Four key marketing strategies which promise ROI

When done well, marketing can provide your brand with a new edge, or a fresh look which inspires both loyalty and increased revenue.

But tracking return on investment can be a challenge for many small businesses, which are left wondering what really works. Fortunately there are some trends which statistics show give value for money.

These trends, some just emerging and others well-established, help engage consumers and boost sales. Branded entertainment, content marketing, brand partnerships and new online technologies are getting the best results.

SmartCompany spoke to marketing experts Richard Hack from Taboo, Greg Logan from Hatch Entertainment and Gordon McNenney from DT Melbourne about how these trends can help bolster business:

Branded entertainment

Branded content, also known as “branded entertainment”, blurs the distinction between what constitutes marketing and what is entertainment.

In these television commercials or videos, marketers create characters, real people or animated, and use the characters to both entertain the audience and communicate a message.

SmartCompany recently analysed AAMI’s Rhonda and Ketut commercials and found out why they have been so successful. Reasons included bringing a ‘dry’ product to life, creating an emotional connection to the characters and turning the characters into ambassadors.

It’s easy to say a campaign is successful based on the number of likes or views it gets on social media, but this isn’t a true indication of return on investment. Between when Rhonda and Ketut launched in October 2011 and April 2012, AAMI experienced a 21.7% increase in new business opportunities, a sizeable return by any measure.

Logan says the success of branded content campaigns shows the importance of being entertaining in marketing.

“Entertainment is what people turn on their television or go online to see. If you look at the Dumb Ways to Die (MTR Corp) campaign, it is a great example because it was totally entertaining. People shared it, watched it again and again, and downloaded the song because it was entertaining,” he says.

“With Rhonda and Ketut, Rhonda is a loveable dag, but what they did carefully was let the audience find out more about Rhonda and her life and this kept it going to the next stage. You have more and more choice now to skip ads, so unless the ads are really entertaining, people won’t be interested.”

While branded content has started to infiltrate a variety of markets, the concept has existed for a long time in children’s product advertising including the Milky Bar kid, the Fruit Loops toucan and the Yogo gorilla.

A benefit of using an animated character, particularly for small business, is they’re cheaper than actors and can be used in any number of scenarios.

Other more recent examples include the Coca-Cola polar bear, the Cadbury gorilla and Telstra Bigpond’s rabbits campaign featuring a father who tells his son the Great Wall of China was built to “keep the rabbits out”.

Coke’s campaign demonstrated how brands can capitalise further on video advertisements. It created an interactive video during last year’s Super Bowl in the US, where two of the polar bears would react to the game during the match.

A study by MailOnline of 600 online marketing and advertising executives published in May this year found 70% of brands and 77% of agencies had employed branded content in the past year.

72% of brands increased their spend on it in the past year, and out of the agencies not using branded content, 57% intended to try it in the year ahead.

Hack says branded content creates a “personality for the brand which customers gravitate toward and think positively about”.

“A brand or marketer will look to create a character which most closely represents the target audience. Rhonda is a good representation of the bored, middle-aged decision maker. The kind of consumer who is often the one making the decision around car insurance policy for the family and lots of people can associate with her,” he says.

“The second direction you can take is consider it from an aspirational perspective in regard to what the brand represents. Then you think what kind of character or brand ambassador best brings this to life.”

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