Friday, January 27, 2023

Three approaches to digital marketing – and how to choose what’s best for your brand in 2023

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Shreya Christina
Shreya has been with for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

Molly Baker, CEO and founder of India Consulting.

At the start of 2023, I can confidently say that digital marketing is now simply ‘marketing’. This blurs the lines between funnel goals and channel selection, increases the ever-growing need for a variety of digital content, and requires an always-on approach to measuring the art and science being brought to market today.

In the wake of the major rise of direct-to-consumer brands and marketplaces, along with associated marketing tactics (think Facebook ads), I see a refocusing on the importance of brand awareness and top funnel tactics. While it plays an important role in any brand’s marketing mix, funnel performance marketing isn’t the only key to growth. As a founder of a marketing consultancy and studying how brands approach this matrix ecosystem, I’ve identified three common approaches.

Approach No. 1: The Performance Model

I’ve noticed that many digital native brands are taking a performance-driven approach to their full-funnel marketing efforts in an effort to maintain a growth mindset and apply lower-funnel optimization tactics to upper-funnel activations.

How do they activate?

Brands following this model seemingly achieve the following.

• Create a marketing ecosystem across the funnel with identified platforms to achieve specific objectives within each part of the marketing funnel.

• Directional return on ad spend is assigned to each platform for each objective. These ROAS benchmarks are created based on historical data and directional attribution models.

• Establish an ongoing measurement model and testing framework to measure and attribute every dollar spent to sales.

• Move budget across the funnel on a monthly and quarterly basis based on performance.

How do they average?

Brands following the performance model tend to hire subject matter experts to create the strategy and tightly manage the execution of agency partners. This model requires heavy internal resources given the detailed hands-on optimization approach.

Approach no. 2: the awareness model

I find that many traditional, long-standing brands have kept brand awareness as their main goal. This objective determines how they leverage their digital touchpoints and investments. All decisions are linked to the single goal of making more households aware of their brand and product.

How do they activate?

Brands following this model seemingly achieve the following.

• Create a marketing ecosystem that prioritizes where they can reach the largest percentage of their target audience at the lowest cost.

• Leverage digital platforms as a way to amplify messages that are primarily spread through TV and/or other traditional media tactics.

• Focus on a single creative message and innovate through “new” over-the-top and connected TV advertising offerings.

How do they average?

In my experience, brands that follow the awareness model tend to keep internal marketing teams small and focused on agency partners and project management. The largest increase is associated with single message creative and annual media purchase. Without an optimization model or budget fluidity, many variables are tied up on each year’s set, which places far less demands on an in-house marketing team.

Approach 3: The content and retention-led model

As content marketing has matured beyond the early days of blogging and custom content through major publishers, many brands have experienced continued growth by implementing a content- and customer-engagement-based model. Brands that adopt this model are committed to retaining their existing customers and building deep relationships with both new and old customers by being more than a product.

How do they activate?

Brands following this model seemingly achieve the following.

• Prioritize owned and earned marketing channels/platforms over paid platforms.

• Create countless content streams and storylines to engage with consumers in a variety of ways.

• Let consumer feedback and cultural trends dictate annual, if not biennial, communications planning and product innovation.

• Accept that they won’t always see an immediate return on their marketing efforts in ways you would see with a paid media-first approach.

How do they average?

Brands that follow the content and retention based approach usually have a mixed resourcing strategy. Certain aspects of branded content, and mostly retention specialists, are in-house. However, to meet the demand for content required for this approach, I’ve noticed that brands operating within this model often work with content agency partners and freelancers to create and optimize quickly.

Deciding what’s best for your brand

There is no one-size-fits-all approach, nor is it impossible to do everything. I recommend evaluating your brand’s goals and digital maturity to determine the best marketing model for your brand in 2023. Ideally, your marketing model should be re-evaluated annually as customer-facing tactics and internal shifts.

To decide which approach is best for your brand, ask yourself: What is your brand’s digital maturity and what is your main marketing objective? For example, if your brand is still building its digital foundation and your primary marketing objective is to engage with a passionate customer base, the content and retention-based model is probably best. But if your brand has established its digital foundation and your primary marketing goal is to create more purchases and/or reach a new customer segment, the awareness-based model may be a better fit. If your brand is digitally advanced and your primary marketing objective is to drive sales growth through your base products and new product launches, the performance model may be a good option.

Modern marketing is not limited to a single set of fixed tools, with creative messages as variables. On the contrary, marketing today is the opposite; it consists of many tools and many messages. The possibilities are endless, which makes the art and science of marketing that much more interesting. Business Council is the premier growth and networking organization for entrepreneurs and leaders. Am I eligible?

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