How to craft your messaging for different marketing communication channels | Insights

Why effective messaging requires an understanding of each digital channel

November 2020


  • Jeremy Burrows, CEO
  • James Chutter, Digital Strategist

For some brands, the primary goal for any campaign comes down to reach. Whether we’re talking about buying space during the Super Bowl broadcast or within billions of Facebook news feeds, marketers are drawn to whatever areas offer the biggest audience for their brands.

Unfortunately, however, the size of your campaign's audience isn't a predictor of its success. Rather than thinking in terms of delivering your message on the platform with biggest reach, you need to ensure your brand is reaching the right audience to be successful.

But with so many digital channels at your disposal, the "right" audience for your brand varies from medium to medium. In addition to taking into account how communications are delivered on a given channel, you also have to factor in how the community interacts with it. Without a considered approach to your customers and the channels they use, you may as well fly a banner over a crowded beach.

Instead of diluting your message so it appeals to the widest range of people, you're better off tailoring your efforts to specific channels in a way that's respectful to your customers and their community. Millions of impressions may count as a success metric on the surface. But if your campaign effectively targets your most engaged consumers in a way that's aligned with their interests, you'll find the greatest riches are in the niches.

The four Cs to establishing an effective communication strategy

To meet your business goals, you must plan and distribute your brand's message with a comprehensive, well-considered content strategy. At We The Collective, we determine how your content will reach the right audience through a four-step analytical approach: Customer, Channel, Community, and Content.

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Know your customer to effectively serve their motivations

The first priority for any creative campaign is to thoroughly understand your audience. Through comprehensive research, you must establish your customer’s identity and the specific motivations that drive their interests. In addition, you must also identify whatever barriers stand between your target consumer and their willingness to purchase your product or service.

Consider planning an advertisement for the game Animal Crossing, which became a phenomenon during the pandemic. Animal Crossing already appeals to a subset of the gaming population, and they're rabidly obsessed. Instead of targeting a broad, generic audience of gamers or teenagers, the brand should instead focus on its already committed fans. What was it about the game that made it take off? And, if someone has been on the fence about playing the game, what’s behind their reluctance?

Once a brand establishes their customer's motivation and barriers, a product's messaging can specifically build off of and address those traits.

Approach your audience on the right marketing communication channel

In addition to recognizing your brand’s customers, you also have to know where they are within the digital landscape. From a sheer usage standpoint, Facebook offers a massive reach with billions of registered users. Consequently, media buying agencies often promise millions of impressions proportional to that general audience.

But before targeting Facebook's audience, you first must ask whether that’s where your customer can be found. Through effective user research, you can build an understanding of your audience’s media diet and the channels they use, whether it’s Twitch, Instagram, or TikTok. Once you’ve identified where your customers are, you can shape your campaign message to satisfy their needs and interests.

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Look for existing consumer communities receptive to a targeted message

Effectively targeting individual customers is the goal for every campaign. But within multiple digital channels are active, unique communities that are also worth recognizing and addressing.

If you target your message to a passionate, existing community with a given channel, you’ll find better customer engagement than focusing on the widest audience. Using a generalized, “spray and pray” approach across multiple audiences and channels may sound promising from an impressions standpoint. But if your audience isn't attentive or open to your brand's message, those audience totals will be meaningless.

Brands that focus on specific communities need to be respectful. Customer relationships depend on trust, and you can only build trust through a consistent, authentic relationship. For example, the clothing company Duer designs flexible jeans for rock climbers, which is a niche audience. However, through geo-targeting areas within and near locations with climbing communities, the brand built a direct connection with customers.

If you build these relationships properly, your brand will be seen as part of the community rather than just another company trying to make a sale. Instead of trying to lead the community’s behavior, your brand must focus on solving your customer's problems. Once you do, engagement grows within the audience you need most.

Let your target customer shape your campaign content

If you have built a strong understanding of your customer, their community, and the channels they most prefer, you can then focus on tailoring your content to their needs.

Whichever platform your customers prefer, your digital agency should understand the specific approaches each channel requires. Given the channel’s focus on shorter, punchier videos, TikTok isn't the ideal home for an in-depth explainer video, but those work well on YouTube. On a fast-scrolling site like Facebook, you face a narrow window for capturing users' attention as they skim their news feeds. Ads that build a narrative that pays off at the end are better suited for TV or as a pre-roll unit on a video platform.

On Instagram, glossy, Photoshopped ads look out of place. Campaigns looking to fit in among user-generated photos should opt for a less-polished look or work with brand ambassadors to create their own content. Animated stickers mean nothing to many audiences on Twitter, but act as type of currency on more gaming-oriented apps like Twitch and Discord. But while a given channel may require many specific requirements, your content should always focus on the customer first.

In addition to understanding how to deliver the creative inspiration your campaign needs, the right partner will also understand where your message needs to appear. Sometimes, these two needs can be in conflict when a digital agency and a media agency don’t see eye to eye about content and its appropriate channels. We The Collective straddles both skills to ensure your campaign meets your customer's needs where they're most likely to listen.

Need help creating and focusing your next campaign? Let's talk.