Posted on

Top 13 marketing strategies and marketing approaches to boost your sales and grow your business

With so many marketing strategies and marketing approaches to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which ones to try. What you need is a list of 13 proven approaches so you can pick a few effective techniques to try. Luckily I produced this blog post then right? 🙂 Read on to learn the basics of 13 top marketing strategies and marketing approaches so you can choose the ones that are most likely to work for your business.

Top 13 marketing strategies and marketing approaches to boost your sales and grow your business: Pictured is a binder that is open to an upward trending bar chart and a picture indicating how people in a team are working together

Content marketing – perhaps the most popular marketing strategy

Content marketing is an inbound marketing approach that relies on strategically creating, distributing and promoting content that is engaging, valuable and relevant to a well-defined target audience. As with all marketing, the ultimate goal of content marketing is to increase the number of desired customer actions, whether that be purchases (for businesses), donations (for charities) or another kind of action.

All forms of marketing rely on quality content but content marketing specifically aims to attract prospects and leads and convert them into loyal customers by providing prospects and customers with valuable content. It is a highly effective, long-term marketing strategy that combines well with other marketing approaches and yields a large return on investment when it’s done well. In fact, nearly half of all buyers view 3-5 pieces of content before engaging a sales repand content marketing has been shown to generate 3X more leads than paid search advertising.

Pros:

  • Highly effective
  • Becomes more effective over time
  • Can be used by any business selling any products and services
  • Particularly useful for products and services that need more explaining
  • Lots of content creators are available if needed
  • Integrates well with other marketing strategies
  • Content can serve multiple purposes meaning marketing collateral produces a higher return on investment
  • Useful for all stages of the sales funnel

Cons:

  • Consistency is important
  • A lot of poor-quality content creators are out there – though it’s relatively easy to weed them out with a little bit of digging
  • It can be a while before results are achieved, especially for new players

SEO – an integral part of any digital marketing approach

SEO stands for search engine optimisation and it’s the process of optimising websites and searchable web content so that they’re displayed earlier in a search engine’s unpaid search results. This increases the visibility of online content, which drives traffic and can ultimately boost sales (or other desired actions like donations for charities and petition signatures for movements). Content that has been optimised for better search engine visibility is often referred to as SEO-friendly content.

SEO is a great marketing approach that integrates well with all other digital marketing strategies. It produces a high return on investment when it’s done well and it can be more effective than paid search advertising as 70-80% of search engine users ignore paid search engine listings.

SEO shouldn’t be confused with SEM, which stands for search engine marketing. SEM is a form of paid advertising.

Pros:

  • Highly effective
  • Takes less time than some marketing strategies (e.g. content marketing)
  • Integrates well with all digital marketing strategies
  • Can be implemented in concert with other strategies or after the fact
  • Cost-effective
  • Useful in most stages of the sales funnel

Cons:

  • Difficult to DIY effectively
  • Shoddy SEO ‘experts’ may be more difficult to spot

Email marketing

Email marketing can be either an inbound or outbound marketing strategy depending on how you use it. Outbound email marketing is all about sending targeted emails to ‘cold’ prospects that haven’t interacted with your business. These emails are usually very salesy. Sometimes marketers refer to ‘warm email prospecting’. This is a similar approach except that emails are highly personalised and written in such a way that they feel less like a sales letter.

Inbound email marketing is all about building relationships with prospects, leads and customers who have interacted with your business. This usually takes the form of an informational newsletter or campaign. It can be used to keep businesses ‘front of mind’ so that not-yet-ready leads and existing customers turn to that business when they’re ready to buy something or make a repeat purchase. It can also be used to actively nurture leads through the sales journey.

Pros:

  • Highly effective
  • Low cost
  • Low barrier to entry
  • Easy to produce highly targeted marketing campaigns
  • Suitable for most parts of the sales funnel

Cons:

  • Requires an email list to be effective (though it’s possible to start email marketing without one)
  • Difficult to DIY effectively – requires a unique skill-set

Social media marketing

Social media marketing is a marketing approach that relies on sharing valuable content in the hope that viewers will share it with their own networks. Social media marketing can be a great way to increase brand awareness and reach a large number of potential customers. Social media is largely free to use though it can be time-consuming unless businesses are willing to invest in a social media manager and/or content creator.

Social media shares have a small impact on off-site SEO. Because of its wide reach and low barrier to entry, social media is a popular and effective means of promoting content for businesses employing content marketing.

Pros:

  • Low barrier to entry
  • Little technical knowledge required
  • Easier to DIY, especially with quality guidance and advice
  • Useful in all stages of the sales funnel

Cons:

  • Platform rules can change the game at a moment’s notice
  • Time-consuming

Referral marketing

Referral marketing involves incentivising people and businesses to advertise one’s products or services. It doesn’t cost anything upfront (except for any costs associated with setting up a referral program) because referrers only get paid when someone they refer makes a purchase.

This marketing strategy needs to implemented with care as consumers won’t make a purchase if they think a referral was made purely so the referrer can get a cut of the sales. Referral marketing is particularly effective if referrers are trusted celebrities or friends.

Pros:

  • Highly effective
  • Cost-effective
  • Low barrier to entry

Cons:

  • Only useful for a limited part of the sales funnel
  • Requires a decent existing customer base

Retargeting

Retargeting is the practice of showing ads to website visitors after they’ve left a given website. This can be a highly effective marketing technique as 96% of website visitors aren’t ready to buy. It’s even more effective if your target market is millennials as 72% of millennial shoppers view retargeting in a favourable light.

Pros:

  • Highly effective
  • Cost effective compared with other paid advertising techniques

Cons:

  • Relies on a decent level of website traffic
  • Only useful for a limited part of the sales funnel

Earned media and PR

Earned media and earned PR are forms of unsolicited publicity that a business can earn through free channels rather than through paid advertising. Social media testimonials, news articles and word-of-mouth mentions are all examples of earned media.

Pros:

  • Can be effective
  • No cost

Cons:

  • Little control over the approach

Cobranding and affinity marketing

Cobranding and affinity marketing are marketing approaches that rely on at least two brands working together to promote and sell products and services. This is a great way to increase the reach of any marketing activities as each business can advertise the products and services to their own networks, which ideally don’t overlap too much.

Pros:

  • Can substantially improve brand awareness and reach

Cons:

  • The partners need to be an excellent fit for the business
  • Useful in a limited part of the sale funnel

Networking

Attending networking events, such as trade shows, is a great business-to-business marketing strategy. By choosing to attend targeted networking events, businesses have the opportunity to interact face-to-face with a large number of pre-qualified business leads.

Pros:

  • Effective
  • High return on investment

Cons:

  • Can be expensive
  • Doesn’t suit all types of businesses

Point-of-purchase marketing

Point-of-purchase marketing refers to advertising activities that occur when a prospect is about to make a purchase. Cross-sells and up-sells are good examples of point-of-purchase marketing tactics.

Many businesses think this marketing approach only works for bricks-and-mortar shops. Such businesses can do more with point-of-purchase marketing as they can use tactics like on-package advertising and shelf talkers to promote products to customers when they’re physically in-store. But online shops can use a subset of the available point-of-purchase marketing techniques. For instance, making ‘other customers also purchased [insert product name]’ recommendations is a form of point-of-purchase marketing.

Pros:

  • Effective

Cons:

  • Only suitable in part of the sales funnel
  • Can be expensive or require a bit of technical know-how to implement

Paid advertising

Paid advertising includes everything from TV and radio ads to pay-per-click ads and other forms of paid search advertising. This form of marketing can be expensive but it may be valuable for new market entrants and in circumstances where a business wants to tap into markets that it cannot access any other way.

Pros:

  • Can be highly targeted
  • Full control over messaging

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Can be difficult to get a good return on investment
  • Can be difficult to DIY

Word-of-mouth advertising

World-of-mouth advertising refers to advocacy by satisfied customers. Recommendations from friends and family carry a substantial amount of weight and greatly influence purchase decisions. Similarly, online testimonials have a big impact on whether prospects make a purchase – 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Businesses can encourage word-of-mouth advertising by developing a great customer experience and providing referral incentives (which crosses into referral marketing territory).

Pros:

  • Effective
  • No cost

Cons:

  • Little control over the approach

Inbound marketing

Inbound marketing refers to any marketing approach that relies on prospects and customers seeking out a business in order to make a purchase. It combines many of the above marketing strategies and is less expensive than outbound marketing techniques. Inbound marketing relies on educating prospects and customers just like content marketing does; indeed content marketing is a key part of inbound marketing. Because customers are better educated about their problems and the ideal solutions, they tend to be happier and better advocates for a business and it’s products and services and this means a lot of free advertising and customers that are worth more to a business.

Pros:

  • Highly effective
  • Becomes more effective over time
  • Can be used by any business selling any products and services
  • Integrates well with other marketing strategies
  • Content can serve multiple purposes meaning marketing collateral produces a higher return on investment
  • Useful for all stages of the sales funnel
  • Prospects, leads and customers come to you

Cons:

  • Consistency is important for key inbound techniques
  • Mistakes may mean attracting a lot of the wrong kind of prospect
  • It can be a while before results are achieved, especially for new players

How to choose marketing strategies and marketing approaches for your business

While all of these marketing approaches are likely to be at least moderately effective, a few of them probably stand out as being more relevant to your business. Take some time to read up on those marketing strategies and then choose the 2-4 most promising options and make a start with implementing them.

Things to consider:

  • Whether you have in-house skills that might lend themselves to one or more approaches
  • How closely each marketing strategy aligns with any approaches you’re currently using
  • Your budget and amount of available time – if you’ve got a limited budget and/or not a lot of time to invest in new marketing activities, you might want to start with fewer options and those that are cheapest to implement such as inbound marketing approaches, including content marketing and SEO

If you’re particularly confident, you can have a go yourself but if you’re at all unsure about how to get started, you’ll save a lot of valuable time if you hire an expert to help you. If you’ve got a reasonable budget, consider hiring someone to provide a full marketing service.

If you’ve got a limited budget, hire someone who can develop an actionable strategy for you and provide quality advice. For instance, if you’re looking at trialling content marketing, have a look for a content strategist or a service provider who can develop an integrated content strategy for your business. That way, even if you have to develop some or all of your marketing materials without an expert, at least you have a solid strategy to guide your efforts and ensure you’re heading in the right direction.

If you’re having trouble choosing a marketing approach, post a question in the comments below.

Let me know what you think of this post