or overall strategy, online brand management has become a central part of how brands grow over time.

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