8 characteristics of effective marketing communications

Creating effective marketing communications can be somewhat challenging as it’s not an exact science. Understanding the basic characteristics of marketing communications can set you off in the right direction.

Whether you are communicating with customers through email marketing, social media, marketing campaigns or content marketing, such as blog posts, these characteristics should be considered to make them more effective.

The characteristics of effective marketing communications are being:

  • Relevant
  • Single minded
  • Repetitive
  • Relatable
  • Authentic
  • Memorable
  • Entertaining
  • Emotive

Be relevant to your target audience!

In my last blog, I discussed how you should identify your best customers to get better results. The second piece to this puzzle is making sure that you are relevant to this customer group. 

By understanding your customer and what is important to them, you can target your marketing message. We call this WIIFM, what’s in it for me. If there is nothing in it for your customer, then the message is not relevant for them. 

To find out what’s important to your customer group consider asking them. A quick survey or a few phone calls is a great way to understand what they need from your product or service? And create your message around that.

Have a single-minded message

Having a clear, single-minded message is important to ensure customers understand what you are offering. The human brain is comprehending multiple messages every moment which is why complicated messages are often discarded.

It’s tempting to put all your messages in one communication however keeping the information to a minimum will help your customers understand. A successful communication will present one message backed by information that needs to be communicated to give your offer credibility. 

Repeat, repeat and repeat again

How often do you find yourself singing a jingle off a radio or TV advert?  Repetition breeds familiarity. And will influence a preference when it comes time to purchase.

The Rule of 7 (derived from effective frequency in traditional advertising) suggests that consumers need to hear a message 7 times before they act. But it’s also possible for customers to be overexposed which creates fatigue and dislike for your message. Studies on frequency suggests between 10-20 exposures will reach the maximum familiarity necessary. Anything over that and it could have a negative effect on your brand.

Over recent years, there have been many clever examples of how repetition has been used within a single communication so that frequency is less important. 

A perfect example of this is the recent Kelloggs Sultana Bran advert. The fish swims around the bowl and repeats the same message each time it reaches the Sultana Bran packet. “Sultana Bran’s got more fibre than two slices of toast”. While this uses many characteristics of effective communications, the most obvious are repetition and a single-minded, clear message.

Be relatable, be human

People have a deep-seated need for connection. We want to know that we are not the only ones that have experienced the good and bad times. By making your brand and product/service relatable you are tapping into that need for connection. You are being empathetic, sharing experiences and becoming a part of people’s stories.

Consider Jacinda Ardern as the perfect example of being relatable. Arguably, she has been the Prime Minister in New Zealand through some of the most trying times in New Zealand history. Her response to all of these has been empathy. She has acknowledged how she feels and in turn how all New Zealanders were feeling. Making her human and relatable. The value that she has created is the understanding of what the average New Zealander is going through. This has not only gained her followers in NZ, but also around the world.

Authenticity is key

Being real and authentic in your communications helps to build trust with your customers. To do this, write about what’s important to you, and what your values are. By sharing a piece of yourself with customers it will help them to understand who you are. But make sure that what you share is true. With the world of social media, it’s too easy for people to find out you’re not being authentic.

Cut through the noise, be memorable

There is significant noise in society today. We are constantly being targeted with messages and it’s not possible that all of these messages are remembered. This is why it is important to make your message memorable.

The human brain doesn’t remember facts and figures as well as it remembers stories. If you can tell your story, it is much more likely to be remembered than the specific technical features of your product.

Story telling starts with considering the benefits of your product from your customer perspective. Turning that in to a narrative that they will relate to is the challenge. Understanding your customer and their motivations will help you do that.

The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing

Being happy and having fun are two emotions that people strive to feel regularly. Creating entertaining communications will tap into these emotions, and will also mean that the reader doesn’t realise they are being marketed to.

This is why social media and digital marketing is popular. And why YouTube is now the most popular channel in NZ (NZ on Air Where Are the Audiences survey). 

Social media is the perfect place to incorporate entertaining communications. The nature of social media means it’s less formal, therefore developing a less formal entertaining strategy to match is important.

Create a deep connection through emotion

People rely more on emotions than information to make decisions. Information can absolutely influence your customer. However, the final choice is likely to be made based on how the product or service makes them feel.

The basic emotions that marketers tap into are happiness, sadness, anger or fear. Of course, there are also subsets of these, such as excitement, optimism, annoyance, self-doubt, and many others.

Using emotive language in an appropriate way helps your customers to relate to you and your business. It can create a deep connection between you and your audience as people feel emotions every day.

If you are going to use emotion in your communications, make sure you are tapping into the right one. Targeting the wrong emotion could have disastrous effects (are you feeling fear now?).

You now understand the characteristics you need to include in marketing communications to make them effective. It’s time for you to implement them.

The key to implementing these 8 characteristics successfully is to plan your communications across all your marketing channels. It’s not possible to include all of these characteristics in a single message so planning will ensure that you include them over a range of multiple communications.

And make sure you continue to refine your messages and communications by reviewing what has been successful.

Teresa Ma’aelopa


Teresa Ma’aelopa

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