The Best (and Worst) Marketing Tactics for 2011

As a digital agency with varied clients, we see both sides of the marketing ‘coin’. The side that likes to dive straight into the latest marketing trends, and those that stick to the more traditional methods. Obviously there’s a pretty solid middle ground too (the edge of the coin?) that likes to have a mix of everything and who don’t keep their eggs in one basket.

What do businesses consider the best & worst marketing tactics they used in 2010?

If we’re going to look at 2011 onwards then looking at last year is a good start. HubSpot, the marketing software platform, have released their State of Inbound Marketing report (PDF) which looks back at 2010 to pull together a tonne of useful statistics garnered directly from businesses.

Two areas that jumped out as being really useful were the word clouds created from the answers to the main question posed above. The rest of the report delves deeply into other areas but there’s some key takeaways contained just within these clouds.

The Best Marketing Tactics :)

Here’s what businesses thought brought them most new leads or business – the heroes of marketing. Straight off the bat we can see that social media, SEO, email marketing – and even just having a website – proved to be the top tactics. Others that performed well include Facebook (which also comes under the umbrella of ‘social’), blogging and networking (it’s not clear whether this is offline or online networking – maybe it’s a mix of both).

The Best Marketing Tactics of 2010


The Worst Marketing Tactics :(

Onto the bad guys, the time wasters and the money pits…or maybe that’s being a bit dramatic.

Direct marketing looks to be the main culprit – it’s not made clear exactly what people include under that wide banner, it certainly can stretch right from direct (snail) mail to television advertising and even into email.

Next we’ve got mail, trade advertising, email, trade shows, PPC and social. Others worth mentioning include print (which surely touches on direct mail too), cold calling & telemarketing.

The Worst Marketing Tactics of 2010


Some tactics appear in both clouds, what gives?

It’s clear that there’s some crossover in the best and worst tactics, it’s to be expected – not everyone has a good/bad experience with the same marketing medium.

Email Marketing

Email marketing features in both clouds, as does social media. It’s not a coincidence that both these mediums can be tricky to master but are easy to ”dabble with’. That’s a dangerous combination :)

We’ve all received abysmal emails built with the best intentions in HTML, but which look they’ve had an argument with an angry man wielding a hammer. These types of email will undoubtedly have low conversion rates, leaving the business disappointed and the medium tainted in their eyes.

Social Media

It’s a similar story with social media. Remember that “We’re launching a social campaign”, can mean someone in marketing has created a Facebook page and a signed up for a Twitter account. That’s not social media at it’s best. The most basic Facebook page on its own won’t do a great deal; it’s the advanced setup, conversations, creative input and ongoing management which help to make it a success.

In a similar vein, following Stephen Fry on Twitter may be interesting for the first week or so, but replying to a tweet from one of your customers would be a far better use of your time.

Can we draw any conclusions? Even better, can we work out what the best marketing tactics for 2011 and beyond might be?

If you own a business or you’re in charge of making decisions about marketing spend, there’s nothing worse than leaping into the unknown and ‘giving something a try’ if money is tight or it’s your head on the block. That’s why using past data to make these decisions will hopefully start you on a firmer footing.

When looking at the ‘top’ tactics from each word cloud it’s easy to draw some pretty useful conclusions – something we can actually use.

So, what does make a ‘good’ marketing tactic in 2011 (and so probably in the near future)?

A personal connection to your customer – instead of dropping a generic flyer through their door, get in touch with them on Facebook/Twitter – it’s far more likely to result in a conversation.

Responding to them within a medium they’re already using – people who use a social site would prefer a tweet or Facebook status update over a cold call any day. Also, if they’re blogging about you or your service/product, comment on their post or tweet it to your followers (remembering to @ them too).

Being there when they search for you or your product – use SEO effectively to make sure your website ranks for the services and products you provide, it feels less like you’re being marketed at when you make the choice from the Google results page.

If you’re going to use social or email marketing, make sure you’re doing it right – but first, make sure it’s right for your business. FMCG retailers and businesses in B2C markets can really benefit from social and email in most cases. B2B businesses can definitely get in on the act too, but do your research first. You might actually be surprised to find a really active community talking about your plastic widgets or metal flanges…

If you do use offline marketing, make it as ‘trackable’ as possible – use a custom or campaign URL where possible (i.e., create a unique phone number linked to a specific medium, or think about using QR codes to track interactions. So or the negative feeling for the more traditional marketing methods may largely come from a lack of visible ROI.


Obviously the very nature of direct and outbound marketing involves reaching people who don’t know your business, or aren’t currently a customer.

We’re not saying that you shouldn’t be looking to attract these people because they don’t know you – precisely the opposite in fact. It’s just that to attract these people to your business, you need to make sure you’re active in channels you know they’re active in (a properly designed and managed Facebook/Twitter account) and your site appears for phrases you know people search for (using SEO).

The overriding feeling coming out of all this is that ‘personal is best’. People never like feeling they’re being marketed to – they prefer to communicate with brands and businesses  in ways they’re comfortable with.

If you need help with social media, SEO or email marketing, we’re all ears! Contact us today and speak with one of our consultants.

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