The new year is the perfect time to evaluate your marketing and make some changes. If you made some goals this month for a “new you”, consider this your permission to do the same for your digital marketing! To give you some inspiration, we’ve created a list of some of the most creative digital marketing ideas ever executed. There is a long list of extremely successful digital marketing campaigns over the years and with so many useful digital marketing strategies to choose from, it’s hard to decide where to start! We decided to choose some of our favorites to highlight a few strategies that you can apply immediately with technology and resources readily available. The best part? A lot of these principles are often overlooked, but when implemented can help your brand stand out! Use these examples as your motivation to apply some of these principles to your digital marketing this year.
Snowbird’s Bad Reviews
This one comes from our own backyard! If you’re a skier, you’ve probably heard of Utah’s famed Snowbird Ski Resort. While Snowbird is world-renowned, they too still get their fair share of negative reviews. Bad reviews can be disheartening to any business, no matter their size, but Snowbird decided to lean into the skid… if you will.
In 2017, Snowbird took a different approach and released a series of digital ads all featuring some of their favorite one-star reviews along with some of the mountain’s most gorgeous scenery. The campaign was so successful, it’s become a part of their core messaging and can still be found on their website.
Why wasn’t Snowbird afraid to showcase their one-star reviews? Well, Snowbird understands they can’t please everyone who visits their resort. Not every customer is suited for every brand and vice versa. Snowbird isn’t for every skier. The folks at Snowbird realized that while there were some things these reviewers really didn’t like about their experience, those things were the very reasons so many visitors loved them! Too steep for one skier is exactly the adventure another has been looking for. Too much snow? Maybe we’re biased Utahns, but is that really a complaint?
The takeaway: Never, EVER underestimate the power of reviews. What your audience has to say about your business is powerful — the good and the bad. Get creative, leverage reviews, learn from them, ask for them, and definitely don’t be afraid of them!
Miller Lite’s Community
While we’re grateful to be finished with 2020, this list wouldn’t be complete without at least one honorable mention from this last year. During the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many restaurants had to close down which meant bulk orders for many food and drink staples weren’t being placed. The food and beverage industry was impacted heavily — the orders for their products were slashed. Instead of dwelling on the unfortunate situation for them, Miller Lite decided to use their platforms to support the other side of their industry that was suffering; the service industry workforce.
In the Spring of 2020, Miller Lite decided to create and donate to a #VirtualTipJar to help those who had lost their service industry jobs during the lockdowns. They posted their #VirtualTipJar across social media using their platforms as a way to inform those who needed help how to apply and to request donations from their fans.
The best part? The movement didn’t end with Miller Lite. Soon, other cities, businesses, individuals, and organizations jumped on board the hashtag and used it to set up their own #VirtualTipJars.
As a brand, Miller Lite understands the difference between an audience and a community. Every individual online has an audience — when you stand on a stage folks are pointed toward, you have an audience. That’s how social media works. If you start posting on social media, followers or not, you’re putting content on the stage for an audience to see.
When it comes to your business, your community is an audience who isn’t just passively viewing your content, but who is invested in your mission. These range from your die-hard fans to onlookers who share your brand’s passion. As a non-beer drinker myself, I found Miller Lite’s campaign inspiring and shared it with friends and family I knew needed the help. I became a part of their new community, united by their mission, not their products. Even for those of us who don’t drink Miller Lite, this left a lasting impression about the brand. Miller Lite showed and proved that they were more than their products and invited us all to be a part of it.
The takeaway: Look for ways to inspire your audience and turn them into a community. Revisit the reason why you started your business and consider what you’d like your brand to be known for. Look for ways to give back to the people who make your business run. Maybe it’s your employees, your distributors, your customers, your clients, your viewers. Be sincere in your messaging and follow through with your actions. Your community will follow your cue.
HubSpot’s Content and Inbound Marketing
Hubspot is basically known these days as the king of content and inbound marketing. With over 95,000 customers around the world since opening their doors in 2005, they are a force to be reckoned with in the marketing world! But not many people realize the simple principles they applied to accomplish this. Hubspot’s base marketing strategy, since its inception, has been to provide value to their audience first by providing relevant and educational content answering their potential customers’ most burning marketing questions. For example, “How to write a blog?”
Hubspot knew their audience was already bombarded with ads and information. They decided to target those who were actively looking for tools like Hubspot and showing these audiences how valuable of a resource HubSpot could be — without making them pay for it. A small business owner could answer all their own marketing questions in the HubSpot blog. A few years later they could, free of charge, take courses in digital marketing to help them grow their business!
All this free educational content and these courses worked in several ways. First, and most importantly, Hubspot understands and respects that their customers need to trust them. Hubspot also considers their customer’s journey. Not everyone looking for answers to their marketing questions wants or can be sold a service — right now. Maybe users weren’t sure of Hubspot or maybe they couldn’t yet afford it. By giving this content away for free, Hubspot was able to build a relationship of trust with its users and nurture its own leads. If their users were successful, soon they’d need a tool like Hubspot to help them with their marketing!
The takeaway: Use your content to provide value to your audience before asking anything of them. This will build your brand awareness and sell your audience before they even get to your reps! Start small with a blog and let your audience’s needs fuel your future content creation.
BarkBox using Social Listening and User Generated Content
This list wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t talk about the brand that users outside their target demographic love to engage with. When a huge number of your audience admits they don’t even use your service, but they love your content, you’re doing something right.
As early as 2019 their customers were sharing their pets unboxing their subscription boxes on TikTok…and BarkBox wasn’t even posting on TikTok as a brand at that time!
BarkBox does two things extremely well with its user-generated content. First, BarkBox isn’t afraid to experiment, but they take their cues from their audience. By staying active on social media and engaging with their audience they can share their user’s content and pick up on emerging trends. Using content their fans are posting means BarkBox can focus less on content creation and more on engaging with their audience. It’s a beautiful cycle that allows them to test quickly, learn fast, and encourage even more user-generated content!
Second, BarkBox isn’t just using this strategy to connect with their customers, they’re also keeping a pulse on the next generation of pet owners; millennials and Gen Zers, renters, apartment dwellers, college students, etc. This brand understands that there is no better way to build a relationship than to be where your audience is and speak their language. By connecting with their younger audiences now, even if they don’t have a dog, they’ll have created an impression these future dog owners will remember.
The takeaway: Social media is a powerful tool because it can build a fanbase and more importantly, a community! Engage with your audience, listen and respond to what they’re saying. Let their connection to your brand lead your content decisions. In fact, you’ve probably noticed that on our list of creative digital marketing ideas, social media marketing continues to get mentioned.
Tesla’s on Twitter
How can you talk about marketing wins without talking about Tesla? With almost more followers than its competitors combined, this young company knows digital marketing.
And yet, they’ve thrown to the wayside the most popular “best practices” you usually hear when starting a social media strategy. Tesla only posts 4-6 times per month on Twitter (sometimes less) and yet their posts see insane engagement. Sure, they’re a big brand now, but by posting culturally relevant content in the same tone as their audience, they’ve been speaking the language ever since they joined the platform.
We know, Twitter isn’t exactly the rising star in social media it once was. Besides their cutting edge content, Tesla does have something (or someone) that keeps the brand relevant on this platform.
With more than 6 times (almost 7!) his own business’s followers, Elon Musk uses his account for his own thoughts, to spark arguments, create business ideas, gather ideas, hear feedback, and dance with his trolls.
Love him or hate him, he’s the face of Tesla and the brand’s growing cult following.
While controversial in his own rite, Musk’s presence online and representation of his own business is something a lot of businesses miss the mark on. Too many business owners or teams shy away from promoting or talking about their work on their personal social media. They don’t want to pressure family and friends, they don’t want to come off as too pushy or insert any other self-conscious excuse.
Here’s the thing though; as an owner or officer in a business, if you don’t believe enough in your business or if you don’t feel passionately enough about your projects to talk about it to your circles, why should anyone feel passionate about it? If the creators or owners aren’t obsessed, why would your target demographic be? Whatever your views about Elon Musk, he is passionate about his work and anyone can see it and be a part of it just by engaging with him online.
If you have a great idea (and you do) share it! This isn’t a call to just share your discounts or feature your products — no, communicate with your friends and followers. Engage with them, educate them, and entertain them. Show behind the scenes, how it’s made, tell them when you have exciting things in the works, ask them for feedback.
The takeaway: If your team isn’t online and evangelizing your brand, you’re missing some crucial opportunities. Give your audience the faces of your business! Your team’s personality is what makes your customer experience unique, so give them the freedom to express themselves while still representing the brand. This includes YOU.
Red Bull is EVERYWHERE
Next on our list of creative digital marketing ideas ever executed—Red Bull. While some brands focus on defining their branding through colors and logos, Red Bull, since its inception, wanted to be known for the experience. They’ve worked hard to carve a place for themselves in extreme sports. Well, actually more than extreme sports – Red Bull is more about the extreme human experience. Anytime you think something “Gives you Wings” you’re thinking of some insane video of some stunt guy flying through the air, driving insanely fast, falling extremely far, or some other extreme stunt. And we all call it the same thing…”that insane video from Red Bull”.
Maybe you watched the whole thing on YouTube, saw it trend on Twitter, debated on Facebook, teased on TikTok, shared through Snapchat, even discussed it on LinkedIn – but you’ve seen that video and many more stunts from Redbull over the years on almost all of your social media platforms.
Red Bull is absolutely everywhere in the social media sphere and that isn’t an accident. In fact, they’ve done this so well, their approach hasn’t really changed in the last 10 years. Even with new social media platforms, and they’re still as relevant now as they were then — if not more so. Red Bull invests in quality video content and exclusive partnerships with influencers. Unique filming techniques, jaw-dropping feats of human athleticism (or insanity) all make for scroll stopping content on any platform, but that’s just one piece of the puzzle.
Stopping the scroll is only the first step; getting your audience to engage and share your content is the key to success. Which is how Red Bull steadily migrated from YouTube to other social media platforms. Sure, now they’re publishing everywhere from TikTok to LinkedIn, but there was a time when Red Bull focused their efforts on YouTube. Even then, they made their content easily shareable so their audience could spread the word and build the hype for them.
The takeaway: It’s not just about stopping your audience’s scroll — businesses need to create content their audience just has to share. Content that’s relevant or exciting to them in a way that makes them take action. This just isn’t about quality, shareable content though, you should be where your audiences are as well. With this type of content, built to be shared, posted where your viewers are looking, your audience will become your very own distribution system.
There you have it—our favorite creative digital marketing ideas ever executed. All of these businesses may have established teams and processes, but don’t forget — their digital marketing had to start somewhere too! Like any goal, make sure you’ve taken into account the resources you have available to you and that you’ve laid the groundwork with some foundational digital marketing strategies. Once you’ve done those two steps, you’re ready to start innovating!