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Kathleen Burns

5 Lessons Digital Marketers Can Learn From Horror Films

Kathleen Burns
5 Lessons Digital Marketers Can Learn From Horror Films

A famous writer portrayed in a recent film said that telling a good horror story boils down to three things; the beginning, the middle, and the twist. I’ll avoid throwing around the buzzword “storytelling”, but successful digital marketers track and manage a brand's online presence using all the tricks that writers and filmmakers have used in the past.

Telling a good story is not limited to fictional material – your goal in digital marketing is to draw to consumer to act and react to what they are seeing. The way a horror film crafts a response from the viewer requires careful planning from the beginning. They guide the view from the top of the story funnel to the end of it – they want the prospect to act and convert!

So here’s five lessons from horror films released in 2015 that will help digital marketers handle any situation they came across.

Are you exploring new areas?

the-hoarder-(2015)

Plot: The Hoarder is about a young woman that enters an underground storage facility, where she soon finds herself trapped and stalked by a killer.

Lesson: Where in your industry can you find content you can repurpose? What areas has your brand failed to explore to find a new audience?

By understanding your audience and tracking what has drawn them to the brand in the first place, you can experiment in new areas that other brands have yet to find. How your target audience reacts could surprise you!

Are you tracking your mistakes?

crimson peak (2015)

Plot: Crimson Peak is about an aspiring writer trying to escape the ghosts of her past, and is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds - and remembers.

Lesson: Are you keeping track of what mistakes have cost your ad campaign money? Are you tracking the top keywords that leads organic traffic to your site? Are using A/B testing to determine what is the most effective versions in your email and landing pages?

Repeating marketing mistakes can kill your branding efforts and customers will remember what they like and don’t like about your brand.

Are you chasing ghosts?

paranormal activity (2015)

Plot: Using a special camera that can see spirits, a family must protect their daughter from an evil entity with a sinister plan.

Lesson: If you have no way to track your site’s visitors, and no way of measuring the return on investment of your digital efforts, you’re stuck in the haunted house.

Use anonymous visitor tracking to see where they come from and exactly how they interact with the brand’s website. Knowing their past activity can help you determine what engages them and why.

Are your leads cold?

Knock-Knock (2015)

Plot: What starts out as a kind gesture results in a dangerous seduction and a deadly game of cat and mouse.

Lesson: Cold leads are valuable for online marketing and offline. If you spent the time to provide a free trial, speak at an event, or provide a free resource, are you reaching out to these people in a strategic way? If you aren’t then you’re wasting your time with that first kind gesture.

Use marketing automation to create drip campaigns that re-engage prospects with targeted content, blog posts, videos, ebooks, and more.

Are you planning for the end?

Maggie (2015)

Plot: A teenage girl in the Midwest becomes infected by an outbreak of a disease that slowly turns the infected into cannibalistic zombies. During her transformation, her loving father stays by her side.

Lesson: What’s your twist? Crafting your call-to-action to drive your audience react is crucial. The best marketing plans leave room for future opportunities.

Leave your audience with a feeling of wanting more – something that will drive them to come back to you! Make sure your campaigns are able to reach across multiple channels and give you opportunities to experiment.

What twists (or call-to-action) do you use to your marketing campaigns to drive the viewer to react? What are the scariest challenges you’ve faced with your marketing efforts? Share your insight below in the comments!

Kathleen Burns is the Community Manager of SEMrush.

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