Messaging and Creative Best Practices for Engaging Your Customers

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Marketing is nothing like it used to be.

“Push marketing” no longer works, and customers are more vocal than ever about what they want and what they don’t. They are on multiple channels across multiple devices, often simultaneously. And they don’t have time to waste on boring, irrelevant or misinformation marketing campaigns. If you want to retain current customers and win new ones, you’re going to need to be creative.

Thanks to an abundance of data and technology that businesses now have at their disposal, brands can both orchestrate more effective omnichannel campaigns and better understand the type of messaging and visuals that most resonate with certain audiences.

Start with your data, and the system you use to organize it

While you might think that a crafty copywriter and a deft designer are your main assets for developing more engaging marketing campaigns, that’s actually not the case. The most powerful tool in your toolkit is your data.

Customer, campaign, product and sales data can all inform the type of messaging and creative you show each user or audience segment. These datasets tell you who your customers are from a demographic perspective, their preferences, their purchase behavior and their interactions with you across marketing touchpoints. Taking this information in aggregate provides a blueprint for engaging with your customers in ways that will grab their attention. Getting into more detail, this data can tell you:

  • Demographics like age, gender and occupation
  • Location
  • How they pay their bills, in terms of both channel (like mobile) and mode (like ACH)
  • Communication preferences, such as email, text, phone or mail
  • Whether they’ve unsubscribed to your email list
  • Prior customer reviews or feedback
  • Prior support requests or conversation

And the list goes on.

You can then use this information to determine the proof points, pain points and personal background you need to address when delivering marketing messages. For instance, if you’ve noticed a customer has paid their rent late 3 out of 12 times via mail but has engaged with your SMS content, you might want to consider texting them with links to both your payment plan options and the other ways they can pay faster than by mail.

To use your data swiftly, seamlessly and smartly, you’ll want one system for gathering, managing and activating it. Single SaaS systems that help centralize and democratize data go a long way towards breaking down silos that lead to poor campaign outcomes. With all your data in one place, you’ll get the 360-degree view of your customer necessary for engaging them with the right content and offers.

Overall messaging and creative tips

Obviously, every brand is different and no one marketing formula works for all. The same goes for the customers you’re trying to reach. However, there are a few general best practices that any business in any industry should keep in mind when it comes to what tends to resonate with customers.

Messaging tips:

  • Less is more when it comes to copy. Use font weights, sizes, and colors to show emphasis or create a sense of impact.
  • Use one short, snappy call to action specific to the individual customer journey. Don’t push upsell or cross-sell messaging unless the customer seems ready to buy.
  • Make it more about them and less about you. A general rule of thumb is a 1:4 promo-to-non-promo ratio. This means that you should mix in industry news, tips and other helpful information in addition to content specific to your brand, product or service.
  • Use contextual or audience data signals to further tailor the experience to your customer. Location, weather, traffic and even current events can all be incorporated into ads to deliver a targeted message. For instance, if a customer that needs to pay a bill is near a branch of your bank, you can use location geo-targeting to drive them inside.

Creative tips:

  • Use two dominant colors and no more than four accent colors in accordance with your brand guidelines.
  • Make sure all ads are optimized for mobile.
  • Include your logo in the first few seconds or at the top of the asset. This way, if a customer doesn’t make it through the entire message, you’ve still delivered some brand awareness.
  • Use one creative idea and build your story around it to avoid dilution of and confusion around your message.
  • Be diverse and inclusive. Don’t solely choose imagery showcasing one gender, age range, race or ethnic background. Your customers aren’t homogenous—so why would your marketing be?


Messaging and creative tips for specific channels

Different marketing channels require different campaign content and design. Here’s what tends to work best across websites, social media, email, text and print.

  • Websites: You can use your company website in a number of ways to get marketing messages across. Depending on its layout, put relevant news and offers “above the fold,” such as in a carousel. Pop-up banners can be effective for short-term deals and offers. Personalize as much of the viewing experience as possible so you can guide each customer to the information most relevant to them.
  • Social media: Each Social Media channel has a number of marketing and ad formats, such as posts, stories, reels and carousels. To be on the safe side, pursue a square 1:1 image/video ratio when possible and ensure you optimize for all placements.
  • Email: Email has an average ROI of $36 for every $1 spent, but only if you build your email campaigns effectively. It’s best to keep the copy straightforward and use no more than three links. Use no more than nine words and 60 characters in your subject line. Make sure you optimize images for all devices. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are typically the best days for sending email. And last but certainly not least, make sure you get user opt-in to your email list and follow all applicable data privacy compliance laws in your area.
  • Display ads: When utilizing video display ads, share critical information within the first five seconds to account for consumers’ increasingly short attention spans. Consider displaying your logo within the first few seconds. Deliver a mix of different video formats, lengths and elements, such as incorporating animation. Immersive is always better.
  • Text: SMS open and response rates can reach as high as 98% and 45%, respectively, which makes it a highly impactful channel. A bonus: You can reuse other marketing campaign assets for this channel to save time and effort. The key is not to overdo it. There are character limits, time range limits and other strict compliance factors to follow with SMS. Perhaps most importantly, you must get users to opt-in (with the help of some snappy copy and perhaps a special offer) and immediately process opt-out requests.
  • Print: Print can almost certainly be used in conjunction with the digital marketing channels listed above. You want to apply the same general principles as online marketing assets. Stay on brand and keep images and copy similar to those you’ve used in other channels. Use attractive visuals, incorporate clear calls to action and make any website links or other information sources easy to read and access.


Because trends and consumer behavior are always changing, it’s important to continually test campaign elements to see what works and what doesn’t.

Have some fun with it

In addition to the above tips, consider having some fun with your marketing campaigns (yes, even if you’re in an industry like banking). For instance, Spotify does its annual Wrapped report which tells you how many minutes of music you’ve listened to in a calendar year, as well as your favorite artists, genres and songs. Another example is how Instacart recaps how much time you’ve saved by shopping online. You could do something similar with your customers by sharing:

  • The percentage of on-time or early payments they made
  • The late fees they saved by doing so
  • The types of bills they paid most often
  • Which channels they prefer to make their payments


Customers like it when you make things about them. So get creative and add some personality to your marketing where it makes sense.

Did you know that OSG has a team of experts well-versed in the most commonly used marketing campaign channels and tactics who can help you navigate all of this? If you’re looking for additional support in your marketing campaign strategies and execution, get in touch today.